exposing the dark side of adoption
Register Log in

Toddler's death ruled a homicide

Tompkins County D.A. discusses death of Adrian Hines

By Jim Kenyon

ITHACA -- In Ithaca, it appears a 6-month-old murder case is close to being solved. District Attorney Gwen Wilkinson, this week, has labeled the death of 14-month-old Adrian Hines a homicide. The toddler died while in foster care in October. "The baby died in the hospital. The injuries were inflicted the day before. I don't want to get into the specifics of that." Wilkinson told Action News.

Though authorities are refusing to release details of how Adrian Hines died or any potential suspects, this is what we've learned through official reports and relatives of the boy. Last year, Tompkins County Child Protective workers placed the children of Kristine Freda with a foster family near the village of Freeville. They included Adrian and his two older sisters. On October 2nd, rescuers were called to the home and found the boy "unresponsive" according to Wilkinson. The child died at Upstate Hospital in Syracuse. In February, the Onondaga County Medical Examiner ruled the death was a homicide. Wilkinson says she then consulted with several experts before going public, which she says explains is why it took so long. "I have to prove what killed this child beyond a reasonable doubt and I have to prove who killed this child beyond a reasonable doubt."

Wilkinson says the case has not yet been brought before a Grand Jury.

Shannon Hines is a cousin to the dead toddler. She says caseworkers took the children from Kristine Freda because they claimed her home was unclean. "When we found they were placed in a foster home, it was horrendous and where they were placed, it was brutal."

"I think it was shaken baby syndrome...that tells me they shouldn't be foster parents to begin with." Hines said.

Tompkins County Social Services Commissioner Patricia Carey has not responded to our request for comment.

Authorities are not releasing the names of the foster family. Wilkinson says officials have "taken steps" to ensure the safety of other children and the general public.

2009 Apr 15