exposing the dark side of adoption
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Sheriff: Adopted Russian boy was outside before death


by Jon Vanderlaan

An ambulance pulled up to an unassuming Gardendale home in the mid-afternoon Jan. 21, shortly after two children were playing in the yard.

One of the boys was on the ground, and would die about an hour later at Medical Center Hospital.

Sheriff Mark Donaldson said his deputies arrived to the home in Gardendale at 16097 North Waldrop Ave. home as the ambulance was leaving with Max Alan Shatto, a 3-year-old adopted Russian boy who was pronounced dead at 5:43 p.m. by a Medical Center Hospital emergency room doctor.

Donaldson said his office was notified of the ambulance call at 4:49 p.m. Jan. 21, and were dispatched to the home. The 9-1-1 call was on a report of cardiac arrest.

Donaldson said deputies have spoken with the adoptive parents of the boy.

Laura Shatto, the boy’s adoptive mother, told deputies that she was inside when Max Shatto became unresponsive, Donaldson said.

“We know the child was outside playing with the other child. They were both out there,” Donaldson said. “The mother went out there – she wasn’t out there – and when she came out there he was on the ground.”

Donaldson said that was just before the ambulance was called, but wouldn’t elaborate on what injuries the boy had and how he could have gotten them.

The Ector County Medical Examiner’s Office has previously stated the boy had bruises on his body, including his lower abdomen, but would not say where the bruises are believed to have come from.

Although the sheriff’s office periodically releases information about death investigations, Donaldson said they don’t release in-depth information on every death.

He also said despite previously releasing information on other autopsies, he’s not going to release information on this one. Donaldson said one of his deputies did observe the autopsy performed by the Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s Office.

“My interest here to start off with is a 3-year-old boy that’s dead,” Donaldson said. “And as far as I’m concerned, he’s a Texas boy because he’s living in the state of Texas and Ector County.”

Donaldson said he could not find any record of the sheriff’s office being dispatched to the address before the 9-1-1 call on Jan. 21.

The death comes at a time when tensions between the United States and Russia are high regarding adoptions between the two countries.

Several weeks ago, Russia announced it was banning all U.S. adoptions in a bill signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Max Shatto was adopted from a Pskov, Russia, orphanage along with his brother, Kristopher Elvin Shatto.

Russian media outlets are alleging torture and murder, although local authorities insist neither Russian media outlets nor government officials are privy to information other than what has already been released.

2013 Feb 20