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The mother and maternal grandparents of a child who died in a hospital after being found in grave condition at a Spring Valley home last summer were behind bars Tuesday on suspicion of fatally abusing her, authorities reported.

Arrested Monday in connection with the death of 11-year-old Arabella McCormack were Leticia Diane McCormack, 49, Adella Tom, 70, and Tom’s 75-year- old husband, Stanley, according to the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department.

Each of the suspects was booked on suspicion of child abuse leading to injury or death and three counts of torture. McCormack and her father also face charges of first-degree murder.

Deputies responding to a report of a child in distress about 2 a.m. Aug. 30 found Arabella in dire condition at a residence in the 3300 block of Lakeview Drive, sheriff’s homicide Lt. Chris Steffen said. Paramedics took her to a hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

“During the investigation, detectives (discovered) suspected signs of possible child abuse,” Steffen said.

As the case proceeded, the girl’s father, Brian McCormack, killed himself in the presence of investigators when they approached him near his home to question him, the lieutenant said.

Authorities did not immediately detail the nature of the alleged fatal abuse suffered by Arabella. Her sisters, ages 6 and 7, have been placed in the custody of a foster family.

The suspects were being held without bail pending arraignment, scheduled for Wednesday.

–City News Service


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Ellen Bullock