- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 24, 2006

EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. (AP) — Three missing children have been found dead, days after their mother’s body was discovered with the fetus cut from her womb, authorities announced late yesterday.

The bodies of the children were found hours after a woman was charged and jailed on $5 million bond in the deaths of Jimella Tunstall, 23, who was seven months pregnant and her fetus.

The children were found together, the St. Clair County coroner’s office said. The coroner would not give the location.

Police began a search for Mrs. Tunstall’s two sons, 7 and 2, and 1-year-old daughter after they found the mother’s body last week in an East St. Louis lot that was thick with weeds.

Authorities continued the search for the children after charges against Tiffany Hall, 24, were announced yesterday. The children were last seen with Miss Hall on Monday, three days before she was taken into custody.

Miss Hall was charged with first-degree murder and intentional homicide of an unborn child in the death of Mrs. Tunstall, St. Clair County State’s Attorney Robert Haida said. She is being held in lieu of $5 million bail in the St. Clair County Jail in Belleville, Ill.

Relatives say Miss Tunstall grew up with Miss Hall, who baby-sat her children.

An autopsy showed Miss Tunstall bled to death after sustaining an abdominal wound caused by a sharp object, thought to be scissors.

Ace Hart, a deputy St. Clair County coroner, said Miss Hall summoned police to the Frank Holten park on Sept. 15, saying she had gone into labor. The dead baby, taken to a hospital, showed no signs of trauma, and an autopsy the next day failed to pinpoint a cause of death, he said.

Miss Hall would not let doctors at the hospital examine her and offered conflicting reasons for why she went into labor, alternately saying she had consensual sex and was raped, Mr. Hart said.

Authorities say Miss Hall acknowledged to her boyfriend during the baby’s funeral Thursday that the child wasn’t his, and that she had killed the mother. The boyfriend told police, who arrested Miss Hall hours later, investigators said.

The baby was buried Thursday as Taylor Horn after a funeral arranged by L. King Funeral Chapel, whose president said the 24-year-old who claimed to be the mother called minutes after the service was to start, asking if she could reschedule for a different day so more relatives could attend. At the time, Levi King said, only two relatives were there.

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