By Dennis Robaugh
Markisha Jones and Gene Edwards could have been celebrating the first birthdays of their twin daughters, Mia and Mya, this month.
Instead, Mom and Dad sit in jail.
Mia marked her first birthday in foster care after spending months in a hospital where she was nursed back from the brink of death.
And little Mya is dead.
The twin girls born to Jones and Edwards in May 2013 spent much of their time in a "dungeon-like basement," sharing a crib as they wasted away, starved for nutrition and attention, according to Cook County prosecutors.
Edwards, 22, and Jones, 19, met in Bolingbrook, where they had graduated from Bolingbrook High School. They moved to Barrington with their newborn daughters.
Five months after the birth, the parents stopped feeding the babies formula, instead mixing cereal and baby food with water. The basement of the rented Barrington apartment where little Mia and Mya spent their days and nights was warmed only with a space heater.
Meanwhile, their dad spent much time upstairs playing video games with his cousin, prosecutors told a judge.
It was Gene who noticed Mya wasn't breathing on Jan. 8, 2014 — just after lunchtime — and called paramedics, who tried to revive the 7-month-old malnourished baby on the dining room table.
But they were unable to breathe life back into her skinny little body. Mya died on that dining room table.
Mia was rushed to Good Shepherd Hospital, but her health was so deteriorated the infant immediately was transferred to Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, prosecutors said.
The Department of Children and Family Services subsequently took custody of Mia. She's now in a foster home.
Charges against the parents — involuntary manslaughter and felony child endangerment — were announced Friday night by Barrington's police chief after an investigation by the Cook County Medical Examiner's office concluded Mya's death was a homicide caused by malnutrition from starvation.
"At this point, I don't know why they did what they did," Barrington Police Chief David Dorn told the Daily Herald on Friday. "Our whole statement throughout this has been how incredibly sad it is."
The couple faced a judge Saturday, who set bail at $250,000 each. Unable to post bond, Edwards and Jones then headed for jail cells.
Edwards admitted to investigators he noticed his daughters were getting skinny, the Chicago Tribune reports, but he didn't do anything. The summer of 2013 was the last time the babies were seen by a doctor, prosecutors said.
Their rented Barrington apartment was in a single-family home on the 100 block of South Hager Avenue. After the babies were born, prosecutors said, the parents were offered a room upstairs for Mia and Mya but they turned it down.
After Mya died and Mia was taken by DCFS, Edwards and Jones moved back to Bolingbrook, residing in the 300 block of Kirkwood Circle, where police arrested them on Friday.
DCFS conducted an investigation separate from that of the police. DCFS concluded the parents neglected Mya and Mia. DCFS spokeswoman Karen Hawkins told reporters the DCFS findings will be available to schools and other public agencies for 50 years.
The parents are due back in a Cook County courtroom on Wednesday, May 21.@ChicagoPatch on Twitter | Follow on Facebook
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