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On the surface, Gizzell Ford looked like a bright and bubbly 8-year-old child. She liked to jump rope and looked forward to school. She loved to make friends. She kept a diary that had a rainbow-striped cover, and she wrote in it with a pink pen. The sad things she wrote about in her diary, however, paint an entirely different picture of her life. Her last entry is chilling; hours later, she was found dead.

In 2013, Gizzell, her two siblings and her father moved in with her grandmother, 55-year-old Helen Ford. Andre Ford was suffering from a rare skin disease and Helen was taking care of the family. Her attorney says the woman was ‘overworked, overwhelmed and overcome’ with the responsibility, but that’s hardly an excuse for what she did to her granddaughter.

A Chicago police forensic investigator took the stand at Helen’s trial. The officer, who had been seasoned after 30 years on the force, broke down and cried on the witness stand when she was shown photos of Gizzell’s unrecognizable body.

Gizzell once wrote in her diary, “I know if I be good and do everything I’m told I won’t have to do punishments.”

These punishments included being forced to squat or stand in contorted positions for hours. If she cried out in pain or groaned in discomfort, her grandmother would stuff a sock in her mouth. Sometimes she’d be beaten. Sometimes she was deprived of food and water.

Gizzell was optimistic, though. She may have been beaten, but she was never broken. “I am going to be a beautiful smart and good young lady,” she wrote one day. “I can do anything I put my smart mind to. People say I’m smart and courageous and beautiful.”

One day Gizzell wrote, “I hope that I don’t mess up today because I really want to be able to just sit down, watch T.V., talk and play with everybody,” Gizzell wrote in that same entry. “I am going to be great all day.”

The little girl later added, “Not true… I failed.”

Her last entry came on July 11, 2013, and is very disturbing. “I hate this life because now I’m in super big trouble,” she wrote.

She was found dead the following day. She had been strangled and beaten to death.
The diary and photos of the child’s body were entered into evidence at Ford’s trial. Another piece of evidence was Ford’s cell phone video that documented her granddaughter’s last months. In one video, Gizzell, with her eyes distant, stands swaying, looking exhausted, while her grandmother and father taunt her and shove her around.

In another video, she’s standing with a rag in her mouth. Hunt’s family, who testified as character witnesses saying that the grandmother would never hurt the child, couldn’t even look at it. They turned away. The prosecuting attorney pointed to Ford and noted, “Everyone in this room recoils at that video but her.”

In some punishments, Gizzell was tied to the bed and deprived of food and water for days. Her grandmother beat her for sneaking a sip of water from the toilet. By the time Gizzell’s body was found it was so battered that she was unrecognizable. She had cuts and bruises in varying stages of healing, meaning the beatings were a regular thing. One of her cuts were infected and crawling with maggots. Her kidneys were failing from being deprived of food and water.

Hunt’s defense attorney argued that the child’s wounds were self-inflicted and the grandmother was unable to do anything about it to stop it. The judge didn’t buy it, however.

Hunt was sentenced to life in prison. One of Hunt’s few family members that testified against her told her from the stand, “You may have broken her body by torture, but you never broke her spirit,” she said. “If she had one last breath, I know she would use it to tell you she loved you.”

Source: PeopleChicago Sun Time
Photo: ABC 7 Chicago Screenshot


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