By Pete Combs and WSB Radio
She was young, beautiful and tragically killed by her daughter’s father early Sunday morning. Now, Jessica Arrendale, 33, is being hailed by her family as a hero for saving her six-month old daughter’s life, even as she died from a bullet to the head.
Jessica’s mother, Teresa Inniello, spoke exclusively with WSB’s Pete Combs Wednesday night, telling him the sad details of her daughter’s death and the miraculous survival of her granddaughter, Cobie.
It began Saturday night when Jessica and Cobie’s father, 30-year old Antoine Davis, went out for the evening. At some point, Ionniello said, Davis, a former Marine who served in Iraq, became belligerently drunk and abusive. It had happened many times, Ionniello said, but her daughter did not seem able to turn Davis away no matter how often he abused her.
Davis chased Arrendale up the stairs of her three-story townhome in the Oakdale Bluffs subdivision sometime around midnight, she said.
Arrendale tried to defend herself with a baseball bat, but she was overpowered by the former serviceman, who struck her several times with the bat, Ionniello said.
Arrendale had the six-month old child in her arms. Little Cobie may have been hit in the head by the baseball bat, according to her grandmother. The child has a traumatic head injury.
Arrendale locked herself in a bathroom. Davis got his gun, an assault rifle outfitted with a suppressor. He burst into the bathroom and, while Arrendale was still holding Cobie in her arms, shot the young mother in the head, Ionniello said.
“He shot her and they (police) don’t know how she was able to twist her body and fall literally in the opposite direction,” Ionniello said. Instead of falling onto the floor, Ionniello said her daughter fell over the toilet, dropping little Cobie into the water-filled bowl.
“She had pure will,” Ionniello said. “She wanted that baby to live.”
Cobie’s grandmother believes Davis intended to kill both mother and child, but unable to see the child inside the toilet bowl, covered by Arrendale’s body, he left the bathroom, walked into the baby’s room and shot himself.
“She was the hero,” Ionniello said, “because her last breath was saving the child.”
Smyrna police, unable to contact anyone inside the townhouse, were reluctant to rush the house, concerned their actions might spark violence. They did not know Arrendale and Davis were already dead. They sent in a robot, but the machine could not negotiate the stairs in the three-story building, Ionniello said.
The baby remained in the toilet, covered by her mother’s body, for 13-hours before officers finally stormed the townhouse and rescued her. She was cradled in the arms of an officer who rushed her outside to a waiting ambulance.
Colbie is still being treated at Children’s Health Care of Atlanta at Scottish Rite Hospital. Ionniello hopes to bring her home soon, where she already cares for Jessica’s 15-year old daughter.
Friends have set up a fund to help offset the expense of Jessica’s funeral and to aid in the education of her two children. Already, the fund has raised almost $8,000.