Police: Toddler homicide victim had deep bite marks
Three-year-old homicide victim Isabel Rose Godfrey suffered numerous bruises on her body and several deep bite marks on her torso, according to investigators.
Northern York County Regional Police also said they found open packages of synthetic marijuana and a smoking pipe not far from Isabel's lifeless body, inside the home of her mother, Regina Lester.
Lester — who was being drug tested by the county's child-welfare agency — was naked and acting erratically when officers arrived at the scene, according to charging documents, which state she told a neighbor she had to kill her daughter to get the "darkness" out of her.
Lester, 30, of 265 Chesapeake Estates in Jackson Township, remains in York Hospital, where she was admitted after being arrested Wednesday night.
She is charged with homicide, child endangerment and making terroristic threats. Once released from York Hospital, she will be taken to York County Prison without bail.
York County Coroner Pam Gay said a ruling on the cause and manner of Isabel's death will not be made until after the coroner's office receives results from toxicology tests on the child. An autopsy was performed Friday morning at Allentown's Lehigh Valley Hospital.
"It's not unusual for us to (pend rulings)," Gay said, adding that doesn't mean that the cause of Isabel's death is a mystery to investigators.
"While there may — and I said may — be a determination we can use right now to say a cause and manner, we're going to wait until the full picture is done, including toxicology," Gay said. "We're going to play it safe."
Results on those tests are expected in two or three months, the coroner said.
Toxicology testing also is being done on Lester, Northern Regional Lt. David Lash has confirmed.
Mom drug tested: The York County Office of Children, Youth and Families was involved with the family, according to York County spokesman Carl Lindquist.
"We are significantly restricted by the state's Child Protective Services Act from releasing information on this case," he said. "We can confirm, however, that the woman involved was a client of the Office of Children, Youth and Families and that she was receiving in-home services and was subject to drug testing by the office."
Synthetic marijuana doesn't show up on typical drug tests, according to Chris Goldstein, a Philadelphia-based advocate for marijuana consumers and patients.
The biggest users of synthetic marijuana, also known as spice and K2, are prison inmates and members of the military — people who are regularly drug tested.
The county's Office of Children, Youth and Families can test for synthetic marijuana, according to Lindquist, who noted that different tests are used to test for different types of drugs. He said the type of test used would depend on information the agency received through referrals and through its own investigations.
Lindquist said an Act 33 investigation has been initiated.
"It's a comprehensive investigation that looks at the child-welfare network," which includes CYF and community stakeholders, he said. "The purpose ... is to determine if anything could have been done to change the outcome of the case."
The in-home support services being provided to Lester and her family came from a contracted agency, according to Lindquist.
The background: Lester's charging documents state her 6-year-old son "frantically" ran to the home of neighbor Andrew Day and banged on the man's door, saying his mother was trying to kill his little sister. Day responded by running to Lester's mobile home.
On the way, he ran past Lester, who was naked in her front yard "hugging a tree," documents state.
"Day advised as he (passed by her), Lester stated, 'I'm sorry. I didn't mean to do it. You understand I had to get the darkness out of her. I'm sorry,'" documents allege.
Day then ran inside Lester's mobile home and saw Isabel, called Bella, unresponsive on the floor, with vomit coming from her mouth, according to police.
Jessica Colon, another neighbor who'd gone inside Lester's home, was on the phone with 911 while simultaneously performing CPR on Isabel, documents state.
Threat to kill others: While that was going on, Lester ran to a neighbor's house, banged on the door and said "I need to kill your kids," according to charging documents.
Lester then started to run into the street, at which point a neighbor tackled her, subdued her and held her there until officers arrived, police said.
Lester worked as a server for many years at Cross Keys Motor Inn & Restaurant near New Oxford, Adams County, according to the manager there, Vickie Saltos.
"What we recall most about Regina is her love for her kids," Saltos told The York Dispatch. "Her kids were her life. ... That's all she spoke about."
When Saltos heard about the allegations, she "thought immediately this had to be drug-related because it's so out of character for her," she said.
"She loved her (three) children dearly. At least that's the impression we got from her," Saltos said. "We're all heartbroken and shocked. ... It obviously was drugs."
How to help: Anyone who suspects a child is being abused and neglected is urged by the Pennsylvania Family Support Alliance to call the state's ChildLine at (800) 932-0313.
— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at email@example.com or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.