Authorities in Chicago have confirmed the arrest of a 33-year-old man in connection with the Christmas morning strangulation death of a 32-year-old mother of two.
PEOPLE learns Jeffery Finely Scott faces a single felony count of first-degree murder for allegedly killing Juanita Hankins.
Hankins was found inside a motel on the city’s South Side.
Police were asked to check on her just before 11 a.m., after Hankins failed to show up at her mother’s home on Christmas Day to watch her daughters open their gifts.
Officers who first arrived at the scene noted numerous visible bruises to Hankins’ body.
An autopsy on the Chicago woman’s remains showed she was strangled and that her death was the result of homicidal violence.
It was unclear Tuesday if Scott had appeared in court to plead to the charge. Information on whether he has a lawyer was also unavailable.
The victim’s mother, Elisa Hankins, spoke to WBBM-TV about her daughter, describing her as a doting mother.
“She loved her babies; she loved her babies, and now she will never be able to see her babies,” Elisa Hankins said.
Juanita had dropped her two children off at her mother’s house on Christmas Eve, saying she’d return for them in a matter of hours.
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“I said, ‘If I call you girl you better pick up,'” said Elisa Hankins. “We laughed and she said, ‘Mom you know I’ll be back.’ Then 8 o’clock came, 9 then midnight … before you know it was Christmas. My daughter would never abandon her kids on Christmas.”
Police are investigating just what happened in that hotel, and what precipitated the violence.
“That’s my only daughter,” said Elisa Hankins. “What am I supposed to do? I’m never gonna see my daughter again.”
The Hankins family is raising funds online to help pay for Juanita’s funeral.