Mother accused in daughter's death; officials say asphyxia was cause

Henrietta Rogers

A 46-year-old Milwaukee woman faces a charge of first-degree reckless homicide in the death of her 10-year-old daughter. The accused is Henrietta Rogers.

According to the criminal complaint, Milwaukee police responded to a residence on N. 44th Street just south of Hampton Avenue on Thursday evening, Feb. 10 for a deceased child. When they arrived at the duplex, they found a 10-year-old girl who "appeared to be deceased for a number of hours," the complaint says. The child was later identified as Jada Clay.

Police interviewed the older sister of Jada. She indicated to police that the 10-year-old was "acting up" the previous evening by "refusing to allow the defendant to put braid's in (her) hair," the complaint says.

Homicide investigation near 44th and Hampton, Milwaukee

On the morning of Feb. 10, the 10-year-old still refused the braid treatment, the complaint says. The older sister told police she "heard a loud bang come from inside the bathroom and rushed to see what was happening. As (the older sister) approached the bathroom, (she) observed the defendant on the bathroom floor with the defendant's back towards the back bathroom wall. The bathroom vanity sink was loose form the wall and fallen towards the toilet. The defendant was holding a mirror that had fallow off of the bathroom wall. (The 10-year-old) was also on the bathroom floor, laying towards the defendant's legs and feet," the complaint says. The older sister told police she did not observe any injuries on Jada at that time.

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The complaint says Rogers told her kids to get ready for school -- and she left the residence. After some time passed, the older sister became concerned about being late to school. The complaint says she approached (the 10-year-old's) bedroom and told her she could walk her to school. But the 10-year-old closed and locked her bedroom door, the complaint says. The older sister believed her mother would return to the residence and get Jada to school -- so she left.

After school, the older sister called the defendant to ask for a pickup. Rogers did not respond. The older sister asked her older brother for a ride. When the two eventually got back to the residence, the complaint says they "unlocked the door and entered the residence, discovering the door to the upper unit was ajar and unlocked." They eventually made it to Jada's bedroom, used a screwdriver to unlock the door, and found the girl on the floor. They called 911.

Shortly before 9 p.m. on Feb. 10, police were dispatched to Schlitz Park where "there was a woman on scene crying and asking for help," the complaint says. Officers arrived on the scene and located Rogers "who was visibly upset. The defendant reported running out of gas and just wanting to go home." As officers were talking to Rogers, they "were informed that the defendant's 10-year-old daughter...was just located deceased inside the defendant's residence," the complaint says.

When officers asked Rogers for consent to search the residence, the complaint says she declined to provide that consent. Officers noted she did not ask about her daughter or her daughter's condition. She then "became agitated and said she did not understand why police were asking the defendant questions," the complaint says. Rogers was arrested on the scene.

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The medical examiner provided a preliminary cause of death for Jada Clay as asphyxia and a preliminary manner of death as homicide.

The court records also say a "number of scratches and bruises were located on the defendant's body, in particular the defendant's arms. The defendant claimed the injuries were from moving furniture."

Rogers was scheduled to make her initial appearance in Milwaukee County court on Tuesday, Feb. 15.

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