A probationer accused of fatally beating her 3-year-old daughter in the backyard of a Highgrove sober living group home was charged Wednesday with murder.
Riverside County sheriff's deputies were summoned to the residence in the 3000 block of Cannes Avenue, just north of Interstate 215, shortly before 7 a.m. Friday and found Susan Marie Rank's daughter, Zayla, "with obvious signs of trauma," according to sheriff's Sgt. Wally Clear.
The toddler was pronounced dead at the scene, and her 30-year-old mother was questioned at the home, along with several other occupants, and then arrested without incident.
Rank's mother, Lori Wood, told reporters her daughter suffered from mental instability, evidently connected to a congenital brain tumor.
According to Wood, the convicted felon had repeatedly sought help treating her disorder, but she was "shoved out the door" of mental health facilities without any resolution.
Wood described Zayla as the "sweetest little baby" and said she had intended to try to gain custody of her granddaughter.
The defendant is being held in lieu of $1 million bail at the Robert Presley Jail pending arraignment, scheduled for Feb. 13 at the Riverside Hall of Justice.
Along with the murder count, she is charged with a sentence-enhancing allegation of using a deadly weapon in the commission of a felony.
A GoFundMe campaign was started within a couple of hours of Zayla's death to seek donations that can be applied to funeral costs.
According to court records, Rank, also known as Susan Marie Parizek, has a prior conviction for felony evading in connection with a January 2016 confrontation with Riverside police. She also has a 2013 misdemeanor conviction for driving under the influence.
If you would like to donate to a GoFundMe account set up for Zayla, you may do so here. Note that GoFundMe deducts 2.9 percent of all funds raised, plus 30 cents per donation, in the form of payment processing charges.
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