Jalayah Eason’s story — Her life and untimely death

Jalayah Eason

Jalayah Eason’s death has captured the world’s attention. The six-year-old was found unconscious in her mother’s apartment in the Morrisania neighborhood of the Bronx. Emergency personnel rushed her to NYC Health & Hospitals/ Lincoln, where she was declared dead. The medical examiner has yet to determine Jalayah’s cause of death. The report could determine whether Jalayah’s mother, Lynija Eason, will face murder charges. 

A neighbor reported hearing Jalayah begging for her life shortly before emergency services arrived

Jalayah Eason was Lynija Eason’s second child. She and her siblings, Jezheir and Jelyenn, appeared regularly on Lynija’s Instagram page. Neighbor Ishea Gilchrist painted Lynija as a doting mother. Gilchrist told NBC New York: “I always see her with her kids. She took them to school. Brought them back. Brought him back. I’m on the PTA. I’m so surprised.”

However, a report by Detective Frankie Hernandez depicts Lynija as an irresponsible and abusive parent. Hernandez wrote that police observed cuts, scars, and rashes on Jezhier and Jelyenn. He added that Jezhier had ‘countless small lacerations’ on his body and a gash on his scalp. Per Hernandez, Jelyenn had a long scar on her waist and a ‘widespread discolored rash to her inner thigh and buttocks’. 

The report states that the Jalayah lived in a filthy apartment filled with trash, soiled clothes, and open food containers stacked on the floor. Hernandez described the apartment as insect-riddled and smelling of rotten food, urine, and feces. 

The New York Times reports that the Administration for Children’s Services opened and closed a neglect and abuse case against Lynija. According to the outlet, Jezhier went to school in October 2022 with a bruised face and told the teacher that Lynija had assaulted him. Jezhier’s school also noted that he missed school most days, smelled of urine, and wore the same clothes for days, The New York Times states. 

Lynija reportedly told a caseworker that she’d been diagnosed with bipolar disorder during the pandemic and wasn’t taking medication for it. Jezheir allegedly confirmed to the caseworker that Lynija had punched him but insisted that he felt safe in the household. 

The evidence suggests that Lynija neglected and abused her children, including Jalayah. Prosecutors have charged her with two counts of child endangerment, and the Administration of Children’s Services has taken custody of the children. 

Lynija could face homicide charges if the medical examiner concludes that Jalayah was murdered. A neighbor speaking to The New York Post suggested that Jalayah’s death resulted from a severe beating. Dennis Rivera said, “At 3:42 in the morning that girl was screaming. She was screaming for dear life. She was screaming like hell. She kept saying ‘stop, stop, stop’. You could hear thumps, bro.”

Jalayah Eason’s death points to failures in the system

Jalayah Eason’s cause of death hasn’t been determined. Nevertheless, it’s clear that the system failed her and her siblings: the Administration of Children’s Services had enough evidence to take the kids away from their abusive mother. Jalayah may still be alive if the ACS acted decisively. 

The New York Times alleges that ACS caseworkers are overworked. It claims that Bronx North caseworkers ‘have an average load of 12.5 cases – about 17 percent higher than the citywide average’. However, per The New York Post, the average caseload nationwide is between 24 and 31 children. The outlet adds that the Child Welfare League of America recommends 15 children per social worker. 

Lynija was Jalayah and her siblings’ sole caregiver; she confirmed as much to the police. “I take care of the kids by myself,” Lynija said, per Daily News. “No other adults live with me and my kids.” 

The ACS’s ignorance of warning signs, not an understaffed workforce, likely led to Jalayah’s death. “I just started crying, because it’s sad,” neighbor Michelle Abreu told The New York Times.