Local News

Warrant: Durham mother beat 4-year-old to death with belt, fists

Posted October 16, 2014

Armani Hodges (Family photo)

— A Durham woman beat her 4-year-old daughter to death last month with a leather belt "and possibly her fists," according to a search warrant released Thursday.

Jessica Warren, 27, is charged with first-degree murder in the Sept. 25 death of Armani Hodges.

Paramedics were called to Warren's apartment on Falls Pointe Drive, where they found the girl unconscious, and efforts to revive her were unsuccessful.

Warren initially told police that Armani had been playing on her bed earlier in the day and fell and hit her head. Later, the girl went to bed early because she was feeling ill, Warren told police.

According to an application for a search warrant to examine Warren's cellphone, an autopsy determined that Armani died of severe abdominal trauma, including a lacerated liver, and that no head trauma was found.

Warren later confessed to police that she beat her daughter with the belt she was wearing when investigators interviewed her and that she "possibly" used her fists as well.

"Ms. Jessica Warren stated that she did not beat her to kill her," the search warrant affidavit states.

Investigators wanted to search Warren's phone because she was calling people from the police station during breaks in her questioning and was overheard telling them that "she was confident she was not going to jail," the affidavit states.

In addition to her cellphone, officers seized a black belt with a silver buckle and took photos of Warren to document her physical appearance, including the size of her fists, the search warrant states.


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  • foodstamptrader Oct 17, 2014

    The "mother's" only concern is that "she won't be going to jail". Sigh. Some folks are just completely bankrupt and care only for themselves. Very sad. We encourage these tragedies with our sick welfare society....

  • thx1138 Oct 17, 2014

    jailtime, then sterilization

  • Arthur Raleigh Oct 17, 2014
    user avatar

    wow, and people are worried about gays getting married?

  • Angie Cox Oct 17, 2014
    user avatar

    my heart breaks for this beautiful young girl. to be given a devil of a mother like that. I hope she gets every limb broken while she rots in prison. this is so sad. and to be bragging on the phone that you don't think you are going to jail. wow, that makes me want to cry!

  • isolde36 Oct 17, 2014

    Jackaroe123 That is the most intelligent, insightful comment anywhere on WRAL.

  • oneday8035 Oct 17, 2014

    Of course she didn't mean to kill her...she would loose her check. Poor baby girl. If you kill a child of your own I think part of your punishment should be that you are never allowed to have another child. Like the "mother" that left her little boys in a car and drove it off a boat ramp so they drowned. Then before she could even get to prison she was pregnant again. That is so wrong.

  • Thomas Williams Oct 17, 2014
    user avatar

    Shouldn't be called a Mother in the article.

  • JustOneGodLessThanU Oct 16, 2014

    If you believe that violence is the answer to problems, where do draw the line on using it on others? She probably didn't intend to kill her child, but here we are. Some "lesson", eh? Hopefully, others here will learn something...

  • Linda Kerns Kellogg Oct 16, 2014
    user avatar

    A horrific crime that is unfathomable to me. How does an adult beat a child to death "unintentionally"?! First of all, can we please not talk about beating a child in the same breath as spanking a child? I personally don't believe in either, however, I can't believe people mix the two up. When I consider the agony this child experienced while her own mother pummeled her, I want to throw up.

  • babylaceycarpenter Oct 16, 2014

    There is no excuse. There is no way to explain. There is no way something like this should even be able to happen. I spanked my children. My parents spanked me. I, and my children, have spanked my grandkids. We are all still breathing. That is the difference. No child could do anything bad enough at 4 years old, to justify this.