2:48 PM PDT, August 18, 2021
Loved ones gathered over the weekend during a memorial for 7-year-old Julissia Batties, who died of injuries shortly after she was allowed to live with her mom again for the first time since her mom lost custody of her when she was just a baby.
Dozens showed up to the vigil on Sunday evening to share prayers and light candles, placed to spell out Julissia’s initials in front of photos, flowers and a stuffed animal.
“She was a good child. She didn’t give any problems. And we loved her,” her grandmother Yolanda Davis said during the ceremony, which was recorded on Facebook Live. “She died at a young age … She loved all. Deeply … We know that now she’s in a better place … [God] took her back home because I did all I could.”
Now, Davis, who says she raised Julissia for most of the little girl’s life after her mom lost custody of her at just days old, says she is not being allowed to claim the girl’s body and plan a funeral, despite having raised her for most of her life.
Instead, Davis is being told that Julissia’s mother and aunt would make arrangements for her body, WPIX reported.
“This is wrong,” Davis told WPIX. “This child died in the custody of her mother.”
Julissia had been living with Davis in her home in Brooklyn until around March 2020, when Davis allowed her to spend the weekend with her mom, 35-year-old Navasia Jones, according to WPIX.
Julissia was never returned, and the Administration for Children’s Services 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.
“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.”
A spokesperson with the Administration for Children’s Services told Inside Edition Digital, “Our top priority is protecting the safety and wellbeing of all children in New York City.”
Last Tuesday morning, Julissia was discovered “lying face up on a bedroom floor, unconscious and unresponsive,” WPIX reported, citing a law enforcement source.
“I tried to protect her from harm and mistreatment but I could not win,” Davis said on a GoFundMe page. “Unfortunately we are here.”
Family members who had been at the Bronx apartment the morning of Julissia’s death now seem to be giving conflicting statements.
Jones allegedly told police that she woke up at 5 a.m. to find Julissia in the bathroom, vomiting and urinating on herself, the New York Daily News reported. She said Julissia then hit her head, and the girl’s 17-year-old half-brother carried her to the bedroom, where she passed out and hit her head for the second time, the Daily News reported, citing sources.
The 17-year-old half-brother, however, allegedly said Julissia spent the night getting snacks from the kitchen then began throwing up in the bedroom, according to the Daily News. He allegedly admitted to punching Julissia twice, then told police he punched her eight times, the Daily News reported.
He then said Julissia fell asleep on the living room couch, and the family later discovered her choking with her hands turning white, according to the Daily News.
“Why did they do that to my child?” Julissia’s dad Julius Batties told WPIX. He said he was never allowed to live with Jones or Julissia after Jones filed numerous domestic violence complaints against him, which he said were all false, WPIX reported.
Julissia loved watching TikTok videos, a woman who led a prayer at her vigil said.
She enjoyed playing with toys and her four cousins, Davis said. “She had an enjoyable childhood with lots of love, happiness, and I would give anything to have her back with us,” she wrote on the GoFundMe page.
As of Wednesday afternoon, no one has been charged in relation to Julissia’s death. Authorities are continuing to investigate the incident, the NYPD told Inside Edition Digital.
The Administration of Children’s Services are working with the NYPD to investigate.