Case news

Most recent articles added to the case archives

Story of abuse unfolds

Date: 2016-02-17

Three adopted children were removed from the Jim and Paige Nachtigal home in North Newton— a 14 year old girl, an 11 year old boy and an 11 year old girl. The oldest child was adopted about four years ago, with the 11 year old children adopted three years ago. They are not biological siblings, according to investigators.

By Chad Frey
Newton Kansan

Reaction after three children adopted from Peru have been removed from their North Newton Home and their adoptive parents arrested has ranged from rage to disbelief.

The parents, Jim and Paige Nachtigal, were active in business and ministry in the Newton community. Jim Nachtigal serves as the CEO of Kansas Christian Home. Paige Nachtigal is a former employee of the Newton Area Chamber of Commerce. Both were actively fund-raising to go to Peru as missionaries.

That reputation, and the felony charges that appeared Tuesday, led to a prayer walk around the Harvey County Courthouse and Law Enforcement Center Wednesday morning — about 30 minutes prior to a press briefing inside by the Harvey County Sheriff's office.

Details released on child abuse arrest in North Newton

Date: 2016-02-17

By Pilar Pedraza


Authorities in Harvey County have released new details about the arrests of two North Newton parents on child abuse charges.

Jim and Paige Nachtigal were arrested Tuesday after their three adopted children were taken into protective custody.

"This is the first time I've seen a medical diagnosis from a physician of child torture," said David Yoder, Harvey County Attorney.  "I didn't even know there was a medical diagnosis of child torture until this case."

According to Harvey County Sheriff T. Walton, North Newton police were called about a runaway child last week. The 11-year-old boy was in a field, barefoot. Police carried him to the car.

Police asked the child why he ran away.

"The child said he hadn't done his homework, that he had sinned, and that he was afraid to go back home because of the sinning that he had done," said T Walton, Harvey County Sheriff.

Santa Clara: Woman faces murder charge in son's bathtub drowning

Date: 2016-01-26

By Robert Salonga

SANTA CLARA -- A Santa Clara woman faces a murder charge in the alleged bathtub drowning of her 12-year-old son earlier this month, a crime she initially claimed was an accident but later confessed to under police interrogation, authorities said.

Tara McNeill Palajac, 51, was arraigned Jan. 14 in the death of her adopted son at their home on Conner Place off Forest Avenue and Winchester Boulevard. She has not entered a plea and is expected to return to court Feb. 1. The boy's Jan. 8 death and subsequent murder arrest were not publicized by Santa Clara police, appearing only in a nondescript arrest-log entry, and were first publicly acknowledged Tuesday in response to an inquiry by this newspaper. A police spokesman said the department cited the sensitivity of the case and the presence of a juvenile victim in explaining its decision not to issue a news release when the alleged crime occurred.

Sarasota couple hog-tied daughter with zip ties, kept her in playhouse, deputies say

Date: 2016-01-06

SARASOTA, Fla. (WFLA) — A Sarasota couple is jailed on felony child abuse charges after deputies say their 12-year-old daughter showed up at a neighbor’s house with her hands zip-tied together and told the neighbor that her parents kept her confined in a playhouse.

Deputies responded on Dec. 27 to a report of a possible kidnapping after the neighbor called 911 to report a young girl had knocked on his door and told him that her mother and father had bound her with zip ties and abandoned her at their home.

The girl had her hands zip-tied together and she had separate zip ties around her ankles.

The girl told investigators that Eugenio and Victoria Erquiaga restrained her with zip-ties in front of her body when she gets angry and regularly locked her in a playhouse in a loft area of the home, which is used as her bedroom. She also demonstrated to investigators how she was “hog-tied” in the front of her body. “Basically, she couldn’t move,” Lt. Joe Giasone with the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office said.

The Dominican children given up to Quebec's 'adoption machine’

Date: 2015-09-21

At least 200 children Dominican were separated from their families in the 1980s. It wasn’t because of a famine, a hurricane or an earthquake, but because of an incredibly effective network of Quebec missionaries and adoptive parents.

By: Isabelle Hackey La Presse,

Residents of quiet Medina community shaken by suspected murder-suicide

Date: 2015-09-19

By Evan MacDonald,

MEDINA, Ohio -- Several residents of the small, quiet Medina community where three people were found dead in a suspected murder-suicide said they were stunned when investigators removed their bodies from the condo late Friday.

Detectives believe the three people found dead Friday evening in the Pinewood Estates condominium complex on Pinewood Drive are a husband, a wife and their adopted child, who was developmentally disabled. Their names have not been released.

The neighborhood was quiet Saturday afternoon. The lock was removed from the condo where officers found the three bodies, and a missed delivery notice was hanging on the condo's door.

Neighbors said the man and woman who lived in the condo were quiet, but could regularly be seen walking hand-in-hand through the complex, often with their two Jack Russell Terriers.

"They always walked hand-in-hand," neighbor Sandra Miller said. "They seemed very happy, but you never know what goes on inside someone's house."

Autumn Dawes said she barely knew the man and the woman, but that they were friendly to neighbors.

Jane Doe in Indiana becomes Fitchburg homicide; woman charged in 2007 death

Date: 2015-09-15


Erika Antoinette Hill was 15 years old when she disappeared in 2007 from the home in Fitchburg where had she lived with her cousins and adoptive mother.

The same year, the unidentified body of a young African-American woman was found in a garage in Gary, Indiana. For years, she remained the “Lake County Jane Doe.”

The two mysteries, seemingly far apart from one another, became linked this summer, when Erika’s cousin, for years keeping a terrible secret, contacted police in Gary and said she knew the identity of Jane Doe, because she had helped put Erika’s body in that garage, according to a criminal complaint filed in Dane County Circuit Court.

The person alleged to have ordered the woman and her siblings to move Erika’s body was her mother, Taylin M. Hill, 50, of Madison, who on Monday was charged with first-degree reckless homicide for Erika’s death. Hill also faces six counts of child abuse.

GOPer Who 'Rehomed' Daughters Not Given Award At Ted Cruz Event After All

Date: 2015-08-13

By Catherine Thompson

An Arkansas lawmaker who made headlines earlier this year when it came to light that he sent his adopted daughters to live with a man who allegedly raped one of them was supposed to receive a "courage" award Wednesday at a dinner headlined by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX).

But at the last minute, the local Republican Party chapter hosting the dinner asked that an outside group not present the award to state Rep. Justin Harris (R) at their event.

A self-described, conservative nonprofit called Family Council Action Committee planned to present the "Power of Courage Award" to Harris and state Rep. Charlene Fite (R) at the Crawford County Republican Lincoln Day Dinner, according to a press release obtained by The Arkansas Times. The release issued Wednesday said that the two lawmakers "demonstrated courage by standing strong in faith when situations were tough at the State Capitol" and "are consistently models of their Christian values in their homes, their communities, and their churches."

Salinas women sentenced in torture, child abuse case

Date: 2015-07-17

Two Salinas women convicted of torturing and abusing their three children have been sentenced to prison terms, the Monterey County District Attorney’s Office said Friday.

Christian Deanda was sentenced to life in prison for committing torture (the maximum sentence), plus 13 years, 4 months consecutive in state prison for the remaining counts of child abuse, false imprisonment and child endangerment. Eraca Craig was also sentenced to a maximum sentence of 11 years in state prison for committing child abuse with great bodily injury, false imprisonment and child endangerment.

Unnamed parents plead guilty of abusing adopted daughter

Date: 2015-07-16

By: Greg Palmer

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita couple has pleaded guilty to beating and abusing a girl they were foster parents to and later adopted.

The Wichita Eagle reports the couple pleaded guilty Wednesday to charges including child abuse, aggravated battery and criminal restraint. They had denied the allegations.

The 15-year-old girl and three other children were taken into protective custody in March 2014. A child-in-need-of-care petition alleges that the girl's adoptive parents at times chained her in a basement and gave her a bucket to use as a toilet.

Authorities say the girl, who was 14 at the time, weighed just 66 pounds when she was removed from the home.

The girl and the other children remain in foster care pending the outcome of their child-in-need-of-care case.

The Eagle has not named the parents in order to protect the identity of the children.

Martin And Kathleen O’Brien: Abuse Trial Of Mom And Dad Details Horrifying Cruelty To Adopted Kids

Date: 2015-07-14

The much-anticipated child abuse trial of Martin and Kathleen O’Brien, a Wisconsin couple arrested in 2012 on charges of physically abusing children they adopted from Russia and Guatemala, finally opened last week with graphic details of the adoptive parents’ horrifying cruelty right out of a Grimm’s Fairy Tale.

The O’Briens have pleaded not guilty to the distressing charges, claiming that they are the real victims of a “herd” of foreign children who refused to adapt to their American ways, becoming uncontrollable and frightening to the O’Briens’ own biological children.

The case came to light in the summer of 2011 when a longtime neighbor of the O’Briens witnessed one of the adopted girls struggling to push a hand-operated lawnmower through tall grass on a blistering hot day, when the neighbor knew that the O’Brien family owned a riding mower.

The girl did not smile, wave, or acknowledge the neighbor in any way. Just a few weeks later, after an investigation, Child Protective Services removed five of six adopted children from the O’Briens’ home.

Former Army major and wife guilty of abusing adopted kids

Date: 2015-07-08

By Thomas Zambito

NEWARK - A federal jury convicted former Army Maj. John Jackson and his wife, Carolyn, of child endangerment and assault charges Wednesday for what prosecutors say was a cruel punishment regimen that targeted their three adopted children.

On its fifth day of deliberations, the jury found the Jacksons guilty of nearly all of the 24 charges they were facing, including conspiring to endanger the children's welfare and assault.

Prosecutors say the Jackson fed the three children -- each under the age of four at the time -- hot sauce and raw onions and broke their bones for offenses that included being too slow to get in a car seat. In addition to their three adopted children, the Jacksons have three biological children.

The Jacksons, sitting less than five feet away from one another at the defense table, did not react visibly when the verdict was delivered around 1:30 p.m. in U.S. District Court. They left the courtroom without speaking to reporters.

Judge Katharine Hayden set their sentencing date for Oct. 13, 2105.

Corona man accused of sexually abusing 13-year-old adopted son

Date: 2015-07-07

By Rob McMillan

CORONA, Calif. (KABC) -- A 54-year-old Corona man has been accused of sexually abusing one of his two adopted sons.

The victim was accompanied by his older brother when he walked up to the front counter of the Corona police station and reported the alleged abuse on June 28.

Corona police officers served a search warrant on July 2 at Patrick Michael Anderson's home in the 3200 block of Star Canyon Circle.

Neighbor Ray Tafoya says Anderson has lived in the area for a while. He, however, didn't know much about the two boys who Anderson adopted in 2012.

"My kids know of his kids, and they say that they go to intermediate school," Tafoya said.

Anderson was arrested later that day at Common Ground Corona, a spiritual community in Norco, on four felony charges, including oral copulation while the person is unconscious, sodomy, continuous sexual abuse of a child, and lewd acts with a child.

"There is no evidence at the time to support that Anderson used Common Ground Corona as a place to commit his alleged crimes," the police department said in a press release.

Sheriff: Whetstone mother beat 9-year-old disabled boy with baseball bat

Date: 2015-07-02

By Dylan Smith

The mother of a nine-year-old boy hospitalized with head trauma has been arrested on assault and abuse charges after telling investigators she struck the boy with a baseball bat, authorities said. The boy has Down Syndrome and is unable to speak, a Cochise County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman said.

The woman, 34-year-old Nakia Brice, was arrested Wednesday and charged with four counts of aggravated assault and one count of child abuse and booked into the Cochise County Jail, said CCSO's Carol Capas.

Brice told authorities that she "lost control defending herself" with the bat when the boy was "acting out" by kicking, biting and scratching, Capas said.

The Sheriff's Office was contacted about the case Monday by staffers with the Arizona Department of Child Safety, Capas said, after the boy was taken to Banner University Medical Center in Tucson.

"An initial hospital report stated that the mother said the boy had fallen from a tree causing head injuries," Capas said in a news release.

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