Apartment 20A, once a little girl’s noisy hell, was filled Friday with a deafening silence.
Neighbors in the housing project now know that 6-year-old Alisa Izquierdo was tortured to death, allegedly by a demented mother who thought her daughter was possessed by the devil.
They wondered if they should have taken 20A’s constant clamor of yelling adults and sobbing children more seriously.
“You would hear shouting and screaming,” Tony Ng, who lives next door, said Friday. “We thought it was their way of disciplining the kids. That’s not unusual, in this building at least. Now we feel bad that we didn’t call the police or something.”
Alisa’s story recalled for many the case of 6-year-old Lisa Steinberg, who was beaten to death by her father, a cocaine-abusing lawyer, in 1987. Police and school officials were harshly criticized for failing to notice that the girl was being abused.
Alisa’s body displayed a roadmap of pain so frightful that the paramedics who tried to revive her Wednesday needed counseling. Dozens of small bruises and apparent cigarette burns dotted her skin. A bone was protruding from her right pinky, one of several broken fingers.
The mother, 29-year-old Awilda Lopez, shared the apartment with her six children, ages 2 to 9, born to four different men. Her husband, Carlos Lopez, lived there until Nov. 15, when he was jailed for violating parole on an assault conviction, police said. He was not Alisa’s father.
Five of the children, now in the care of welfare officials, were apparently not targets of physical abuse. But when Lopez looked at her third-oldest daughter, she saw Satan, police said.
“She’s showing no emotion because she believes she did the right thing,” Lt. Luis Gonzales said. “She believes her daughter was possessed by the devil.”
She had told her sister, Brunilda Rivera, and other relatives that Alisa knew voodoo, and she was afraid of the little girl. Lopez blamed the girl’s death on spirits, Rivera said.