Archive for January, 2011

It was in 1991 when Erica Lynn Shoup, an 8 year old little girl from Toledo, Ohio went to visit her father Gerald Wesley Shoup, step-mother, Lynne Shoup, and 2 teenage step-siblings Jason Draper, 15 and Stacy Draper, 13, in N. Fort worth, TX. for summer break.


Erica was described as tomboy who could scrap with all the boys in the neighborhood but would also doll up for pageants to. She had dreams of becoming a dancer when she grew up.


Erica and her father did not have much of a relationship but had reunited at a funeral and Gerald wanted to restore his relationship with his daughter. Plans were made that she would come down to Texas and spend time getting to know him and his new family.


The news would report that Erica was home alone with Stacy and Jason when she suddenly fell ill in the bath and was rushed by paramedics to Cook-Fortworth Children’s Hospital on August 17, 1991. She had second and third degree “blisters” on her legs, feet, buttocks, genitals, stomach and back.


You may remember Erica Shoup, she not only made national news but she also made world news. News reporter’s reported on her “rare deadly disease” every day. Everyone was shocked to learn about this horrible condition that this little girl had and she had teams of specialists working to try and save her life. Collections were taken up, toys and cards were sent and blood was donated.


Although doctor’s called police to report Erica’s condition, tests were performed and doctors said she had an extremely rare skin condition that was fatal called Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis a.k.a. TEN and it was eating away at her flesh. TEN is an almost 1 in a million side effect from some medications or an infection.


Her core temperature had sky-rocketed to 107 degrees causing irreparable brain damage. She was placed on a dialysis machine and respirator because her vital organs were shutting down.


Debbie found out her daughter was in the hospital from an ER doctor late that night. No one else bothered to call her.

It just happened that Gerald was on the same flight as Debbie was. They were both on the way into Fort Worth. When Lynne picked them up she told them she didn’t know exactly what happened but it was an accident.


Gerald Shoup was quoted as saying, “One organ after another was shutting down, when it finally got to her brain that was it.”


Erica was in a coma for almost a month before she died from a massive stroke and a brain hemorrhage on September 12, 1991.


Stacy Draper, the step-sister, said Erica felt faint and her stomach hurt. She said a neighbor came over and said she needed to get to a hospital so they called 911 for paramedics.


Erica’s mom, Debbie L. Speegle never believed that her little girl was suffering from a disease; she knew in her heart that her little girl had been murdered. She said she was told that in the beginning it was an injury, not an illness.


“When I saw my daughter and the condition of her body, I knew it was not an accident,”


Homicide Detectives investigated the death of Erica for 10 months. Lt. John Foley said they were investigating due to concerns that were raised by what was found on the medical examiner’s report.


Sgt. Russell Butler who went on record in 1992 said,


“It may well be the mystery of Erica Shoup’s death may stay a mystery forever until new evidence or new information surfaces to aid police and the district attorney in proceeding with a criminal procedure” and “We have nowhere to go criminally.”


It was apparent that everyone but the attending physicians thought Erica’s death was more than a very rare disease.


Finally, in September of 1992, a year after Erica’s death the Tarrant County Chief medical examiner Dr. Nizam Peerwani ruled that her death was indeed a homicide. Dr. Peerwani says that Erica Shoup died of toxic shock as a result of immersion burns. Her death had finally been ruled a homicide.


Assistant Tarrant County District Attorney David Montague told reporters that they may never solve the case of who killed Erica because there was no proof.


Unfortunately, Erica’s case seems to have gone ice cold.


The Tarrant county grand jury ruled that there would be no criminal indictment because of insufficient evidence.


The Shoup’s moved back to Ohio a couple years after Erica’s death and have refused any allegations of being negligent.


It wasn’t until June of 1995 that Erica Shoup’s case started making news again. Debbie, Erica’s mother won a civil suit in Lucas County Common Pleas Court for wrongful death against Gerald and Lynne Shoup. Debbie was awarded $2,505,000.00 million dollars. $2 million was for Erica’s pain and suffering, $500,000 for Debbie and $5,000 for Erica’s funeral.


The judge found that Gerald and Lynne were negligent and should have taken better care of Erica Shoup. He also said it was their negligence that led to Erica’s death because they left her with Jason Draper after she complained about how mean he was to her and how there had already been earlier abuse by him. Debbie never saw a dime from the civil suit.

Gerald and Lynne Shoup filed bankruptcy immediately after losing the civil suit. Gerald passed away in 2008.


She at least hoped that this verdict would be enough to reopen the case in Texas. She drove from Ohio to Texas annually for 2 years following Erica’s death with nothing gained. She quit driving the 1200 miles but continued calling every year to try and get the D.A. to reopen her daughter’s case. Every year she was turned down until this year when she got ahold of Alana Minton, the chief prosecutor of the crimes against children unit. Ms. Minton said she would look into it.  Not long after that she got a call from Tom O’Brian a detective with the cold-case unit telling her that they were re-opening Erica’s case.


“I was careful not to get overly excited about it because so many times I had thought, ‘This is it. This is it,'” Speegle said. “Then after the civil trial, it was like, ‘How can they not do anything now?’ Each time it was ‘Sorry,’ and they sent me on my way.”


Sgt. Pedro Criado, a police spokesman told a reporter that he could not report on what the new evidence was that led to the warrant being issued on December 1st.


Jason Draper, now 34 and married with his own kids was arrested in Columbus Ohio on December 7th for Erica’s death almost 20 years ago. He’s being charged with murder and has been booked into the Franklin County jail. He’s also being held without bond.


Cold case detectives from Texas went to Ohio to question him.


Finally, after all these years Erica’s mother may finally see justice.


“I knew that this young man who did this to my daughter was growing up and he could do this to someone else,” Speegle.  She says preventing the same thing from happening to someone else’s child kept her strong in her pursuit of justice. “I spent 19 years crying and now I’m — this year is all about justice.”


Reports show that Jason Draper forced Erica into a tub of scalding water and held her there for several minutes. He then denied medical attention for several hours until she started going into toxic shock.


According to the same report, friends also saw Draper beat Erica, and force her to eat food contaminated with feces, insects and household cleaners — laughing as he tormented her.


Jason Draper could be sentenced to life in prison but according to law he first has to go before a juvenile justice judge and be “certified” as an adult since this happened when he was 15. This case most likely could have been solved 20 years ago if witnesses back then would have come forward on Erica Shoup’s behalf.


I wonder if Jason has abused anyone else in his 20 years of freedom?


This is a case I plan to follow closely; I believe a lot more details will eventually come out. I also think Erica was burnt long before 911 was called. She went into toxic shock which means she had an infection. There had to have been time between Jason scalding her in the tub and her burns becoming infected. I think more people than just Jason knew what happened and that’s why up and moved back to Ohio after Erica passed away and then refused to answer any questions.


I had just posted the following report this week and while I was researching to write about Erica’s case, this report was brought up in one of the (recent) articles about her. Even back in 1991 the media and viewers are more interested in Erica having a “weird” medical condition than they would have been if she was just an abused little girl.


The National Coalition to End Child Abuse Deaths just reported:


According to the group, in 2010 alone, news outlets have produced thousands more stories on killer flu, food-borne illness, car malfunctions and other “scare” topics than on child abuse, which results in far more deaths.

“American news media turns a blind eye to child abuse deaths while lavishing extensive coverage on deaths that occur less often. This … media ‘blackout’ on child abuse deaths creates a climate in which needed reforms are unable to move forward.”



Jason has managed to stay out of trouble since he murdered his step-sister Erica. A look at his past record shows that the only problems he’s ever had was expired tag’s and a failure to appear back in July of 2004.


Jason Draper’s Public Record: His current status with Franklin County is Fugitive from justice.


Author: M. Stone, Unforgotten Angels


Amber Christine Ingram, 25, was the mother of Braeden James Gardner, a 5 year old, blond hair, blue eyed, happy-go-lucky little boy from Rosemont, Ca.. Eduardo Zamora, 31, was Amber’s live-in boyfriend of only four months and he didn’t like Braeden very much. In fact, he didn’t like Braeden at all and one of the reasons was because he had ADHD. Eduardo felt that he was better than most people although really he was just a fat unemployed insecure loser.

Eduardo was laid off from his job in April and to save money he began keeping Braeden home instead of sending him to daycare. Apparently “mom” needed a man to help pay her bills and take care of her insecurities.

Eduardo liked poking at Braeden every chance he got and his mom never intervened. He kept a list that he called “Braeden’s Bulls*it List” hanging next to his belt on a wall. This was sure to remind Braeden of how “bad” he constantly was.

Eduardo began beating Braeden 2 weeks after he started keeping him at home telling Amber “This is how Mexican fathers deal with their kids that lie.” Amber told authorities that Eduardo would feel bad about it and cut the belt up but then he would go out and get another one. His guilt never lasted as long as the marks he left on Braeden’s little body.

Amber also says she was never home when Braeden was “dealt with” but Eduardo ALWAYS told her about it. Amber also admitted to seeing marks on her child and doing nothing but giving him an icepack and some Motrin. Maybe Amber was too stupid to realize that broken bones required medical attention, you think?

She says in Braeden’s final days of life she saw him covered in injuries. Court documents state:

“When I would see the injuries I would hug him and hold him and make sure that he was OK and I would see the hurting and I would give him ice packs,” Amber Ingram said. “He would say I love you and thank you and good night. “Braeden never told her Zamora was hurting him, Ingram said in her statement.

What a loving mother she is, she did after all give him an icepack and Braeden DID after all tell her he loved her and thanked her for her kindness, right?

On June 17thof 2009 Eduardo called Amber that morning and told her that Braeden used the bathroom in his pants AGAIN. Amber told him to put him in his room and put a movie on for him and she would clean him up when she got home from work. Amber then received a picture text with feces smeared on the wall.

Braeden NEVER lost control of his bowels until Eduardo was in the picture. He was so petrified of him he could no longer control himself. Obviously, Eduardo had already been torturing and scaring the life out of Braeden to make him defecate in his pants that morning.

The National Center for Child Abuse reports that one of the first signs of abuse is not being able to control your bodily functions.

Braeden died on June 17, 2009 at UC Davis Medical Center after paramedics were called to the house because he was unresponsive.

Amber says she wanted to leave her man and even called a friend to see if she could move in with her. She told detectives:

“I never left because I was scared for me and Braeden,” Ingram said. “He said if I was ever (sic) left him or cheated on him, he’d kill me.”When asked by detectives why she never told anyone about the abuse she said: “I never told my family or friends what was happening to my son,” Ingram told a Sacramento County sheriff’s detective, according to a request for an arrest warrant filed in court. “I was ashamed that I was letting that happen to him and then I didn’t do a thing about it, and that I didn’t leave.”

Instead of Amber leaving or even trying to reach out for help Eduardo beat Braeden with a belt and his hands.

He had sores on his face, bruising from head to toe, he was forced to eat feces, had internal bleeding, bite marks on his thighs, multiple fractures, a broken clavicle from twisting his arm and wrist behind his back, 8-10 burns from a water pipe, injuries to his kidney from being punched so hard, torn stomach lining, lacerated lungs, a hemorrhaged heart and colon, a concussion, pinch bruises to his penis and scrotum and a wound to his anus from being sodomized with a foreign object, gastric tears and contusions to the spleen.

The prosecutor said the “unique shape” of some of Braeden’s injuries “may be consistent with sex toys and other toys found in the couple’s home.”

“The only area of the child’s body not diagramed with injuries,” said the sworn statement from Deputy District Attorney Dawn Bladet, “are the palms of his hands.” His entire little body was purple, battered and broken.

It’s obvious that Braeden was molested and sodomized yet no charges were filed for sexual abuse. WHY did the prosecuting Attorney’s not ask for those charges, it makes no sense. If Eduardo gets a 50 year sentence and gets out in 25 for good behavior he won’t even have to register as a sex offender.

After Eduardo Zamora spent numerous hours beating and torturing Braeden he went into the living room and smoked a bowl of marijuana to chill out. He must of felt pretty damn accomplished to be able to sit down and relax, the sadistic ba$%ard.

Detective Koontz reported seeing feces not only on walls, but all over a bed in another room, in Braeden’s underwear and on a towel. There were also feces on Eduardo Zamora’s back.

Eduardo Zamora Jr. was arrested on June 18, 2009 and booked into Sacramento County jail for murder, torture and assault resulting in the death of a child under 8. Because he is being charged with torture he qualifies for the death penalty. That doesn’t mean that the prosecutor will seek the death penalty.

He was also placed on suicide watch. It’s too bad they don’t let these animals off there selves so no one has to bother with them.

In Detective Tom Koontzs’ report he said Eduardo admittedly “spanked” Braeden for defecating in his pants. He says he may have hit the boy too hard because he was mad at him.

During the trial his lawyer argued that Braeden overdosed on his ADHD medication and even though his injuries were “brutal” they probably weren’t fatal. He even attempted using the ridiculous excuse that Braeden’s bruises from head to toe were from him trying to resuscitate Braeden. He also said that was the only way Eduardo knew how to discipline.

YES, he really had the nerve to say that.

Attorney Greg Foster’s exact phrasing was:

“These injuries, while acts of brutality, possibly were not acts of fatality,” Foster said. Zamora “is not this mean, sadistic monster” described by the prosecutor, the defense lawyer said, just a man who didn’t understand the “nuances” of ADHD and was only trying to discipline Braeden in a fashion worked out with the boy’s mother.”

Every authority figure, expert witness and Doctor and even the coroner that testified said it was the worst case of abuse they had ever seen in their careers and it would haunt them for a long time.

It was noted that one doctor that saw Braeden in the ER that testified broke down crying describing his injuries.

Eduardo Zamora was found guilty on December 13, 2010 for torture, child homicide and first-degree murder in Braeden’s killing. On top of those charges, child abuse resulting in death was also added. Eduardo is facing 50 years to life and will be sentenced on January 14, 2011.

Eduardo’s attorney Greg Foster was nowhere in sight after court was adjourned to comment.

Amber was arrested at work on August 4, 2009 for suspicion of endangering the life or health of a child. She was being held on $100,000 bail at the Sacramento County Jail. Her charges were later upgraded to murder and child endangerment.

Amber’s Attorney Asst. Public Defender, Michael Nelson doesn’t believe Amber should be charged with murder claiming,

“The acts that led to Braeden’s death occurred when she was at work and she did everything she could think of to stop him and was in the process of moving out,” Nelson said.”

No, I’m sorry Amber, I have to disagree, you admittedly did NOTHING to help your son except give him an icepack, Motrin and send him to bed. YOU put him into the arms of a sick, twisted, sadistically perverted monster and now you deserve everything you get and more. If you would have been thinking of Braeden instead of your live-in p*nis your child would be alive and with you.

The fact of the matter is, Amber was more worried about her own self-preservation than she was worried about the very child she gave birth to and should have protected. Both of you can rot in hell.

Amber was found guilty on December 13, 2010 of second-degree murder on the grounds of failing to protect little Braeden and aiding and abetting. She was also found guilty for child endangerment resulting in death of a child.

Amber’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for January 14th with Judge Michael P. Kenny and she is facing 15 years to life.

“She was afraid to notify anyone or take the kid to police or CPS because she was afraid they’d take the kid away from her, which was probably true,” juror Greg Weeks said after his jury convicted Ingram of second-degree murder. “But what would you rather have? Lose your child for a few days or weeks, or have a dead child and never see him again?”

“Don’t ever, ever, ever put your kids last. And that’s what she did, for the love of this guy.”Braeden suffered more than 100 separate injuries at the hands of Zamora, Deputy District Attorney Dawn Bladet said.

Braeden’s grandmother, Lynnett Tazer, said she and her son – the boy’s biological father – hadn’t seen him since he was 3, “when Amber took him away from his father and all of us and didn’t allow us to visit him or anything. “Now she has to pay the price for the judgments she made,” Tazer said. Zamora, Tazer said, “is an animal.” What he did to Braeden “gave us all nightmares,” she said.

Thanks to Eduardo Zamora and Amber Ingram, Braeden is just a memory to be cherished in his friends and family’s heart.

You can view his still active memorial by clicking here; his family still leaves messages all the time.

District Attorney case of interest document:

Eduardo Zamora’s booking information:

Amber Ingram’s booking information:

Author: M. Stone, Unforgotten Angels

I became a mother at 17, I was very young and it was hard. By the time I was 21 I was married with 3 children and we had a pretty good life. It was stressful around holidays and birthdays, I usually picked up a part-time job to go with my full-time job so the kids always had a nice holiday. That was 18 years ago and I look back on things today and regret none of it. Although I was young, I had much more patience than I do today and I realize that. I look forward to one day being a grandmother but not for a very, very, very long time.

I never really yelled at my kids, I was the more level-headed parent. I swatted them on occasion but that was rare. Usually I could give them that “look”, stand them in the corner or my favorite, make them write paragraphs about what they did and how they would correct the behavior, they hated that. We also took things away which is the worst thing you could ever do to a teen.

Wadren Alice Hilger is 31 years of age and lives in Silsbee, TX. Silsbee is a small town of about 6,500 people close to Beaumont, Texas.  Wadren is also the maternal aunt to a three-year-old little girl, whose name is being protected, and also became her guardian in June of 2009. The toddlers’ mother gave birth to her while she was in the custody of Texas Department of Corrections. Before Wadren Alice Hilger acquired custodial guardianship of the little girl she had been in foster care. Hilger and her husband {also unnamed} had two children ages 9 and 6.

It would seem that the Hilgers’ wanted to care for their niece since they were the ones to seek custody and remove the child from her foster parent’s home. Unfortunately, that couldn’t have been further from the truth. No one knows exactly why they wanted the toddler but it was indisputable that they didn’t love or care for her.

On May 31, 2010 before midnight, Wadren Hilger’s husband, again unnamed for some reason, took the little girl to Beaumont’s Christus St. Elizabeth emergency room. The doctors were in disbelief with what they were looking at. The three-year-old girl was semi-unconscious, seizing and bruised from head to toe. She looked as if she had been in a horrible car accident. That would be the only reasonable explanation for all of her injuries. She was immediately admitted into critical care. She was also placed on life support and was not able to breathe on her own. The hospital called and reported that they had suspicions of abuse and Silsbee police Chief Dennis Allen came to the hospital to investigate. He was also mortified.

She had been used as a punching bag all in the name of discipline. On or around June 17  She was transferred to Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston and was taken off of  life-support and can now breath on her own, however, she is still in coma.

There were well over 70 bruises on the girl. “The bruises had been caused from whipping, grabbing, etc.” he told Silsbee Bee. “Wadren Alice Hilger told Chief Allen that the bruises on her chin came from her grabbing the girl and forcing her to look at her when she was talking to her and the other bruises were from when she spanked her with the belt.  The bruises were not consistent with belt marks Chief Allen said.

“At that age you’re not very tall – but you can pretty well envision – we counted somewhere around approximately 71 bruises on her and that’s from her head to the toes and all over and some are larger than others” said Chief Dennis Allen with the City of Silsbee Police Dept.

Wadren also made the little girl kneel on uncooked rice on a hard floor for 10 to 15 minutes at a time as a form of punishment.  Chief Allen was quoted as saying:

“I would classify that as torture,” said Chief Allen. “I mean, we can all relate to crawling around on our knees if we’re working on something or children playing. If you get something, a small pebble or rock under your knees, how much pain and discomfort that is. You can only imagine a child being knelt down like that and being made to stay in that position anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes. “

She whipped her, shoved her, dropped, tossed her around and choked her. She had been systematically abused over the time she was placed with her aunt. The toddler also suffered a severe head injury.

Wadren Alice Hilger was charged with second-degree injury to a child and given a $100,000 bond. She was booked into Hardin County Jail at 6:07 p.m. Tuesday and was released at 6:32 p.m. the same day. See how happy she looks in her mug shot? She doesn’t think she’s done anything wrong, that’s the only explanation for that great big smile on her face. Hilger was taken back into custody just a couple days later for having $1,600.00 in unpaid traffic tickets from Lumberton, TX.

After she pays them she will be released again.

In November of 2010 Wadren Alice Hilger’s charges were upgraded and she was indicted by the Hardin County Grand Jury on 2 counts of third-degree felony charges of injury to a child for whooping the girl with a belt and family violence-assault by choking, and 1 count of first-degree felony charge for pushing the toddler so hard that her head slammed onto the ground and caused her brain damage. Warrants for her arrest will be issued this week and the new bond will be $250,000 PER charge. Hopefully this time her husband won’t be able to bail her out and that ugly smile will be wiped off her homely face.

Texas Department of Corrections took pity on the little girl’s mother and released her a little bit early so she could be at her daughter side when she was in Texas Children’s Hospital. After spending several months at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, she was transferred to a Dallas infirmary to further her recovery process; she is still in a semi-comatose state according to Hardin County District Attorney David Sheffield.

Wadren Alice Hilger faces from 5 to 99 years or life in prison and fine of up to 10,000 on each charge.

This little girl was terrorized most likely every single day that she was in the care of her aunt and uncle. It was never said if her uncle abused her or not. I would assume that he did not however; I cannot see how he is not being brought up on charges for being in the home and not stopping the abuse.

This toddler had injuries in different stages of the healing process which means the abuse was recurring. Mr. Hilger is just as responsible for this baby being in a coma as his wife is and he needs to be held accountable. I hope they never get their children back; they are a danger to children and are unfit to even care for an animal.

There are no pictures of the baby and her name is still being withheld.

Author: M. Stone, Unforgotten Angels

UPDATE: Back when I wrote this story the news had not published Wadren’s husbands name or charged him. Thanks to a reader they found an update to this story. Thank you very much ConcernedCitizen, I appreciate you taking the time to find this information. Unfortunately, I don’t always have time to.

From the Silsbee Bee:

Father indicted for child’s injuries

A Silsbee man has been indicted by a Hardin County Grand Jury, accused of causing bodily injury to a 3-year-old girl by striking her with a belt.

Edward Hilger, 31, of Silsbee, was indicted on a third-degree felony charge of injury to a child by striking with a belt. If found guilty, Hilger could face 2-10 years in prison and could be ordered to pay a fine up to $10,000.

A warrant for Hilger’s arrest is expected to be issued in the near future. Bond has been set at $250,000.

The indictment is the result of an investigation into an incident that occurred on May 31, 2010 at a home located in the 300 block of Hays Rd. in Silsbee. The Silsbee Police Department was notified on June 1, 2010, by staff at St. Elizabeth Hospital in Beaumont that there was a possible child abuse situation when a 3-year-old child was brought into the emergency room suffering from seizures.

According to Bee archives, Silsbee Police Chief Dennis Allen reported at the time that the toddler had in excess of 60 bruises on her body.

“The bruises had been caused from whipping, grabbing, etc. Bruises on her chin were explained by the suspect as having grabbed the child to make her look at her and other bruises from spanking the child with a belt. There are a lot of bruises that are not consistent with just a spanking with a belt. Obviously it has crossed a line.

“There was even what I refer to as torture. She admitted that she put rice on a hard surface floor and made the child kneel on the rice for 5-10 minutes. The aunt’s reasoning was that she was disciplining the child. As far as I’m concerned it was torture.”

Wadren Hilger was arrested in early June and charged with injury to a child, a second degree felony. Bond was set at $100,000. She was booked into the Hardin County jail and released after posting bond in about 30 minutes.

In November, 2010, a Hardin County Grand Jury indicted Wadren Hilger on two third-degree felony charges of injury to a child by striking with a belt and family violence-assault by choking. She was also indicted on the first-degree felony charge of serious bodily injury to a child by shoving, causing the child’s head to hit the floor. Bond was set at $250,000 on each charge.

Wadren Hilger currently remains in the Hardin County jail.

“The case is still open and we are still looking at different aspects of it to see exactly where it takes us and where we are going to go with it,” said Hardin County District Attorney David Sheffield. “It is ongoing, The Silsbee Police Department has had an extensive investigation. We had numerous witnesses before the Grand Jury. We will just have to see where this takes us.”

“This is a very serious crime with very serious, life-threatening injuries that have been perpetrated on this child,” he continued. “We are looking to get everyone who is involved. When the facts and the eminence of the law meets, we go forward with the prosecution of this crime.”



As this childs former foster father from 2 days old until 18 months old I can assure all who read this post including the Hardin County DA that at NO time were any members of her biological family considered for her care due to prior legal history or inability to show Child Protective Services they could meet her needs. My spouse and I were distraught when we got the news of reunification because she had become part of our family. We worked within the system to aid the birth mom in developing a bond with her daughter that she hardly knew due to her incarceration. When the day arrived for her to leave we prayed for her safety and happiness. At first contact was frequent but, became less and less. Imagine how surprised we were when contacted by the State that she was back in CPS custody. We immediately volunteered to take her back into our home only to be informed of her condition and that we were not a medical needs home that could care for her proper needs and we were the only ones to have any shot records for her. For those who may not have gotten the math, she lived in our home, loved and cared for longer than any of her biological family. This precious little girl had the cutest giggle and a smile that lit up a room. I sit here trying to write without frustration or anger and all I feel is sorrow. She may never giggle, smile, walk, talk or feed herself. She may never understand why anyone would harm her. She may never know why she continued to breath on her own when taken off the respirator. She will know Gods Love and one day those responsible will know his wrath.

I lived in the Houston area for about 6 years, I absolutely loved it. I loved the different cultures, the great food, the historical landmarks, shopping and you never got bored or ran out of things to do. Yes, the traffic was horrible and it was hot and humid.


We also had to evacuate for Hurricane Rita, which was a nightmare, but aside from that I had no complaints. I traveled into the city for work and lived about 30 minutes out, if there was no traffic, which was rare.


Inside the Houston city limits there are plenty of seedy areas that most people would try to avoid if at all possible. There are lots of gangs and crime in general. The National Gang Threat Assessment group reports Houston has more gangs than any other city in TX with 225 different documented gangs. Houston has a population of 4 million people, not including the undocumented residents, so I guess it’s no surprise.


Gangs at one time were believed to be an inner-city problem amongst lesser fortunate people in crime ridden areas. These days, it has become an epidemic that affects any class, any race and any town. Money is the motive for these sleazebags so they go where ever the money is.


This story involves a lesser known gang called the Black and Whites.


Peter Anthony Cantu, 18, Efrain Perez, 17, Raul Omar Villarreal, 17, Derrick Sean O’Brien, 18, Jose “Joe” Medellin, 18, and Vernancio “Vinnie” Medellin, 14, were members of the Black and White gang. The gang made the national spotlight on June 23rd, 1993, after they murdered and raped Jennifer Ertman, 14, and Elizabeth Pena, 16. The two girls were good friends who had spent the day together, and on that same night in 1993 they were tortured and died together.


The girls left a mutual friends home after a party around 11:15 p.m. to head to Elizabeth’s house and they veered off their path to take a short cut on a railroad track and through a park. They took this short cut to avoid walking by a sexually oriented business and because it would save them time – their curfew was at 12:00.


The next morning, the family realized the girls were not there and they began to panic. In 1993 cell phones were not very common and the average teenager did not have one. I was 18 at the time and I didn’t have one.


Jennifer and Elizabeth did have pagers however, so the family began desperately paging them and calling their friends. The girls friends told them they had not seen them since the night before when they left to go home.


Both families contacted the Houston Police Department and filed a missing persons report. I’m sure they were told that nothing could be done until the girls had been missing for the standard 24 hours.


The Ertmans and the Penas started independent searches on their own with the help of friends, neighbors and family. They handed out hundreds of fliers with the girls’ pictures and even gave them to the roadside vendors to insert them into the newspapers they were selling.


On June 27, 1993, someone calling himself “Gonzalez” called in a tip to Crimestoppers. He said that Jennifer’s and Elizabeth’s bodies could be found at the White Oak bayou in the T.C. Jester Park. The police went to the scene and a police chopper was also there to search the area.


Reports never said if  it was being broadcast or if “Gonzalez” was watching as the officers were searching but “Gonzalez” called 911 and said to go to the other side of the bayou. When police searched the other side they found Elizabeth’s and Jennifer’s partially decomposed bodies.


As I mentioned, heat and humidity in the Houston area is unlike anywhere else I have every lived, it caused the girls’ bodies to both be in an advanced stage of decomposition, specifically on their heads, necks and genitals.


Jennifer Ertman and Elizabeth Pena had to be identified by dental records.


Jennifer’s dad, Randy Ertman was about to do an interview with the news when he heard on the news scanner that 2 bodies had been on the bayou. He immediately went to the location, which was swarming with reporters and police. He was heard on the television broadcast of the scene screaming, “Does she have blond hair? DOES SHE HAVE BLOND HAIR?”


The police on the scene were able to keep Randy Ertman away from the crime scene, sparing him the sight of his daughter in the horrendous condition she was in. Those who witnessed this incident were brought to tears, from the toughest cop to the most jaded newsperson, even when discussing this case years later.


Detectives began their investigation with the call that came from Gonzalez. Once they traced it and caught up to him, “Gonzalez” said he made the call ”at his 16-year-old wife’s urging”. He was the brother of one of the men that committed this heinous act.


Peter Cantu, Efrain Perez, Sean O’Brien, Vinnie Medellin, Joe Medellin and a few others were doing a gang initiation with Raul Villarreal. They spent the evening drinking beer and “jumping in” Raul.


For anyone who may not know what the term “jumping in” means, it means the new gang hopeful has to fight every gang member there and take an *ss-whuppin’ until he was unconscious. Most gangs used the term ”blood in, blood out”.


These days that term means nothing, once you join there’s no leaving the gang alive in most cases.


After the thugs jumped in their newest member Raul Villarreal, they continued drinking and then went out to celebrate the night’s festivities. Two guys that were with them but denied being in the Black and Whites gang said they passed Jennifer and Elizabeth in the park.


The posse grabbed Elizabeth and pulled her down the hill. Jennifer broke loose from the gang’s grip but turned and went back when she heard Elizabeth crying out for help.


For over an hour the sleazeballs savagely raped the girls. Investigators said when the gang gave details of the rape it was the worst they had ever heard and all of these guys were boasting about what they had done.


The report said there were always at least 2 gang members on each girl, raping them orally, vaginally and anally for over an hour. The boys were said to have been bragging later to their friends and family saying ” She was loose and sloppy”. Another one of the boys said he got him some “virgin blood”.


Vinnie Medellin, 14, the youngest of the gang said he kept telling the guys they all needed to leave. He said they told him to “get some” so he raped Jennifer.


When they finished raping Elizabeth and Jennifer they took them to another area in the park. They told Vinnie to stay put because he was too young to watch what was going to happen next.


Sean and Raul took a belt and wrapped it around Jennifer’s neck. They pulled each end of the belt so tight the belt broke. They finished her off with her own shoe laces. Elizabeth begged for her life, out of desperation she offered to give them her phone number to call her so they could meet up another time for sex.


They choked her to death also with her own shoelaces.


After they finished torturing, beating, raping and murdering the girls they went back to Peter Cantu’s house. He shared a house with his brother Joe Cantu and Joe’s wife Christina. The guys started bragging about their antics and said it would soon be all over the news.


The medical examiner took the stand and testified that two of Elizabeth’s teeth were knocked out of her mouth before she died. Jennifer had two ribs that were broken after she was dead. They were kicked with steel-toe boots and had their hair ripped out. Both of these girl were brutally beaten and their necks were stomped on “to make sure they were really dead”.


The girl’s family attended all the court dates and had to relive these girl’s deaths every time a picture or a witness got on the stand.


Prior to 1993, families of the victim did not get the choice to view the abuser’s execution in the state of Texas.


This case changed that.


Also, because of this case, victim’s families now have the right to give an impact statement at the trial. When Randy Ertman made his impact statement, he told Peter Cantu “We live for the day you die, I hope you rot in hell.”


The Ertmans and the Penas always stayed in the public and they vocalized their anger as victims. They stayed involved and that’s why the laws were changed.


Vernacio “Vinnie” Medellin Pleads Guilty:

All of the guys except Vinnie was charged with Capital Murder.


When Vinnie took the stand in his trial he was asked about his behavior that night. He said, he went with that gang for 1 hour and he ruined his life forever. Vinnie was charged with aggravated sexual assault. He was sentenced to 40 years in prison, the maximum for a juvenile in Texas. His new address is at the Texas Dept. of Corrections.


Vinnie testified against all of the gang members except his brother. He has never taken full responsibility in his part of the crimes.


Derrick Sean O’Brien:

Derrick O’Brien was executed on July 11, 2006. His last words were ” I’m sorry, I have always been sorry. It’s the worst mistake I have ever made in my whole life. Not because I am here, but because of what I did. I hurt a lot of people, you and my family.”


Derrick O’Brien denied himself the right of a last meal.


Derrick O’Brien was linked to another murder that happened 7 months earlier, the woman’s neck was slashed. She had been raped and disemboweled.


Derrick O’Brien’s own mother and grandfather testified against him saying he was cruel and intentionally harsh.


If the very person that birthed you can say you are evil and deserve to die I think it’s safe to say Derrick O’Brien was a waste of oxygen. He should have been removed from the gene pool long before he ever had the chance to hurt anyone.


Derrick O’Brien’s Last Statement:

I do. I am sorry. I have always been sorry. It is the worst mistake that I ever made in my whole life. Not because I am here, but because of what I did and I hurt a lot of people – you, and my family. I am sorry; I have always been sorry. I am sorry. You look after each other. I love you all. Be there for one another. Alright. But I am sorry; very sorry. I love you too. Alright.

Jose Ernesto Medellin:

Joe Medellin was also executed August 26, 2008. He was 33 at the time. His last words were, “I’m sorry that my actions brought you pain. I hope this brings the closure to what you seek,” he said. “Don’t ever hate them for what they do. Never harbor hate.” He then looked toward the witness room in which his friend, Sandra Crisp, was watching, crying softly, and smiled. “I love you,” he said.


Before his execution he tried to get a stay because he was never offered the option to contact the Mexican Consulate. His stay was denied,  Judge Strickland ruled that even if he had contacted them the outcome would have remained the same. He also quoted “The law is clear: Texas is bound not by the World Court, but by the U.S. Supreme Court, which reviewed this matter and determined that this convicted murderer’s execution shall proceed,” Strickland said of Medellin’s case.”


Peter Cantu:

Peter Cantu was executed August 17, 2010. He was the ringleader of these horrible crimes. He had no last words. No one showed up to witness his execution except for the girls’  families. He was asked by the presiding judge if there was any reason he shouldn’t get the death penalty and his response was “nah”.


Peter portrayed himself as a conceded, self-righteous punk when he was in front of the news camera. In court, he would smile, roll his eyes and make faces. He never took anything serious, including his own sentence of death. The only opinion I have of him is that I’m upset that my hard earned Texas dollars went to feed, cloth and shelter him for so many years. I’m also sad that he could not be publicly executed. I would have happily cheered his death on while he was sitting in “old sparky”.


Peter Cantu’s Last Statement:



Efrain Perez and Raul Villarreal:

Efrain Perez and Raul Villarreal were both convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death. Perez and Villarreal later had their sentences commuted to to life in prison because they were 17 at the time the crime was committed. They will be eligible for parole in 2028.


The Ertmans and the Penas have videotaped their protest when Efrain and Raul come up for parole, just in case they don’t live long enough to be there. They plan to always be able to speak on behalf of their daughter’s, even if it means they have to do it from their graves.


Author: M. Stone, Unforgotten Angels




Christopher Scott Thunborg, 24 was the boyfriend of Whitney Pettersson, 19.  Whitney left 13-

month-old Austin Pettersson Pierce in Christopher’s care on March 10, 2008 while she worked the graveyard shift at the Utah State Developmental Center in American Fork, Utah. Whitney came home the next morning around 7:00 a.m. and while she was in the shower Christopher told her that Austin was not breathing.


He called 911 and upon their arrival little Austin was still warm to the touch in his crib. EMS transported Austin to Utah Valley Regional Medical Center and he was immediately pronounced dead. Orem Police Lt. Doug Edwards said baby Austin had bruises on his stomach and back, ruptured bowels, sub-cranial bleeding and a lacerated stomach. He also said Austin had been sick for many months and was under a physician’s care.


Whitney and Christopher’s roommate said she heard Austin crying but that he had not been feeling well so she didn’t pay much attention to it and she turned over and went back to sleep. Christopher Thunborg met with police on Wednesday afternoon and when he was questioned about the bruises on little Austin’s body he eventually told them he fell with Austin in his arms. When police began to question him further about the injuries, Christopher promptly shut up and requested a lawyer according to Lt. Doug Edwards.


Christopher was arrested and put in an Orem holding cell where he stayed the night. He was booked into the Utah County jail for further investigation at 4:40 p.m. March 12, 2008. Police got a search warrant for Christopher’s home and collected evidence that also included a loaded .38 caliber revolver.  Lt. Edwards said his criminal record is clean other than minor traffic offenses.


Investigators never pursued alternative suspects. This would later prove to be a terrible mistake.


While Lt. Edwards was investigating Austin’s murder they found some other interesting information. Several months prior to Austin’s death Pleasant Grove police investigated a possible child abuse case that involved little Austin Pettersson. Whitney, Austin’s mother took him to the Dr. concerned that he might have an upper respiratory infection and the Dr. was concerned with bruising in his earlobe.


Whitney called and reported it to Division of Child and Family Services and they called Pleasant Grove police and opened a case. Sgt. Roberts said he questioned everyone in the household including Christopher Thunborg and Austin’s biological father Erick Pierce who had visitation with Austin and he was satisfied with all their answers. He told them that the case would be pursued because it was considered criminal in nature.


Eventually it was dropped because there was no evidence to support that Austin was being abused.


Christopher’s demons were starting to come out of the closet all at once. While he was locked up he was also looking at another charge for an assault at work that happened somewhere between March 2-6. Christopher also worked at Utah State Developmental Center in American Fork. He works with adults that have mental and physical disabilities and teaches them life skills and prepares them for a life of independence.


According to Sgt. Shauna Greening, they got a report that 2 clients of the Center were involved in an altercation which in turn upset a 3rd client (the alleged 21-year-old victim), another staff member was able to calm them down, however, Christopher Thunborg grabbed the victim around the neck and took him down to the ground, he continued to hold him down with his knees pushed into his neck and back. Christopher was charged with abuse to an elderly or disabled adult and entered a plea of not guilty the same day.  Sgt. Greening said the altercation had already been resolved and things had calmed down when Christopher stepped in and put his hands on the victim.


He was put on administrative leave after he was arrested in March but is still being considered an employee said Liz Sollis, spokeswoman of the Utah Dept. of Human Services. He later pleaded guilty.


Christopher Thunborg pleaded not guilty to Austin Pettersson’s murder. He waived the right to a preliminary hearing to avoid “dragging out painful details” and was scheduled for trial in December. Defense Attorney Dusty Kawai says that Christopher maintains that he is innocent but is mourning the loss of Austin. He was given a bail amount of $100,000 and bonded out by his parents under the condition that he wears a GPS ankle bracelet.


During opening statements Prosecutor Randy Kennard described in detail that Austin Pettersson Pierce suffered many painful injuries. He said he had been hit so hard that his intestines were ripped away from his stomach and he had multiple “suspicious” bruises. The prosecutor showed pictures of Austin alive and deceased and told the jury that the Medical Examiner will testify that Austin was a victim of battered child syndrome.


He told jurors Christopher once claimed that Austin stood up and then fell straight forward on his face hitting a hard surface. Kennard said during the long interrogation Christopher changed his story and suddenly remembered  ”He stepped on a puppy, he couldn’t put his arms out to break his fall, and he fell on the baby full force,” the medical experts would soon testify that Austin’s injuries could not have been from a fall that Christopher claimed to have happened.


Defense Attorney Dusty Kawai asked jurors to keep an open mind because there were “random occurrences” that make people look for answers after the fact. He added, “When things don’t make sense, we see patterns where no patterns exist”. He accused the investigator of using her perspective to make evidence fit. He stated that she started connecting the dots where dots should not have been connected such as the roommate hearing Austin crying, baby’s cry so that doesn’t mean anything. Kawai also said Austin’s internal injury was an old one with scar tissue already formed around it.


Dr. Todd Grey testified that Austin had died from a final blow that tore his intestine from his stomach and into two pieces. He said he had multiple injuries in different stages of healing. He said there were “fingertip” bruises on his back, stomach, forehead and neck. He said he did have an earlier injury to his intestine that had healed earlier on and that Austin was in fact a victim of battered child syndrome. In conclusion Dr. Grey said “From what I found, the traumatic event was not a single, one-time event.”


Jurors heard the 911 call that Christopher Thunborg placed and could hear Whitney Pettersson sobbing and in hysterics. They watched the interrogation tape of Christopher’s interviews with investigator’s where he swore up and down for hours that nothing happened and Austin never seemed hurt. The investigator told him to think about it and left the room, when he came back he asked to speak with the other investigator. When she came in his story changed and he suddenly remembered there was an accident. He told Stewart that he tripped with Austin in his arms. He was holding him with his right arm and he used his left arm to try and catch his fall but instead landed full force on the baby.


Dr. Grey said the injuries did not match up with Christopher’s story. There’s no way he received those injures the way Christopher says he did.


“Defense attorney Dusty Kawai asked Grey whether the bruises on the back of the baby’s head could have resulted from what Thunborg described, and he conceded that it could. He also said it is possible the bruises on the child’s belly could have happened if Thunborg clasped the baby tightly when they began to fall. However, he said the position of the bruises would suggest he would have been grasped with the left hand, and he saw nothing in the videotaped interview to suggest Thunborg grabbed the baby tightly as they fell.


Kawai also asked Grey whether the initial injury to the baby’s intestine that was healing at the time would make the area more susceptible to a more severe injury. Grey said that it could, but the hypothetical situations did not change his mind about how the baby died.”


A jury of 5 women and 3 men deliberated for 5 hours. When they came back they found Christopher Scott Thunborg not guilty of killing 13-month-old Austin Pettersson Pierce.


He was found guilty of obstruction of justice which is only a third degree felony, that was for not telling them sooner about tripping and falling on Austin two days before he died.


In January he was sentenced to 90 days in jail and given a $925 fine for the obstruction of justice. Judge David Mortensen gave him a month’s worth of credit for the jail time he had already served and over 600 days for the ankle monitor. He was also given 3 years of probation and the judge warned him that he may one day regret playing World of War craft so much.


If Christopher Thunborg didn’t murder baby Austin then who did? Someone did, whether you believe it was Christopher or someone else justice may never be served for Austin.


There were several reasons Christopher was found not guilty. The doctor’s on each side confused the juror’s with contradicting testimonies, the police never investigated anyone but Christopher because he fit the typical stereotype of a live-in boyfriend alone with a child. Attorney Kawai also faulted police for not looking into all possible evidence and information. He said they only looked into one theory and basically ran with that idea.


David Pettersson, Whitney’s father said:


“We love our daughter very much,”  “We also love Christopher very much and his family. It’s a very tragic situation. Our family is grieving, but we’re also healing.” “It’s just an awkward situation right now,” David Pettersson said. “Our condolences go out to Christopher and his parents and brothers and sisters as well. We just hope we can all heal together as families.”


I wouldn’t call the death of any child awkward but that’s just me.


Author: M. Stone, Unforgotten Angels

I cannot grasp the concept of someone looking at a child, or really anyone for that matter and having the urge to beat them into unconsciousness. Abuse of a child is the most evil and vile of any crime imaginable. Once someone crosses that line they are no longer a human being in my mind nor do they deserve to be treated as one.  I understand being under extreme stress and trying to make ends meet. I even understand working all day and coming home to a screaming, tired and hungry kid that has gotten on your last nerve. I’ve been there, but never would I harm one of my kids or anyone else’s. Some people are not meant to be parents. Unfortunately, there is no legal way that I’m aware of to stop them from conceiving. That would be infringing on their “rights”.

Amanda Lynn Ashby-Harden, 28 and John T. Coleman, 26 may be two people that should never be allowed to have children. I’ll leave that up for the readers to decide.

On April 21, 2010 at 1:15PM, Deputy Sarah Green responded to a call in Okeechobee, Florida regarding a welfare check on a small child. Upon arrival, Deputy Green walked up to a trailer house that was in ill repair and knocked on the door. An adult answered the door and Deputy Green told the adult that she was there to check on the child in the home. The adult told Deputy Green that the child’s mother, Amanda Lynn Ashby-Harden as well as the child was not there. Deputy Green reiterated that she wanted to come in and look around anyway. The unnamed adult roommate went to the back of the trailer and carried a toddler back into the front so Deputy Green could see her. Deputy Sarah Green had seen many cases but this one was worse than she had ever seen in her career calling it the worst child abuse ever. It was clear Lilly Harden had been left in that room to die.

Deputy Sarah Green reported that Lilly might have weighed 20 lbs. if even that. “Her head was hanging back because she couldn’t support,” says Green.  “She was lifeless, limp, just non-responsive.”

Deputy Green called for Emergency Medical Services against Amanda’s wish, who was in the trailer. Yes, even after mom and her live-in boyfriend were caught she still argued with Deputy Green because she didn’t want little Lilly to get the medical attention that would have saved her life. The Okeechobee County Fire and Rescue responded and said Lilly Harden had severe trauma and needed extensive medical care.

Aeromed helicopter ambulance was dispatched and she was flown to St. Mary’s Medical Center in Palm Beach County.  She was immediately admitted into the pediatric intensive care unit.

Detectives Bryan Lowe and Rosemary Farless started investigating Amanda Lynn Ashby-Harden and her live-in boyfriend John T. Coleman. Ashby and Coleman had been seeing each other for less than 6 months and John had been watching Lilly while her mom worked at Circle K convenience store. They have determined, through confessions, that Coleman was the one who was beating 2-year-old Lilly Harden. Amanda Lynn Ashby-Harden was aware of all the abuse John T. Coleman had been inflicting on her daughter but the simple fact is, she just didn’t care about 2-year-old Lilly Harden enough to do anything about it.

She tried to disguise the bruises.

Lilly laid in her bed for a minimum of one full day with 2 black eyes, a huge knot on her forehead, a bruise on the bridge of her nose and triangle shaped bruises on each side of her neck. She had other various bruises all over her body and a broken arm. Once in the hospital they diagnosed her with bleeding in the brain, bruising to the left and right side of her brain, bilateral retinal bleeding, swelling in her brain, an impact fracture to her elbow, she was blind and had a ligament injury to her neck. She has also been diagnosed to have Shaken Baby Syndrome.

Doctors say they are not able to give her a prognosis at this time or know how severe her brain damage is yet.

Her mother refused to seek medical attention for her daughter and instead allowed her to lay there in bed in pain.  ”She’s not out of the woods yet,” he said. “The doctors said her condition one year from the date of her injuries is the best she will ever be. She has limited control of her arms and legs and is blind. Doctors are unsure if and when her vision will return.

John T. Coleman told officers he used a belt or a makeshift paddle to whoop Lilly. He said he would also make this 2-year-old baby stand in the corner on one foot as punishment when she made him mad or got out of line. John Coleman also admitted to smearing Lilly’s dirty diapers in her face for not going to the bathroom in the toilet. He told deputies that the night of the “accident” he was throwing Lilly up in the air and she smacked her head on a wooden beam in the trailer and it knocked her out. He [John Coleman] said he put her in bed and later he tried to wake her up by shaking her.

Detective Ted Van Deman choked up when describing the case. “She had significant abuse, significant,” he says.  “This is the worst I’ve seen.”

Lilly’s grandmother reported “Lilly is improving on a daily basis.  She has a long recovery ahead of her.” and “Her recovery is measured in baby steps and we have a lot of baby steps to go.”  She is alert and talking for the first time as of May 5. Lilly spent just under a month in  St. Mary’s Medical Center and was released to go home on May 13th. Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office (OCSO) Detective Bryan Lowe reported that although baby Lilly physically looked better she only had partial vision in her left eye and was still blind in her right. Doctors are still hoping she will regain her vision once the swelling in her brain subsides. She will also soon begin physical therapy.

Lilly will remain in the custody of her grandparents.

Report’s never mentioned how many siblings’s Lilly had or if they were being abused as well. It was only said that The Department of Children and Family Services removed them from the home at the time Lilly went into the hospital. There was also no mention of the biological father (s) of the children so he may or may not be in the picture.

Enough evidence was collected on both Amanda Lynn Ashby-Harden and John T. Coleman to arrest them both on April 29, 2010.

Amanda Lynn Ashby-Harden was charged with Child Neglect and John T. Coleman was charged with 1 count of Felony child neglect, 1 count of felony aggravated child abuse by aggravated battery, 9 counts of aggravated child abuse by malicious conduct and is being held without bond.



UPDATE 3/18/11



3/18/11 I’ve mentioned before that I also write for Max submitted this story yesterday along with updates he was able to find since I wrote this in January. He was even able to find a picture of Lilly and another video. I’ve also mentioned most of what I’ve learned when it comes to research, I learned it from the best lol. Below are the updates since 1/11.


Video of Lilly’s grandparents and how she is doing now, includes her learning to walk again: 


“She was blind when we brought her home, couldn’t walk, couldn’t sit up, couldn’t hold her head up by herself. She went almost back to a newborn stage, had to re-learn everything from holding her head up to sitting up to crawling, walking.”




Please email or call the PROSECUTOR on this case and beg that justice be served for Lilly Harden. No plea deals, stiffer charges, and swift justice must be served.


Lilly has no one to speak for her except for supporters like us, so please ta…ke a moment to call or email asking

for Justice for Lilly. We are the childrens voices.


Amanda Harden (mother): Case number: CF269A

John T Coleman (boyfriend) : Case number : CF269B


Prosecutor: Ashley Albright:

(863) 763- 5557




Carly Elizabeth Sawyer was a beautiful little 5-year-old girl with big brown eyes  and a bright smile that would light up a room and long brown ringlet curls that would make any parent proud. Carly’s’ parent’s Jennifer Kimery-Sawyer and Joshua Sawyer,  met and married in California on November 27, 2003 while she was in the Air Force and he was in the Marines. Carly was born a couple months later on January 24, 2004. They separated when Jennifer was stationed in South Carolina and Joshua was in North Carolina.


In October of 2005 Joshua Sawyer was in Iraq when he found out that Jennifer was under investigation by social services for neglect. Jennifer claimed during an interview that the complaint was filed by a supervisor who was helping her move. She said the supervisor noticed a knife in a roommate’s bedroom and pornography tapes in her bedroom but Carly did not have access to those areas. The Onslow County Department of Social Services dismissed the complaint once Jennifer’s parents removed Carly from the home.


Jennifer and Joshua Sawyer continued having problems after he returned from Iraq and Jennifer decided to move to Georgia. She says she left Carly with Joshua because she needed time to settle down and make room for her. Joshua argues that she just up and abandoned Carly and him. He says at one point she left for a week and then later she moved to Georgia with her boyfriend.


In 2006 things would begin to spiral out of control. While Jennifer was on a visit with her daughter in North Carolina she decided to take Carly back to her parents’ home in Louisiana and give her to them. Robert Kimery, Carly’s grandpa says that infuriated Joshua Sawyer.  Jennifer also filed a complaint with Children’s Protective Services against Joshua Sawyer because she believed Carly was not being properly taken care of and was worried for her safety.


Robert Kimerly says he and his wife had been raising Carly to keep Joshua away from Carly up until Joshua obtained a court order granting him temporary custody. Mr. Kimery said when they returned Carly, Joshua told them they would never see her again. Joshua and Jennifer’s divorce was final on June 13, 2007. Carly was 3 years old at that time.


Joshua Sawyer left the Marine Corps in June of 2008. He was last stationed at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. He was awarded several medals, including the Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal and Iraq Campaign Medal. He never received an award or medal for being a good father or protector, the most important job of all for a father.


A court battle for custody ensued and Joshua Sawyer was granted sole custody of Carly. Joshua would then marry Brandy and she would become the evil step mother from hell and they moved to Chesapeake, Virginia while Jennifer Kimery moved back to Zachary, Louisiana. Joshua and Brandy had 2 children they shared together. Brandy had 1 child, Sadie, before she married Joshua. Sadie is now being raised by her paternal grandparents and the other 2 are with Joshua’s parents.


On June 10, 2009 Paramedics responded to a call from the Sawyer home saying that a little girl was unresponsive. Upon arrival they were suspicious of Carly’s bruises and dispatched authorities. Both Brandy and Joshua admitted to “disciplining” the girl. Joshua said he beat Carly with a belt and she “threw herself to the ground”. He also said he was “using netting material as restraints, restricting the child inside a cardboard box as a form of discipline, withholding food and spankings,” according to the warrants. Police Detective James Thomas said Joshua Sawyer told him that Carly was beaten because she had gone to the bathroom on the carpet. He also told the detective that he tied Carly up so she could not walk around the house and get food from the refrigerator, Thomas said.


She had cuts, bruises and burns all over her body as well as ligature marks on her wrists. She weighed only 34 pounds. Carly was unconscious and had no brain activity. She died at Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters in Norfolk on June 11, 2009. Joshua and Brandy Sawyer were arrested the evening of June 12th.


A Virginia County medical examiner said Carly died of blunt force trauma with contributing factors of ligature restraint, medical neglect and starvation. Jennifer found out that her little girl was dead through a phone call. They told her they were bringing her baby home, she didn’t understand and said “What?” that’s when she was told Carly was beaten to death. Jennifer is left to wonder how anyone could possibly hurt her baby girl. She said:


“How could you hurt such a beautiful child?” Kimery questioned. “All she wanted to do was bring love and happiness into this world.” “That baby was just something special. I feel lucky to have been able to be her mother,” Kimery said.


Robert Kimery, Carly’s grandfather reported that he and his daughter, Carly’s mom had very little contact with Carly in the last 2 1/2 years since Joshua was granted sole custody by a court in Jacksonville, N.C. He wasn’t aware that Joshua and Brandy Sawyer moved to Virginia until their family received the phone call that Carly was in the hospital. He also said he knew abuse was going on but didn’t know how bad it was. He also said “Starvation doesn’t just come in a matter of a week or more,” Kimery said. “They’ve both done something to do this to her. It’s not just a one-time incident.”


Joshua Sawyer was charged with 2nd degree murder and felony child neglect in the death of his 5 year old daughter Carly Sawyer.


Carly’s step-mother, Brandy Sawyer, was charged with 1st degree murder and felony child neglect.


Bond was denied for both Joshua and Jennifer. During Joshua Sawyer’s bond hearing Prosecutor Stephanie Pass told Juvenile and Domestic Relations Judge Rufus A. Banks Jr. “This was long, systematic abuse of this child.”  Prosecutor’s also described Carly’s abuse and how she was kept tied up so she wouldn’t have access to food.


Defense Attorney Greg McCormick told the judge that Joshua should be granted bond because he had no previous criminal record and served in the Marines including serving in Iraq.


Police confiscated two cardboard boxes, one bloody paper towel, a roll of blue mesh, a video camera, two insurance documents for Carly, photos of Carly, and a black leather belt. They also looked for computers and computer equipment.


Brandy and Joshua both entered Alford Pleas, meaning they are not admitting guilt but know there is enough evidence against them for a conviction.  As part of a plea deal Joshua Sawyers was sentenced to life in prison on October 25, 2010. If he is ever granted “geriatric leave” he will be on supervised probation for 3 years. He said nothing and kept his head bowed while he was being sentenced.


During the trial Dr. Wendy Gunther, assistant chief medical examiner testified:


Carly’s autopsy showed she had been beaten all over her body, including her head. She had been abused for some time, as evidenced by the range of bruises under her skin, some of which looked like she had been hit with a belt buckle.

Carly also had suffered nutritional neglect, Gunther said. She had no food in her small bowel, had a shrunken liver, and had light hair on her body like that typically seen on an anorexic.


Joshua Sawyer’s mother, Carolyn Sawyer testified that “her son was a good student who, as a boy, volunteered as an altar server in his Catholic church.” She also said he suffered from PTSD and she and her husband were trying to adopt his other two children.


Brandy Sawyers was also sentenced to life in prison on December 10, 2010. During her sentencing hearing she told the court that she was a coward and she “loved Carly like her own and wish she could go back.”


Judge Randy Smith said, “This is one of the most horrible cases could come before the court. A child has been tortured to death. This is one of the most horrific murder cases a court can consider.”


While on the stand Brandy testified that she herself was a victim of abuse handed down to her by Joshua Sawyer. She also said her mother physically and emotionally abused and she was a drug addict. She said she smoked crack with her mother when she was a teenager. She also blamed Joshua for abuse and said she just went along with it to make him happy.


Author’s Note: I have to wonder what Brandy Sawyer’s mother is thinking right about now. As adults we are responsible for our own actions, I know this and I believe it, however, if these two were my kids I would feel like a failure as a parent. She has one daughter that IS a murderer and another daughter that might be.


On her Facebook page, Brandy Sawyer complained recently of being depressed and stressed. In April, she wrote that she was 10 weeks pregnant and in another post said she “just wants to run away from life.”

In May, she wrote that she was feeling “really down and depressed.”

She also wrote on Facebook and in a comment on the Web site of the Jacksonville Daily News about a criminal case involving her sister, Dana Leigh Browning.

Browning, 19, was arrested in November in Onslow County, N.C., on charges of concealing the birth of a child, failure to report a death and obstruction of justice. She is accused of putting her dead newborn girl in a plastic bag, then putting the body in the garbage and not notifying anyone, the Jacksonville Daily News reported. A court hearing is scheduled for June 30.

Sawyer also joined a Facebook cause called Stop Child Abuse.

In her most recent post, at 12:10 a.m. Friday, she wrote: “Carly passed away. We need prayers, holding onto nothing I feel like.”


Just as I was about to finish this story up I decided I would look one more time to see if there was anything I was missing. This story had many aspects to it and it confused the hell out of me but I’m not one to give up on something I believe in.


Interestingly enough I came across this article from hamptonroads. It’s an interview with Shari Evans, the paternal grandmother of Sadie. It’s heart breaking how she talks about Sadie missing her sister and the survivors guilt that she lives with at the tender age of 4. It also mentions Brandy’s sister, Dana and her upcoming trial.



Author: M. Stone, Unforgotten Angels

There is no greater joy than the birth of your children. From the time they are brought home you get to experience new adventures almost daily, their first smile, the first time they roll over, sitting up, their first words and that silly scooting around on their bellies. You think they will never start crawling and then when they do you wish they wouldn’t have because they’re getting into everything. These are years to be cherished and remembered forever.


Rod Edward VanLoan, 32 and Crystal Board, 24, of Fairfield, Ohio are the “parents” to 14-month-old Alexis Board. Alexis didn’t get a fair shake in life, her parent’s were the incarnate of the devil itself and she was born into doom.


Crystal Board had been locked up in the Hamilton County Justice Center for the last five months for charges of child endangerment stemming from an incident involving her ex-boyfriend’s child (not the father of her baby). She also delivered a baby boy while she was in jail. She admittedly bit and broke her now ex-boyfriend, Adam Fowler’s, son’s arm. The newborn baby is in the custody of Crystal Board’s parent’s in Kentucky. While in jail she learned that her own daughter was murdered at the hands of Rod Edward VanLoan. Adam Fowler said he wished he would have known, he would have happily taken Alexis and raised her as his own. He also said while he knows Crystal is guilty of the abuse of his son he is surprised that Rod was abusing Alexis. He had custody of her and had always treated her very well. I guess you never really know what goes on in one’s mind and behind closed doors.


On May 5, 2007 Rod Edward VanLoan admitted to kicking and shaking Alexis Board while he was teaching her how to walk. According to him, he got aggravated because she was getting cranky and didn’t want anymore walking lessons so he started beating her. After using his toddler as a kicking bag, her little fists tightened up, her eyes rolled into the back of her head, she had a seizure and became unresponsive. Rod’s attempts failed as he tried resuscitating her so he took her to  Mercy Hospital Fairfield. MHF was not able to give her the extensive special care she needed so they transferred her by aerocare to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, where she died early the next morning of a skull fracture and brain swelling.


Crystal Board’s mother Donna Orme said she had suspected abuse in the past. She said one time before Rod brought Alexis for a visit he called and told her he needed to tell her something before he brought Alexis over to their house, he said Alexis had a red spot on her cheek. Donna Orme said it actually turned out to be a large bruise and when she changed her diaper she had large bruises all over her thighs. She said she took Alexis to Mercy Hospital in Clermont County and the Clermont County Sheriffs as well as Fairfield Police took pictures of the bruises. Nothing was ever done about the reports that Donna Orme made that day.  Alexis was only 6-months-old at the time.


Rod Edward VanLoan confessed to Officer Sandy Sears in written and oral statements and was charged with child  endangerment and murder. His bail was set at $1,000,000.


During the trial VanLoan took the stand in his own defense on Thursday, Aug. 7, and denied harming his daughter. He said he was assisting his daughter,” who was unsteady on her feet in walking and when he turned to grab a diaper bag she fell.”  The defense also said Alexis bruised easily, had a disease that made her bones weak and died after she fell down on her own. VanLoan also said he was fooled into signing the confession because he was told they couldn’t help his daughter unless it was signed.


Dr. John Plunkett, a forensic pathologist  testified Alexis did have a head impact injury, but not a skull fracture. He also said the brain swelling might of  happened by a  fall from a short distance on to a carpeted floor but didn’t think it was consistent with Alexis hitting her head on a weight bench. He also testified the “ retinal injuries found at during the autopsy may have been caused by the brain swelling”.” It could have been an inadvertent fall or it could have been an intentional fall where someone else was involved,” Plunkett said. “She could have fallen by herself.”


The prosecuting attorney called Dr. Kathi Makoroff of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center took the stand and she testified that the injuries were caused by a non-accidental incident and it was very rare for a child to do from a simple fall. She also said Alexis’ injuries were consistent with abusive head injury.


Officer Sandy Sears testified that VanLoan told her that the baby had a seizure while he was teaching her to walk. He said he then gave her some Dr. Pepper, patted her cheeks and abdomen and when that didn’t work he took her to the hospital. When the officer told VanLoan that his story made no sense he change his story saying he kicked Alexis twice and she might have hit a weight bench and she started having seizures after he shook her. Officer Sandy Sears had him write out what he told her so he did and he also said he was sorry and asked to be given anger management classes.


After baby Alexis died the officer went to his cell and informed VanLoan that his child was dead and he said “I guess I’m screwed”. He also asked if he could have a plea deal for a lesser charge. Defense attorney Melynda Cook-Reich wanted to know why police had not tape  recorded VanLoan’s statements and claimed Alexis fell hitting her head on the carpet and VanLoan did not abuse his daughter.


After four days of testimony the jury deliberated for 90 minutes and found Rod Edward VanLoan guilty of felony child endangering and murder in the death of Alexis Board. Butler County Common Pleas Judge Charles Pater sentenced VanLoan to 15 years to life for the murder and 8 years to run concurrently for the child endangering.


Rod VanLoan cried and said he was not the monster people made him out to be. He said he loved his daughter and was happy when he found out she was his daughter and worked hard to give her a good home after he gained custody of her. ”The short time we had has many good memories,” VanLoan said. He talked about memories of going to McDonald’s and Christmas together. “She gave me so much meaning in life,” VanLoan said.


He then asked Judge Pater to allow him to have a dog to train so he could be productive when he got out of prison. Judge Pater told VanLoan that he didn’t have any remorse for him and the only thing he was interested in was saving himself.


VanLoan’s girlfriend, Katie Havrilla, said she considered herself to be Alexis’ mother, she cried and collapsed to her knees after the jury left the Butler County Common Pleas courtroom. She yelled at Fairfield police Officer Sandy Sears and accused her of  lying on the stand.


Prosecution Piper stated, “It is abhorrent anytime an adult physically abuses a little person, but it is beyond words when an parent takes the life of a child. A parent’s role is to nurture and protect his or her child and to violently breach this natural law, is intolerable. VanLoan thought he could lie and deceive to avoid accountability for what he did — the solid work of Fairfield Officer Sandy Sears and Assistant Prosecutor Jennifer Muench-McElfresh prevented him from being successful.”


VanLoan filed an appeal almost immediately and the judge shot it down just as quickly as he received it. Alexis’ murder could have been avoided if child services would have looked into Rod VanLoan’s background. Her grandmother filed reports 8 months prior to her death but they went unnoticed. This was another senseless murder that makes no sense and should have never been allowed to happen.


Butler County Press Release from Prosecuting Attorney Robin N. Piper



Ohio State Court of Appeals:[Butler[CA2008-10-259[State%20v.%20VanLoan[.pdf


Author: M. Stone, Unforgotten Angels

It’s become a common occurrence to read about mother’s boyfriend’s or vice versa committing crimes against children. It’s almost guaranted you can tune into any national news station and hear about a child being murdered because the step-parent didn’t want the responsibility of taking care of the child. A lot of the time it’s a live-in significant other and the couple hasn’t been together for very long before they move them right in to take the place of the absent parent.

In some cases CPS is called but not alway’s. At times, even when CPS does get involved there’s only so much they can do by law and a lot of these families slip through the proverbial crack. People are quick to judge the system but that’s not alway’s the case. Other times, CPS workers aren’t educated enough or maybe they don’t care enough to follow up on the cases that are handed down to them. I truly believe that the case worker’s go into it for the right reasons but perhaps they became so jaded or burnt out it prevented them from doing their job 100%.

Every time I read a new article about a child that’s been abused or murdered at the hands of the person that was supposed to love them, and whom the child loved and looked up to for guidance and structure my heart breaks in two. I alway’s ask myself, how do we as a society fix this? My friends and family would tell you I’m highly opinionated and outspoken when it comes to my beliefs. This is something I feel very strongly about, have spent many hours thinking about and many hours crying over. In the end, I have no answer. This is one of the worst crimes imaginable that can be committed and there will never be a way to stop it. I know that volunteering and raising  awareness helps but someimes it just doesn’t seem like it’s enough.

Trenay Cheire Duchane was 12 years of age and Treshae Duchane was 9. They were the eldest of 6 other brothers and sisters. She was a happy kid that enjoyed playing with her siblings and as the oldest she would also watch them. She was bright and even earned “Student of the Month” while she attended Solano Elementary in Phoenix, AZ. She also liked to play video games like most kids her age did.

Things began to change in the last few months of Trenay and Treshae’s life. They were no longer aloud to go to school, they never left the one bedroom apartment they lived in with their dad, step-mom and baby step-sister. CPS lost track of them after they moved and closed the case. Family that suspected something was going on never said a word. They were being slowly erased from their dad and step-mom’s lives.

On November 10, 2007  at the approximate time of 4:20 p.m. Trenay and Treshae Duchane’s father Jeffrey Duchane, 34, called 9-1-1. When the the Phoenix PD officer’s arrived at the scene they immediately noticed that Trenay was deceased, and had been for a while. 9-year-old Treshae was in the corner of the bathtub trembling and cowering down. She was covered in bruises from head to toe, burns and had a broken arm so EMS transported her to the emergency room and she was admitted into the hospital. The baby was taken into the custody of CPS.

The first story Jeffrey Duchane gave the officer’s was he came home from work to find Trenae unconscious on her bedroom floor. He said she was alive and he poured water into her mouth to wake her up but that did not work. He say’s Reiko Troupe told him that she slipped and fell on the bathroom floor. When cops asked him why he didn’t call 9-1-1, he said he thought she would be fine.

When he finally decided to tell the truth he said he left for work on November 6 and left the girl’s in the care of his girlfriend, Reiko Troupe, 25. Reiko then started beating Trenay with her fists and at least 2 different objects. After Reiko was beating the girl she forced her into a tub filled with scalding water. Treshae tried to help but she was beaten for her efforts and seriously hurt in the process. When Jeffrey came home Trenay was unconscious but alive. He poured water into her mouth, trying to get her to snap out of it. She never did. Trenay died the same night on the 6th.

Instead of Jeffrey calling for help or taking his daughter to the hospital when she was alive he ate dinner and went to bed.

Treshae was shut up in the bedroom for 4 days with her dead sister’s body decomposing and she couldn’t get out.

During Treshae’s testimony she said Trenay messed the room up. Reiko Troupe commanded her into a tub of scalding water, when she heard her sister crying out she went to try and help her. Reiko Troupe then whipped Trenay with the knotted electrical cord, pushed her up against the wall and continuously punched her in the face until she passed out. When her dad, Jeffrey Duchane came home from work that evening, Trenay was either already dead or dying.

Next to her body was a notebook with the same words written over and over “I will listen to my mom”.

The only reason Jeffrey Duchane ever bothered to dial 9-1-1 was because Trenay was starting to stink the place up.

Marlene Peterson, the apartment manager says she saw Treshae being brought out of the apartment after the cops intervened. She said, “Her eyes were all beat up and her body was totally beaten,” Peterson said of the 9-year-old.”

CPS was involved with this family in 2005 and again in 2006. They were investigating reports of neglect while the girl’s still lived with their mother Keisha. CPS couldn’t find enough evidence to warrant a claim but they did help with clothes, bus tickets, furniture and rent money. By August of 2006 the burden of having to feed, cloth, shelter and take care of so many children was to hard to handle for Keisha so she asked Trenay and Treshae’s father if they could stay with him. He was the girl’s father, there was no reason in her mind that she shouldn’t be able to trust him. Or was there?

Reiko Troupe had her own CPS file, except she was the victim. CPS was called twice to protect her but there wasn’t enough evidence and they closed both cases. Not having enough evidence happens a lot, doesn’t it? In 2006 CPS was called on her as an adult. She had just given birth to a meth-addicted baby. Once again, not enough evidence but they happily set her up with Family Builders to help with depression, substance abuse and parenting classes. Why would she need these classes if there was no evidence of neglect of drug abuse? Hmmm. The icing on the cake for CPS was they wrote in her file that she was a very “attentive and affectionate mother.”

Within the first two weeks of the girls moving into their dad and step-mom’s apartment they broke off all contact with Family Builders. After a month of not hearing from Troupe, Family Builder’s sent her file back to CPS stating that she had not met any of her goals. CPS stated that all contact numbers had been disconnected so a letter was sent out that gave Troupe until October 14, 2006 to contact them or further actions would be taken concerning the kids. 3 days later CPS closed the case, leaving those children there to die.

Troupe and Duchane still lived in the same apartment and the girl’s were still enrolled at Solano Elementary until November, 2006. The school nor CPS bothered to ever check.

Treshae said the beatings didn’t start until after they moved. They were beat with fists, a knotted electrical cord, bitten all over, burnt with irons and scalding hot water. They had bruises from head to toe and beaten every single day. Treshae’s left arm was broken and when it healed, without medical care, it was deformed. No one ever said anything. Her daddy told her to “stop being a baby” the day she broke it. She was 8, not a baby but certainly not an adult. Even an adult would have cried out in pain.

School records showed the girl’s were alway’s absent until Solano school finally dropped them off the records. Jean Richards, a spokeswoman for the school said someone would have went by the house before taking them out of school. Well, if they did why did they not report the abuse? These girl’s were constantly battered, I find it hard to believe that if someone out of the blue just dropped by the house, Troupe and Duchane would not have had time to cover their abuse up. I’ll tell you why. No one ever went out there. The school reports that the judge released did not show anyone going out to the girl’s apartment to see why they had not been in school. Sadly, there is no law that mandates schools to find out why kids suddenly drop off the face of the earth. If there was maybe a few more kids would be saved.

In fact, in the spring Trenay went to school with TWO black eyes, during the same time Treshae was dropped from the school for to many absences. Jean Richards said they would have called CPS if they suspected abuse. CPS never came for these little girl’s though because they were never called. That was the last time either of the girl’s ever went to school because Reiko Troupe was getting paranoid. She shouldn’t have been, the school never gave a damn, it was clear that another system failed Trenay and Treshae.

Jeffrey Duchane was arrested and was given a $100,000 bond. He was charged with 2 counts of child abuse. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to natural life in prison without the possibility of parole plus an additional 7 years.

Reiko Troupe’s bond was set at $500,000. She pleaded guilty and was charged with 2 counts of child abuse and 1 count of pre-meditated first-degree murder and was sentenced to natural life in prison.

County Attorney Andrew Thomas said “These guilty pleas will hopefully honor the memory of Trenay. We felt it was important not only to hold the step-mother accountable but also the father, who let his daughter slowly die of her injuries”

Press Release

Author: M. Stone, Unforgotten Angels

December 1, 2008 a 16-year-old emaciated boy managed to escape his abusers. He found the key to his shackles and unlocked himself while being driven by one of his abusers. When he got home  he used  the trampoline to jump over an 8 ft. solid wall and took off running until he reached the In-Shape Fitness center (located behind the home he was being kept at) where he begged employees to help him and was quoted saying “Hide me, please hide me, They’re coming for me”.

Before you read further, go back and read that again. The mere fact that this boy gathered the courage and more so the strength is amazing in itself. You’ll soon find out why.

The teen was wearing only boxers, covered in soot, sores and  scars. Kyle Ramirez still had the 3 ft. of padlocked shackles around his right ankle and was bleeding profusely.  He had been tortured, starved and beaten for over a year. At first, Lea Leonardo of In-Shape fitness thought it was a joke and then thought the boy was perhaps a burn victim. He was the size of a 12-year-old rather than a 16-year-old. Police said he was confused when they first began questioning him but he eventually came around and that’s when this sick and twisted tale began to unfold.

Prosecutors have only just recently released his real name and this video of Kyle minutes after he escaped.

In 2007,  Kyle Ramirez was in foster care in Sacramento. He ran away from his group foster care to try and find his biological  family. He was reported missing but they never located him. He somehow ended up with Caren Ramirez, a former guardian. Kyle had been taken out of Caren’s custody previously due to abuse.

On May 30,2006 while Kyle lived with Caren the cops were dispatched to Caren’s home because of a child abuse report. Kyle’s 21-year-old sister Christina Sanchez was the one that reported the abuse to the police. She said 13-year-old Kyle showed her bruises on his legs, arms, buttocks and a split/swollen lip. During the investigation Kyle told police that Caren Ramirez used martial arts sticks, spatulas, broom handles and coat hangers to beat him when she was angry.

Another time on August 20, 2005 the Sacramento Police dept. was dispatched to Caren’s house for an assault in progress. 16-year-old Austin L. told officer’s his mother, Caren Ramirez was hitting him with a stick in the head and chest. Caren denied that she hit the boy and said him and his friend were playing and that the marks were probably from that.

Austin told officer’s Caren told him to go into the yard and then said “No, better yet, come into my bedroom”. When Austin went into the bedroom and shut the door Caren said “I’m going to f*ck you up!” she told him to “get on his knees”. She was also saying “I heard you talking sh*t, saying I’m not your mom”. Caren then grabbed the martial arts stick and busted him in the head 4-5 times. Austin tried to protect his head by putting his hands up and Caren yelled “don’t put your hand’s up” . Austin said the beating was because he didn’t bring home enough money after being sent out to pandhandle.

Caren’s original Probation record that includes CPS details can be seen here.

It was after these  incident’s both Kyle Ramirez and Austin L. was removed from Caren Ramirez’ care. Kyle was reported as a run-away on May 9,2007.

When Kyle and Caren met back up together they went to Tracy, Ca. where they met Kelly Layne Lau-Schumacher and husband Michael Luther Schumacher. Mr. and Mrs. Schumacher being the caring individuals they are took Caren and the teenage boy in because they had no where else to go. They all started out living as a happy family that included Michael, Kelly, Caren and Kyle. Oh and Michael and Kelly had 4 children of their own.

Ok, well that’s not quiet how it went unfortunately for Kyle.

Once in the Schumacher home they took this boy and chained him up like a dog. Caren would heat up an aluminum baseball bat in the fireplace, burn and beat him with it daily.  They all took part in beating him with belts, mallets, hammers and cutting him with knives. These maggots also poured hot water over him, forced him to drink hot cinnamon schnapps and hit him with boxing gloves. They starved him, made him sleep in a wood-burning fireplace, strangled him with a belt until he lost consciousness and forced him to take drugs so he would have no will to fight back. Caren also poured bleach and salt into his open wounds and would beat him if he tried to get into the refrigerator. He had a permanent indention in his ankle where the chain was. Kyle’s physical condition was so bad he stayed in a burn unit for 20 days for third degree burns that had scabbed over and had to have skin grafts to repair the damage that was done to his broken and burnt body.

There was someone outside the home that knew this was going on and had even spent Thanksgiving inside the Schumacher home. That person was Coach Anthony Vincent Waiters, a neighbor of the Schumacher’s.  That’s right, Mr. Waiter’s was a coach for youth football and a respected member in the community. He could have helped, but instead he (allegedly) opted to join in on the fun of beating Kyle rather than show him any mercy.

I want to remind you that this went on for over a year while their own children continued to flourish.

Kelly and Michael were arrested in December on charges of  torture, aggravated mayhem (mayhem is NOT a charge handed out lightly), child endangerment/abuse, false imprisonment, criminal threats, assault with caustic chemicals and corporal injury to a child.

Kelly of course tried  playing the part of the victim and said she was glad he escaped, she never wanted any of this to happen. Kelly’s excuse was that they were afraid for the lives of their own children and their selves so they joined in. Sounds reasonable, right? Yeah, we believe you. Oh, and of course they both plead not guilty. Once they realized no one was going to believe their pathetic story they quickly changed their plea to guilty.

Caren Ramirez was arrested later that same evening on the same charges and Anthony Waiters was arrested on Feb. 4, 2009 and charged with aggravated mayhem, torture and false imprisonment.

When Kyle took the stand he was quoted as saying

“I remember they said they would, like, cut me up and everything and throw me in the delta, and one time he, Michael, asked Kelly for a syringe so he could, like, pump air into my veins and stuff like that,”.

During Kyle’s testimony he said days or weeks after his arm was burned in the fireplace his abusers cut the burn with a steak knife 4 or 5 times. San Joaquin County Deputy District Attorney, Angela Hayes then asked Kyle what they did after they cut him? Kyle replied,

“So they put my arm over a bucket and then poured bleach on my cut, and then they put a bandage … I think it was a paper towel or something,” Kyle said, according to the grand jury report. “And then they taped it after — oh, my bad — they put butter and salt after they poured the bleach on.”

Dr. Rosas testified that Kyle had multiple scars on the crown of his head that would have been caused by a heavy object hitting him and splitting the skin. She said the wounds would have required stitches but instead they were untreated and healed as thick, deep scars. The first time she saw him he had what appeared to be glue residue on his head. He was so malnourished he had not gone through puberty yet.

A neighbor said that Kyle looked maltreated and the family lived without electricity for a month. They said it was none of their business. That’s an excuse and it’s getting old fast. It’s amazing the things people see yet never speak about. The neighbor is just as guilty as these people for doing nothing.

The prosecutor asked Schumacher’s 5 and 9 year old children why the boy was always in trouble and they said it was because he thought he was the boss of everyone and would try to steal food from the fridge. They (they kids) said their mom and dad would hit the boy on the head and  body with baseball bats until he would scream and they told them not to tell anyone.  The kids also told the prosecutor that the adults would chain Kyle up. One of the children would sneak Kyle food as often as possible.

Anthony was the only one to plead not guilty and he will go to trial this month. Michael Schumacher was sentenced to 30 years in prison. Kelly Layne Lau-Schumacher was sentenced to 33 years and Caren Ramirez was sentenced to 34 years.

While searching for court documentation on the trial I found what looks to be like a divorce in the making between Kelly and Michael.

Search Warrants:

As a side note I want to add that people from all over the world came together and donated $33,000.00 to Kyle. Although money means absolutely nothing, Kyle at least knows he is loved and people do care about him.

I also want to add that I am SO proud of Kyle Ramirez for facing his demons. He is a survivor and truly a HERO. This is a picture of Kyle today.


UPATE: 2/10/11 Anthony Waiters will go to trial this month. Please keep Kyle in your thoughts.


UPDATE: 3/1 I mentioned in my article that “Youth Coach” Anthony Waiters pleaded not guilty therefore his case went to trial. While he was fighting for his freedom his brother was lashing out at everyone saying “his brother” was a good man and people needed to leave him alone and quit “picking” on him. I saw the comments from the hurting brother. I can even empathize with him therefore I never said anything to him.

I’ve followed this case since the minute it hit the news. I was sitting in my hotel suite 2 years ago reading the news online, CNN was on TV and my daughter was studying, we had just moved to Amarillo. I will never forget Kyle or anything about what he has gone through.I’ve read to many court documents and CPS records that described the torture, I can’t forget.

Anthony Waiters refused to accept responsibility for his part in beating, mutilating and torturing Kyle. All 3 of Kyle’s other abuser’s were smart enough to plead guilty and they received less than 34 years. I don’t agree with that sentence but they knew they would be found guilty and they knew the consequences if they plead not guilty. Now please excuse my language but this smug son of a bitch plead not guilty because in his pea-sized brain he thought he would get away with his crimes. Anthony “dumb-ass” Waiters wasn’t even there for the majority of the beatings. He probably would have received less time than the others. I can only assume because he never said but my guess is that because he was seen as such an outstanding member in the community there was no way he would be found guilty.

WRONG! This fool wasted the court’s time, dragged Kyle through MORE testimony and wasted taxpayers money. I’m sure the judge was none to happy.

Anthony Waiters was sentenced to 3 life sentences on March 1, 2011. Unfortunately they will run concurrently and he will be eligible for parole in 19 years. In 19 years there will be plenty of people to write and ask that they keep him locked up.

Prosecutor Angela Hayes said that after the sentencing Waiters was still in denial.

“In his mind he’s convinced himself that he didn’t do those things,” Hayes said. “He knows full well what he did. The evidence is overwhelming.”

Waiters’ attorney said his client is planning to appeal.

Author: M. Stone, Unforgotten Angels


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