The caretaker of an autistic woman who died a year ago after wandering off from a Macy's has now been charged with the woman's death for losing her.
A grand jury recommended charges of neglecting a dependent-care person and recklessly endangering another person against caretaker Hassanatu Wulu for the death of 37-year-old Christina Sankey, D.A. Seth Williams announced Wednesday.
“Christina Sankey needed constant supervision, and her Individual Support Plan and companion care needs reflected that," Williams said in a statement announcing the grand jury presentment. "Simply put, Hassanatu Wulu failed at her job and didn’t follow her training and emergency procedures, so Christina wandered out into the cold March weather in 2014 to die alone."
Sankey, who was autistic and could not speak, was reported missing March 6 after she wandered away from her Wulu inside Macy’s in Center City.
Police were flagged down by a concerned citizen about 6:30 a.m. Friday, March 7, who saw Sankey's body on the ground between two parked vehicles on the 1400 block of North 57th Street in West Philadelphia.
The exact sequence of events during those 18 hours and how Sankey got to West Philly has never been established.
Wulu had cared for Sankey for four years. But on March 6, she let Sankey wander off.
A press release from William's office details what happened on that day:
After leaving the Sankey home, Wulu took Christina with her to Magee Rehabilitation on the 1500 block of Race Street, where she dropped off some paperwork and then went into Macy’s in Center City. Security video shows Wulu walking into the store - with Christina behind her - at ￼￼￼2:25 p.m. Moreover, Wulu was not holding Christina’s hand.
The two arrived at a jewelry table and in a matter of seconds Christina left the area alone because she was not being watched. Less than two and one half minutes after she walked away from Wulu, Christina left the Macy’s through one of the Chestnut Street doors. A video camera at the Walgreens on the 1300 block of Chestnut Street showed Christina walking west on Chestnut Street towards Broad Street. Christina crossed Broad Street against the light and was nearly hit by a car. She then proceeded south on the west side of Broad Street and ultimately out of view of the Walgreen’s camera.
The D.A.'s office said that Wulu did not call 911 for over an hour after Sankey went missing, in violation of her employer's policy, and that she also was required by her job to hold Sankey's hand and keep her "in line of sight at all times."
Medical examiners believe Sankey died of exposure to the cold.