6:33 AM PDT, August 20, 2021
Julissia Batties, the 7-year-old who died of injuries in a Bronx apartment, barely had a relationship with her mother when she was brought to live with her last year, a friend of the family said. “She never used to really talk about her mom. If you asked me it was like she didn’t exist to her,” Jalissa Jacob told Inside Edition Digital.
In fact, the weekend trip that led to mom, 35-year-old Navasia Jones, regaining custody of Julissia was likely the first time the girl spent the night at her mom’s home in the Mitchel Houses, an affordable housing complex, Jacob said.
“To my understanding, it was [the first time,]” Jacob said. “She’ll have little visits or if there was a function she’ll come, but that was right about it.”
Jacob said that Julissia tended to be shy and reserved around people she didn’t know. That’s what the girl was like around her mom when Jacob saw the pair of them together at gatherings or parties, she said.
“It would just be like a stranger. She’ll be quiet and shut down. More so [keeping] to herself,” Jacob recalled of Julissia’s interactions with her mom. “She wouldn’t be happy to see her or anything.”
But when Julissia was around people she knew and was familiar with, her demeanor was entirely different. “When she got used to you, that was it,” Jacob said. “Always smiling, happy.”
Jacob said she lived in the building next to Julissia and her grandmother Yolanda Davis in Brooklyn. Every time she visited the family, “she would just be waiting at the door with [her toys,] Elsa and Anna.”
Julissia also spent a lot of time with her cousins, and even though her dad Julius Batties did not live with them, she also enjoyed spending time with her dad, Jacob said. “She loved him,” Jacob said. “She’s always taking his hat. She’ll wear it and she’ll just walk around.”
But there was nothing Julissia loved more than spending time with her grandmother Yolanda Davis. Jacob said she’d often take the neighborhood kids to the park together, but Julissia would always prefer to stay behind with her grandmother, or wait until her grandmother could take her to the park.
The pair also went to church together every Sunday. “If you go over there on a Sunday before a certain time, you’ll see her showing off her dress of the day,” Jacob recalled.
Julissia had been living with Davis since she was just days old, when her mom lost custody of her, until around March 2020, when Davis allowed her to spend the weekend with her mom.
Julissia was never returned, and the Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) allowed Julissia to stay with her mom in the Mitchel Houses, an affordable housing complex in the Bronx, “because of the pandemic,” Davis told WPIX.
Davis had been trying to get her back ever since.
“I’ve tried my hardest to regain custody of her to have a normal life,” Davis said in a statement on GoFundMe. “Due to the pandemic there was limited resources, assistance and unfortunately the courts were closed and my voice fell on deaf ears.”
Julissia was found unconscious at her mom’s home last week and pronounced dead at the hospital, police said. Her death has been deemed a homicide, according to the NYPD.
Jacob said when went to the Mitchel Houses a few days ago, neighbors told her they recalled seeing bruises on Julissia in the days before her death. “She told one of the neighbors, ‘My mommy did it,’” Jacob said.
Davis said “there were abdominal injuries to Julissia. Old ones and new ones,” and she also claimed she also had trauma to her face and arms, WPIX reported.
Jacob said she doesn’t know why ACS allowed Julissia to stay with Jones, or why they didn’t intervene earlier.
“They bother and harass people for less,” she said. “It is unacceptable.”
An ACS spokesperson told Inside Edition Digital, “Our top priority is protecting the safety and wellbeing of all children in New York City.”
No one has been charged in relation to Julissia’s death. Authorities are continuing to investigate the incident, the NYPD told Inside Edition Digital.
ACS is working with the NYPD to investigate.