2013-09-19: Felony Child Abuse
What initially began as a missing child investigation resulted in the arrest of Phil and Kimberly Loesch of Harbor Springs. Both Phil and Kimberly Loesch were charged with three counts of Felony Child Abuse – 2nd Degree. On July 15th 2013, the Emmet County Sheriff’s Office was called to Readmond Township for a missing 13 year old boy. After a grueling two day search the boy was located in Cross Village. Sheriff Pete Wallin states, “During the course of the search my office received several tips as to the reason why this young man may have left his home.” After the boy was located, an investigation began regarding possible child abuse by his adopted parents.
Both Kim and Phil turned themselves into the sheriff’s office and are out on a $10,000 bond. Sheriff Wallin asks if anyone has information regarding this case to please call (231) 439-8900.
MOUNT VERNON — A jury has found Carri Williams guilty of all charges in the homicide and abuse trial involving the death of a young teenage girl she and her husband adopted and assault of their adopted son.
Her husband, Larry Williams, was found guilty of manslaughter and assault of a child. The jury was unable to agree on whether Larry was guilty of homicide by abuse.
The jury started deliberating this past Thursday after the seven-week trial of Larry and Carri Williams, whose parenting practices were called into question after Hana Williams died in May 2011 after collapsing in the family's backyard home in the Sedro-Woolley area.
An autopsy showed she died of hypothermia hastened by malnutrition and a stomach condition.
The Williamses were charged with homicide by abuse and first-degree manslaughter in the death of Hana and first-degree assault of the younger boy they adopted at the same time as Hana. Both were adopted from Ethiopia.
MOTIVATED MOM: In her time seeking children on the Internet, Nicole Eason has referred to herself as Big Momma and Momma Bear. Her term for informal custody transfers is "non-legalized adoption," and she defines the phrase to mean: "Hey, can I have your baby?" REUTERS/Samantha Sais
When a Liberian girl proves too much for her parents, they advertise her online and give her to a couple they’ve never met. Days later, she goes missing.
KIEL, Wisconsin – Todd and Melissa Puchalla struggled for more than two years to raise Quita, the troubled teenager they'd adopted from Liberia. When they decided to give her up, they found new parents to take her in less than two days – by posting an ad on the Internet.
(Some differences from the Reuters article "Americans use the Internet to abandon children adopted from overseas" )
Inside America's underground network for adopted children
Jeffrey Phelps / Reuters
Quita Puchalla, 21, stands outside her apartment in Milwaukee. Adopted as a child she now lives on her own and is going to school.
By Megan Twohey
Editor's Note: Today's stories are the first in a series of online and broadcast reports on adoption by Reuters and NBC News.
KIEL, Wisconsin -- Todd and Melissa Puchalla struggled more than two years to raise Quita, the troubled teenager they’d adopted from Liberia. When they decided to give up the 16-year-old, they found new parents to take her in less than two days — by posting an ad on the Internet.
Nicole and Calvin Eason, an Illinois couple in their 30s, responded quickly. In emails, Nicole Eason assured Melissa Puchalla that she could handle the girl. “People that are around me think I am awesome with kids,” Eason wrote.
By Monica Alba, Kate Snow and Mark Schone
A Tennessee woman says that when her adoptive parents gave her away to new parents at age 14, she and 17 other adoptive kids in her “nightmarish” new home were sometimes forced to dig their own “graves” in the backyard and scrub the floor with toothbrushes.
“’Get out and go dig your own grave,” Nora Gateley, now 26, says her new mother told her. “’I don’t care if you die. Nobody will find you. You were not even here in the first place.”
Americans have adopted nearly a quarter million children from overseas since the late 1990s, but sometimes the children have undisclosed physical or behavioral problems, and sometimes their adoptive parents simply can’t cope with their new responsibilities.
An investigation by Reuters in partnership with NBC News has uncovered an underground world of “re-homing,” where parents give their children to new caretakers, sometimes people they have met only over the internet, with little or no government oversight.
Timeline of fatal child abuse case
A chronology of notable dates in Jeffrey Baldwin’s life and events that led up to his death.
1970: A 19-year-old Elva Bottineau is sentenced to one year of probation for assaulting her five-month-old daughter Eva, who had died of pneumonia.
1978: Norman Kidman is convicted of assaulting two of Bottineau’s children from a previous relationship.
1998: The Catholic Children’s Aid Society of Toronto gives Bottineau and Kidman custody of four of their grandchildren, including Jeffrey.
Nov. 30, 2002: Jeffrey dies, weeks shy of his sixth birthday, of septic shock from malnutrition and bacterial pneumonia that was caused by sleeping in his own waste. He weighed 21 pounds — one pound less than he did on his first birthday.
Sept. 8, 2005: The trial begins for Bottineau and Kidman. They plead not guilty to first-degree murder.
April 7, 2006: Bottineau and Kidman are convicted of second-degree murder in what police described as one of the worst cases of child abuse Canada has ever seen.
One of the last people who saw Jeffrey Baldwin alive said the five-year-old was so weak and malnourished that as he crawled upstairs to his cold, fetid bedroom in a slow “death march,” his pyjama bottoms fell down with each step.
By the time he starved to death Jeffrey weighed 21 pounds — one pound less than he did on his first birthday.
It’s a disturbing scene that will always stick with retired Toronto Police Det. Michael Davis, who investigated Jeffrey’s death 11 years ago.
“He was trying to make his way up the stairs, crawling up the stairs as his little pyjamas were falling off of the hips because he had no hips,” Davis recalled from testimony at the trial where Jeffrey’s grandparents were convicted of second-degree murder.
“You deal with it, but you don’t forget it. That’s what makes you angry, when you see something like this. What makes me even more angry is the fact that it could have been prevented.”
Elva Bottineau and Norman Kidman were already convicted child abusers when they were granted custody of Jeffrey and three other grandchildren in 2002.
MOUNT VERNON — No verdict has been reached yet in the trial of Larry and Carri Williams, a Sedro-Woolley-area couple accused of abusing their adopted daughter to death and assaulting their adopted son.
The jury started deliberating Thursday afternoon, but were sent back to square one Friday morning when a juror was excused after lawyers learned he talked to his wife about procedural matters related to the case. He was replaced with an alternate; one alternate remains.
Jurors were sent home for the weekend and resume deliberations at 9 a.m. Monday.
1) A photo of Hana Williams in July 2009, about a year after she was adopted, shown as evidence during Skagit County Prosecutor Rich Weyrich's closing argument.
2) A photo of Hana Williams in November 2010, shown as evidence during Skagit County Prosecutor Rich Weyrich's closing argument.
3)Evidence photo of Hana with close-cropped hair, shown to jury during Skagit County Prosecutor Rich Weyrich's closing argument.
Larry and Carri Williams are charged with homicide by abuse and first-degree manslaughter in the death of Hana Williams, who collapsed in the family’s backyard one rainy night in May 2011. An autopsy showed she died of hypothermia hastened by malnutrition and a stomach condition.
The pair also is charged with first-degree assault of the younger boy they adopted from Ethiopia at the same time as Hana.
The jury also can consider certain lesser charges.
Williams case handed to jury
By Gina Cole GOSKAGIT
MOUNT VERNON — The jury has started deliberating the case against Larry and Carri Williams, a Sedro-Woolley-area couple accused of abusing their adopted daughter to death and assaulting their adopted son.
Prosecutors describe 'house of horrors' in Hana Williams trial
By Michelle Esteban Published: Sep 4, 2013 at 5:37 PM PDT
MOUNT VERNON, Wash. -- Tears filled a Skagit County courtroom Wednesday as prosecutors described a so-called "house of horrors" where young Hana Williams died. Hana's adoptive parents are accused of starving and beating her, and leaving her outside in the cold to die.
Seven weeks of testimony boiled down to nearly 2 1/2 hours of closing argument from prosecutor Rich Weyrich, who insists Larry and Carri Williams are guilty of homicide by abuse
"They both played an integral part in this house of horrors," Weyrich told the court.
Weyrich summed up in seconds Hana's death and the alleged abuse of her deaf brother Immanuel.
"They tortured and starved her until she passed away, and they tortured and starved Immanuel Williams," Weyrich said.
Weyrich told the jury Hana weighed 76 pounds in 2008 when adopted from Ethiopia. She was up to 108 pounds in 2009, but at her death in 2011, she weighed only 78 pounds.
Skagit County Prosecutor Rich Weyrich makes the case to the jury Wednesday for the prosecution of Larry and Carri Williams for the death of their adopted daughter, Hana. Scott Terrell / Skagit Valley Herald
MOUNT VERNON — Closing arguments have begun in the trial of a Sedro-Woolley-area couple accused of abusing their adopted teenage daughter to death.
Larry and Carri Williams are charged with homicide by abuse and first-degree manslaughter in the May 2011 death of Hana Williams, who collapsed in the family’s backyard and died of hypothermia hastened by malnutrition and a stomach condition.
The pair also are charged with first-degree assault of the younger boy they adopted from Ethiopia at the same time as Hana.
The trial is in its seventh week, making it the longest criminal trial Prosecutor Rich Weyrich said he or anyone in his office could remember in Skagit County.
In a few short months, Laura Shatto says she experienced some of the best and worst feelings a person ever could. In late 2012, she and her husband completed the lengthy and costly process of intercountry adoption. They had become the parents of two young Russian boys, Maksim and Kirill, whom they renamed Max and Kristopher.
Come mid-February, Shatto was facing what she says felt like the wrath of an entire country. Max, 3, had died under unclear circumstances at the Shattos' Texas home and Russian officials were quick to accuse her of murder. The case made international headlines and became larger than itself in the crosshairs of U.S.-Russian politics.
In March, Max's death was ruled accidental. Despite Russian objections, no charges have been filed against Shatto. In one of her first accounts to the press, Shatto shared her own side of the story with RFE/RL correspondent Richard Solash. The interview was conducted in May but held for legal reasons.
RFE/RL: There have been descriptions from various officials quoted in the press and in Max's autopsy report, but can you tell us in your own words what happened on the day that your son died?
ST. PETER — An attorney for a North Mankato couple facing criminal charges for allegedly starving their adopted son said he plans to argue against a prosecutor’s motion to have the child testify by video during the couple’s trials later this year.
A judge issued an order in April that permanently removed the 9-year-old boy from the home of Russell and Mona Hauer, both 45, after a civil trial. Three other children, two of the boy’s younger adopted siblings and the Hauers’ biological child, were allowed to stay with the couple under county supervision. Nicollet County Attorney Michelle Zehnder Fischer has appealed that portion of District Court Judge Todd Westphal’s order. She wants all of the children removed from the home (see related story).
The Hauers are each facing six felony charges accusing them of child neglect, child endangerment and malicious punishment of a child. Both trials are scheduled to last two weeks. Mona Hauer’s trial is scheduled to start Oct. 21 and Russell Hauer’s trial is scheduled to start Nov. 14.
Appeal claims abuse of one child proves they're unfit parents
By Dan Nienaber
ST. PETER — A couple that lost one adopted child after allegedly nearly starving him to death should also have their remaining three children removed from their home, according to an appeal filed by Nicollet County Attorney Michelle Zehnder Fischer.
A 9-year-old boy was permanently removed from Mona and Russell Hauer’s home in April after Nicollet County District Court Judge Todd Westphal found he had been abused by them. The boy was taken from the Hausers’ home after they were charged with felony neglect, endangerment and malicious punishment of a child.
The Hauers are scheduled to go to trial for those charges later this year.
They are accused of starving the boy to the point where his body was no longer able to digest food properly. They also are accused of several other incidents involving physical and emotional abuse.
Westphal’s ruling said all four of the Hauers’ children — including the boy, two of his younger siblings and a biological child — were victims of abuse and emotional maltreatment.