TAMPA — Markala Thompson cried for the last time Tuesday.
At only 4 months old, she'd already had three broken ribs that were healing and a broken arm, according to the Hillsborough County Medical Examiner.
On Tuesday, her frustrated mother, Eboni Thompson, placed her hand around Markala's neck until she stopped crying, Tampa police said. On Friday, authorities charged Thompson with killing the daughter. Not long ago, a judge had decided that Thompson, 31, was unfit to be alone with her daughter.
Still, Thompson went to see her children Tuesday, according to police reports. She has four girls and a boy, who lived with their father, Marcus Harden, in east Tampa. Markala was the youngest.
Sometime during Markala's short life, the Florida Department of Children and Families became aware of her situation. Thompson was ordered not to have unsupervised visits with the child, said Nick Cox, a DCF spokesman. He couldn't say Friday why Thompson had her custody rights revoked.
"I don't believe we were aware of the broken bones," he said.
But DCF and the court presented Harden and Thompson with a safety plan that said Thompson was not supposed to be alone with the child. In most cases, the parent with custody must sign the plan, Cox said.
That didn't stop Harden from leaving Thompson alone in the house with Markala for 15 minutes while he went to the store, police said.
Thompson admitted that she got frustrated while Harden was gone and put her hand around Markala's neck until she stopped crying, police spokeswoman Laura McElroy said.
When Markala stopped breathing, Thompson put her in a bassinet and attempted chest compressions but was unable to revive the child, McElroy said.
Harden returned to find Thompson holding Markala. She placed the child back in the bassinet. When her 21-month-old son went to reach for the baby, Harden stopped him and found Markala wasn't breathing.
Harden panicked and called 911, police said. Markala was taken to St. Joseph's Hospital and pronounced dead sometime after 8 p.m. Tuesday.
Harden was devastated and DCF took his other children into custody, said his brother, Rudolph Harden, 49, of Tampa.
"My brother is a loving man, and he loves his children," Harden said.
Thompson left before police arrived because she was not supposed to be alone with her children, police said.
Marcus Harden, 38, and Thompson went to a great deal of trouble to conceal her visits, Cox said.
"She knew and the dad knew and they had done it anyway," Cox added.
Marcus Harden suffers from gout and asthma and has trouble moving around, his brother said. "He works when he can, but his leg gets so swollen," Rudolph Harden said. "But he is a great father to his children."
Harden sought child support payments from Thompson in 2006, court records show. That same year, she was charged with trespass or larceny related to utilities. She wasn't convicted and Harden dropped the child support case the next year.
In police interviews Tuesday and Wednesday, Thompson admitted that she had previously hit the child's head on a wall and bent her arm back with enough force to break it.
The Medical Examiner Office confirmed the arm injury and three broken ribs.
"It paints a picture that this child endured a lot of abuse in her short life," McElroy said.
Thompson, of Tampa, was charged with first-degree murder and two counts of aggravated child abuse with great bodily harm.
DCF removed the other children, including a boy who is a toddler and three daughters, ages 4, 6, and 17.
Rudolph Harden said Thompson doesn't seem like the type of person who could do something like this.
"I just don't understand," he said.
Times researcher Natalie Watson contributed to this report. Robbyn Mitchell can be reached at (813) 226-3373 or firstname.lastname@example.org.