exposing the dark side of adoption
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Akron Beacon Journal (OH)

Series: Home Schooling: Whose Business Is it?; Fourth in a 7-part series

Author: Dennis J. Willard and Doug Oplinger

The Akron Beacon Journal gathered the following information regarding abuse, criminal activity and deaths in home-school situations by reading thousands of newspaper stories published since 1999. Although it may be debatable whether education was occurring in these homes, they were nonetheless identified by the media or court documents as home-school situations. The list comprises about one-fourth of the incidents the newspaper found involving children identified as home-schooled. For the complete list, go to www.Ohio.com.


Dayton, January 1999: Four children, ages 4, 8, 11 and 17, suffering from untreated ailments, were taken from home of Lucinda and Edward Sizemore Sr. Officials say parents tested at "marginal" intelligence. Convicted of nonsupport of their children, who had been barred from having outside contact and had devised their own language.

San Bernardino, Calif., April 1999: William and Rita Meserve, caring for four nieces and nephews, ages 16, 13, 10 and 8, in a mobile home, were charged with abuse and torture, including shooting staples into the children's bodies and threatening them with a handgun. Convicted, serving life sentences.

Tyler, Texas, May 2003: Deanna LaJune Laney beat her three boys in the head with rocks, killing two. Said God told her to do it; jury found her not guilty by reason of insanity.

Pasadena City, Texas, July 1999: Christopher and Tina Pope charged with abuse for chaining son, 8, to his bed. The boy was malnourished and injured. Seven other children, ages 1 to 10, were in the home; mother was expecting ninth. Parents entered guilty pleas.

Winslow, Maine, August 1999: Ixchel Maybury, who was helping to home-school someone else's children, convicted on sex charges for relationship with a student.

Dayton, September 1999: Home-schooled boy, 10, beaten with hammer by stepfather, Stanley Lacefield. Suffered broken bones and fractured skull. Lacefield, the mother, Cicely Mason, and two younger children fled to a halfway house in Memphis, Tenn. Lacefield was also wanted in Arkansas for a beating of a boy, 9. Lacefield and Mason admitted guilt.

Detroit, November 1999: Police removed two adopted boys, both 9, from custody of Emily Miller when one was found wearing only a T-shirt, sitting on a plastic bucket in a dark basement and tied by a dog leash and belt. Victim had cerebral palsy; other child had learning disabilities. Miller was not charged. Court removed the children from her custody.

Port Charlotte, Fla., May 2000: Andrew and Caroline Mayer wanted to have another child. Father had sex with adopted daughter, 16, in presence of mother. Daughter said sexual abuse started five years earlier. She was five months pregnant when she informed a relative and police were called. The parents were convicted.

Pontiac, Mich., July 2000: Joseph and Evelyn Djoumessi charged with abuse of 17-year-old girl adopted from Cameroon. She was made to live in basement and work as family slave. Charges included sexual conduct. Djoumessis were convicted.

Salisbury (Salem), Mass., June 2001: Patrick McMullen, father of six, charged with multiple counts of sexually abusing his daughters over years and beating the mother. Neighbors didn't know there were children in the home, which was part of a junk yard. He is scheduled for trial in January.

Dallas, June 2001: 8-year-old girl weighing 25 pounds and near death from starvation rescued from mobile home where she had been locked in a closet, crawl space or secret room for months. Parents Kenneth and Barbara Atkinson convicted of abuse.

Bridgewater, N.J., October 2000: Viktor Matthey, 7, locked in unheated pump room, dies of hypothermia. Adopted from Russia. Parents Brenda and Robert Matthey had two other adopted children and two biological children. Parents convicted of endangerment, to be retried on aggravated murder charge.

Le Mars, Iowa, February 2000: Timothy Boss, 10, one of four adopted black children in a white family, killed by father, Donald Boss Jr., who was convicted in 2002. Black children were home-schooled, biological white children attended public school. Timothy was buried in basement; family continued to receive state support checks for his care.

Moore Haven, Fla., February 2002: Samuel T. Patrick arrested for 20-year incestuous relationships with sister and his children, of whom there were nine. Said to have fathered some of his grandchildren. Awaiting trial.

Warrensburg, Mo., February 2000: Raymond Wood, father of six, charged with killing his wife and four of his children, ages 10, 8, 7 and 5; and injuring two of his other children, ages 3 years and 18 months. Has a 15-year history of mental illness, according to news reports. Awaiting trial.

Pataskala, Ohio, July 2002: Stepfather Rodney Paul, 40, charged with raping his wife's daughter repeatedly over five years. The mother discovered Paul and the girl, 12, engaged in sex. Guilty of rape.

Lebanon, Tenn., December 2002: Home-school teacher Cynthia Guthrie abducted boy, 14, from his mobile home in Lebanon. They were found a month later in Albuquerque, N.M. Guthrie convicted of having sex with a minor. The boy's mother had asked Guthrie to help home-educate her son.

Enid, Okla., January 2003: Boy, 11, repeatedly poked with an electric cattle prod. Grandparents Johnny and LaDonna Stilwell and mother, Brenda Frazier, charged with abuse, convicted. Court records indicate younger sister also touched by cattle prod.

Indianapolis, August 2003: Two girls, ages 6 and 8, and a boy, 10, all severely malnourished, taken from an apartment where they lived with their mother, Mary Corrigan, and two other women. Boy slept in bathroom. Children often naked, forced to drink vinegar and eat peppers and sit in ice water, according to reports. They'd been pulled from school to be home-schooled after teachers reported potential abuse. Mother is awaiting trial on abuse charges.

Albuquerque, N.M., June 1999: Home-schooling father Samuel Gonzales shot in the head in bed. 12-year-old daughter charged. Case remains in court, slowed by appeals regarding police tactics and the girl's constitutional rights.

Fairfax, Va., June 2000: Home schooler, 17, arrested with two other teens in a fake-identification manufacturing operation. The boy was producing fake documents on his home computer, police said. Virginia law does not allow disclosure of what happened to the teens.

Eatonton, Ga., May 2002: Pedophile Dwight "Malachi" York charged with sexual abuse of very young girls. His United Nuwaubian Nation of Moors cult separated children from parents to be home-schooled. Girls as young as 8 were instructed that sex with York was normal activity. Dozens of girls were abused over several years. Serving 135-year prison sentence.

Portland, Ore., December 2002: Edward Morris, home-schooling father, killed his three children and pregnant wife, dumped bodies in forest. Pleaded guilty.

Elgin, Ariz., September 2001: Home-schooled Jonathan McMullen, 15, adopted, killed his mother, attempted to kill father and biological brother, 12. Pleaded guilty.

Naples, Fla., July 2002: Home-schooled boy, 14, charged with attempting to get a gun from a friend to kill his parents. He was angry that they had taken his computer after he downloaded pornography. Charges dropped on condition he receive counseling.

Woodbridge, N.J., March 2003: Home-schooled boy, 10, abducted 3-year-old boy from public library and killed him. Pleaded guilty.

Lexington County, S.C., November 2003: Home-schooled boy, 14, charged with stabbing mother, Debra Jean Clayton, multiple times. Adoptee from Guatemala was angry after a dispute over working in the father's painting business. Five biological and three adopted children. Father said family is an army at war with Satan. Awaiting trial.

Rochester, Wash., November 1999: Thomas and Dawn Briggs killed their two home-schooled children with drug-laced soft drinks, then Thomas killed his wife and self in suicide pact. Reports said father was dealing with paranoia.

Houston, March 2000: Joseph Beebe, 8, beaten and starved to death by mother, Edith Beebe, who was convicted. One of several adopted, handicapped children in the home who had been abused. Father Brian Beebe and a biological son convicted of failure to protect.

Grand Junction, Colo., February 2001: Amanda Bates, 13, died from lack of medical attention for diabetes and gangrenous infection. Parents Colleen and Randy Bates, who both dropped out of school in 10th grade and shun medical help, were home-schooling their 13 children, according to news reports. Guilty of criminal negligence, child abuse.

San Diego, May 2002: Home-schooled girl, Shanna Lynn Dreiling, 16, shot and killed by police as she and a companion attempted to escape after they hijacked a car and abducted two people, shooting one.

Augusta, Mont., August 2002: Jeanette Swanson, under treatment for depression and distraught over inability to continue home schooling and the evils of public schools, shot and killed son, 14, and daughter, 10. Pleaded guilty, was committed to state hospital.

Midway Park, N.C., July 2003: Six of 11 children living in a mobile home died in an accidental fire. Mother, who told neighbors she was home schooling, was hiding under an assumed name and wanted by police and protective services in another county. Fire was accidental; she was convicted of the felonies for which she was hiding.

Necedah, Wis., March 2004: Troy and Lee Ann Miller charged with 15 counts each in the alleged abuse of her daughter, 17, who slipped note to a neighbor that she needed to be rescued. She'd been locked in basement, forced to wear an electronic shock collar made for a dog. Awaiting trial.

Syracuse, N.Y., September 2003: Valerie Lucie, 11, hanged herself in her bedroom hours after she was raped and sodomized by her home-schooling father, Timothy, who had removed his children from public school so they would not hear about evolution or Harry Potter, according to reports. He is serving a 50-year sentence.

San Antonio, September 2003: Roland Moreno, who aspired to be a minister, killed his wife, home-schooled son, 5, and self. The reason is unknown.

Schaumburg, Ill., December 2003: Alexei Pavlis, 6, hit and slammed into a closet by mother Irma Pavlis, according to charges. She says the injuries were self-inflicted. Alexei and sister, 5, were adopted from Russia, lived with Pavlis family for six weeks, were home-schooled. Irma Pavlis is awaiting trial.


1- Deanna Laney is escorted by defense lawyer F.R. "Buck" Files in her capital murder trial in Tyler, Texas, in March. A jury found her not guilty by reason of insanity in beating to death two sons and severely injuring a third. "She is in a living hell because of what she knows she did when she was delusional," Files said afterward. ** 2- Donald Boss Jr. was convicted of the murder of adopted son Timothy, found buried in their basement. ** 3- Edward Morris agreed to a life term in pleading guilty to murdering his pregnant wife and their three children. ** 4- Troy Miller, shown in court in April, faces 15 felony charges involving allegations of abuse of his stepdaughter. ** 5- Malachi York, leader of the United Nuwaubian Nation of Moors, was convicted in Georgia of sexually abusing children in his quasi-religious sect.

2004 Nov 17