Woman Who Killed Her 4 Daughters Is Given 120 Years
WASHINGTON — A woman convicted of killing her four daughters and living for months with their decomposing bodies was sentenced Friday to 120 years in prison.
2 Years After 4 Deaths, D.C. Welfare System Remains Under Scrutiny (October 22, 2009) The woman, Banita M. Jacks, 35, was found living with the corpses of her daughters, ages 5 to 16, when deputy federal marshals served an eviction notice at her home in southeast Washington on Jan. 9, 2008. Autopsies later indicated that the girls had been dead for at least seven months.
The deaths plunged the local child welfare agency into turmoil amid accusations that more should have been done to prevent them. The agency has been under federal court oversight for two decades.
This case “will probably haunt me for the rest of my life,” Judge Frederick H. Weisberg of the District of Columbia Superior Court said as he handed down the mandatory minimum sentence of 30 years for the murder of each child. He rejected a request from Ms. Jacks’s lawyer that the sentences run concurrently.
!!!! Warning for triggering and all sorts of heartbreaking tragedy !!!!
During her trial, Ms. Jacks’s lawyers had pressed her to plead not guilty by reason of insanity and argued that she was not competent after she rejected that advice.
An April report by the city inspector general cited a lack of follow-through and coordination among city agencies as the reason the girls were not saved.
“Multiple entities worked effectively, but largely obliviously to each other’s efforts, to put in place many of the elements necessary for the family to sustain itself,” the report said. “Yet, no single organization seemingly had the full perspective necessary to see and follow the family’s progress, and intervene when these elements of self-sufficiency began to destabilize.”
The Jacks family was supposed to receive monthly visits based on its housing placement, but it never did, the report said. Education officials failed to follow through when the girls dropped out of school.
In May, Judith W. Meltzer, who was appointed to track the child welfare agency by a federal judge, Thomas F. Hogan, said the agency was still failing to offer adequate care for abused and neglected children.
City officials say the agency has improved significantly. Judge Hogan’s decision on whether to end the court oversight is pending.
More on the trial itself,
-Banita Jacks repeatedly told District homicide detectives that demons possessed her daughters but that she was confident that they would return from the dead when the demons died.