Case news

Most recent articles added to the case archives

Cold case crime site dug up

Date: 1999-08-05

Scholars join investigators seeking evidence in the brutal 1992 murder of a woman after her parents confess to the killing, state police say.

Associated Press

BEAR ROCKS - An anthropological team from Mercyhurst College on Friday continued searching for evidence in the alleged 1992 murder of a 25-year-old mentally retarded woman by her adoptive parents.

Forensic anthropologist Dennis Dirkmaat is leading a team of Mercyhurst students and faculty as well as state police in a search for Helen Gillin’s bone fragments in a wooded lot in Fayette County. Police alleged that Helen's parents, James, 52, and his wife, Roberta, 50, tried to poison their daughter, then stomped on her and perhaps stabbed her. They are also accused of burning her body and dumping the ashes in the pit where the dig is taking place. Police said they also dumped animal bones in the pit to cover their actions.

The Gillins allegedly killed their daughter after Roberta Gillin accused her husband of having sex with the woman, police said.

Police compared the search to an archeological dig, with the team on their hands and knees digging carefully.

Couple's jail terms delayed

Date: 1999-08-05

DURANGO - Jail-reporting dates have been delayed for a Bayfield couple convicted of child abuse in the death of an adopted daughter.On Monday, District Judge Greg Lyman granted the 60-day delays while lawyers for Dennis and Sandy Evers appeal the convictions.They were convicted May 11 of criminally negligent child abuse resulting in serious bodily injury stemming from the death of their adopted 6-year-old daughter, Roberta....


Police accuse parents of killing adopted daughter

Date: 1999-08-05

By Lawrence Waish

The 1992 murder of Helen Gillin was brutal; the disposal of her body methodical.

Who tried to poison the mentally retarded woman, stomped her to death when the poison didn't work and then burned her body in a pit behind a split-level home in Bear Rocks, Fayette County?

State polioa. who have been investigating her disappearance for seven years. yesterday said er Barents did it.

James D. Gillin, 52. and Roberta F. Gillin, 50, the the couple who adopted the victim into their family oi three sons and one daughter were charged yesterday morning with homicide, abuse of a corpse and conspiracy.

They were arraigned before District Justice Robert W. Breakiron of Connellsvtlle and committed without bond to the Fayette County Prison in Unlontown. Their hearing ls scheduled for 1 p.m. Monday.

According to affidavits of probably cause submitted to Breakiron by the state police,the murder of Helen Giliin was the culmination of an argument between her parents in July 1992. The argument began when Roberta Gillins accused her husband of having a sexual relationship with the 25-year-old victim..


Date: 1999-08-02

The Palm Beach Post
Author: Dan Moffett Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

An experienced commodities trader, Michael Chalek understands the reality that markets dictate pricing.

Still, he didn't expect that to apply to human lives - particularly his own.

Adopted days after his birth, Chalek wondered for decades about his natural mother and the circumstances that led her to leave him. He found out last fall when he persuaded a Gainesville judge to open his confidential adoption file, an extraordinary order usually granted only for medical emergencies.

``I found out that I had been sold for $200 to a baby broker,'' Chalek said. ``I was shocked, and I was hurt.''

Florida was a national center for black market adoptions in the 1950s, when Chalek and thousands like him lost their identities. Now he is fighting in the courts to reverse the injustice he says has tormented him since childhood.


Date: 1999-08-01

Associated Press

AGUA PRIETA, Mexico - Many people in this dry border region took the news of the child-smuggling ring as confirmation of old fears: that Americans are stealing Mexican children and selling them for adoption in "El Norte."

The reality is more mundane, but no less troubling.

The 17 children in the case who were given false names, smuggled into the United States and offered for adoption belong to an underclass of thousands of youngsters in Mexico.

Their parents can't care for them, and yet few will be adopted legally because of bureaucracy, a cultural stigma against adoption by Mexican couples and wariness of adoptions by foreigners. Many children in orphanages will be there until they're old enough to go out on their own.

Three arrested

The case came to light in May with the arrest of two New York women and a Mexican lawyer who allegedly charged up to $22,000 a child for using falsified papers to place Mexican children with U.S. couples.

'Red flags' preceded tot's death

Date: 1999-07-31

Signs went undetected, official tells task force

The Denver Post
A top Colorado official said Friday that a series of undetected warning signs preceded the beating death of a 2 1/2-year-old foster child.
Dana Andrews, director of the Division of Child Care Licensing, told a task force appointed by Gov. Bill Owens that her agency has taken steps to spot "red flags" in its foster care system since Miguel Baca died in a state-licensed foster home.
"Looking back on it, there were all kinds of red flags," she said of Miguel's death.
In an interview, Andrews mentioned four:
*All About Kids, the state-licensed child placement agency that certified Rick and E'Von Haney as Miguel's foster parents, was unaware that a child abuse allegation had been made against the Haneys when they previously worked for a different child placement agency, Synthesis. Andrews said she does not recall the nature of the complaint.
*Before his beating death, Miguel was injured in a fall from a bunk bed, an injury that went unreported.

Mother is charged in '95 death Michigan murder trial a result of Utah abuse case

Date: 1999-07-29

COLDWATER, Mich. (AP) -- A woman is being held without bond in the death of her little girl in Branch County in 1995.

Becky Tucker, 36, was arraigned Wednesday on charges of second-degree murder and child abuse. A preliminary hearing is set for Aug. 12. She could face up to life in prison if convicted.Prosecutors said Tucker pushed her 3-year-old adopted daughter down a flight of stairs at the family's home in 1995, originally telling police the fall was an accident.

Danielle Tucker died of head injuries suffered in the fall. The investigation into her death began after Tucker was charged with child abuse in Utah, in a case authorities there called one of the worst in state history.

Officials said her daughter Brittany, Danielle's older half-sister, was 6 when she was found in 1997 living in a filthy locked basement room in the family's Trenton, Cache County, home.

The girl weighed just 32 pounds. Police say she was regularly burned and beaten, and had lice in her hair and sores on her feet. Authorities said the couple's two sons, both natural, were treated well.


Date: 1999-07-28

GUATEMALA: TIGHTER ADOPTION CONTROLS URGED -- A United Nations envoy called on Guatemala to enforce stricter controls on international adoptions and take new steps to protect children to stem the country's problems with baby-selling and youth prostitution. Ofelia Calcetas-Santos, who is in Guatemala at the invitation of the Government for a two-week visit to investigate the country's growing adoption trade, is to make formal recommendations by next April. (Reuters)

Charity's haven for famine children destroyed by paedophile scourge

Date: 1999-07-22

It was created as a refuge for orphans who had suffered starvation, but the idyll was shattered when sex abusers infiltrated the village

Audrey Gillan

Jari Children's Village seems like an idyllic haven for the young, an oasis from the poverty that grinds Ethiopia down. It sits at the foot of Mount Ambassel in a region once so ravaged by famine and civil war that countless thousands died. Surrounded by bougainvillea and jacaranda trees, and full of children who shout "welcome" to a strange face, it is a breathtaking place.

Desperate images of starving orphans of the famine led to the founding of the village in 1974. A Swiss charity, Terre des hommes, Lausanne (Tdh), created the village in a valley given to them by the then emperor, Haile Selassie, and provided the children with a home and an education. The orphans were supposed to live as one big family. They slept in bunks in dormitory huts, ate from big trestle tables and looked up to the adults who worked and lived there, seeing them as their substitute parents.

U.N. studies international adoptions in Guatemala

Date: 1999-07-19

Associated Press Archive
Author: LAURA WIDES; Associated Press Writer

A U.N. investigator began examining the international adoption business in Guatemala on Monday, focusing on high agency fees and allegations that women are pressured to give up their babies.

Poverty, lax regulation and the country's 36-year civil war have made Guatemala the fourth-largest foreign supplier of children to U.S. adoptive parents. Only Russia, China and South Korea send more children to the United States.

U.N. special investigator Ofelia Calcetas-Santos came to Guatemala at the government's request to study allegations that children are being sold to adoptive parents. She met Monday with government representatives and children's advocates.

In recent years, local child advocacy groups have complained of lawyers who force or trick mothers into giving up their children, and of large amounts of money paid by adoptive parents.

Most of the groups support international adoptions but say the government should better regulate the process.

Two women plead guilty in Mexican baby smuggling case

Date: 1999-07-16

Associated Press Archive
Author: TOM HAYS; Associated Press Writer
Dateline: NEW YORK

Two women have admitted to taking part in an illegal adoption ring in which 17 Mexican babies were smuggled across the border and placed in American homes for $20,000 or more.

Arlene Reingold and Arlene Lieberman pleaded guilty to breaking immigration laws. Conspiracy charges were dropped in exchange for their pleas.

The two neighbors in the Long Island community of Medford face up to two years, three months in prison. Each was ordered to pay $43,500 restitution to the American families.

The women are free on bail until their sentencing; no date was set. Both refused to comment as they left federal court.

The two came to the attention of authorities in 1990, when the state Department of Social Services received complaints that they were arranging adoptions without a license.

The women were arrested in May with a third defendant, Mario Reyes, 40, a Douglas, Ariz., lawyer with an office in a Mexican border town.


Date: 1999-07-16

New York Daily News (NY)

Two Long Island women known in adoption circles as the two Arlenes pleaded guilty yesterday to smuggling Mexican children into the United States and selling them to desperate prospective parents.

The women, who declined to comment about the case, admitted bringing Mexican children some of them sick, and all illegal aliens from Arizona to New York starting in 1995 until they were arrested in May.

Arlene Reingold, 46, and Arlene Lieberman, 48, neighbors from Medford, L.I., face up to 27 months each in prison and $250,000 in fines. Each agreed to pay $43,500 in restitution to be shared by the 17 families they fleeced.

"I brought them through LaGuardia or Kennedy Airport and gave them to the adoptive parents, where they would remain," each woman told Brooklyn Federal Magistrate Judge John Caden in prepared statements they read in court.

Sales of Guatemala Babies

Date: 1999-07-15

A United Nations envoy will visit Guatemala next week to investigate allegations of ''unscrupulous tactics'' in the sale of children to adoptive parents in the United States, Canada, France and Britain, the United Nations said today.

The envoy, Ofelia Calcetas-Santos, will look into the adoption trade in Guatemalan children during her trip from Monday to July 30, and then make recommendations to the Guatemalan Government.

A statement issued by the United Nations said concern had been raised by ''allegations of unscrupulous tactics used during the adoption process, as well as the large amounts of money paid by potential adoptive parents.''

Former minister accused of kidnapping, rape back in jail

Date: 1999-07-14

Oak Ridger, The (TN)

BLOUNTVILLE (AP) -- A former Bristol minister accused of kidnapping, abuse and rape is back in jail.

Joseph Combs had been released in May after posting $150,000 bail, but he was arrested and jailed again Monday after a violation of a bond agreement, according to court records.

Workers at Central Bail Bonds refused to comment Wednesday. The company had posted $26,300 and the rest was raised through liens against friends' property.

Combs and his wife Evangeline are accused of taking a 4-month-old girl from an Indiana children's home 20 years ago under the pretense of adopting her. But they never completed the process and made the girl the family "slave," authorities say. Joseph Combs also is accused of raping her for years.

The allegations came to light in 1997 after the girl was hospitalized for a suicide attempt, and doctors found scar tissue over her body. The girl has since changed her name and lives in another state.

The Combses' trial has been set for early next year. Mrs. Combs was released in March after posting $100,000 bail, which was put up in full by Central Bail Bonds.

Suspected baby-smuggling lawyer out on $1 million bond in N.Y.C.

Date: 1999-07-03

The Arizona Daily Star
Author: Tim Steller

Mario Reyes Burgue�o, the Douglas lawyer accused of baby trafficking, was released from custody in New York yesterday after posting a $1 million bond.

Reyes' defense put together seven properties, most of them in Arizona, as security for the bond, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy Macht. The properties belong to friends and family members.

During the hearing in New York City, Macht opposed releasing Reyes on the grounds that he has undisclosed assets elsewhere.

A woman who answered the telephone at his house in Douglas said she expected Reyes home tomorrow.

Reyes, 41, has been in custody since he was arrested May 25 at his Douglas house. He faces charges of conspiring to illegally bring 17 babies across the border from Mexico, mail fraud and wire fraud.

Two women from Long Island, N.Y. - Arlene Reingold and Arlene Lieberman - also were arrested May 25 on the same charges. The trio allegedly charged women up to $22,000 apiece for babies brought into the United States illegally.

Pound Pup Legacy