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Ethiopian girl lands in Maine after long, sad journey of adoption

Date: 2013-11-07

(NECN: Marnie MacLean, Windham, Maine) - As she walks through campus, there is nothing that sets Tarikuwa Lemma apart from the other freshmen at a college in Maine.

But a closer look reveals a young woman who has been on a long and painful journey - a journey that starts in her home country of Ethiopia.

"My mom died when I was 10," said Tarikuwa.

When her mother died, Tarikuwa says her widowed father struggled financially to care for her and her siblings. It made him vulnerable to brokers who profit when they provide children to adoption agencies.

"It brought in the adoption recruits for people who are friends with my father to come into our homes and tell him that this is a great opportunity to send your children to America to get a great education," she said.

Tarikuwa's father agreed to send her and two of her sisters to America.

What none of them understood was he had given them up for adoption. They were adopted by a family in Virginia who thought they were saving orphaned children.

Adoptive brother convicted of abusing, starving girl

Date: 2013-11-05

By Diana Hefley

EVERETT -- The girl wrapped her arms around the deputy prosecutor and squeezed.

A jury had confirmed on Tuesday what the pair knew was the truth all along -- the girl's adoptive brother abused and mistreated the child when he should have protected her.

It only took jurors three hours to convict Derron Alexis, 44. The former airplane mechanic denied being responsible for the girl's condition when the 10-year-old was rescued from his home in 2011.

She weighed just 51 pounds. Her body had lost nearly all its fat and had started metabolizing her muscles for energy. She had scars from being whipped with electrical cords and burned with lit cigarettes. She was kept in diapers and forced to sleep in a bathtub. The girl alleged that Alexis forced her to stay in a dog crate so he could sleep.

The man testified Monday that he never wanted his adoptive sister to live with him and his former girlfriend Mary Mazalic. His mother sent the girl, then 9, to Washington because she didn't want the child in special education classes.

Mazalic was convicted last year of abusing the girl. She is serving 30 years in prison.

Child abuse was ex's fault, Mukilteo man testifies

Date: 2013-11-05

By Diana Hefley

EVERETT -- A Mukilteo man on trial for the abuse of his 10-year-old adoptive sister spent Monday distancing himself from the girl and the woman who was paid to care for the child.

Derron Alexis, 44, told the jury that he was against plans to have the girl live with him and his former girlfriend. He said he already had his hands full with his job as an airplane mechanic and taking care of Mary Mazalic, a woman who claimed to be disabled because of a myriad of health problems.

"I knew I couldn't be there to give her what she needs," Alexis said.

His mother and Mazalic were behind the arrangement to have the girl move to Washington from New York. He told jurors he was never in charge of the girl's care. He also said he never had any indication that she was being abused or needed medical attention.

Alexis testified for about three hours Monday. His mother, who sent the child to live with Mazalic and Alexis in 2010, also was called as a witness for the defense. Jurors likely will begin deliberations today.

Adoptive parents charged with murder, child neglect in death of 7-year-old girl

Date: 2013-11-05

by Matt Knight

Newport News, Va. – The adoptive parents of a 7-year-old girl who died in Newport News in April have now been charged with felony murder.

Police and medics responded to a report of a girl not breathing around 1:40 a.m. on April 4 in a home on Gallery Ct. When officers arrived they found family members performing CPR on the victim, seven-year-old Terrilynn Destiny Dennis. The officers took over the CPR efforts until medics arrived and transported her to a local hospital where she died a short time later.

According to police, the medical examiner has been investigating the case since then and recently ruled her death a homicide after determining the cause and manner of death.

On Tuesday, November 5, 2013, the lead detective in the case obtained warrants, charging each parent with one count of felony murder.

On Wednesday, November 6, 2013, Sheriff’s deputies served the warrants on both parents, 31-year-old Terri W. Dennis and 40-year-old Pamela T. Dennis, at the City Jail where they were being held on the original charges of felony child neglect.

Parents charged in death of Newport News girl, 7

Date: 2013-11-05

By Cindy Clayton

Police have charged a couple in the April death of their adopted 7-year-old daughter.

Officers who were called about 1:40 a.m. on April 4 to the 200 block of Gallery Court found the girl, Terrilynn Destiny Dennis, not breathing, police wrote in a news release. Family members were performing CPR on the girl until paramedics arrived and took her to a hospital where she died.

The girl, who was adopted in December 2012 from Louisiana, had several medical issues.

The medical examiner needed additional time to investigate because of complexities with the case, the release says. Research and lab results led to a ruling of homicide on Sept. 23.

The Commonwealth’s Attorney reviewed the case and sought warrants charging Terri Winslow Dennis, 31, and Pamela Travers Dennis, 40, with felony child neglect, the release says. They were arrested Monday at their home in the 200 block of Gallery Court and were being held in jail.

No other information was immediately available.

KCBD Investigates: A history of child abuse?

Date: 2013-11-05

Wonda and Dave Dixon were back in court Monday, as they continue the fight to regain custody of their ten adopted children.

However, a KCBD investigation revealed this couple may have faced abuse charges before.

Bobby Wilson says he always suspected something just wasn't right about his neighbors who lived in the yellow mobile home down the road.

"They just kind of looked bewildered. You didn't see the laughter and the play of some of these kids. That's something that you noticed was missing," Wilson said.

Wilson tells us he would often see the Dixon's ten children outside.

"I've just seen the grownups sitting out at their patio tables. I've seen the kids working out in the yard, picking up weeds, mowing, taking out trash," Wilson tells us.

While assigning daily charges is hardly a crime, Wilson says the work seemed excessive.

"It was long hours, it seemed like. They'd clean up till after dark, a lot of time," Wilson said.

But Wilson tells us he never expected to see what he did, the morning of October 3rd.

Momma Mia!

Date: 2013-11-01

Momma Mia!
Grounded in her human-rights work, Mia Farrow can look back at another triumph—the loving home she created for 14 adopted and biological children. But she must also continue to deal with the wreckage from the sensational scandal that almost rent it apart 20 years ago. From Farrow and eight of her kids, including the long-silent Dylan, Maureen Orth gets the full story of life before and after Woody Allen.

By Maureen Orth

Rilya Wilson: Geralyn Graham won't be retried for murder

Date: 2013-10-30

Rilya Wilson: Geralyn Graham won't be retried for murder

Geralyn Graham , who was convicted of kidnapping and child abuse in the case of 4-year-old foster child Rilya Wilson (pictured), has been sentenced to 55 years in prison.
Photographer: AP Graphics Bank

Posted: 10/30/2013

MIAMI - MIAMI (AP) -- Prosecutors in Miami have decided not to retry the caretaker of long-missing child Rilya Wilson on a murder charge.

A memo released Wednesday by the Miami-Dade State Attorney's office recommends the charge be dismissed against Geralyn Graham. The 68-year-old Graham was sentenced earlier this year to 55 years in prison on kidnapping and child abuse charges, but jurors deadlocked on the murder count.

The memo cites numerous difficulties with another trial, including the fact that Rilya's body was never found.

Four-year-old Rilya vanished in December 2000 from Graham's home but her disappearance wasn't noticed for 15 months, largely because a Department of Children and Families caseworker neglected to check on her.

U.S. adoptive mother gets 37 years for Ethiopian girl's death

Date: 2013-10-29

Jonathan Kaminsky

OLYMPIA, Washington (Reuters) - A U.S. woman was sentenced to 37 years in prison on Tuesday for starving her Ethiopia-born adopted daughter and leaving her to die outside in the cold in Washington state.

Stay-at-home mother Carri Williams, 42, was convicted last month of homicide by abuse in connection with the 2011 death of 13-year-old Hana Williams, who was adopted in 2008.

The girl's father, Larry Williams, 49, was convicted of first-degree manslaughter and sentenced on Tuesday to 28 years in prison, a representative in the clerk's office said. The jury deadlocked on a charge of homicide by abuse against the man, who worked for the Boeing Co.

The family lived in Sedro-Woolley, a town about halfway between Seattle and Vancouver, British Columbia.

Hana Williams died of hypothermia in May 2011 after being found bruised and unconscious in the backyard shortly after midnight in temperatures hovering around 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4 degrees Celsius), authorities said.

Trial begins in death of 3-year-old girl

Date: 2013-10-29

Trial begins in death of 3-year-old girl

SAN ANTONIO — A man whose 3-year-old adopted daughter died of blunt head trauma nearly five years ago entered a not guilty plea Tuesday to causing serious bodily injury to the child by omission.

Norberto Velasquez, 49, could face up to life in prison if jurors in the 144th state District Court find him guilty of the first-degree felony.

His partner, Matthew Oscar Aranda, 48, has been charged with murder for the death of Melody Velasquez. That case is still pending.

Aranda and Velasquez finalized their adoption of Melody in December 2008, and she died on Jan. 10, 2009, prosecutor Daryl Harris told jurors during opening statements.

“Melody was only four months old when placed in his home,” he said, explaining she had been taken from her biological parents by Child Protective Services after allegations of abuse and neglect surfaced. “So in the very real sense, he was the only father, and this was the only home that young Melody knew in her three years.”

U.S. Lawmakers Call for Action to Curb Internet Child Trading

Date: 2013-10-29

U.S. Lawmakers Call for Action to Curb Internet Child Trading

By Megan Twohey
CHICAGO | Tue Oct 29, 2013 5:37pm EDT

Baby Deseray Removed From Bixler's Custody in South Carolina

Date: 2013-10-28

By Suzette Brewer

Indian Country has learned that Merry Rejoice Bixler, aka "Baby Deseray," was removed last week from the home of Bobby Bixler, 64, and Diane Bixler, 60, of Irmo, South Carolina. Sources in that state have reported that the five-month-old Oklahoma infant was taken into state custody and is in temporary foster care pending an emergency hearing today in Richland County.

Adoptive mother pleads not guilty to criminal abuse

Date: 2013-10-28

Adoptive mother pleads not guilty to criminal abuse
Posted: Oct 28, 2013 4:17 PM EDT
Updated: Oct 28, 2013 5:49 PM EDT
By Sarah Eisenmenger - email

Rachel Tipton (Source: LMDC)
LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - A Louisville mother pleaded not guilty to charges of criminal abuse concerning one of her four children on Monday.

According to Louisville Metro police, Rachel Tipton and her husband adopted a 4-year-old boy from Ethiopia.

The boy was taken to Kosair Children's Hospital for a scheduled procedure when the medical staff said they discovered injuries to various parts of the child's body including his head, mouth and genitals.

Tipton posted a $10,000 bond during her arraignment.

Copyright 2013 WAVE 3 News. All rights reserved.

Bulgarian mother of the little Roma girl wants her daughter back

Date: 2013-10-28

Bulgarian mother of the little Roma girl wants her daughter back
By Karl Penhaul, CNN
updated 4:16 AM EDT, Mon October 28, 2013

CNN's Karl Penhaul interviews birth parents of "Maria"
Mother says: "I will take care of her. She's mine."
DNA match traced birth parents of Maria to the village of Nikolaevo
Greek Roma couple who raised Maria are in custody charged with kidnapping

Sofia, Bulgaria (CNN) -- The birth parents of "Maria" stumble out of a studio in the Bulgarian capital, minutes after their first major TV interview.

Surrounded by bright lights and state-of-the art technology, Saska Ruseva and her husband Atanas Rusev are a world away from the tumbledown Roma village where they live in central Bulgaria.

Back in Nikolaevo, there are no street lights. Their house is made of mud brick and straw.

The couple were a world away too from Maria, the blond toddler found during a police raid of a Roma camp in Greece. DNA tests last week showed the Resevs were her biological parents.

Police: Woman accused of beating adopted child with wooden spoon

Date: 2013-10-28

Police: Woman accused of beating adopted child with wooden spoon
by WHAS11

Posted on October 28, 2013 at 7:02 PM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) – A Jeffersontown woman accused of abusing her adopted child has been arraigned in Jefferson County.

Investigators say 28-year-old Rachel Hatfield Tipton struck her adopted 4-year-old son in the genitalia with a wooden spoon. After striking the child, police say she then force fed him causing a cut on the inside of his mouth.

Tipton was arrested in July on those accusations but entered a not guilty plea on Monday.

The little boy was adopted from Ethiopia.

Tipton is facing a criminal child abuse charge.

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