Saturday, October 31, 2009
DCFS: Dad is focus of inquiry in Chicago baby death
Authorities say 3-month-old had suffered head injuries
Tribune staff report
November 1, 2009
Chicago police on Saturday were investigating the death of a 3-month-old South Side girl as child welfare officials looked into allegations against the baby's father.
Aurora Hall was being fed at home in the 1700 block of East 84th Place when she became unresponsive about 3:45 p.m. Friday, her mother told police.
She was pronounced dead about 10:30 p.m. in Comer Children's Hospital, authorities said. An autopsy conducted Saturday showed Aurora had suffered head injuries. A Department of Children and Family Services spokesman said the agency is investigating an allegation of death by abuse against the baby's father.
Father May be Responsible for Injuring Infant
Reported by: Mary King
Friday, Oct 30, 2009 @07:22am EDT
FRANKLIN COUNTY, PA- A Chambersburg man is under arrest after his 3 month-old daughter was taken to the hospital with serious injuries.
Jamell Billups is charged with aggravated assault and endangering the welfare of a child.
Police say Leiana Billups' parents brought the 3 month-old to Chambersburg Hospital on October 19th.
They told officials the infant had a seizure and then went unresponsive.
Doctors determined the child had a head injury and she was flown to Hershey Medical Center.
Doctors also discovered the infant had 16 healing rib fractures.
She is currently being treated for traumatic subdural bleeding and extensive retinal hemorrhages.
An investigation into the case continues.
Dad stabs wife to death with daughter as witness; daughter still having nightmares over a year later (Penrith, England, United Kingdom)
Cumbrian woman who saw her dad kill her mum still has nightmares a year on
By Victoria Brenan
Last updated at 12:03, Saturday, 31 October 2009
A daughter who saw her father murder her mother in a frenzied attack in their Penrith home lives with the brutal images every day.
Twenty-three-year-old Collette Davidson suffers from nightmares and sleep problems after witnessing the assault in which her mother was stabbed 50 times on August 21 last year.
She has essentially lost both parents after her father Robert, 48, was this week ordered to be detained indefinitely in a mental hospital after admitting manslaughter.
“I become very upset when I think of what she went through and the horrific end to her life,” Collette said in a statement.
“After the incident I hardly slept at all and I don’t like being around knives. I look at them and think about what they can do.”
Detective Superintendent Andy Slattery, who led the investigation into the death of 43-year-old Judith Davidson, paid tribute to Collette’s strength saying she had witnessed “the most unimaginable, horrific scenes”.
The family had eaten a meal together before Davidson took two knives upstairs and subjected his wife of 24 years to a sustained, brutal stabbing in the bedroom of their home in White Ox Way. Collette overheard them arguing – her mother had earlier asked her father to leave – then heard a scream and a cry.
She saw her mother – whom she described as her best friend – cornered and being stabbed by her father. She grabbed one of the knives and went to a neighbour for help. When they returned, the attack was still continuing.
“Collette was extremely traumatised,” said Supt Slattery, head of the public protection unit. “She will never forget what happened but she has been very strong throughout this, remarkably so. Right from the start she was able to explain to officers what had happened and give a very detailed account of what had gone on at the house.”
Supt Slattery was called to the scene after Davidson had already been arrested.
“It was obvious from the start that we weren’t looking for anyone else in connection with this,” he said.
“Something significant happened in the mind of Robert Davidson and he turned from a quiet and depressed man to being extremely violent.”
During Davidson’s court appearance on Thursday, it emerged that he had been battling depression for some time and would sit in bed, not wash and not help around the house. He refused to accept that he had a problem.
Supt Slattery described him as “very quiet and unemotional”, even at the scene. “He didn’t speak. Not at all. In his first interview he didn’t comment. He said very little but what he did say was that Judith was a good woman and he loved her.”
Davidson was examined by a doctor and psychiatrist at the police station and was deemed fit to be interviewed. He was later assessed by three psychiatrists – one for the defence, the prosecution and the court. All agreed that he was suffering from an “abnormality of the mind”, stemming from depression.
“He was suffering from hopelessness and depression. It was long-term build up of a history of mental depression,” Supt Slattery said.
When his wife asked him to leave, Davidson was “so depressed, so anxious” that he viewed it as “a catastrophic event”, the psychiatrists concluded – although the court heard she had asked him to leave on previous occasions.
Supt Slattery admitted that people would find it difficult to understand how a placid, withdrawn man who showed no hint of violence could suddenly commit such an horrific act.
“There was no build-up in terms of threats or violence of any sort, no reason to believe that Judith was afraid in any way,” he added.
“It’s something I don’t think the family or anyone else will understand. There was clearly a degree of planning involved and forethought in what he did. He took two kitchen knives upstairs.”
Supt Slattery said Davidson’s medical problems started in 2007 and he had been prescribed some medication but “clearly the treatment and intervention hadn’t been successful”.
The psychiatrists’ assessment made it difficult to pursue a murder charge and the CPS agreed to accept a plea to manslaughter, meaning Davidson would not have to go to trial, something Mrs Davidson’s side of the family criticised. “We have no faith in this country’s justice system,” they said in a statement. “It should be a life for a life.”
Supt Slattery said Davidson’s children – Collette and Craig, who was at university at the time of the attack – would never forget what happened. Neither of them attended court.
They were a close-knit family and the impact of “having a parent die at the hands of another parent adds another dimension of difficulty for anybody”.
“They have lost their mother and got to come to terms with the fact their father killed her in a brutal and ferocious way,” he said. “They both found it difficult to come to terms with what happened and to carry on with normal life.
“Collette will never forget what happened but she has got to find a way to move on.”
Davidson, who must remain at a secure hospital indefinitely, will be monitored by doctors and a report produced every year on his condition and progress. His family will be kept updated and he will be released only when no longer considered a risk to the public.
The judge said he expected him to spend a “very long” time in hospital.
First published at 09:11, Saturday, 31 October 2009
Dad jailed for driving drunk with 1-year-old child in car; also had marijuana (Wheeling, West Virigina)
Father Accused of Driving Drunk With Child In Car
Posted Saturday, October 31, 2009 ; 10:15 PM
Police say he had marijuana in the car and this is not the first time he's driven drunk.
Story by Crissy Clutter
WHEELING -- A local father is taken to jail Saturday afternoon after allegedly driving drunk and carrying drugs all with an infant in the car.
Police reports say Gerald Francis Simpson, 34, was picked up this afternoon driving drunk with his 1-year-old child in the car.
According to police, Simpson was also carrying marijuana and his license had already been suspended for DUI.
Simpson is charged with DUI, driving while suspended from a DUI, and possession of marijuana. He is in the Northern Regional Jail on $3,000 bond.
Mom seeks felon registry boost, after father of her 1-month-old daughter broke her bones (Topeka, Kansas)
Mom seeks felon registry boost
By Tim Carpenter
October 31, 2009 - 9:57pm
Kristen Beaudette hung up the telephone in her west Wichita apartment when she heard her 1-month-old daughter's sudden cries of anguish from the next room.
Repercussions of events leading to those tears linger more than six years later and could, Beaudette said, serve as a catalyst for altering state policy on monitoring convicted child abusers.
As Beaudette stepped into Sidney's bedroom on Sept. 24, 2003, her boyfriend, Ty Barnett, who is the child's father, said the baby was upset because she caught her arm in the crib railing.
"He had this deer-in-the-headlight look," Beaudette said. "You could almost tell in his face something wasn't right. I was terrified. I said, 'I'm sure it's OK.' I picked her up, and she quit crying."
Doctors the next day confirmed the girl was injured. She had a full break in her upper right arm, an injury experts later would describe as the likely result of a powerful twisting motion. Physicians also found evidence the infant suffered fractures in her left knee and left wrist. State officials stepped in. Sidney was taken into protective custody, and both parents were put under a microscope.
"I felt like someone had ripped out my heart," Beaudette said.
Investigators' attention turned to Barnett, who previously was sent to prison for torturing his 3-month-old daughter in Salina. Barnett was baby-sitting infant Payton Blick on Jan. 8, 1995, when the child stopped breathing. Doctors found she suffered lighter burns to the head and had numerous broken bones. Payton lingered in a coma before dying. Barnett took a plea bargain. After more than five years in prison, he earned parole in 2001.
In the case involving Sidney two years later, Barnett admitted during police questioning the girl was injured when he grabbed her by the arm rather than in an accident involving the crib railing. He entered a plea of no contest to aggravated battery and returned to state prison. Beaudette regained custody of Sidney when the child was 10 months old. They moved to Topeka to get a fresh start. Both had their names legally changed.
Barnett was granted parole Oct. 23 but must wear a monitoring device for three years while remaining in Reno County.
Beaudette said that wasn't enough.
She said state law should be amended to require people who abuse children to enroll in the offender registry coordinated by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation. The registry is accessible by computer and chronicles the residence of people convicted of sex offenses, manufacturing drugs and certain violent crimes. Individuals covered by the registry must regularly report to the county sheriff for 10 years.
"I'd love to see it done," Beaudette said. "I'm trying to get justice for my daughter but also for Payton Blick."
Andrea Quill, executive director of the Salina-based Domestic Violence Association of Central Kansas, said expansion of the registry to include violent crimes perpetrated against children would be useful.
"I could see the benefit," she said. "That would be an area I would be interested in myself. I do look where the sex offenders are located in my community."
Kansas Attorney General Steve Six said the state registry contributes to the safety of Kansas families. It provides information on the location of some of the most dangerous convicts in the state, he said.
"Inclusion of other crimes in the registry should be considered carefully to ensure that the original intent of the registry is being achieved," Six said.
Steve Kearney, executive director of the Kansas County and District Attorneys Association, said law enforcement officials appreciated offender registries, but there was reason to worry inclusion of more and more classifications of felons could overload the system.
Beaudette said she took a measure of comfort from the knowledge that Barnett was behind bars. She said having an idea where he is living would reduce the anxiety she is certain to feel.
"In court, he just smiled," Beaudette said. "He has no remorse. It's like this is a game for him. How many more kids is the state going to let him torture?"
Sandy Barnett, executive director of the Kansas Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence in Topeka, said people subjected to domestic violence often experience a heightened anticipation of renewed victimization. She is no relation to Ty Barnett.
"I don't think most of us can understand what it's like to live with that fear," she said.
It is not surprising, the coalition director said, for these people to look to the legal system for protection.
Adjusting the state registry to include more offenders is one option, she said. A problem is such a low percentage of criminals are logged in the registry now that such listings might offer a false sense of security, Sandy Barnett said. An alternative would be to alter state law to reduce opportunities for prosecutors to enter into plea bargains with defendants in domestic abuse cases, she said.
"There are so many times that the system doesn't work," she said. "There are times when I think, let's get rid of all this discretion."
She said cycling child abusers through prison had consequences for victims.
"This fear is not paranoia," Sandy Barnett said. "It's quite profound. It's overwhelming to think about how we stop this kind of predator."
Michael Petit, president and founder of the Every Child Matters Educational Fund in Washington, D.C., said Ty Barnett went against the norm by harming his own biological children. Abusers are 50 times more likely to assault unrelated children, he said. Still, child abusers are likely to repeat the behavior.
"It's not unusual for these fellows to go from one household to another where there are vulnerable women," Petit said. "A very large number of children are killed in the United States at the hands of family members."
He said a new study by Every Child Matters, "We Can Do Better: Child Abuse and Neglect Deaths in America," offers evidence the federal government undercounts deaths from child abuse and neglect. The official tally of 10,440 from 2001 to 2007 may fall short by 50 percent, he said. There could have been 15,000 avoidable child deaths during that period, he said.
"Ten thousand is a bad number," Petit said. "Fifteen thousand is worse. Overall record keeping leaves something to be desired."
Federal reports indicated Kansas documented 42 child fatalities from abuse and neglect over the seven-year period, including 10 in 2007.
He said signs of abuse or neglect could be missed in death investigations. For example, he said, a 2-year-old child struck and killed by a vehicle in the street is classified as a pedestrian death in most states even if an adult lost track of the child while abusing illegal drugs. Closer scrutiny of the facts could make it a criminal case of neglect, he said.
Beaudette said she believes Ty Barnett has yet to overcome demons that drove him to hurt Sidney and Payton. She can imagine Ty Barnett hooking up with a woman as naive and trusting as she was at one time.
Ty Barnett had told Beaudette on their second date he had been in prison on false charges.
"I remember giving him a hug and saying: 'It's OK. It's in the past.' I ignored red flag No. 1."
While pregnant with Sidney, Beaudette's sisters sent her documents related to the Salina case against Ty Barnett. She was alarmed at allegations he was culpable for a child's broken bones and burned flesh. She said Ty Barnett assured her it was a miscarriage of justice. Revelations that he later harmed their own daughter were difficult to comprehend, she said.
"The guy was a charmer," she said. "Ty was a big teddy bear who brought me flowers and ice cream. Who was this monster they were talking about?"
She said officials at the Kansas Department of Corrections told her Ty Barnett wrote in a journal about a desire to reunite with Sidney.
"The fact that my daughter is still in his thought pattern is really scary," she said.
Father charged with attempted murder of 3 month old
Reported by: Victoria Benchimol
Last Update: 9:48 am
SPRINGHILL, FL -- A Springhill man has been charged with the attempted murder of his 3 month old son. Hernando Sheriff's deputies were called to Oak Hill Hospital yesterday in reference to a seriously injured baby.
The baby's father, 23 year old Michael Mihok, told deputies that he had fallen asleep on the couch with the baby in his arms. He claimed the baby fell out of his arms and on to the carpeted floor.
Hospital officials say the injuries were not consistent with what the father had claimed happened.
In a second interview with a deputy, the father admitted that he had "lost it" because the baby would not stop crying and he threw the baby in the crib. The father also told deputies that he then punched the baby in the back of the head about 4 times.
The baby has been flown to All Children's Hospital and is listed in serious condition.
The father has been charged with attempted felony murder and bodily injury.
Detectives: Reno father beat child unconscious, then claimed the child fell from bed
October 31, 2009
A 2-month-old Reno child is in critical condition at Renown Regional Medical Center and the child’s father is booked on suspicion of child abuse with substantial bodily harm, authorities said today.
Gerardo Espinosa, 19, of Reno brought the child to the hospital Thursday at 11 a.m. with significant head injuries, the sheriff’s office said. The child, who was not identified, was not breathing, the sheriff’s office said.
Espinosa told medical staff, family members and detectives the child had fallen from a bed, the sheriff’s office said.
Detectives believe the child was abused by Espinosa at his home. Espinosa was also arrested for suspicion of child abuse and his bail was put at $100,000 cash only.
The sheriff’s office asks anyone with information about the case to call detectives at 328-3320 or Secret Witness 322-4900.
Abusive American dad abducts daughter, but Mom has retrieved her now--from Chinese orphanage where he abandoned her (Staten Island, New York)
So was Daddy motivated by more together-time with his little daughter? Nope. He abandoned her in an orphanage. He just didn't want Mom to have her. Very typical behavior of an abuser. Love had nuthin' to do with it.
Family Fights Odds, Retrieving Kidnapped Girl
By NINA BERNSTEIN
Published: October 30, 2009
In New York, he had been an absent father and abusive husband who worked erratically at makeshift jobs. But his calls and e-mail messages from China, where he had gone in the fall of 2007 to teach English, promised his estranged wife that everything had changed. Their little girl deserved the chance to grow up in a two-parent family, he told her, and he sent them airline tickets to join him.
The day after they arrived in Beijing in January of this year, said the wife, Olivia Karolys, the husband, Rodrigo Karolys, took them shopping in a mall far from their hotel, and told her to get her hair done. She watched his reflection in the salon mirror as he held Lenora, then 2 ½.
Then suddenly they were gone.
Over the next nine months Ms. Karolys, 24, would have many despairing days as she searched for her abducted child, but the terror of those first hours was an abyss. “I was utterly lost,” she said.
She had no money and spoke no Chinese. In the United States, she and her family on Staten Island were illegal Mexican immigrants. Yet unless they turned to American authorities for help, her child would be gone forever.
Her husband, a native-born American citizen who grew up in New York City and Woodstock, N.Y., boasted in an online journal filled with anti-Mexican slurs that she would be helpless to fight the abduction, one of dozens of international parental kidnappings that take place each year. But he underestimated his wife, her family and the law.
In the end, it took an extraordinary international effort, including months of legal and diplomatic advocacy, criminal investigation and Internet sleuthing, to locate the child — who was found on Sunday, abandoned in an orphanage many miles from Beijing — and bring her safely home to New York. She and her mother arrived at Kennedy International Airport on Thursday night, amid balloons and tears.
Mr. Karolys, 30, is being held without bond in the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn and has not yet entered a plea to federal charges of international parental kidnapping. He was arrested at Newark Liberty International Airport on Oct. 22, after border officials saw he was wanted on federal and state criminal warrants in New York and Wisconsin. His lawyer, Michael Weil, would not comment.
Even as Mr. Karolys was being deported from China because his visa had expired, his wife secured a green card under immigration law that allows the abused spouse of a United States citizen to apply for legal permanent residency.
“The victory is so sweet, but it’s bittersweet,” said Carolien Hardenbol, a lawyer at Sanctuary for Families Legal Center, a nonprofit agency enlisted in New York by Ms. Karolys’s sister. “If this had not been New York City, in a city that has a supportive policy for immigrants, this never would have happened.”
The major players included Sanctuary’s multilingual team of lawyers, the Mexican consulate in Beijing, the State Department, Senator Kirsten E. Gillibrand of New York and a Chinese private investigator hired with the life savings of the mother’s family on Staten Island. But the first big step came on Feb. 4, when Ms. Karolys’s older sister, Daniela Guzman, frightened but determined, walked into the Manhattan headquarters of the F.B.I. without an appointment.
“I knew someone from the family had to ask for help,” said Ms. Guzman, 26, who had been studying for a master’s degree in special education but withdrew to devote her time and tuition money to the search. “I had to do it for my niece — she’s an innocent baby. I thought, if they have to kick me out of the country to bring my niece here with my family, then so be it.”
Maria E. Johnson, an agent on a special F.B.I. squad that investigates crimes against children, did not question her immigration status, Ms. Guzman recalled. But she warned of the many obstacles ahead.
The mother needed an order of sole custody from a family court before authorities could pursue the child’s father for parental kidnapping — a hard task since she was stranded in China. Moreover, China has not signed the Hague convention on international child abduction, and does not enforce custody orders issued by foreign courts. Nor does it consider parental abduction a crime.
The private lawyers Ms. Guzman contacted had offered her no hope, she said. But her reception was very different at Sanctuary for Families, where Shiao Chien Lee, one of 25 staff lawyers handling cases of domestic violence victims, pursued the custody case in Family Court on Staten Island, while others worked on the application for Ms. Karolys’s green card.
In China, Ms. Karolys said, the Mexican consulate took her under its wing, finding her a cheap place to stay and a computer she used to search for clues. Her sense of urgency reached a new pitch about a month after the abduction, when she discovered a Web site called “Rodrigo Karolys’s LiveJournal” where since 2001 Mr. Karolys had periodically vented his anger, described his own lies, sexual relationships and drug use, and crowed about fleeing the police in America.
“That’s when I realized I didn’t know him at all, and I had to rescue my daughter from him because she was in danger,” said Ms. Karolys, who came to the United States at age 11, met her husband in 2004 and married him two years later.
A Feb. 11 posting, which became part of Ms. Karolys’s affidavit in support of her petition for custody, said: “I ran away with my daughter when we were in Beijing. I just couldn’t let her grow up to be a lazy worthless waste of space like her mother.” He added, “I sent my kid to live with her new mom in another city.”
Ms. Karolys had no idea who this “new mom” was, but in New York, her sister combed the Internet to find out. In March, she discovered YouTube videos and MySpace photos that Mr. Karolys had posted of Lenora with his Chinese girlfriend, and matched the woman’s image to that of a fellow teacher at Mr. Karolys’s school. She also found his Jan. 29 Craigslist posting for a baby sitter in Shanghai, and sent everything to the F.B.I.
Discouraged by all the delays, Ms. Karolys’s parents, who are housekeepers, went into debt to hire a private investigator in China. He provided surveillance photos and an address outside Shanghai, where Ms. Karolys, accompanied by a Mexican consular official, Tadeo Berjon, showed up on April 17, despite opposition by the United States Embassy and the New York lawyers.
“When confronted, Rodrigo attacked both Olivia and the Mexican Embassy official with two knives, one in each hand,” the Sanctuary lawyers wrote in a summary of the case. The Chinese police arrested everybody, then let Mr. Karolys go, saying that no harm had been done.
Lenora had not been found, and the effort had backfired. The family’s low point came when they read Mr. Karolys’s May 23 posting, now part of the criminal complaint against him. “Lenora is hidden so well that even I don’t know where she is,” he wrote, cursing Olivia, and threatening: “If she ever turns up at my place of business or residence again, I will kill her in cold blood. I don’t care if the cops are watching. I don’t care if I go to jail. If I can’t raise Leno, then the secret of where she is will die with me.”
But the necessary custody orders were issued in May. Reluctantly, in August, a dispirited Ms. Karolys came back to New York without her daughter on a grant of humanitarian parole so she could be interviewed for her green card.
On Oct. 1, the F.B.I. agent called with the first piece of good news: A warrant had been issued for Mr. Karolys’s arrest, and his passport had been flagged. On Oct. 23, the day after his arrest, the State Department called. The many photos they had disseminated around China had borne fruit: Officials at an orphanage had called about a child who might be Lenora. That day, the mother’s green card arrived in the mail, and she was able to use it to get a visa back to China.
She barely made a midnight flight. When she landed, embassy and State Department personnel were waiting to put her on another plane. A two-hour flight, an hour-long taxi ride and there, in an orphanage with 200 Chinese children, Lenora was waiting. The mother learned that an elderly baby sitter had called the police, who took the child to the orphanage after Mr. Karolys and his girlfriend failed to show up.
Orphanage officials said that a Chinese woman, holding Lenora’s stolen passport, had tried to claim her only hours after the State Department asked them to keep the child for her mother.
“I feel so blessed,” Ms. Karolys said early on Friday at her home on Staten Island as Lenora slept in her arms.
Friday, October 30, 2009
Note the politically correct way of half acknowledging that dads are doing the abusing: "Parents" (read: moms) are relying on "caregivers" they may not have relied on before, such as an "unemployed spouse" (read: dad). And note that all the examples of baby shakers--all dads.I cannot tell you how many cases I have found of unemployed/under-employed "caregiving" dads who have severely abused or even killed a young child in their care while mom was working. These are guys who are just not cut out for child care--they don't have the patience, or anger control. These are guys who need to be out fixing cars, planting trees, manufacturing stuff--anything that uses their energy instead of expecting them to be like moms or grandmothers. Check out the shaken baby tab below for more cases and the research.
'One horrible second': Campaign expands to prevent Shaken Baby Syndrome
By Lisa Rosetta
The Salt Lake Tribune
Updated: 10/30/2009 04:47:38 PM MDT
It was 2 a.m. on a Tuesday when Care Burpee first saw her 9-week-old daughter comatose on a full-size hospital bed, her tiny head wrapped in a turban of white gauze. Tubes strewn everywhere pumped 13 life-saving drugs into her veins.
Burpee was confused. Her husband and older son were snoozing peacefully, unharmed, on the floor of an intensive care unit waiting room at Wilford Hall Medical Center in San Antonio. Yet here was her baby Winter, barely clinging to life.
A doctor walked in.
"We believe your daughter has been shaken," he said. "Does this come as a surprise to you?"
An Air Force linguist, Burpee had left her home in San Antonio Sunday night for a week of training in San Angelo, 200 miles away.
She left Winter and her son, Aspen, with their father and Burpee's now ex-husband, Jay McKimmy.
Frustrated with Winter, who had erupted into fits of crying, McKimmy shook the prematurely born infant and caused head trauma so severe doctors would later describe her brain as "scrambled eggs."
There was no coming back from this, they told Burpee. Winter would be lucky to make it through the next 72 hours. If she did, she might live another month -- maybe a year.
A cultural change » Crying is the No. 1 trigger for child abuse.
Faced with an infant's inconsolable wailing, a tired, frustrated parent or caregiver can "lose it for one horrible second of their life," said Marilyn Barr, founder and executive director of the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome in Ogden.
But what many caregivers don't know: All babies go through a normal developmental phase that is characterized by bouts of crying. If comforting an infant doesn't work -- and sometimes it won't -- an irritated parent's best strategy may be to put their screaming baby safely in a crib and walk away.
The "Period of PURPLE Crying," the center's expanding public education effort, hopes to drive a cultural change as profound as the "Back to Sleep" campaign. Since its launch in 1994, the rate of sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS, has declined by more than 50 percent.
Persistent crying begins around two weeks after a baby's birth, peaks in the second month and ends two or three months later, said Ronald Barr, a pediatrician at BC Children's Hospital in Vancouver, Canada, who is an expert on crying.
This "distress curve," as he calls it, coincides with at least eight other behavioral and physical changes. Infants' attention to things they see, for instance, increases then decreases in a similar pattern. So does the rate at which their bodies burn calories.
The same curve is seen in infants around the world and even other breast-feeding species, including pigs, rats and chimpanzees, said Ronald Barr, who is also director of Developmental Neurosciences and Child Health at the Child and Family Research Institute at the hospital.
Barr hopes wide awareness that crying is "just part of how babies are hard-wired" will lessen caregivers' frustration -- and their likelihood of shaking an infant, which has devastating consequences.
Babies have weak neck muscles and large, heavy heads. The whiplash of violent shaking can bounce their fragile brains inside their skulls, causing bruising, swelling and bleeding. Their eyes can also be jostled, causing retinal stretching and tearing, which can lead to blindness.
An estimated 1,200 to 1,400 babies are shaken in the U.S. each year. About a third of them don't survive, Barr said, and of those who do, 80 percent have permanent brain damage. Since 2003, 14 Utah babies have died from shaking, Salt Lake Tribune homicide records show.
"He's someone who snapped" » Winter didn't die.
Two years after her daughter was shaken, Burpee wrapped the severely brain-damaged girl in a blanket and carried her into a Bexar County District courtroom as an exhibit in McKimmy's week-long trial.
"They uncovered the blanket," said Kurt Gransee, his San Antonio defense lawyer. "Then the jury and everybody started crying."
It was the worst case of his career, the attorney said. "After that, I said I would never do another one [shaken baby case.] It was horrible."
During his 911 call and in court, McKimmy said Winter had stopped breathing and he had shaken her to revive her, Gransee said. Pediatricians had noted in prior exams that Winter may have had sleep apnea.
But the state argued McKimmy had a prior history of abuse, and knowingly and intentionally hurt her.
The jury, unconvinced, found McKimmy guilty of the lowest possible charge. While the felony was punishable by up to two years behind bars, he instead walked out of court after the judge sentenced him to five years on probation and $10,286.25 in fines.
"I cannot condone what he did at all," Burpee said, "but is he a horrible, evil person? No. He's someone who snapped. To me, that's the biggest tragedy of shaken baby. It really, truly can happen to anybody. It doesn't just happen to people who abuse their kids."
Raising awareness » Utah is the first state in the country to implement the PURPLE Crying program in all 39 of its birthing hospitals. Staff at each hospital have been trained to deliver an 11-page PURPLE Crying booklet and a 10-minute DVD that teaches parents how to carry, comfort, or walk and talk with a crying baby.
Developed by Barr and her husband, Ronald Barr, it recognizes how unnerving a baby's cries can be and how helpless -- and sometimes angry -- this can make parents feel.
Now, with the help of a new $100,000 grant from Humana, the center is expanding its outreach to include pediatricians, health departments, home nurse visitors, adoption agencies, foster care facilities and the general public.
Prevention remains a challenge.
Between 2005 and 2008, the number of shaken baby cases seen in Utah jumped to 48 from 16 -- a 300 percent increase, said Lori Frasier, an associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Utah School of Medicine who culled the numbers for a national database being compiled.
Primary Children's Medical Center, along with a handful of other children's hospitals around the country, hope to identify trends by comparing cases. Frasier, who is the director of medical assessment at the Center for Safe and Healthy Families at the hospital, said they are collecting data that includes whether a baby was premature; if it was a part of a multiple birth; and details about abusers.
Abuse and economy linked? » The increase in shaken baby cases in Utah, Frasier believes, can in large part be chalked up to a growing population.
But something else is going on, too: Parents are more commonly leaving children with caregivers they might not have relied on before -- such as a neighbor or unemployed spouse -- because it's cheaper than full-time daycare.
That choice "makes sense -- unless that person (the caregiver) is stressed, or there are other reasons they're not very well equipped to take care of a baby," Frasier said.
Anecdotal evidence suggests child abuse cases are rising across the country in response to stress from the depressed economy, she said. A health care economist at the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh is exploring a possible connection, linking shaken baby cases with zip codes, through which the federal government tracks unemployment.
Frasier said many of the cases she sees are rooted in poverty and drug abuse. One father who pleaded guilty to shaking his baby was only 17. Another was an immigrant who was in the country illegally, lost his job and was taking care of three children.
"We do see people who don't fit that profile periodically, but we see the majority of them have some types of stress," she said. "I've seen a lot of parents who feel like they need daycare so bad, they might not even know the last name (of their child's caregiver.)"
"I'll fight with her" » Winter is now 11 years old.
Doctors can't say if she is going to live until she's 20, her mother said. They can't say if she'll live until next year.
The weak, red-headed little girl functions at the same cognitive level as a 5-month-old infant.
She can't eat solid foods, so she is nourished through a stomach tube. She can't sit up or move her arms and legs, and sits hunched in a wheelchair. Her vision is spotty, but her hearing is acute. The tension in her body eases when her mother plays classical music. A familiar voice sometimes elicits a smile.
"In Wal-Mart, a little girl from her class came up to her and said, 'Hi, Winter.' And Winter just beamed at this child. I really think she recognized this girl," said Burpee, who eventually remarried and lived in Salt Lake City for nearly six years before relocating to Eagle River, Alaska.
When Winter turned 10 years old, "for me, that was an amazing, amazing moment, for her to have lived a decade," she said.
But Burpee will be honest: Her daughter's quality of life is poor. Unlike some parents who might aggressively seek therapy for their severely injured child, Burpee prays that Winter will go peacefully.
"Winter, give up and go home to Heavenly Father," Burpee has told her daughter. "Let go, honey. It's OK. You've fought this fight a long, long time."
But there is something that keeps Winter going.
"As long as she wants to fight," Burpee said, "I'll fight with her."
Eight-year sentence for man who sexually abused daughters
St. John's Telegram
October 30, 2009 2:02 PM
ST. JOHN'S, N.L. — A man who sexually assaulted two of his daughters was given an eight-year jail term Friday in provincial court in St. John's.
The man, who name is banned to protect the victims — pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual assault.
Judge Greg Brown ordered the man be listed on the national sex offender registry for 20 years and that he supply a DNA sample. He's also banned from possessing firearms for 10 years.
The daughters reported the abuse to police in May. They said their father began sexually assaulting them when they were each around nine years old.
In both cases, the abuse started as touching and escalated to intercourse.
Her father often told her that if she did not have sex with him, he would "go after" and have sex with her sister, who is now 12 years old.
The judge saw that threat as a particularly aggravating factor.
Man jailed for alleged injury to child
Posted: Oct 30, 2009 12:07 PM CDT
WACO - A Central Texas father is facing charges after police say he kicked a young child because he "could not find the remote."
Rudolfo Rocha is charged with intentionally causing bodily injury to a child.
According to his arrest affidavit, the victim was lying on the floor while Rocha kicked him.
Hat tip to my good Alaska friend for finding this.
Ex-cop Cohen guilty of child sexual abuse
DAUGHTER: Juror calls nude photos of Cohen's 14-year-old "proof."
By DEBRA McKINNEY
Published: October 29th, 2009 02:39 PM
Last Modified: October 30th, 2009 07:32 AM
Sammy Cohen sat, stoic, Thursday afternoon beside defense attorney John Cashion as he listened to the word "guilty" come from the jury box 16 times.
The Anchorage Superior Court jury convicted the former city police officer on charges that included second-degree sexual abuse of a minor, child exploitation and possessing child pornography, all of which involved his then-14-year-old daughter.
Cohen, 55, was an 11-year veteran of the Anchorage Police Department and was teaching at the police academy when he was arrested in 2005. His first trial last year ended in a mistrial practically before it began, before the jury heard any testimony, after the victim, who couldn't be located beforehand, showed up at the last minute.
For this one, jurors listened to testimony for more than three weeks on the total of 21 charges. After five days of deliberation, they couldn't reach a decision on three of 10 sex-abuse charges and found Cohen not guilty of a fourth.
They also found him not guilty of one of six counts of possessing child pornography. While the rest involved topless and naked photographs of his daughter, this one was of an unknown child and was by far the most graphic. It was found on a Zip drive, which the defense said he'd bought used online and didn't even know the image was there.
The three abuse charges resulting in a hung jury and the other not-guilty verdict involved touching and groping claims, including one that Cohen held one of his daughter's breasts while she did topless pull-ups because he wanted to feel her muscles work.
"There was reasonable doubt" on those four counts, juror Sandy Knipmeyer said outside the courtroom after being released from duty. "The first charges had everything to do with just (the daughter's) testimony, and I'll tell ya, everybody's sort of telling the truth and everybody's sort of lying, and 10 years have passed ... and just taking (her) word was tough for the people that went that way. It was definitely split.
"Cohen was part of a very dysfunctional family, in our opinion. There was so much to take in, and just (his daughter's) word was not enough."
The topless and nude computer photos found in his possession were a different story.
"The computer ... spoke for itself, and that's where a lot of those guilties came in," Knipmeyer said. "The computer stuff became sort of a solid one for us because of computer evidence. Proof helps."
The jury of three women and nine men began deliberations late on Oct. 22. In delivering Thursday's verdicts, the panel was missing one juror, who had been kicked off for using an electronic dictionary in the deliberation room to look up the word "touching." Jurors are given specific instructions forbidding them from doing independent research on a case.
Other than that, Knipmeyer said, they all worked really well together. And they worked hard.
"Even our bailiff said, 'It seems like you guys processed for a long time.' "
"What you don't realize when you're reading the newspaper and you're like, 'Fry 'em' ... is it's someone's life and it's real. It's overwhelming and it makes me emotional.
"And you know, think I made the very best educated decision I could make with 11 other people."
After the verdict, Cohen, who continues to be out on bail, left the courthouse accompanied by his attorney. Superior Court Judge Michael Wolverton set sentencing for Feb. 5.
Dad charged with assaulting estranged wife, teenage son; other son fires gun in the air to stop attack (Dover, Delaware)
And after that, he's out on a measly $3,000 bail. That's gotta make everybody feel safe....
Police: Son fires gun to stop dad's attack
Smyrna man charged with assaulting estranged wife, teenage son
By TERRI SANGINITI • The News Journal • October 29, 2009
One of the teenage sons of a Dover woman being assaulted by her ex-husband grabbed a shotgun and fired into the air to get his father to stop the attack, Dover police said.
The victim's estranged husband, Jeremy S. Stanislow, 32, of the 1100 block of Smyrna Clayton Blvd. in Smyrna, was charged with three counts of assault, four counts of endangering the welfare of a child and disorderly conduct.
He was later released on $3,000 bail.
Dover police Lt. Steve Getek said officers Tuesday night were sent to the first block of Forest Creek Drive about 7 p.m. to investigate a domestic incident.
The victim told officers that she and her estranged husband argued over custody issues because he wanted to take their youngest child with him for the evening.
The argument turned physical and Stanislow shoved the victim off the steps and started assaulting her, Getek said.
When the woman's 16-year-old son saw his father attacking his mother he picked up a board and hit Stanislow in the back, according to court records.
Then, when the woman tried to stop Stanislow from beating up on his son, he turned and began punching her until she blacked out, police said in court records.
At this point, the woman's 14-year-old son came out of the house holding a shotgun, pointed it in the air and fired in an effort to get his father to stop attacking his mother, police said.
Stanislow then ran.
At 8:20 p.m., he surrendered to Dover police and told them that his children and ex-wife attacked him "and he had injuries to prove it."
Police said the injuries were consistent with the ones reported by the victim and her four children.
Shoplifting dad slips DVDs into 2-year-old son's diaper bag; abandons child in store parking lot when police tried to arrest him (Kenner, Louisiana)
Shoplifting dad not quite a model father: An editorial
By Editorial page staff, The Times-Picayune
October 30, 2009, 6:08AM
Some shoppers at a Kenner Wal-Mart last Saturday may have had warm thoughts as they glimpsed 20-year-old Joshua Gibson shopping with his 2-year-old son.
But Mr. Gibson shouldn't expect a card come Fathers' Day.
Store personnel allegedly caught Mr. Gibson removing several DVDs from their cases and slipping them into the child's diaper bag. Taking your toddler along on a shoplifting spree is not what most people would consider spending quality time with your son. Yet Mr. Gibson found a way to make the situation even worse.
When a police officer working a private detail approached him at the store's exit, Mr. Gibson admitted to having taken the DVDs, according to a police report. Once the officer tried to put him under arrest, Mr. Gibson made a break for it, leaving his son in the parking lot, police said.
It took authorities more than 30 minutes to find Mr. Gibson, who had fled to a building across Loyola Drive from the store.
Authorities temporarily took custody of the child after his father fled. Police booked Mr. Gibson with theft, resisting arrest and child desertion.
Evidently, Mr. Gibson was not concerned with the welfare of his son when he abandoned the child -- and he'll have a heck of a time arguing otherwise.
Drunk dad gets 18 months in prison for having 9-year-old daughter drive him in his minivan (Lafayette, Indiana)
I really like this part. When cops stopped the vehicle, there were open containers of beer and liquor all over the minvan. But Dad protests that he hadn't been drinking from all of them that day--at least one of the cups of beer was from the PREVIOUS day.
Okaaay. Thanks for clearing up that point for us, buddy.
Dad gets 18 months for having child drive
By SOPHIA VORAVONG • firstname.lastname@example.org • October 28, 2009
A Lafayette man who was intoxicated and riding in a minivan driven by his 9-year-old daughter was sentenced Tuesday to 18 months in prison and one year supervised probation.
The sentence was handed down minutes after Matthew Chain Dewitt, 33, pleaded guilty in Tippecanoe Superior Court 1 to neglect of a dependent, a Class D felony.
He admitted to being an alcoholic -- explaining that he was drinking beer the afternoon of Aug. 1, when he told the girl to drive them through their eastside neighborhood.
"Obviously I made some poor decisions. I've been dependent on alcohol for some time," Dewitt told Judge Pro Tem Joe Bumbleburg. "I do have the intention of maintaining sobriety. My children are important; they are dear to me."
He was arrested after a neighbor called the Lafayette Police Department, reporting that it appeared a child was behind the wheel of a minivan.
The vehicle had circled the block several times -- driving over curbs and onto the grass twice and, at times, almost hitting several vehicles, according to court documents.
When a police officer approached the minivan on Hampton Drive, near Munger Park, Dewitt was in the passenger seat. The 9-year-old was behind the wheel, buckled up and driving.
A cooler containing several empty beer cans, an empty whiskey bottle, a vodka bottle and a plastic foam cup containing beer were found inside.
"There were open containers in the vehicle at the time. Was I drinking them? No," Dewitt told Bumbleburg during Tuesday's hearing.
He said the plastic cup had been left there on the prior day.
Dewitt had a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.20 percent afterward, according to court documents. The legal limit to drive in Indiana is 0.08 percent.
He admitted to drinking a can of Budweiser before getting in the minivan.
Bumbleburg hesitated before accepting the plea agreement through the Tippecanoe County prosecutor's office, which dropped additional counts against Dewitt.
They included misdemeanor counts of public intoxication and having an open container and a felony count of criminal recklessness.
Neglect of a dependent doesn't really do this justice," Bumbleburg said. "A 9-year-old behind the wheel of a car ... is an accident waiting to happen.
"The offense is a lot more serious than the label put on this."
He accepted it only because of an ongoing Child in Need of Services case involving Dewitt and his daughter in Tippecanoe Superior Court 3, the county's juvenile court.
Bumbleburg ordered that Dewitt must adhere to all orders in the CHINS proceeding as part of the criminal case.
Deputy Prosecutor Laura Zeman said Dewitt faced only six months to three years incarceration for all of the charges against him because all were part of a single incident.
The sentences would merge, rather than running consecutively.
Zeman and Dewitt's public defender, Rachael Schexnailder, agreed to the 18-month sentence prior to Tuesday's hearing. That allowed Bumbleburg to immediately sentence Dewitt.
He had been scheduled to stand trial Nov. 17.
Dewitt was given a combined 176 days credit for time already served and for good behavior. Schexnailder told Bumbleburg that the CHINS case will or already has included therapy and counseling for Dewitt, his daughter and the rest of their family.
Grand Jury Indicts Father On Death of Baby Son
A criminal grand jury has handed down an indictment dated October 15 ordering that Jayson Schimmel of Lockwood Valley be tried for the death of his baby son.
Deputy D.A. Rameen Minoui said the indictment held three felony counts. They are assault on a child causing death, murder and corporal injury to a child with a special allegation that he caused great bodily injury during that assault. The prosecutor said he’s not yet sure if he’ll ask a jury for a first or second degree murder conviction.
He would not comment on how long the grand jury heard testimony or what was said since it is a secret hearing. He did confirm that there were both law enforcement and civilian witnesses.
Schimmel’s Deputy Public Defender Rod Kodman said the defense team and the defendant’s family are “bitterly disappointed” to have missed out on a chance to test the evidence in a preliminary hearing in open court. Defense counsel is excluded from grand jury proceedings.
Schimmel pleaded not guilty to the charges in the indictment on Monday, Oct. 19, and his trial was set for November 16.
The public defender says he had subpoenaed five witnesses and prepared 34 exhibits to try to sway a judge against holding Schimmel to answer for murder.
The attorney estimated that the preliminary hearing would have lasted three days while he tried to poke holes in the prosecution’s case and reveal inconsistent statements of witnesses.
The transcripts of the grand jury hearing are sealed at this time. Schimmel remains in custody in Ventura County with bail set at $505,000.
Now the girl has died at age 11 from pneumonia, which was linked to the cerebral palsy she developed as a result of the devastating brain injuries she had received as an infant. Prosecutors are now looking into prosecuting dad for manslaughter.
I know of at least one case in the US where prosecutors have tried to go back and retry a dad after a shaken baby death:
Inquest into child who died from dad's baby shaking
Published Date: 30 October 2009
The Crown Prosecution Service is to re-examine evidence surrounding the death of an 11-year-old girl from injuries suffered when she was just a baby.
An inquest yesterday heard that Lucy-mae Preston was shaken so badly when she was just nine-weeks-old that she was left severely disabled and given a life expectancy of five years.
Her father Paul Gray, who used to live in Corby, was jailed for three years for grevious bodily harm but served just 18 months.
After Lucy-mae died at the age of 11 in November, police re-examined the case to see if they could bring a manslaughter charge against him.
Prior to the inquest, the Crown Prosecution Service said the evidence available at that time would not have led to an increase in his sentence.
But they said further evidence from the inquest will be looked at again.
The court heard from doctors who linked the onset of pneumonia, which ultimately claimed Lucy-mae's life, to cerebral palsy caused by the injuries she suffered as a baby.
Carolyn Preston, a social worker who adopted Lucy-mae when she was 15-months old, told the court Lucy-mae had been plunged into a cold bath following the attack – so whenever she tried to bathe her daughter, she would stiffen up.
Mrs Preston, who used to live in Churchill Way, Kettering, but has now moved, said: "We were told that the sentence the father would receive would not be worth it.
"I wish they could prosecute and he would receive a heftier sentence."
Pathologist James Padfield, told the court: "The right side of her brain was devastated due to the shaking. The fatal pneumonia developed as a result of her head injuries."
Mrs Preston said when she saw her daughter after the post mortem examination, it was a scene that will never leave her because of the state she was in.
Coroner Anne Pember said that her verdict was that Lucy-mae died following shaken baby syndrome.
She said: "Her natural father shook his little daughter when she was nine-weeks-old.
"I'm extremely sorry for the upset you have gone through with the post mortem examination in the hope of prosecuting, and then to be told not."
After the inquest, Mrs Preston said: "The CPS should be asked to look at the case again at the very least."
A spokesman for Northamptonshire Police said after the inquest: "On Lucy-mae's death we completed a thorough investigation and prepared a report for the Crown Prosecution Service, which made the decision not to bring further charges in relation to her death."
A spokesman for the Crown Prosecution Service said: "Paul Gray was sentenced in 1998 to three years' imprisonment on the basis that his actions had reduced Lucy-Mae Preston's life expectancy to five years."
The full article contains 482 words and appears in Northants Evening Telegraph newspaper.
Suzette Martinez Standring: Surviving incest
By Suzette Martinez Standring
GateHouse News Service
Posted Oct 30, 2009 @ 11:08 AM
The taboo against incest is so great, victims often feel buried alive, mummified in shame.
In Massachusetts, a report revised in 2009 by the Department of Children and Families gave the following statistics: 78 percent of sexually abused children are female, most numerous at the ages of 14-16 years. The number of male victims peaked at 5-6 years old and at age 14. Of all children sexually abused, 40 percent were white, 22 percent were Hispanic, and 9 percent were black. Fathers are the most significant perpetrators of sexual abuse.
National silence was shattered when actress Mackenzie Phillips revealed an incestuous relationship with her father, John Phillips, the now deceased singer of the Mammas and Pappas. He corrupted her childhood by introducing her to drugs as a young girl.
Many hailed her as a hero for speaking out. Some family members insisted they were lies. Others questioned the actress’ story based on her past as a drug abuser.
In Quincy, Mass., at age 67, “Elizabeth” is also an incest survivor. She won’t divulge her real identity because her sisters still hide the truth of what happened to them.
“Just because someone is ready doesn’t mean everyone is ready at the same time. They want to protect their own secrets,” she said.
The retired businesswoman applauds Phillips’ determination to heal.
“What she did was fantastic. She wrote about it, she got it out in the public. It was her way of saying, ‘Do what you want with it. I’m done with it. I don’t want it anymore,’” she said.
Her alcoholic father, the sole breadwinner, violated her and her three sisters during their teenage years. He threatened to leave the family if Elizabeth told anyone.
“I thought I was protecting my siblings. If I told my mom, she’d kick him out. Then we don’t have any food. Who’s going to work? Who’s going to bring the money home?”
At the age of 12, Elizabeth was frightened that no one would believe her and that a divorce might place her in her father’s custody. During those years she and her sisters never talked about it.
“When my mother went out, I could hear my father walk across the hall and I’d think he was coming to my room. I was relieved when he’d go to my sister,” she recalled with guilty sadness.
After suffering through six years of incest, Elizabeth finally resisted her father and left home for good. For years she buried her memories, but the effects lingered. She abandoned Catholicism and became an atheist. She avoided her family. Her many relationships with men were plagued with trust and intimacy issues.
“It affected everything, but at the time I didn’t know why. I felt guilty that I allowed it. I felt guilty about my sisters. I got severe headaches. It’s a deep stress that can wreak havoc on your health, something of that magnitude,” said Elizabeth, a cancer survivor.
Mackenzie Phillips was criticized when she used the word “consensual” to describe her involvement from the age of 19 to 29. Others saw it as rape or brainwashing.
Elizabeth said, “It’s never consensual. What it becomes is familiar. Don’t forget it started at a young age. He’s the parent and you obey.”
In her 40s, a traumatic date rape brought all the horror back. Later, menopause and all its hormonal changes churned up the long-buried turmoil, and Elizabeth desperately wanted resolution.
“I went to the library,” she said, where she read books written by psychologists and incest survivors.
“It brought me to the reality that I was not to blame, that I wasn’t alone, that I wasn’t the bad child who allowed her father to do what he wanted. It gave me the strength to come out of the closet to speak about it.”
But when she confronted her family, her efforts were met with anger and denial. Shortly afterward, her father died of a heart attack.
“In reality, he was drinking himself to oblivion,” she said. “He found an easy way out.”
She was blamed for his death and to this day, her sisters will not talk about their experiences. But Elizabeth insists that letting go of her secret shame was profoundly healing. The exhausting weight of self-blame was lifted. The responsibility for corruption, manipulation and the perversion of a child’s need for love sits squarely with the offender. Saying so out loud was liberating.
“I am happier, stronger, freer,” she said.
She feels sorry for those unable to voice their truth. Writing about the unspeakable can brief relief.
“If you can’t tell your friends or family, put it down on paper, but bring it out somehow. You have to release this from your own thoughts. You were not the one who was wrong, no matter how old you were,” she said.
If a survivor shares her story, Elizabeth advises one to set aside judgment or anger, however well intentioned.
“Just be a good listener. It’s like when somebody passes away, you can just say, ‘I’m sorry,” she suggested.
Losing one’s innocence, trust and sense of normalcy is like a death, but millions like Elizabeth are reclaiming their lives.
So confession is good for the soul?
“Yes, especially when you don’t own the sin,” she said.
E-mail Suzette Standring, the award-winning author of “The Art of Column Writing,” at email@example.com. Or visit www.readsuzette.com.
Monument built for "missing" 5-year-old; custodial dad pleaded guilty to manslaughter in her death (Franklin County, Alabama)
Monument Built in Franklin County to Remember Andrea Gonzalez
Clarissa Stephens Shoals Bureau Reporter
October 29, 2009
On Thursday, a special ceremony was held in Franklin County to remember five-year-old Andrea Gonzalez and all missing and exploited children. Gonzalez disappeared nearly 16 years ago. Her body has never been found. Now, a memorial is set up to ensure that she's never forgotten.
The sweet, smiling face of a little girl is the center of the memorial in front of the Franklin County Jail. Flowers surround the granite monument and the phrase, "She touched the hearts of many", is etched in stone. The image is of Andrea Gonzalez.
On November 20, 1993, the five-year-old went missing. For days, there was an extensive search to find her.
"At one time, I know it went over 8,000 hours of volunteers and everybody that was concerned," says Franklin County Sheriff Larry Plott. "It was all the fire departments, rescue squads, local law enforcement agencies, and we even used the flare system with the helicopters and had divers from other states come in to search. We used every resource we had."
Plott, who's been involved in this case from the beginning, says despite their efforts, Gonzalez's body was never found. The child's father and step-mother have both spent time in jail. Paul Gonzalez pleaded guilty to manslaughter and Kym Gonzalez did time for child abuse. In court, the couple testified they'd accidentally killed Andrea and dumped her body off a bridge at Mondye Landing.
Andrea Gonzalez is just one of many victims. Plott held a dedication ceremony on Thursday at the memorial site in front of the Franklin County Jail. The group of people sang "Amazing Grace" and released purple and white balloons. The purpose is to emphasize the importance of protecting all children in abusive situations.
"We don't need to forget what Andrea went through," says Plott. "We need to try and prevent other little boys and girls from going though it."
Franklin County District Attorney Joey Rushing deals with child abuse cases all the time and says many people need a change of attitude.
"Sometimes, we worry about strangers and things of that nature, when a lot of times it's relatives and people in your family that you have to be cautious about," explains Rushing.
By putting Gonzalez's case in the spotlight again, Rushing says their goal is to get parents to pause and pay more attention to their behavior to make sure they're not doing something that could lead to a serious injury or death.
"We're hoping by bringing attention to this and reminding people of this tragedy that people will think about Andrea when they're dealing with their own children," says Rushing.
Plott says even though the memorial will honor Andrea Gonzalez, unfortunately, it still doesn't bring closure to this case. Thursday's dedication ceremony was held as part of National Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
Dad gets jail time for breaking infant daughter's leg; he was "frustrated" while changing her diaper (New Glasgow, Nova Scotia, Canada)
Yet another case where unemployed or underemployed Dad is taking on the home duties (and screwing up royally) while Mom is out busting her butt earning a paycheck. This is not the way it should be, and these are the terrible results we see when certain young men are put into "caretaking" roles they don't have the temperament or skills to do.
Dad got only half the regular sentence for an assault causing bodily harm, and Mom and her family are not happy about it. Oh, and did we mention that Dad has a history of check fraud too? What a prince.
Last updated at 11:14 PM on 29/10/09
Father gets jail time for breaking infant daughter’s leg
NEW GLASGOW – A man accused of snapping his infant daughter’s leg has been sentenced to nine months in jail, along with an additional month for several unrelated fraud charges.
Adam Clifford Whynot, 24, was changing his 3 1/2-month-old daughter Emaleigh’s diaper on Sept. 17, 2007, when he became “frustrated” with her crying and kicking and snapped her left leg. Crown attorney Bill Gorman told the court that Whynot panicked when he heard the audible crack and began thinking of a way to cover his tracks.
“He intentionally dropped her on the floor” Gorman told New Glasgow provincial court Thursday afternoon, causing bruising along the baby’s head and cheek.
“He said he was angry and was trying to cover up what he had done.”
Whynot contacted his common law wife at work to tell her the baby was injured; she called her mother to drive Whynot and the baby to the Aberdeen Hospital.
Ann Marie Russell says she can still remember the baby’s howls of pain as she arrived to pick up her granddaughter. The bulge in the child’s leg made it obvious that it was broken, she added.
“Her little fists were clenched as tight as she could get them,” Ann Marie Russell read in a victim impact statement.
Whynot had originally told emergency room personnel that he was trying to burp his daughter when he accidentally dropped her, causing her femur to fracture. However, the doctor who treated Emaleigh was “highly suspicious of child abuse,” said Gorman, since the injury “was not consistent” with the father’s story.
The baby was transferred to the IWK Hospital in Halifax, where she was seen by specialists and a child protection expert.
“The injuries she sustained were clearly enough to cause a severe break requiring some force, indicative of some trauma,” Gorman said.
“He intentionally risked significant intracranial hemorrhage or death to cover up what he did.”
She spent five days in traction and was put in a cast. She did not suffer a fractured skull from the fall to the floor.
Two days later, after giving police four different stories, her father finally confessed.
Emaleigh still has to go to the IWK once a year for further checks as doctors fear she could experience different rates of growth in her legs because of the fracture. She and her mother suffered from nightmares after the incident, said Leigha Russell, the baby’s mother, and some of Emaleigh’s milestones, like crawling and sitting, were delayed due to her injuries.
“...Emaleigh might not have any memories of this incident. But I do,” said Leigha Russell.
The family says they’re upset by the nine-month sentence, which is exactly half of the maximum sentence that’s available for summary convictions of this type of assault causing bodily harm.
They’re also upset by the two years they’ve had to wait for the sentencing. The case was adjourned multiple times before Whynot changed his plea to guilty in August.
“It just seemed to get brushed under the carpet,” said Ann Marie Russell.
Whynot will also serve an additional month in custody for 11 other charges, which include stealing the chequebook of his elderly neighbour and fraudulently writing cheques, one of which had “happy birthday” written in the memo line.
Other fraud cases, dating back to August 2007, involved Whynot trying to cash cheques for a closed account.
He also pleaded guilty and was sentenced on an incident that occurred in Liverpool, where he now resides, last December. That incident involved Whynot breaking open a floor safe using a crowbar and an axe and stealing coins from a loonie bank inside it.
Whynot will have to make restitution of over $3,000 to the owner of the safe and the Bank of Nova Scotia, submit a DNA sample and is banned from owning weapons for 10 years. He’ll also face an 18-month probation term.
Judge Theodore Tax recommended that Whynot’s jail time be served in solitary confinement for his protection.
Published: October 29, 2009 11:35 pm
Man arraigned for allegedly punching son
By Cass Rains, Staff Writer
A 30-year-old Enid man was arraigned Thursday on a felony child abuse count for allegedly punching his 5-year-old son.
Benjamin Reavis Wil-liams faces no less than a year in jail, no more than life in prison and/or a fine of $500 to $5,000, if convicted.
According to an affidavit, an Enid Police Department detective was contacted Oct. 5 by Department of Human Services about a 5-year-old boy with a black eye. The worker told the detective she was contacted by the boy’s school when he told a counselor his dad hit him in the eye.
When the detective spoke with the boy and asked about the black eye, the boy said, “Dad punched me in the eye.” The boy said his father hit him because he “got a red,” which is a form of discipline at his school, where a red mark is given for bad behavior.
The boy said Williams hit him while he was in his bedroom and his sister saw it happen. He said his dad said he was sorry and it was an accident, according to the affidavit, and after it happened his dad gave him an ice pack for his eye.
The detective and DHS official also interviewed the boy’s sister Oct. 5 about the incident.
The girl told police she didn’t know how her brother got the black eye, but it happened when he was outside playing, according to the affidavit. The detective told the girl they had already spoken to her brother and knew that wasn’t what he told them.
The girl then said her brother got in trouble for hiding some laundry and she didn’t really see anything but heard her dad screaming at her brother and then heard her brother scream, according to the affidavit.
When ask-ed, the girl said she saw no injuries on her brother before her dad began to yell at him. She said afterward her brother’s eye was red and he was holding it, ac-cording to the affidavit. She said her dad gave him an ice pack and said he was sorry, according to the affidavit. The girl said it happened after school on Oct. 2.
The detective then spoke with Williams. He told police he did not know why they were there but figured it was because his son had injured his eye playing over the weekend, according to the affidavit. The detective told Williams he already knew what happened and the boy was not injured playing around.
Williams said he got mad at his son and has never been that mad before, according to the affidavit. He said he did it before he even realized it.
The detective asked Williams to tell him exactly what he did and Williams said he hit his son in the eye, according to the affidavit.
When asked why he did it, Williams said his son had hidden five or six pairs of dirty underwear in his room and when he first scolded him the boy did not seem to care, which is what really made him mad, according to the affidavit.
Williams was ordered to return to court Dec. 14 for a bond appearance and is free on $10,000 bond.
Dad gets 12 years for killing daughter
7:13PM Friday Oct 30, 2009
A Waikato man found guilty of the manslaughter of his three-month-old daughter in 2005 has been jailed for 12 years.
In sentencing Joshua Woodcock in the High Court at Rotorua today, Justice Edwin Wylie said the then 19-year-old had committed the ultimate breach of trust by killing his own child, Sarah Haddock-Woodcock.
"You failed her in the worst possible way."
The infant died as a result of injuries inflicted on her at her Putaruru home, sometime in the week or fortnight leading up to March 12, 2005, the day she died.
Justice Wylie said the infant's injuries could have only been caused by considerable force. Although no weapon was involved much of the offending had been brutal.
Evidence had been given at Woodcock's trial that at least one of the injuries had probably been caused by a knee been pressed into the infant, and others by her head being banged against a hard surface.
An autopsy revealed multiple injuries including eight broken ribs, haemorrhaging, a tear to skin between her gum and lip, bruising to her jaw and chest. The skull fracture that killed her was four centimetres long.
Justice Wylie said the haemorrhage had been described as a "big bag of blood under her skin".
"These injuries tell a horrific tale of abuse.
"By failing to seek help you callously disregarded her suffering."
Sarah had been helpless and utterly defenceless and the sentence needed to denounce the community's abhorrence at such conduct.
"Regrettably, child abuse is all too common in this country."
He noted that before the injuries were inflicted, Woodcock had been a good father, taking over the primary care of two boys, one the son he had with Ms Haddock, the other her son by another man.
The infant's mother, Jaymie Haddock, was jailed for 2 1/2 years in 2007 for wilfully neglecting her. She was in court for her former partner's sentencing, weeping throughout most of it.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Dad admits ripping out his ex-girlfriend's eye; denies he attempted to murder her (Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom)
Woman relives horror eye-gouging attack
Natalie Farrell tells trial how ex-partner Francis Murphy ripped her eye from its socket and hurled it from a high-rise balcony.
.29 October 2009 08:57 AM
A mum whose eye was ripped from its socket and thrown from a high-rise balcony has re-lived the horror attack in court.
A trial at the High Court in Edinburgh heard that Natalie Farrell, 27, didn't realise what had happened - until a pal found the eye and gave it to paramedics who had been called to Dundee's Dalfield Court.
Ex-partner Francis Murphy, 26 - father of Natalie's son - admits causing the horror injury, but denies a charge of attempted murder.
Ms Farrell told the court that their ten-year relationship had just ended and she had moved into an eighth-floor flat in Dalfield Court just days before, with the new man in her life - but Murphy did not take it well.
Advocate depute Iain McSporran, prosecuting, asked how she felt about what had happened.
Ms Farrell told him: "I cannot really put it into words. It is just, I ken I dinnae look right any more. I have lost half my sight. That is me disabled for life now."
The trial heard how Ms Farrell and Mr Stanton were expecting a visitor - and left the door open when Murphy - who Ms Farrell said was drunk - arrived.
She said he attacked Mr Stanton with a metal object and he ran from the flat to get help.
Murphy then turned to her and said: "I am taking your eye out you ******* cow. He had the hook or the coat hanger and he was trying to get that into my eye."
He then tried to get his thumb and two fingers into her eye, she said, then put his hands round her throat and strangled her until she blacked out.
Ms Farrell said: "Because of the adrenalin and the fear I didn't feel pain at the time. and as soon as he done that he strangled me and I went unconscious. I only felt pain when I woke up in hospital."
Ms Farrell said her right eye was hanging by the optic nerve as she fought back, hitting Murphy over the head with a cup to gain enough time to run from the flat.
He saw her and began attacking her again, she said, trying to pull her by the legs towards the rail of the balcony. Murphy then made a move as if to brush hair from her face.
She said: "See how your eye dangles on the optic nerve. He wasn't pulling the hair off my face, it was the optic nerve. They found my eye lying at the bottom of the balcony."
The trial continues.
Custodial dad, 14-year-old son facing life sentences in pub murder (London, England, United Kingdom)
Father and son, 14, guilty of pub murder
(UKPA) – 9 hours ago
A father and his 14-year-old son are facing life sentences after being convicted of stabbing a man to death in an east London pub.
Harry Farrant and his father Jason Michael, 39, caused havoc in two local pubs, the Old Bailey was told.
During two months this year they had used weapons on three men - killing one and wounding two others.
They were both armed with knives and were ready to use them, said Michael Shorrock QC, prosecuting.
The father and son were found guilty of murdering Daniel Leahy, 45, in the Victoria pub in Axe Street, Barking, on April 13.
The pair, of Abbey Road, Barking, were also found guilty of two charges of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm to David Murphy in the Victoria and Lee Lumb at the Captain Cook pub nearby.
Farrant had been placed with his father by Kensington and Chelsea social services and told he could not live with his mother.
The pair moved from Notting Hill, west London, to Barking last December. Soon they were playing pool in local pubs where Farrant passed as older than he was because of his burly frame.
The pair were remanded in custody for reports before sentencing on November 27. The Common Serjeant of London Judge Brian Barker lifted an order banning identification of the boy.
The court was told that Michael had a number of minor convictions. Farrant had been in trouble twice last year, stealing from motor vehicles, and was dealt with in the juvenile court.
Buffalo father charged in infant's beating death
Associated Press - October 29, 2009 4:05 PM ET
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) - A Buffalo man has been charged with beating to death his baby son.
Police say 25-year-old Darnell Miller confessed to the crime Wednesday, two days after 9-month-old Demari Miller was found unresponsive in his parents' Buffalo apartment. He was pronounced dead on arrival at Erie County Medical Center.
An autopsy showed the boy had internal and external injuries that pointed to a severe beating. Deputy Police Commissioner Daniel Derenda called the autopsy report the most disturbing he's ever seen.
Miller was booked late Wednesday on a charge of second-degree murder and was being held without bail Thursday.
There is no telephone listing for his Buffalo address and it was not known whether he has a lawyer.
Dad sentenced to two life terms in shooting death of wife, beating death of 5-month-old son (Monticello, Missouri)
I don't get it. Nyquil makes you kill people? Don't think so, Dude.
Piersee sentenced in murders of wife and son.
By BRENT ENGEL
Posted Oct 29, 2009 @ 04:58 PM
Monticello, MO — .Christopher M. Piersee broke into throaty sobs Thursday as he tried to explain why he killed his wife and infant son.
Piersee, 24, was sentenced by Judge Russell E. Steele to two life terms in prison without parole.
He had earlier pleaded guilty to shooting 21-year-old Patricia “Tish” Yarbrough Piersee in the head and beating to death their five-month-old son, Landon.
The brief but tearful soliloquy during the 25-minute hearing was the only time Piersee publicly talked about the crimes.
Authorities confirmed that, as a security precaution, he was wearing a bulletproof vest under his gray and white prison uniform.
“The last thing I ever meant to do was hurt Tish and Landon,” Piersee said softly. “The drugs that I was on made me confused with what was going on.”
As he uttered his next sentence, Piersee broke down.
“I loved them as much as I could love anything in my entire life, and I miss them.” he said.
A written statement submitted by one of Tish Piersee’s grandmother, Gloria Yarbrough, explained how family members have had nightmares about the murders.
“I have nightmares, too, and my nightmares are the only time I remember what happened.” Piersee told the court.
Piersee’s mother later said her son had tried to kill himself the night of the murders and twice since being arrested.
“I know that none of you can ever forgive me, and I understand that,” Piersee told his wife’s family. “I could never forgive myself.”
Piersee completed his monologue with an apology.
“Just please know that there was never a time when I didn’t love them, and I’m sorry for everything,” he said. “I spend every day thinking about them and I will for the rest of my life. I’m so sorry.”
Tish Piersee’s family said the sentences were too light.
“I wanted death,” Tish Piersee’s father, Eric Yarbrough, said after the hearing.
“He deserves to suffer and be tortured and die,” added her mother, Deb Shaffer. “I wish him the worst for the rest of his life.”
“We were hoping for the death penalty,” said Gloria Yarbrough. “It was so horrendous what he did.”
Piersee’s family said that in addition to suicide attempts, the defendant told them he did not want to spend the rest of his life in prison.
“He wanted the death penalty,” said Piersee’s grandmother, Alberta Piersee. “He wants to die.”
Authorities never offered a motive for the killings, but said Piersee’s marijuana use and abuse of over-the-counter cough medicine were contributing factors.
Lewis County Prosecuting Attorney Jake DeCoster said nothing in Piersee’s past indicated he was violent.
“We looked at that very closely,” DeCoster said.
Gloria Yarbrough said she didn’t believe Piersee’s courtroom speech, and thought his drug use and inability to get a full-time job pushed him to violence.
“We thought she was kicking him out and that’s why he did it,” Gloria Yarbrough said.
Piersee’s family offered a different theory. They say the couple, who were married 2007 in Iowa before moving to LaGrange last year, were happy and that Piersee’s abuse of an over-the-counter cold medicine led to the killings.
“He loved her so much,” said Piersee’s mother, Angie Vaughan. “They were still in the honeymoon phase.”
Alberta Piersee said she had lunch with the couple and the baby the day before the murders.
“He was happy,” Piersee said of her grandson. “The baby was laughing. They were making plans. They were going to get a car, a new bed for the baby.”
Gloria Yarbrough said her son is in counseling and that other family members still are having a difficult time.
“I can’t stand to look at other babies for long,” Yarbrough admitted in her written statement to the court. “There’s no words that are enough to say how we feel. All of us are...are sick to our stomachs.”
Shaffer described her daughter as a “loving an devoted mother.”
“Tish wasn’t just my daughter, but she was my best friend,” Shaffer said. “Chris took the lives of two wonderful people and destroyed our lives, too.”
Life versus death
DeCoster offered Piersee the plea bargain.
He did so because Missouri law makes it extremely difficult to convince a judge that a defendant deserves death.
Such a sentence also requires an automatic appeal.
DeCoster, who has handled death penalty cases before, said he didn’t want to put the victims’ family through such an ordeal.
“We thought (life in prison) was the best possible outcome in this case,” DeCoster said. “There’s no such thing as an open-and-shut death penalty case. This was a strong murder case. It was a weak death penalty case.”
Before sentencing Piersee, Steele talked directly to the defendant. He said Piersee’s crimes were “hard to understand” and said that the “senseless acts” had “forever altered the lives” of the many people who loved the two victims.
“No sentence can ever undo these horrible acts,” Steele said.
Piersee was represented by public defenders David Clayton and Todd Schulze.
Clayton said Piersee was “deeply remorseful” and “has taken responsibility for his actions.”
Clayton said his client agreed to the plea bargain because he “did not want to put both families through a trial.”
“He will spend every day of his life asking for forgiveness for what he’s done,” Clayton said. “He’s deeply, deeply sorry.”
DeCoster has visited many crime scenes, but says he’ll always remember what he saw when he stepped into the Piersee house at 409 N. Main in LaGrange on Feb. 3.
After shooting his wife in the living room, Piersee dragged her lifeless body into the couple’s bedroom, where he then beat to death Landon as the boy lay in his crib.
Amid the blood and rubble in the home, DeCoster spotted a can marked “Landon’s College Fund.”
“That’s something I’ll never forget the rest of my life,” DeCoster said. “When I die, I’ll remember what that can looked like.”
Piersee has 180 days to request a new hearing.
Such a move is unlikely and neither side expects it to happen.
PIersee was to be taken to the Department of Corrections, which will decide where to hold him.
Before returning home to Iowa, Piersee’s mother and grandmother stopped at the Lewis County Jail to say goodbye.
“I think Chris needs to pay for what he did” but “I still love him more than anything in the world,” Vaughan said.
Earlier, in court, one of Tish Piersee’s other grandparents, Wesley Davis, had quoted the Bible. He then looked at Piersee and offered faith-based advice.
“I don’t like what’s happened but, Chris, I forgive you,” Davis said. “I would ask that you ask God for forgiveness.”
Vaughan believes Piersee was spared from the death penalty for a purpose.
“God is not finished with him,” she said. “It’s up to him to figure out what it is. It’s up to him to turn it around and somehow make up for what he’s done.”
As she stood outside the courthouse, clutching a large photo of Landon in her arms as her husband held a picture of Tish, Gloria Yarbrough tried to focus upon the granddaughter who was so full of life.
The one who asked twins to the high school prom because she liked one but didn’t want to hurt the other.
The one who played basketball and rarely was seen without a smile or heard without a good word.
The one who spent almost 30 hours in labor, but was thrilled to give birth to a son.
“She was beautiful inside and out,” Gloria Yarbrough said.
Many family members planned to go from the sentencing to Dover Cemetery in rural Lewis County, where Tish and Landon are buried in each other’s arms in a common casket.
“We want to spend some time with them alone,” Tish’s mother said.