OC mom arrested at shopping mall and charged with murder after allegedly drowning disabled 9-year-old child

Police charged a 32-year-old mother with murder Tuesday for allegedly drowning her 9-year-old daughter, who was confined to a wheelchair and could not speak, in a bathtub at their Westminster apartment.

Authorities responded to the 14100 block of Goldenwest St. just after 12 p.m. Friday, Nov. 24 to conduct a welfare check after receiving a call from the girl's father. He allegedly reported his daughter, Victoria, missing after allegedly receiving concerning messages from his ex-wife regarding their daughter. When he allegedly attempted to pick their daughter up as scheduled on Thanksgiving, he told authorities that the apartment door was locked and no one answered the door.

When Westminster Police forced entry inside the home, officials said they found the young girl's body in the bathtub.

Officials tracked down the girl's mother, Khadiyjah Aliyyah Ali Pendergraph, at an Aliso Viejo shopping center and arrested her in the parking lot. Authorities charged Pendergraph with one count of murder the following Tuesday.

"While police officers are exposed to tragedies on a daily basis, this murder is particularly disturbing, due to the senseless loss of a child allegedly at the hands of her own mother," said Westminster Chief of Police Darin Lenyi.

Pendergraph faces a maximum sentence of 25 years to life if convicted.

"While families across America sat down to Thanksgiving dinner with their loved ones, this little disabled girl's lifeless body was left to rot in a bathtub after being drowned by her own mother," said Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer. "Words simply do not exist to express the utter heartbreak knowing this little girl could not even scream for help as her mother pushed her underwater and cut her life so tragically and so unnecessarily short."