An autopsy on a 3-year-old Amherst girl who died Saturday showed the child succumbed to injuries from blunt force trauma, police said Monday.
Mayouna Smith, of Allenhurst Road, not only died due to trauma to her abdominal region, but also had been physically and sexually abused prior to her fatal injuries Saturday, Amherst police said.
No arrests have been made.
Mayouna’s case has not yet been ruled a homicide, but investigators are treating it as one.
“It may very well be ruled a homicide,” said Amherst Assistant Chief Charles Cohen. “I think with the preliminary indications that we have, the strongest thing we could say about it is it’s a suspicious death.
“We don’t determine when a death is a homicide. That comes from the medical examiner,” Cohen explained. “They told us what they told us so we could get the ball rolling on our side, but sometimes it takes a week or 10 days – maybe even longer in some cases – to definitively say something is a homicide.”
Police were called to the Allenhurst apartment at 9 a.m. Saturday for the report of a child not breathing and unresponsive.
Mayouna was home at the time with her mother, the mother’s boyfriend and another child, Cohen said. Police did not release their names.
Emergency crews performed first aid on Mayouna, who was transferred to Erie County Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead.
“It’s probably too soon to say we have a suspect,” Cohen said Monday afternoon at Amherst Police Headquarters.
“We’re interviewing anybody and everybody we can think of,” he said. “We collected some evidence from the apartment that day, and further testing from the Medical Examiner’s Office might point us in a better direction.”
Police interviewed both the mother and the boyfriend Saturday but would not comment on what they told investigators.
“The boyfriend went along with the interview for a while, then invoked his right to counsel,” Cohen said. “The mother came in and agreed to be interviewed.
“They’re probably working on the extended family today,” Cohen said Monday, in reference to investigators.
The autopsy, Cohen said, also showed the girl had been subject to prior physical and sexual abuse.
“I don’t want to get into too much more detail about the pattern, or the where or the how, because I don’t want to jeopardize the investigation,” Cohen said.
Anyone with information is asked to call Amherst police at 689-1360.
Neighbors on Allenhurst said the family had been living in the apartment since fall but knew little about them.
“I just pray this gets solved fast,” said Cheryl Fears, who has relatives who live in the Allenhurst apartment building, “and whoever did it, I hope they get put in jail for the rest of their life.”
Erie County officials said Monday afternoon that they were looking into whether Mayouna was involved in any complaints to Child Protective Services.
The child’s violent death is one of several that occurred in Erie County in recent years.
In September, 5-year-old Eain Clayton Brooks was allegedly beaten to death by his mother’s boyfriend in their West Side apartment. Matthew R. Kuzdzal was charged with second-degree murder and sexual assault.
Several days before Eain was killed, Justin Crouse, 30, was sentenced to 21 years in prison for killing Gage Seneca, the 3-year-old son of his girlfriend, in March 2013 on the Cattaraugus Indian Reservation.
Earlier this month, Dylan Schumacher, 17, was sentenced to 25 years to life for the March 2013 fatal beating of Austin Smith, the 23-month-old son of his Springville girlfriend.
In 2012, 10-year-old Abdifatah Mohamud was beaten to death by his stepfather, Ali-Mohamed Mohamud, who is serving a prison term of 25 years to life.
News Staff Reporter Lou Michel contributed to this report.