An Olney woman who was arrested Sunday night for allegedly using a utility knife to slash her 3-year-old daughter is a good mother who was under financial and emotional strain after the recent arrest of the child’s father, neighbors said Monday.
“We’re just praying for the both of them, that they’re all right,” said neighbor Pauline Williams of the mother and child. Williams lives on the 5900 block of North Mascher Street, the block where police said the incident took place.
The mother, whom police identified as Lauren Rodriguez, 34, remained hospitalized Monday, charged with attempted criminal homicide, aggravated assault, endangering the welfare of a child, simple assault, and related offenses.
Sources said she appeared to be high on drugs when police arrived. Earlier police reports said she had wielded a machete, but later Monday a police spokesperson said the weapon was a utility knife.
“Lauren is a good mother,” Williams said on her front porch, three doors from where the incident occurred. “Whenever you seen Lauren, you seen her daughter. [The girl] and my granddaughter played together all the time. We’re just praying for them.”
The child was recovering at Einstein Medical Center from wounds that included skull fractures, lacerations, and bruises throughout her body, police said.
Responding to the block to investigate a report of a person screaming, police found the child on the sidewalk covered in blood and being consoled by neighbors. A witness told police that “Rodriguez struck the victim with a knife numerous times, and assaulted the witness with a closed fist,” police said in a statement.
A man who said he is Williams’ son said Rodriguez had been under pressure since Aug. 4, when her daughter’s father was arrested and charged with assaulting a neighbor with a machete. Williams’ son, who declined to provide his name, said Rodriguez had argued with their downstairs neighbor days earlier, prompting the confrontation between the child’s father and the neighbor.
The father, Reinaldo Bermudez, 41, was charged Aug. 4 with aggravated assault, terroristic threats, simple assault, and related counts. Police said he first pulled a utility knife on the other man before going inside and returning with the machete, which he swung at the other man’s head.
The victim in the Aug. 4 incident, who was not named, grabbed a shovel and used it to partially block the machete, but the tip of the blade struck the victim above his right eye, causing a deep laceration and swelling around the eye, police said. Police recovered the machete and utility knife Bermudez used in the attack, they said.
Williams’ son said Bermudez lived with Rodriguez and the couple’s daughter, and provided financially for the household.
“Now that he’s locked up, she’s a little bit lost, like moping,” Williams’ son said. “But she is a good mother. Believe me, if you looked at her, you wouldn’t think anything was wrong.”