Case news

Most recent articles added to the case archives

Report on slain Pasco girl raises questions about case

Date: 2015-02-20

By Leah Masuda


Eckerd Community Alternatives has released thousands of pages of documents on Jenica Randazzo.

The 9-year-old girl was allegedly killed by her uncle Jason Rios nearly two weeks ago. Rios is also accused of killing his own mother and attempting to kill Jenica’s sister.

Jenica was taken from her parents because of substance abuse, then from her grandparents, and later from foster parents, over and over again.

Jenica and her siblings began living with their grandparents in 2012 after staying in separate foster homes. Shortly afterwards, a judge ordered them to be taken out of their grandparents’ home citing substantial and immediate danger.

“The children had some behaviors in the home and they could not handle those behaviors at that time,” said Eckerd Associate Executive Director Brian Bostick.

A year later the siblings were back but the situation still wasn’t ideal. Their grandmother was on disability, their grandfather lost his job, and now the aging couple had four kids to raise.

Federal prosecutor believes missing teen Erica Parsons may be dead

Date: 2015-02-19

By Shavonne Walker

A federal prosecutor in the Casey and Sandy Parsons sentencing hearing made a bold declaration in court, leading to the belief that the couple’s missing adopted daughter, Erica Lynn Parsons, is dead.

The couple faces prison time for accepting health care and adoption benefits for the teen, who had not been living with them.
Casey Parsons pleaded guilty in September to 15 counts of a 76-count indictment and Sandy Parsons was found guilty in October of 43 counts.

A judge continued the sentencing hearing until March 27, so that he can hear more details regarding the abuse of Erica Parsons.
Judge Thomas Schroeder heard from family members, including Casey and Sandy’s biological son, Jamie, as well as Casey’s sister, Robin Ashley.

Jamie Parsons told law enforcement on July 30, 2013, that Erica was missing. He told investigators he’d not seen his sister since about November 2011.

Prosecutor Anand Ramaswamy spoke of Jamie Parsons’ testimony and then said “Erica is no longer alive. There is an agreement between Casey Parsons and her husband to not report the death.”

Biological mom speaks out after alleged abuse revealed in court

Date: 2015-02-18

The biological mother of Erica Parsons is speaking out after graphic details of the little girl's alleged abuse at the hands of her adoptive family were revealed in public for the first time.

Casey and Sandy Parsons appeared in federal court Wednesday to learn their sentencing on federal fraud charges. After a full day of testimony, the case was continued and will pick up again on March 27.

During the hearing, several people, including family members, testified about the couple and prosecutors asked questions, including allegations of abuse for the missing teenager.

Erica Parsons was reported missing in July 2013, more than a year after she was last seen by family members.

Witnesses on Wednesday included a woman who says she hired Casey to be a surrogate mother and deliver her baby. Casey claimed she miscarried the child. She later successfully delivered the baby and tried to sell the child to her sister, Robin Ashley, for $10,000.

Ashley took the stand Wednesday saying that Casey beat Erica and made her stand in the corner often. Pictures were shown of Erica standing in that corner on five different occasions.

GOP Lawmaker Introduces Bill To Force State To Pay For Religious Pre-School

Date: 2015-02-18

by David Badash

A Republican state lawmaker has introduced a bill that would force the state to pay for “faith-based” or religious daycare and pre-school, as long as the parent and not the state requests it. Arkansas‘ Rep. Randy Alexander is attempting to amend a state law, the Arkansas Better Chance Program — which provides funding to daycare and pre-school facilities — to remove the section that ensures the state does not fund religious-based education.

Additionally, Rep. Alexander’s Arkansas state legislature colleagues, Rep. Justin Harris and state Senator Johnny Key, happen to own chains of religious early childhood program pre-schools.

Documents offer look at home life of slain Pasco girl

Date: 2015-02-17

by Courtney Robinson

Tampa, FL – Eckerd Community Alternative released hundreds of pages on Monday documenting the home life of Jenica Randazzo.

On February 5th, 2015 Pasco County deputies responded to her grandparents house in New Port Richey where they say her uncle, Jason Rios, had brutally attacked her, her sister and murdered her grandmother. Jenica died in the hospital the next day.

10 News combed through the report ,which dates back to 2012, when Jenica was removed from her mother's care. She spent time in different foster homes before being placed in the home of Angela and Ernesto Rios, her grandparents. They were in the process of adopting her.

The pages reveal a somewhat typical third-grader. Jenica loved cheerleading, dance and volleyball. The report also paints a troubling picture. Jenica was being medicated and seeing a therapist for behavior issues. Caseworkers also report concern over the Rios home. They worry about safety and if the couple can meet Jenica's needs. They do note that there was a support system in place with extended family.

Caseworkers: Pasco girl's death could not have been prevented

Date: 2015-02-17

by Eric Glasser

New Port Richey, FL -- After combing through thousands of pages, caseworkers say it's a tragedy, but they don't think they could have predicted – or prevented – the death of 9-year-old Jenica Randazzo.

Deputies say the little girl and her grandmother were killed by 24-year-old Jason Rios, who was living in the same New Port Richey home.

Eckerd Community Alternatives, the agency handling the case, reviewed thousand of documents.

Executive Director Brian Bostick says based on their review, there's nothing the agency could have done differently to save Jenica.

"Indications are that we don't have any information that would say that we knew that this was going to happen or that we could've prevented this," said Bostick.

Jenica and her grandmother Angela were killed, say Pasco deputies, by Jason Rios, who was Jenica's uncle. He'd been living in the same New Port Richey home as Jenica and her three siblings.

Daughter of Mississippi 'child collectors' breaks silence

Date: 2015-02-10

By Michael Clark

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Janet and Ramon Barreto were two of America's most wanted fugitives. The couple was on the run for five years after they were charged with the death of one of their adopted daughters.

Marainna Torres, Janet Barreto's biological daughter, served time for her parents' crime. Torres broke down in tears when asked about the death of her 2-year-old adopted sister, Ena.

"I'm sorry. She didn't deserve anything like that," said Torres. "I wish that she could have the life that the other children have."

Torres was 14 years old when her mother and stepfather began purchasing children from a Guatemalan adoption agency.

"I thought everything was going to be alright, and then she kept going on and adopting one after the other, and things started getting worse," Torres recalled.

Janet and Ramon Barreto adopted eight children overall. Investigators say the couple abused and tortured the kids inside a trailer in Union County, Mississippi.

One child was kept in a dog crate. Babies slept on plywood.

Couple charged in daughter's death due in court

Date: 2015-02-09

NEWPORT NEWS – A couple charged in the death of their young daughter is due in Newport News court.

Newport News police upgraded the charge against Terri and Pamela Dennis to felony murder and child abuse from felony child neglect on November 3, 2013.

Their seven-year-old adopted daughter, Terrilynn Destiny Dennis, died in April 2013, but police say it took time for the medical examiner to determine how she died.

Arrest warrants show she'd complained about her stomach hurting the day she died and that Mrs. Dennis noticed her tongue was purple and she was unresponsive around 8 p.m.

The arrest warrants show Terrilynn had Spina Bifida and was considered a special needs child.

The Daily Press reports the child's cause of death was delayed because of peritonitis — inflammation to the tissue covering the abdomen and other organs — which was caused by blunt force trauma, in addition to medical and physical neglect, according to a criminal complaint filed in Newport News Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court.

The couple had been her foster parents before adopting her in December 2012, police said.

Couple accused of chaining up adopted son indicted on child abuse charges

Date: 2015-02-06

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - A grand jury indicted a Memphis couple accused of chaining up their adopted 8-year-old son in July 2014.

Melvin and Kenya Bloomingburg, both accused of child abuse, are both free on bond.

The two were arrested in July after their son called 911, telling them he was chained by his ankle to a wall inside the couple's Fox Meadows home. The 8-year-old was later diagnosed with ulcers and malnutrition.

According to the affidavit of complaint, the boy told investigators that his parents regularly denied him food. He said they once chained him up in the backyard shed for days and when he was chained inside, he had to sleep on a dresser.

With the Bloomingburgs out on bond, WMC Action News 5's Kontji Anthony went by their home but there was no answer.

A man sitting in a black SUV down the street spoke with Kontji, but insisted that he was not Melvin Bloomingburg. An archive search showed the same black SUV with the same distinctive stickers parked in the Bloomingburg's driveway back in July.

According to Department of Children's Services, all six of the couple's children are now in state custody.

Colorado man can contest Utah adoption, court rules

Date: 2015-02-06


A Colorado man was improperly denied an opportunity to contest an adoption in Utah of a son born from a brief sexual relationship with a 15-year-old girl, the Utah Supreme Court ruled Friday.

Bobby L. Nevares preserved his parental interest in Utah by acting to do so in Colorado, the high court said in reversing a decision by 4th District Judge Claudia Laycock.

The ruling, which sends the case back for further proceedings, involved the controversial agency called The Adoption Center of Choice, which has been at the center of a number of contested adoptions and whose license to operate in Utah was revoked by the state about a year ago.

An attorney for Nevares, Joshua Peterman, hailed the court's ruling.

"The decision is an important step in eliminating the ability of adoption agencies to obtain children through fraud and deceit," he said in an email. "There are a number of agencies here in Utah who are more concerned with earning a fee than the fundamental constitutional right of a father to parent his child."

Pasco sheriff: Girl, 9, dies a day after attack by mentally ill uncle

Date: 2015-02-06

By Claire McNeill and Tony Marrero

NEW PORT RICHEY — A day and a half after horrific violence rocked the lives of a local family inside their home, friends and family gathered outside the house with flickering candles in plastic cups to remember the lives of a grandmother and a spirited young girl.

Jenica Randazzo, a 9-year-old girl who loved to sing, died early Friday, joining her grandmother Angela Rios, 55, who died in an attack at the home Thursday. Authorities have arrested Jenica's uncle, Jason Rios, who is also Rios' son and lived in the home, and charged him in the deaths.

Jenica "was so happy and so bright, shockingly, considering what she went through," said Ashley Rhodes-Courter, who said she had once been Jenica's foster mother. "She had an amazing spirit, and she always tried to see the best in people, even those who hurt her."

Pasco sheriff: Mentally ill man kills mother, attacks nieces

Date: 2015-02-05

By Claire McNeill

NEW PORT RICHEY — The screams reached Ernesto Rios in the shower and led him to his young granddaughter, bloodied and battered but still alive early Thursday morning.

He ran to another room and found his other granddaughter, severely hurt, and the girls' uncle standing over her, holding a blunt weapon. Rios wrestled him from the home.

Sheriff's deputies would ultimately find the body of Ernesto's wife, Angela Rios, who was 55.

After an hourslong standoff, they arrested the uncle, Jason Rios, 24, a paranoid schizophrenic who the Pasco County sheriff said may have been using drugs. He was hospitalized with self-inflicted wounds from a drill and faces a charge of murder and two counts of attempted murder.

Inside the home, deputies found a scene so gruesome that Sheriff Chris Nocco said he will make sure they receive mental health counseling.

"You can see in their eyes this is one of the cases that's going to live with them forever," he said.

• • •

Lawyer is suspended after child endangerment plea; judge saw no malice in adoptees' treatment

Date: 2015-02-03

By Debra Cassens Weiss

A Pennsylvania deputy attorney general has been suspended from law practice after his no contest plea to child endangerment.

Douglas Barbour, 35, was suspended on Friday, report the Sharon Harold, the Associated Press and Prosecutors had accused Barbour and his wife of mistreating two siblings they adopted from Ethiopia in 2012. The children were 6 years old and 18 months old when the Barbours were charged.

When Barbour entered the no-contest plea last June, Judge Jeffrey Manning of Pittsburgh said he saw no evidence of malice, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported at the time. “This started out as a significant act of charity gone awry,” Manning said. The couple retained custody of their two biological children.

The couple was charged after hospital officials reported that the girl had multiple fractures and the boy had lesions that could have been caused by contact with urine. Barbour’s wife, Kristen Barbour, told hospital officials that the girl has a history of banging her head. Prosecutors also said the boy was underweight.

Trial scheduled for man accused of abusing, and marrying, adopted daughter

Date: 2015-02-02

By John P Tretbar

A 43-year-old Alaska man accused of sexually abusing his adopted daughter over many years and in many locations is being held in Buchanan County pending trial on charges of rape, sodomy, child molestation and incest.

The trial of Owen Melvin Miller was moved here from Andrew County on a change of venue.

Miller and his wife have seven adopted children, and several of them were allegedly sexually abused.

According to court documents, Mr Miller married one of the adopted children in a ceremony in Savannah, Missouri in August, 2002.

The children told investigators here and in Wasilla, Alaska about years of physical abuse and neglect. According to court documents, the children recounted several incidents of being locked ino the basement, the attic, or outside. They say they were forced to go two days or more without food if they got into trouble. The two victims said they would unhinge a padlocked bedroom door and then crawl through a hole in the wall to sneak food out of a deep freeze in the garage. The children said they warmed that food on a furnace.

Toddler's death ruled 'accidental' even as mother is charged with involuntary manslaughter

Date: 2015-01-22

By Heidi Fenton |

WYOMING, MI -- An 18-month-old girl found dead in her crib in March 2014 died of asphyxia from removing her trachea tube, according to a death certificate filed in Kent County.

The certificate classifies her death as accidental, even as police are charging the toddler's mother, Rebecca Cotes, with involuntary manslaughter.

Kent County Chief Assistant Prosecutor Chris Becker said the ruling Hannah Hoag suffered an accidental death does not preclude a charge of involuntary manslaughter.
Prosecutors, he said, are alleging gross negligence occurred with the death.

Hannah was found unresponsive in her crib the morning of March 24 and pronounced dead at 11:45 a.m.

In a probable cause affidavit, police allege Cotes, 26, placed Hannah in a crib without medical monitoring equipment — required because of the girl's special health needs. As she slept, Hannah removed her trachea tube, causing her own death, police say.

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