Things That Matter

A Chicago Mom Killed Her Two Children And Was Charged With The City’s First Homicides of 2020

In a tragic incident on January 2, 2020, two young Chicago children were killed at the hands of their young mother. During the days that followed, 20-year-old Aleah Newell was charged with two counts of first-degree murder surrounding the deaths of her two sons: 7-month-old Ameer and 2-year-old Johntavis. She also faces a charge of attempted first-degree murder, after assaulting her 70-year-old grandfather, Cordell Walker, in the bathroom of his high-rise apartment.

When the police arrived on the scene, they found Newell’s grandfather on the floor, “moaning in a pool of his own blood.” Newell had stabbed him more than ten times after putting him in a chokehold and hitting him in the head with a towel bar. He is expected to survive the attack.

Authorities say that the nightmarish evening continued with Newell stabbing 7-month-old Ameer 19 times in the head, then placing him face down in a scalding hot bath that covered his body in blisters. According to charging documents from the Cook County State Attorney’s Office, Newell then threw 2-year-old Johntavis out of the 11-story window, jumping out after him mere seconds later. Newell allegedly struck window washer scaffolding on the third floor before hitting the concrete below. Police have security video evidence that shows both bodies falling separately, and Newell can be seen sitting up and stirring after the fall.

While Newell suffered only a broken ankle and wrist, Johntavis suffered multiple fractures to the skull and blunt force trauma from the impact of the fall.

A security woman encountered Johntavis and Newell on the ground outside the building and called 911. The court document states that at roughly the same time, a tenant on the 10th floor called security to report that water was leaking through the ceiling—Newell had left the bathtub faucet running.

Although Newell has spent the past several days undergoing and recovering from surgery at University of Chicago Medical Center, she was ordered Saturday to be held without bond on her multiple charges of murder and attempted murder, and she has still not entered pleas for the charges.

According to NBC News, prosecutors claimed that Newell was diagnosed with a mood disorder in the summer of 2019, after an attempted suicide. But Zera Newell said, “I thought she was over that,” adding that “maybe behind closed doors it was another thing.”

 At the end of December, she had been staying at Shield of Hope, a Chicago homeless shelter for families, for two days. The court document shows that prosecutors cited Newell asking her mother, Zera Newell, to pick up the children on New Year’s Eve so that Newell could “get her life together.” But by the time her mother showed up to Shield of Hope on Wednesday, Newell was gone.

Acquaintance Adrianna Thomas also commented on Newell’s stay at the Shield of Hope, saying that Newell had told several employees that she needed support and was struggling to raise her kids on her own. People close to Newell claim that the Salvation Army—which oversees the Shield of Hope shelter—denied her pleas.

“She came to all of us and said she couldn’t take care of the kids,” Thomas said. “It was wrong for them not to help her. She told us that she asked them during intake, [and said], ‘Well I asked them if they could help me, and they said they couldn’t help me. I had to do it on my own.'”

Another acquaintance, Teranika Jones said, “If y’all knew she was asking for help, why didn’t you help this lady?”

Zera Newell also holds the shelter somewhat accountable. “They should have helped her, if they knew she wasn’t fit they should have called me,” she said. “They could have called a member of the family to get the kids. So to me, they’re responsible for it too.”

The Salvation Army initially issued a statement that said that they could not confirm whether Newell had stayed at the shelter or not, though they later did affirm her presence for two nights in December.

“Our prayers go out to the family impacted by this horrible tragedy. Due to client confidentiality, we can’t disclose the names of clients,” the original statement from the Salvation Army said.

According to the Chicago Sun-Times, a friend of the family mentioned that the deaths of Ameer and Johntavis weren’t the only tragedy to touch the family in recent years. He said that in the summer of 2018, three members of the family—including Newell’s brother and a 12-year-old girl—were shot and wounded outside a home in the South Side Gresham neighborhood. But the deaths of these two boys are Chicago’s first homicides of 2020.

“My daughter, I don’t know what was going on, but I know deep inside she loved her kids,” Zera Newell said. “And my grandsons, I’m going to never forget them. I want to always remember the good times I had with them for two years and seven months.”

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson Says People Always Assumed He Was a Girl Growing Up Because He Had ‘Soft Features’

Entertainment

Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson Says People Always Assumed He Was a Girl Growing Up Because He Had ‘Soft Features’

FREDERIC J. BROWN / Getty

Dwayne Johnson, agreeably one of the most “masculine” presenting people in the world, recently revealed that people weren’t always so quick to assume he was so. In an interview on “Sunday Today with Willie Geist,” that took place earlier this week the American actor and former professional wrestler revealed that when he was a child, people often assumed he was a girl. 

Speaking about his experience with presumed gender identity, The Rock revealed that people often thought he was girl because of his “soft features.”

“I would say between the ages of 7 and 11, people thought that I was a little girl because I had really soft features and I had really soft Afro hair,” he explained in his interview with Willie Geist.

The actor even went so far as to share a time in his life as a fifth-grader who was riding on a school bus.

“I sit down next to a kid, and within 60 seconds, he goes, ‘Can I ask you something?'” The Rock recalled. “I said, ‘Yeah.’ He goes, ‘Are you a boy or a girl?'”

Drawing on this time in his life, Johnson revealed that likely this also chalks up to his frequent moves as a child.

During his childhood, Johnson’s father Rocky Johnson was a professional wrestler who often moved his family around. According to John, he attended thirteen different schools by the time he was in high school.

“I have had a Forrest Gump-ian childhood growing up,” Johnson explained in his interview. “Wrestling in the ’80s and in the ’70s was way different than it is today. A lot of the times, including my father, the wrestlers would live paycheck to paycheck.”

The former wrestler reflection on earlier days coincides with the recent premiere of the hit NBC sitcom “Young Rock” a new series based on his life.

Fans of Johnson will be glad to know that he also stars in the series.

He is also portrayed by three different actors Adrian Groulx, Bradley Constant and Uli Latukefu.

“Growing up, and you know we specifically went with these timelines in my life that were very defining times at 10 years old, 15 and 18 … there’s a lot of things in between those years that took place … but it was complicated and the relationship that I had with my dad was incredibly complicated — that was fueled by tough love,” he explained during NBC’s TCA press tour in an interview about the series.

He went onto share that his father “was kicked out of his house at 13 and he was homeless, so that then shaped the man who then raised me… And in that complication came an extraordinary life that was full of travel. I lived in 13 different states by the time I was 13 years old, also lived in New Zealand.”

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

Yes, Beyoncé Really Did Run Into Selena Quintanilla At A Mall Back In The Day

Entertainment

Yes, Beyoncé Really Did Run Into Selena Quintanilla At A Mall Back In The Day

Netflix

Part 2 of Netflix’s “Selena: The Series,” is currently streaming, which means fans of the late Tejano singer are getting a chance to learn more about her origin stories. In the second part of the series, fans can expect to see more of the icon’s tragically brief but beautifully successful life. The new episodes chronicle Selena Quintanilla’s rise as a superstar and will no doubt make fans of the singer feel a deep sense of love for her.

Particularly when it comes to one episode in particular!

Part 2’s episode 6, called “Lo Más Bello,” sees the lives of two superstars collide.

The endearing episode sees Selena, played by Christian Serratos, on a shopping trip to an outdoor mall with her mother and sister. It’s then that the young singer catches the eye of a young girl who is also with her mother and sister.

Perhaps it’s real seeing real, but in either case in this episode, the young girl stops to gaze at Selena. She’s star-struck. In the episode, the young girl’s mother asks who she’s looking at and the girl replies, “Selena, a famous singer. Be quiet!”

Knowing that her daughter is a singer herself, the mother encourages her to introduce herself. Of course, the young girl is too shy to say hello but she does wave.

When Selena walks away, the young girl’s mother reveals a fun twist when she says “Beyoncé Knowles, you better learn not to be afraid of people if you ever want to be famous too.”

Like we said…

Real recognizing real.

Selena
“Selena: The Series” / Netflix

While it might seem like the producers took creative liberty, it turns out they actually didn’t. And it makes sense. Fans of Selena and Beyoncé know that the two singers are Texan-icons.

In a recent interview for MTV Trés, Beyoncé revealed that she actually did see Selena, in the Galleria Mall in Houston. “I didn’t say much to Selena because I wasn’t a celebrity,” Beyoncé said in an interview for MTV Trés back in the day. “I just saw her and said hello and kept it moving. Definitely growing up in Texas I heard her on the radio, and I think listening to her album, even though I didn’t know exactly what she was saying, it helped me in the studio with my pronunciation.”

Fans of the Texan starlets might also remember how Beyonce, in a 2007 interview with People en Español, spoke about her love of Selena.

At the time, Beyoncée was celebrating her re-release of six Spanish-language tracks. “I listened to Selena all the time” she recalled at the time of the interview. “She’s close to me because of where I’m from.”

Both “Selena: The Series” Parts 1 and 2 are streaming right now on Netflix! Check them out!

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com