Girl, 8, allegedly strangled by grandma

Helen M. Ford is facing a murder trial for murdering her 8-year-old granddaughter in cold blood, and subjecting her to months of abuse.

UNITED STATES - A Chicago grandmother has been accused of killing her granddaughter - and the little girl's injuries were so bad that she had maggots living in an untreated head wound when she was still alive.

The little girl, Gizzell Kiara Ford, eight, suffered months of systematic abuse, reported New York Daily News.

Her grandmother, Helen M. Ford, 51, eventually strangled and beat her to death, claimed the police. The grandmother faces a murder charge and is held without bail.

Police said they found the girl "cold" and dead when they responded to a call of a person not breathing around 11.15am last Friday, reported the Chicago Tribune.

The details of the grisly crime were unveiled on Sunday by prosecutors who presented a disturbing case against the girl's caretaker and alleged executioner.

Ford initially told the police the girl inflicted the injuries herself. The police, however, found several burns, bruises and cuts on her body. She was lying face up in a bedroom in the home.

The little girl lived with her grandmother and bedridden father. Both were home when the girl died.

Maggots in her head

Some of the blunt force trauma happened so long ago that maggots had hatched in a head wound and moved to the front of the girl's scalp while she was still living, prosecutors said.

The long list of abuse included deep cuts on her buttocks, ligature marks on her ankles and wrists and possible cigarette burns on her body.

Blood-splattered twine, cables and a pole were found in the girl's home by the police.

Blood was also found on the bedroom wall near where her body was found.

A judge had awarded temporary custody of Gizzell to the girl's father last year.

Gizzell's mother, Ms Sandra Mercado, said Ford told her that her daughter would be safe with her.

"She reassured my family that Gizzell was safe," Ms Mercado told the Chicago Sun-Times.

When she did have contact with her daughter, Ms Mercado said, the girl would wear long-sleeve shirts and acted more timid.

She said Gizzell was a "beautiful little girl" and "an awesome big sister" to three siblings who live elsewhere.

Ford also kept the little girl away from her family and friends, Gizzell's uncle, Mr Osvaldo Mercado, told the Tribune. "Helen blocked everybody," Mr Mercado, 30, said.

"She would say, 'Gizzell can't talk - she's in the shower, or on punishment.' It was an excuse every time we called."

Cook County Judge Adam Bourgeois Jr. denied Ford bail after she was led slowly, sniffling and whimpering, into a courtroom on Sunday.

The prosecutors told the judge that the girl's father is bedridden and couldn't have inflicted the kind of injuries Gizzell suffered.