Regina Lofton put her 13-month-old twins down for a nap in the upstairs bedroom of her home in the 10600 block of Wentworth Avenue in Chicago. She left the home, even getting a shrimp basket from a local diner. Lee Sweis, the manager said “She seemed happy.” She didn’t actually check on her children for a total of five and a half hours, until she went upstairs to feed them. According to the Chicago Tribune, when the police were called to the home at about 5:50 pm, it was already too late. The twins were pronounced dead less than an hour later.
The Chicago Sun-Times reports the condition of the home as “deplorable.” The temperature had crawled over 90 degrees outdoors, and the only air conditioner in the upstairs bedroom was turned off. The window of the room was open, but blocked by towels, increasing the temperature of the upstairs bedroom. The entire second floor of the home was covered in dog feces, urine, and dirty diapers.
The autopsy confirmed that the twins died of hyperthermia, environmental exposure, and failure to thrive due to maternal neglect. Hyperthermia can lead to other complications, such as dehydration, salt imbalances, and even heart complications. This is especially true for such small children, who were underweight and undernourished. (Kimora and Kamari were only thirteen pounds; the typical weight for a thirteen-month-old is about 22 pounds, according to kidsgrowth.com.) Chicago Police Superintendent Jody Weis reminds people that “extreme heat conditions can be very deadly for the very young and the very old,” as tragically demonstrated in this scenario.
The deaths have been ruled a homicide, and Loft has been charged with endangering the life of a child, a class three felony. Loft’s family insists that she did not intentionally neglect her child, but was overwhelmed. At 21 years old, she already had five children, one of which is in neonatal care at the hospital because of premature birth.
Judge Portman ordered Lofton held in lieu of $350,000 bond. She faces up to 20 years in prison. The Illinois Department of Child and Family Services is investigating the possibility of neglect at Lofton’s home, but has never had any previous contact with the family.
Jaqueline Ray, the children’s paternal grandmother, insists “Gigi is not a bad mother. She’s just young and she’s been through a lot. She’s not a bad person; everybody makes mistakes.” Lofton has been living with Ray for about a month in order to get back on her feet.
The children’s father was not available for comment.