Mother indicted in Millvale toddler's death

MILLVALE, OH (FOX19) - The Hamilton County Prosecutor announced Thursday the mother accused of smothering her toddler last week in Millvale has been indicted on several charges.

Janishcia Cottingham, 23, is facing one count of aggravated murder, murder, and felonious assault.

Police got a call last Thursday shortly before 2 p.m. that there was a toddler not responding at a townhome on Bowling Green Court. Upon arrival, police found Robin Cottingham, 15 months, unresponsive in a crib in the living room.

Police say no one was home when they arrived.

Robin Cottingham was pronounced dead at the scene by the Hamilton County Coroner's Office, who later determined she was smothered to death. The coroner ruled Robin's death a homicide on Thursday.

Her mother, Janishcia, was later arrested and charged in connection with Robin's death.

Cottingham's father, Robert Midell, says the toddler was previously handed over to Job and Family Services (JFS) by the mother. Midell says he was then called by an agent asking to pick up the child, who remained in his custody until he also had to turn the toddler over to JFS, to get himself "situated and established."

According to Midell, the agency gave Robin Cottingham back to the mother.

"There was nothing that would have indicated that this would have been the outcome. Again, there was no prior history with this family. The child, never in the process did anyone say the child was abused or neglected or had concerns about her being abused or neglected," said JFS Director Moira Weir.

Janishcia Cottingham's grandmother, Belinda, says it was clear Janishcia needed mental health services, but those services were never delivered.

"All she needed was help. She cried out for help. The state failed her. The state Job and Family Services failed her," said Belinda.

Weir couldn't go into details but says help was being provided.

"The family in this situation was very engaged and was working with us, and the family was facilitating all the arrangements," she said.

Those arrangements apparently fell short Thursday when Janishcia arrived at her grandmother's house appearing very disoriented and without her daughter Robin.

"Since she didn't have the baby, and she wasn't acting like herself, I contacted the Housing Authority and asked for emergency entrance and that's when they found the baby," Belinda explained.

Cottingham is being held on a $1 million bond. If convicted of all charges, she faces the possibility of life in prison without parole.

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