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Eighth adopted child of parents facing abuse claims died of bronchitis, record show


Recent abuse claims of 7 children raise flags in 2011 case

Emily Foxhall and Lise Olsen

UPDATE: The Fort Bend County Sheriff's Office said in a news release Thursday that it would not be reopening the case of the 7-year-old boy who died in 2011, and whose parents were charged this month with abusing seven other adopted children. The sheriff's office said that the child suffered from cerebral palsy and could not speak. The news release noted that a "Fort Bend County justice of the peace determined the child died of natural causes and the child's physician signed off on the death of Jaden Sinclair." The statement said the sheriff's office would continue its investigation into the alleged physical abuse of the seven living children.

Fort Bend County authorities plan to revisit the case of a special-needs child who apparently died of bronchitis in 2011 while in the care of a couple now facing charges that they abused seven other children at a Richmond-area home.

State health department records and interviews show that a 7-year-old boy suffered from the respiratory problem and an asthma attack before he went into cardiac arrest and died Jan. 30, 2011. CPS officials said the couple's 7-year-old child died on that date; county divorce records identified the child as Jaden Sinclair.

Child Protective Services looked into the case at the time, but a spokeswoman did not disclose details of what they found. The Fort Bend County Sheriff's Office did not investigate the death then because a doctor found that the child had died of natural causes, authorities said.

But the recent removal of the deceased child's seven adopted siblings from a spacious home, where all of the children were allegedly confined in one room, has brought renewed focus to the case.

Sheriff Troy Nehls said Wednesday that his office was aware of the death and would be looking into it once the current investigation was complete.

"This whole thing started with the seven children, and so that is our focus right now," Nehls said.

The boy suffered for 11 days before his death from bronchitis, the records show. He had an asthma attack two days prior and then went into cardiac arrest minutes before he died.

Underlying conditions listed for the child included shaken baby syndrome and profound mental retardation. No injuries were reported.

Larry and Paula Sinclair adopted the eight children between April 2003 and October 2004. The child who died would have been the youngest of the group, according to divorce records. CPS says he was the last to be adopted, joining the Sinclair family on Oct. 27, 2004, when records show he would have been 13 months old.

The Sinclairs stopped living together around June 2006, divorce records show. Their divorce was finalized Nov. 8, 2010 - just months before the child's death. They had been married for nearly 25 years.

At that time, Paula Sinclair listed an address in Houston, while Larry Sinclair listed a residence in Richmond, the same place where the children were found by CPS.

CPS had licensed a home of the Sinclairs' in Houston in 2002 for fostering to adopt, said Tiffani Butler, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Family and Protective Services. But the child who died was living in Fort Bend County at the time of death, she said.

A CPS caseworker responded Nov. 22 to a tip of abuse at the Richmond-area home, authorities said. It is owned by a man whom Paula Sinclair later married, 78-year-old Allen Richardson. The caseworker arrived to find the children together in one room on the second floor, according to a search warrant. The space had the stench of human waste, authorities said.

A state district judge granted CPS temporary custody of the children the following day. In a routine hearing Tuesday, another judge allowed CPS to keep the children in the agency's care, rather than return them to a parent.

Richardson and Paula Sinclair, 54, face charges of aggravated kidnapping and injury to a child arising from the alleged mistreatment of the seven children. They remained Wednesday in the Fort Bend County on $200,000 bail each and declined interview requests.

One of the children had described to an investigator that the adoptive mother was rarely home and that Richardson watched TV while they were forced to stay in the same room, receiving only two meals a day of rice and beans, according to the search warrant, which also described alleged beatings by the stepfather.

The Fort Bend County District Attorney's Office had not yet received the cases from the sheriff's office Wednesday, spokesman Wesley Wittig wrote in an email. The sheriff's office investigator was not available for comment late Wednesday because she was working to turn in the report.The child was buried in a cemetery in Pearland on Feb. 8, 2011. A headstone was not purchased to mark the burial site, which was in a portion of the cemetery dedicated to children. Instead, it stood Tuesday covered by a patch of grass, surrounded by graves decorated with flowers.

2016 Dec 7