A 48-year-old Brooklyn mother was arrested Monday and charged with second-degree murder after beating her daughters, Shalom Guifarro, 9, and her 13-year-old sister. Shemene Cato reportedly beat the girls on Sunday, and it lasted for two hours in their Crown Heights apartment. Shalom died from her injuries, the New York Post reported.
An arrest wasn’t made immediately until the medical examiner ruled Shalom’s death a homicide.
Shalom’s body was discovered in a bedroom sometime between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. after police received a call from the 13-year-old victim, who managed to get away and call authorities, telling them that her younger sister was “spanked” by her mom for a temper tantrum before she died. When the officers arrived at the scene, they found Shalom unconscious with severe bruises: head trauma and bite marks on her back.
“A doctor at the medical examiner’s office determined that Shalom suffered multiple blunt force impact injuries about the head and body, resulting in internal bleeding that ultimately caused Shalom’s death,” David Ingle, Brooklyn Assistant District Attorney, said.
Moments before police arrived, employees at a restaurant underneath the apartment, Memphis Seoul, noticed a foul smell. Bart Hubbuch, the restaurant owner, said he left his establishment around 12:30 p.m. to deliver a catering order. He received a call from his employees complaining about the foul smell, describing it as “sewage dripping into the restaurant from the apartment.”
Hubbuch contacted the landlord, and the superintendent came to the unit before the police.
“It’s a sad situation,” Hubbuch said. “The cops even themselves were emotional about it.”
Tuesday, prosecutors said that Cato repeatedly ignored the cries of “Mommy help me” from her youngest before dying. Judge Simiyon Haniff ordered Cato to be held without bail and issued an order of protection for the 13-year-old sister.
“Miss Cato, I noticed your head has been down, but I want you to make sure you heard and understand,” Haniff said to Cato, who burst into tears.
The murder began around 8 a.m., and, in the filed complaint, prosecutors claimed the beating happened over a missing computer tablet. Shalom crawled under the bed to hide, but Cato allegedly attempted to pull her out from underneath the bed, causing one of her legs to break, and the bed fell on the young girl’s head. Cato continued the alleged assault on her youngest daughter, ignoring the child’s plea for help as she bled internally.
Neighbors claimed they would often hear yelling and screaming from the apartment before Shalom died.
“I heard a lot of screaming and fighting from the apartment,” Jason Rhimzadeh, a neighbor, said. “I heard loud arguments at least ten times, where they were screaming at the top of their lungs. The family kept to themselves.”
“Everyone in the building is so nice and calm, but we all knew that apartment was trouble,” Rhimzadeh added.
Hubbuch said that while the kids were “well mannered,” the mother was the opposite.
“Their mother frequently cussed them out and wouldn’t let them play with the other kids on the block.”
Sources have told The Post that this disturbance isn’t the only time authorities have been called to the apartment. There have been 14 different domestic violence reports, several of them from Cato. In some of the reports, Cato accused her ex of harassing her and child abuse, which police found to be false.