By Carlos Correa

STOCKTON (CBS13) — There are still many questions surrounding the suspicious death of a 7-year-old girl who police say had signs of severe child abuse and torture.

Arthur Combs, 24, of Stockton is now sitting in jail facing charges for allegedly abusing and torturing his 7-year-old niece.

“These types of investigations just make us want to shake our heads because we are wondering why anybody would do such a thing to a small child especially a family member,” said Joe Silva of the Stockton Police Department.

Stockton Police officers responded to a medical call early Tuesday morning. They found a 7-year-old girl with injuries consistent to being severely abused. She was taken to an area hospital where she later died.

“It was so sad for me—a 7-year-old kid, I don’t expect that thing to happen here,” said neighbor, Claire Bonilla.

Neighbors say the family recently moved into this quiet neighborhood on hidden grove circle in north Stockton which is now become a crime scene.

“My husband woke up around 5:30 this morning, and then he woke me up, honey why there are cops outside the house, across the street. I was shocked, and when I looked there were three police cars over there,” said Bonilla.

Officers say they won’t know the extent of the girl’s injuries until after the autopsy.

“If there is any time that you feel uncomfortable in a situation, or you think that’s just not adding up, or maybe you’re seeing things like bruises or cuts or anything like that, call and make the report,” said Shauna Buzunis-Jacob with the Child Abuse Prevention Council of San Joaquin County.

Advocates with the child abuse prevention council of San Joaquin say the signs of child abuse can be difficult because every child and situation is different. A general thing to look for is ‘if a child’s personality changes’ and if you suspect any type of child abuse – they say don’t’ be afraid to contact child protection services.

“It’s not your job to figure out if they are guilty or innocent. It’s your job to report, that is what we as a community are supposed to be doing, that is how we protect our children,” she said.

Police detectives remained on the scene most of the day collecting evidence inside the house and interviewing family members.

Combs faces child abuse resulting in death and torture charges. His bail has been set at $200,000.


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