Like many young children, eight-year-old Gizzell Ford was sweet, cheerful, clever, and loved school and making friends.
She also regularly wrote in her diary, like many little kids, but within those pages were terrible, horrible secrets.
Gizzell was found dead in her home on July 12, 2013. Earlier that year, she and her father and two siblings moved in with her grandmother and grandfather.
Her grandpa, Andre Ford, had a rare skin disease and Helen Ford, her 55-year-old grandmother, was the one taking care of the whole family.
But behind this pretty picture, Gizzell was being abused.
She was given harsh punishments, such as being forced to squat or remain in painful positions for hours at a time, and being punished and gagged with socks if she made any noise.
She was also often beaten, verbally abused, and left hungry and thirsty.
Some punishments left Gizzell tied to her bedroom and denied any form of sustenance for days, and if she snuck away to try to get water from the toilet, she would be fiercely beaten.
Video clips from Ford’s cellphone showed Gizzell being taunted, hit, and gagged by her grandmother and father.
In her diary, Gizzel talked about her punishments, adding that she knew that if she was good, she would not be given punishments.
She was endlessly optimistic despite the abuse she suffered – she wrote about how she hopes to grow to be beautiful and smart, and how many people told her that she was already all those things.
Gizzell also wrote about wanting to be able to play with her siblings and watch TV and sit down, and how she was determined to be good for the day so she could do these things.
Often, she would update the diary later saying she had failed.
Her final diary entry had these words:
“I HATE THIS LIFE BECAUSE NOW I’M IN SUPER BIG TROUBLE.”
The next day, she was found strangled and beaten to death.
Her body had numerous injuries in various states of healing, with one cut even crawling with maggots and infection.
She was so unrecognizable that a coroner broke down in tears on the stand while testifying for her.
Hunt has been sentenced to a life in prison.
Through everything she endured, Gizzell’s spirit stayed strong and unwavering, an incredible testament to her courage and strength.
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