A Waterford woman who police said tried to kill her four adopted children with the same auto-exhaust fumes she used to commit suicide had a history of assaulting the youngsters, court records show.
State social workers reviewed years of abuse reports before filing a petition last year to remove the children from the home of Shanda Lou Yenglin, records show.
Michigan Department of Human Services investigators found Yenglin slammed one child onto a bathroom floor, breaking three front teeth, then ordered the child to tell a dentist that he fell by accident; and that she struck another child in the head with a wrench and clothes hangers, according to Oakland Family Court records.
Yenglin, 37, was found dead of carbon-monoxide poisoning at 8:30 a.m. Monday on her garage floor. Police found her children -- 10- and 11-year-old boys and 13- and 14-year-old girls -- suffering severe poisoning from fumes from the family van, which was running in the closed garage when officers arrived. The children survived. She left a suicide note on the vehicle's dashboard.
In hearings last year, Yenglin did not deny that she struck her children. The court placed the boys in the county's Children's Village for several months in 2010 because they were deemed incorrigible.
Even as Yenglin attended court-ordered anger management classes and received therapy, officials expressed concern for the children. In a Jan. 20 hearing, a court referee refused to return them to her, noting that "returning these children would present a substantial risk of harm at this time." So the court allowed her daytime oversight, but no overnight stays.
Yenglin kept them overnight both Saturday and Sunday, however, after leaving messages with the children's custodians about 8 p.m. Saturday, saying she could not return them "due to inclement weather," Waterford police Sgt. Scott Good said.
A foster mother reported parental kidnapping at 9:23 a.m. Monday -- more than an hour after police found Yenglin and her children, Good said.
The delay in reporting "is being investigated," Waterford Police Chief Dan McCaw said.
Orlando Blanco of Bloomfield Hills, a longtime family friend, said Yenglin struggled to raise the boys.
Blanco said he and his wife had known Yenglin for 17 years. He said she sent an e-mail to them and other friends in 2009, asking for prayers.
"We have been through so much the last few months, it's tearing our family apart. ... PLEASE pray ... that God would bring glory out of this," it read.
Contact Bill Laitner: 586-826-7264 or firstname.lastname@example.org