Chicago Grandmother Sentenced to Life in Prison for ‘Exceptionally Brutal’ Torture Death of 8-Year-Old Granddaughter

Helen Ford (Cook County, Ill., Sheriff’s Office)
Helen Ford (Cook County, Ill., Sheriff’s Office)

A Chicago grandmother was sentenced to life in prison Wednesday in what the judge called the “exceptionally brutal” torture death of her 8-year-old granddaughter.


According to the Associated Press, Cook County Circuit Judge Evelyn Clay handed down the natural-life sentence.

It was Clay who convicted 55-year-old Helen Ford of first-degree murder in the 2013 death of her granddaughter Gizzell Ford following a bench trial back in March.

“This murder was torture. That child suffered a slow and agonizing death,” Clay said in the courtroom at the time. “That little body looked like it had been pulverized from head to toe. ... Her treatment [of Gizzell] was evil.”

In the eight months before Gizzell’s murder, a judge had placed the girl in the custody of her father, Andre Ford, an unemployed felon who was living with his mother because of a chronic degenerative disease. Andre Ford was also charged in Gizzell’s death but died in Cook County Jail in August 2014 while awaiting trial.

Cellphone footage of Gizzell’s abuse was played in court, showing Helen Ford scolding the little girl for breaking rules while Gizzell stood with a sock stuffed in her mouth. Gizzell had been tied to a bed for days, denied food and water and then punished when she tried to take water from the toilet.


During the trial, family members attempted to describe Helen Ford as a mother figure who could not say no to those in need, but Clay was not convinced, AP notes.

“No, Helen Ford did know how to say no,” Clay said. “She did know how to say no to Gizzell. No water. No food. No sleep. No praise. She did not say yes to the basics requirements of human care.”


Ford did take the witness stand during her sentencing hearing, describing how she took care of her bedridden son, Gizzell and two other children. Ford claimed that Gizzell would get angry and throw herself around, but Clay, again, did not want to hear it.

“Miss Ford, enough. Enough.” Clay said.

Read more at the New York Post.

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During the trial, family members attempted to describe Helen Ford as a mother figure who could not say “no” to those in need

Sit down, family members.