Cops: Parents killed blind, malnourished daughter

When Lynessia Hiles-Sloan was finished whipping her legally blind, malnourished 13-year-old daughter with an electric cord, police say, she picked up a two-by-four and continued swinging until the wood was stained red with the child's blood.

Today a Cook County judge ordered Hiles-Sloan, 31, and her husband, Gabriel Sloan, 34, held without bail on first-degree murder charges in the death of Shavon Miles, Hiles-Sloan's daughter.

Prosecutors said Shavon's body was marked with evidence of abuse both new and old. She had had bruises on her skull, liver damage, and small, circular burn marks on her skin. She weighed just 73 pounds when she died; the average weight for girls that age is more than 100 pounds.

Shavon also suffered from glaucoma, a degenerative eye disease. She was blind in one eye, and the other was fading.

The state Department of Children and Families said two abuse complaints had been filed against Shavon's mother. One was in 1994. The other, alleging medical neglect, was filed earlier this year.

It was not immediately clear whether child welfare investigators found evidence validating the complaints.  

Prosecutors say the incident that led to Shavon's death began around 3:00 p.m. Friday, when the girl fell to the ground in front of her home at 7239 S. Maplewood and began to convulse.

Her mother and stepfather accused her of faking the seizure and took her inside. Mr. Sloan began slamming Shavon's head into the wall as punishment, prosecutors said.

Ms. Hiles-Sloan then started whipping Shavon with an electric cord, according to the authorities.

Janet Vance Blackman, a neighbor whose grandchildren were friends with Shavon, said she was home at the time. Her granddaughter came in and told her there was a dead person outside.

Blackman found Ms. Hiles-Sloan outside, crying. Blackman said the woman told her Shavon had suffered a seizure and fallen.

"She said, 'I just don't want them to say I did it,'" said Blackman.

Shavon was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital shortly after the incident. Police later arrested the Mr. Sloan and Ms. Hiles-Sloan at home. Both confessed to the crime on videotape, according to authorities.

Mr. Sloan and Ms. Hiles-Sloan lived with Shavon and her twin brother, who also had glaucoma, in a small house set far back on the lot.

On a block of bungalows and two-flats, the house stands out for being hidden away.

"They made sure that you didn't get close to them," said Blackman. "They were very secretive."

Few neighbors seemed to know the couple well. Victoria Stokes, 35, lives next door to the house but said she didn't know them at all.

"It was a shock to me myself to see that on the news," she said. "One holiday they were out barbecuing, and they seemed like normal people to me."

"I don't know them," said Larry Hamilton, who lives directly across the street. "I didn't even know anyone lived there."

Chuck Davis, 19, who lives three doors down, said he thought it was strange that the kids would wear long sleeve shirts and pants in 90 degree weather.

"He looked like something was wrong with him," Corey Clark, 17, said of Sloan. "He had them scared."