Indiana foster mother suffocated 20-month-old girl, police say

Jamilia Hodge

GARY, Ind. — A foster mother in northern Indiana is charged with murder after she told police she suffocated a 20-month-old child, according to court documents.

Jamilia Hodge, 32, told officers she placed a hand over the mouth of Emma Salinas and held it there until she stopped breathing, according to a probable cause affidavit obtained by the Northwest Indiana Times. She then rolled the girl onto her stomach and left the room.

Lt. Dawn Westerfield of the Gary Police Department says officers found the child dead at her home on Thursday after they received a call about an unresponsive child.

An autopsy determined that Salinas died as a result of suffocation, complicated by blunt force trauma to the head.

Hodge said she Benchmark Family Services paid her to take care of the foster child.

Hodge also was charged Saturday with aggravated battery and neglect of a dependent resulting in death. She is being held in the Lake County Jail without bond.

According to the Northwest Indiana Times, Hodge told police she cared for three other foster children — a 4-year-old boy, a 6-year-old girl and an 8-year-old girl. She also cared for her 1-year-old daughter.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.