AMHERST, N.Y. (WIVB) - A little girl was found dead in her mother's home in Amherst and the case is prompting a lot of questions.
Bianca Cartagena was most recently living with her grandmother and aunt in North Tonawanda, but was spending a little time with her mother in Amherst at the time of her death. The cause of death is still a mystery.
The body of 8-year-old Bianca was discovered Tuesday night by family members, including the child's aunt and grandfather, according to Amherst Police, who say Bianca had been visiting her mother at the time.
Assistant Chief Timothy Green of the Amherst Police Department said, "Right now we don't know what we have. We don't know if we actually have a homicide. We have some type of suspicious death."
Police found the mother, Candace Cartagena, semi-conscious in a shed in the backyard. She appeared to be suffering from what was described as a "self-inflicted type illness."
"There was some conversation with her and that's as far as I'm prepared to go with that," said Green.
Neighbors in this quiet community suddenly saw a flurry of police activity.
Merrilee Hiwa said, "It was really shocking. We found out last night when I saw the lights out here. We really didn't know what had happened."
Bianca was a third grade student here at Dodge Elementary School. Grief counselors were made available to students and staff members. News 4 found a Facebook page of Candace Cartegena which said, in part, "Have a beautiful daughter, Bianca age 7, who I cannot imagine my life without. She makes me smile everyday!" Police believe the child had died hours before being found by family members. It may be some time before cause of death is known.
Green said, "A lot of it's going to be pending the autopsy results, and I'm assuming that's going to include toxicology, which as you know, can take several weeks to get an answer."
Dodge Elementary School sent home a letter encouraging parents to discuss their childrens' reactions and feelings regarding the death of Bianca. You can read that letter here.
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