A man under investigation after his wife said he killed their daughter, whose remains were found in an Illinois garage, has claimed the girl's body was hidden after she died accidentally, according to reports.
In a jailhouse interview with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch Thursday, Jason Quate said his 6-year-old daughter choked to death and that he and his wife were afraid authorities would take their two other daughters when they learned what had happened.
“I’m not the monster she’s making me out to be,” Quate said of his wife, who after taking refuge at a women’s shelter, accused her husband of murdering their youngest daughter, Alysha, four years ago when the family lived in St. Louis.
Investigators found the little girl’s decomposing body at an address her mother provided. Now living in Las Vegas, the woman also told authorities that Quate was forcing her into sex work and abusing their other two girls, now 11 and 13, the Post-Dispatch reported.
But Quate claimed his daughter’s death was an accident, saying that he was unaware that she had food in her mouth when he spanked her for misbehaving, which led to her choking.
Calling the incident “horrible,” Quate said he was in disbelief over what happened, staying with Alysha’s body for three days before his wife put her remains in a tote bag, which they kept in the kitchen for a period of time, the newspaper wrote.
Quate also claimed it was his wife’s idea to move to Las Vegas where she could get involved in sex work and that she found the garage where their child’s body was found.
After Quate’s wife came forward, police found “a very disturbing scene” at the family’s apartment, officials said.
The children had not been allowed to leave the home or enroll in school for nearly two years, and were found to have a “significant amount of scars and bruises on their bodies,” Lt. Raymond Spencer told the Post-Dispatch.
The girls were so frail, they needed help getting into the car that took them away and into protective custody, he said.
The condition of the home was similarly concerning, as officers reportedly had no choice but to wear masks to enter.
Quate was charged on Friday with sex trafficking of an adult and accepting earnings of a prostitute, both felonies. He was held on bail and is due in court for a preliminary hearing for those charges on June 22.
He is also being held on suspicion of child abuse and possession of child pornography, according to reports. He is expected to return to court Monday for arraignment on those charges.
Quate has not been charged in connection to the death of his daughter.