EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. -- Three young children were found dead yesterday, hours after a woman was charged with killing their pregnant mother and her fetus in a grisly attack in which authorities believe her womb was cut open after she was knocked unconscious.
The two boys, ages 7 and 2, and their sister, 1, were found together in an apartment in the East St. Louis public housing complex where their mother lived, Illinois State Police Captain Craig Koehler said.
The children were last seen Monday with family friend Tiffany Hall, 24, now charged with first-degree murder in the death of their mother, who is believed to have been slain days before her children disappeared. Hall is also charged with intentional homicide of an unborn child, prosecutor Robert Haida said.
Koehler declined to say whether Hall was suspected in the children's deaths. The cause of their deaths had not been determined and autopsies would be performed today, he said.
The bodies of DeMond Tunstall, 7, Ivan Tunstall-Collins, 2, and Jinela Tunstall, 1, were found in an apartment at the John DeShields public housing complex.
The body of their mother, Jimella Tunstall, 23, was found Thursday in a weedy East St. Louis lot.
An autopsy showed Tunstall, who was seven months pregnant, bled to death after sustaining an abdominal wound caused by a sharp object, believed to be scissors, said Ace Hart, a deputy St. Clair County coroner.
Relatives say Tunstall grew up with Hall and had let her baby-sit her children.
``She said [Hall] was looking out for her," Tunstall's brother, Ernest Myers, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Officials suspect Tunstall was slain on or about Sept. 15, Haida said. The same day, Hall summoned police to a park, saying she had given birth to a stillborn child, Hart said.