Brooklyn Holcomb beaten to death

  • By Michael Weitzman
  • 03 May, 2017

5-year-old's final hours

By Tammie Toler, Bluefield Daily Telegraph , January 27, 2007

PRINCETON, WEST VIRGINIA — As a community struggled to cope with the death of 5-year-old Brooklyn Holcomb, a preliminary hearing this week traced the Jan. 15 events that brought her to the emergency room unconscious, covered in bruises and bearing what appeared to be the imprint of a belt buckle.

Prosecuting Attorney Timm Boggess questioned first the emergency room physician who treated the battered girl and then the detective charged with identifying what killed her.

Ronald William Holcomb never raised his head.

The 34-year-old veteran and prison guard charged with first-degree murder sat at the defense table, with his eyes lowered, flanked by his attorneys, Tom Janutolo, Tim Harvey and Joe Harvey.

When asked a question by his attorney, he nodded, and he briefly looked up at a piece of wood he allegedly used as a paddle the day Brooklyn Holcomb lost consciousness.

Magistrate Mike Flanagan presided over the proceedings, as Boggess and his witnesses outlined the events that opened a murder investigation.

PCH Emergency Room physician Dr. Ammar Almehmi was the first to take the stand.

The doctor said he saw 5-year-old Brooklyn Holcomb for the first time, as she lay on an ER bed, unconscious. Her pupils were already fixed and dialated and did not react to light.

“That tells me there is some injury to her neurologic system,” he said.

Knowing PCH was not equipped to offer neurological surgery on the scale the child could need, Almehmi said he immediately began communicating with hospitals in Charleston and Roanoke, Va., in attempt to find treatment.

As he waited on word from the hospitals and the transport that would take Brooklyn Holcomb on to another facility, Almehmi said he began a secondary examination that revealed multiple bruises on the child’s body.

“There were too many bruises,” he said.

The most disturbing part of the examination, Almehmi said, occurred when workers turned the girl over and saw the condition of her buttocks, allegedly beaten to the point that the skin was raw, bruised, broken and swollen all over.

“Her butt was kind of like raw meat,” Almehmi testified.

At that point, he said PCH officials immediately contacted Child Protective Services and law enforcement authorities.

In addition to bruises on Brooklyn Holcomb’s chin, and cheek, there was also a large wound, approximately three inches in diameter, on the back of her head, Almehmi testified.

A CT scan later showed there was severe swelling in the girl’s brain.

When the doctor talked with Ronald Holcomb, Almehmi testified that the father told him Brooklyn Holcomb had a bleeding disorder that made her bruise easily and that she had “banged herself against something” earlier in the day and called for help.

Almehmi testified that Holcomb said he was feeding his 7-month-old child and told Brooklyn Holcomb to go to bed. When he checked on her later, he allegedly told the doctor she was unconscious.

As Joe Harvey questioned the doctor, he asked whether Brooklyn Holcomb’s bruising and head injury could be consistent with falling down the stairs in the white, two-story home Holcomb, his wife and four children lived in.

Almehmi said he could not speculate on the cause of the wounds, only that they were there. “I know I can just tell you I found a bruise. What is the reason? I don’t know,” he said.

As the hearing shifted to a law enforcement angle, Boggess called Princeton Police Det. Sgt. C.N. Poe to the stand.

Poe testified he arrived as Almehmi and nurses attempted to treat Brooklyn Holcomb, who he believed, “basically, had been beaten.”

At one point, he said the doctor looked up and said, “She’s not going to make it.”

Poe said he immediately began taking photographs of the girl and the various wounds that were obvious externally. Along with a host of less severe bruises that covered her body, Poe counted one on her chin, one under her right eye, one behind her ear, what appeared to be a handprint on her abdomen, a severe wound on the back of her head, marks on her neck that appeared as if she had been strangled, and extreme bruising on the small of her back, buttocks and upper-back thighs.

Poe said said he had never conducted any beating investigation in which the victim was as extensively wounded as Brooklyn Holcomb.

“Plain and simply, it was a physical beating,” the officer said, describing the injury under her eye as one from a blunt object and a “scuff-type” injury on her lower abdomen, just above the genital area.

As medical officials worked to find a way to get the little girl more treatment with winter weather grounding all flights, Poe talked with Holcomb. The father was allowed to see the girl one more time before an ambulance took her to Charleston and he was arrested.

During a formal statement, Poe said Holcomb admitted to spanking Brooklyn, possibly with too much force.

“He explained that at approximately 9:30 [a.m.], he had fed Brooklyn her breakfast, and she wouldn’t eat it,” Poe said, adding that he said Brooklyn either spit the food out or made herself spit up.

According to Holcomb’s statement, he did allegedly spank her for that, with a paddle, possibly “a little too hard.” He later sent her upstairs, where Holcomb said she hurt herself, Poe testified.

“He said she threw herself down on the floor and that she had a tendency of falling down the stairs,” Poe said.

In the early afternoon, Poe said Holcomb told him Brooklyn complained of a headache, prompting him to have her lie down on a day bed at the home. When he went to wake her, Holcomb reportedly said she did not wake up.

At that point, the defendant allegedly packed up the other children at the residence and took them to another family member before returning to get Brooklyn Holcomb and drive her to the hospital.

Once Holcomb was in custody at the Princeton Police Department, Poe said he noticed there was skin missing from Holcomb’s knuckles, a sign, the officer said, meant the man had repeatedly struck something, hard.

“On his hands, knuckles, there was skin gone, as if you would strike something and scuff the skin off your hand,” Poe said.

As authorities searched for evidence in the Holcomb household , Poe said they found some bloody rags in the garbage. Although officers located piece of wood at the house, Poe said Officer J.W. Howell had remained unconvinced it was the paddle Holcomb admitted to hitting his daughter with.

Holcomb’s wife later turned in a piece of wood approximately 3 inches wide and one-half an inch thick that was believed to be the paddle in question, Poe testified. He said he believed it was located “under a bed upstairs.”

Holcomb did look up briefly as Boggess passed the piece of wood to the defense counsel. He never raised his head.

More evidence surfaced after the little girl’s Jan. 17 death. On Jan. 19, Poe attended the autopsy conducted by Dr. Zia Sabet.

Poe testified the medical examiner found the injuries on Brooklyn Holcomb’s buttocks and back to be consistent with that three-inch piece of wood during the autopsy, which also revealed imprints of what appeared to be a belt buckle on her butt and back of her leg. There were imprints of her upper teeth in her lower gums, Poe said, indicating someone had covered her mouth with enough force keep her mouth closed and force the bruising, likely also stopping her breathing.

The officer said the medical examiner concluded that suffocation caused the 5-year-old to lose consciousness but that the head trauma alone would have been enough to claim her life. “She was beat to death,” Poe testified.

The defense did not present opening or closing statements or introduce any witnesses Wednesday, but they did imply Brooklyn’s medical conditions could have contributed to her bruising and some behavioral problems.

On different occasions, Holcomb’s attorneys questioned state witnesses about their knowledge of a “bleeding disorder” and reactive attachment disorder, a controversial psychological condition most often associated with children who have been abused or have been part of extremely unstable family life. According to www.mental-health-matters.com , the disorder is characterized by extreme fearfulness, poor social interaction and aggression toward others or themselves.

Tim Harvey repeatedly asked Poe about the stairs at the Holcomb home, asking for the rise and width of the stairs, as well as the number of steps between stories and landings. He also asked if anyone collected the child’s DNA from the bottom of the stairs.

“The injuries that she had all about her body were not consistent with falling down the steps,” Poe said. At the hearing’s close, Flanagan forwarded the case to the grand jury.

The panel convenes in February, but Boggess said it was unlikely Holcomb’s case would be presented to this term.

Circuit Court Judge William Sadler denied bond in the case last week. Holcomb will remain in custody, pending the grand jury review and possible indictment.

By Michael Weitzman 05 Aug, 2017

Bradenton Herald

January 18, 2017 2:56 PM

By Michael Weitzman 05 Aug, 2017

BY Kerry Burke   Mary Mcdonnell   Graham Rayman   Larry Mcshane

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

Updated: Saturday, January 28, 2017, 4:06 AM

It took city officials five months to confirm what neighbors suspected immediately: 3-year-old Caleb Rivera  was a murder victim.

“I had an idea,” said Nikki Whatley, 39, who performed CPR on the gaunt little boy outside their East Harlem apartment building last August.

“I still see that boy’s eyes in my nightmare and in my dreams,” said Whatley, the mother of four. “That boy was lifeless when I got to him.”

Caleb’s death was declared a homicide Friday after the city medical examiner determined he was killed by multiple blows to the head and neck.

The boy’s mother, who was in their apartment with two men when Caleb was mortally injured, insisted she had no idea who was to blame for her son’s killing.

“I am not talking to anybody about anything,” mom Alexandra Guzman said from behind the door of her apartment on Friday. “I am not giving up anything. Why are you harassing me?”

Asked specifically who killed little Caleb Rivera, the mother answered, “Nobody. It was — have a good day. Nobody. That is the only answer you’ll get from me.”

Construction worker Adrian Rivera, 24, the child’s father, said he’s suspected for months that Guzman was hiding something.

“He was a happy healthy baby and I loved my baby,” he said. “They should both go to jail. I want to know: Did he do this and then she covered up? If the police won’t do something, I will.”

Rivera said after he and Guzman broke up, she barred him from seeing Caleb. He said he begged her to bring the baby to his mother’s house. “She wouldn’t. I texted her the week before (Caleb died): ‘Please bring me my baby.’ She said she was good where she was. She wouldn’t bring him to me, and then this happened.”

By Jane Alvarez 30 Jul, 2017

             April, Child Abuse Awareness month, has passed. It went by without any comment from the Director of Social Services, Ted Myers (“…blood is thicker than water…”, or attorney Andrew Wolf, (“…we do the legally correct thing…”).

            During television interviews with Santa Barbara’s KEYT-TV a few of years ago on the question raised by a Ventura County Star editorial regarding the whereabouts of Mario,  these gentlemen, in making the above statements,  attempted to explain why Social Service workers, and an a child advocate attorney advocate and/or permit the re-unification of an abused child with its abuser(s).  Mario was a toddler beaten into a coma by his mother.  Social workers reunified Mario with his mother even though he continued to be abused. 

            We have heard, and continue to hear, numerous times that Social Services’ purpose is to protect children from abuse. The child’s advocate in Court is supposed to also protect their right to freedom from abuse. Neither succeeds.

            And the reason they do not is revealed by their statements. Their hands are tied. Mr. Wolf is correct, re-unification is the legally correct thing to do, never mind that questions of ethics and morality are raised by the re-unification of a person who lacks love and parenting skills with a child who is helpless to speak for or defend himself.  

            And, yes, though it is a convenient and telling euphemism, blood is thicker than water. It merely goes to prove the point that a tiny human feels a craving for and needs love from the only caregiver it has known from birth. Though the child bonds, the adult may not want to or cannot commit to a responsibility.

            Congress, in its infinite wisdom, saw the tragedies brought about by the abuse of children. They saw not only the physical and emotional effects, but also acknowledged that deaths of children were sometimes the outcome of such conduct. They further saw the financial toll upon society, not only for the treatment of the physical and emotional injuries, but upon the fact that some of these children become a financial burden rather than positive contributors to society. As Congress does best they began the battle against child abuse by passing laws, in this case, Title 42 of the United States Code, Chapter 67, Section 5106a.

            This released money to fund Social Services and created responsibilities to fund programs. It created a confidentiality clause to protect not only the child’s identity and reputation but also that of the abuser. It required every State to pass a law saying that re-unification of the abused with its abuser was not required. But it also stated that despite a parent or caregiver having killed or assaulted a child the State (read as Judge), could, on a case by case basis, reunify a child of the sibling with the killer or abuser. Congress sat back; it had passed a law to protect children.

            In other words, blood is thicker than water and re-unification is the legally correct thing to do, regardless of what further injuries the child will suffer. 

By Jane Alvarez 30 Jul, 2017

 I recently attended a meeting where I listened to gut-wrenching stories from adults who feared for the safety of their children who were reporting sexual crimes against them by family members. As the founder of The Children’s Wall of Tears™, these stories are not new to me as I hear hundreds of cases each year.

  • When there is testimony from children telling of abuse, and no one is charged with the crime, I wonder why there are so many deaf ears.
  • When there are written notes from therapists saying the child is a credible witness and the child still remains in the home with the abuser,
 I wonder where the justice is for this child. Who are these social workers and judges who overlook these very important facts? Does the family unit come before the child’s safety? Remember the attorney who said, “ We don’t do what is in the child’s best interest. We do the legally correct thing. ” (KEYT-TV documentary “Where’s Mario?” between me & court appointed child attorney.)
 Solutions?
  • Re-define the family unit. A family unit doesn’t burn, beat, break bones, starve, scald, kill or sexually molest their children.
  • Define child abuse as the crime it is.  Child abusers are criminals. It is not a family problem. If I slap you, you can have me arrested. If I injure you, I can be charged with a felony assault. Why is it that we beat, burn, break bones, scald, starve, sexually molest our children and it is a family problem?
  •  Hold judges and social workers accountable when they continually reunify defenseless children with their abusers and the child continues to suffer. Police officers are held accountable when their actions cause injury or death,  yet, judges and social workers have a great deal of information PRIOR to their decisions when they reunify an abused child with their abusers and the child(ren) dies, they are not held accountable. 
  • Lift the cloak of confidentiality from judges and social services. CPS decline to comment about its actions, citing confidentiality.    Many say, “We can do better.” I say, “Why aren’t we doing better?”
By Jane Alvarez 30 Jul, 2017

      Recently Leo and I visited the great city of Oklahoma and toured the Oklahoma Bombing Memorial.  Without a doubt, this memorial strengthened our faith in the American people, our patriotism and our feelings against terrorism. We could not help but walk away from this great monument with a passion that undoubtedly carved our futures. Throughout our tour of the memorial we could not help but think about the 168 lives lost in this horrific event. There was one particular photo on the wall of the daycare center showing children that were signed-in that fateful day. It haunts us. What madman would callously murder innocent children, let alone adults?

     We read every sign and studied every photo in the museum.  We were overwhelmed with sadness and rage at the very same time.  We began to systematically think about terrorism and what it really means and how it affects our lives.

            –noun

          1. 

the use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, esp. for political purposes.

          2.  the state of fear and submission produced by terrorism or terroization.


          3.  a terroristic method of governing or of resisting a government.

     Terrorism begins with creating a fear within the victim and escalates quickly to injury and in many cases death. Until September 11, 2001, few Americans were aware that terror existed beyond that seen on movies or on TV.   After 911, we became aware of our vulnerability to suffering at the hands of people who find it acceptable to inflict pain on innocent people without blinking an eye. The bombing in Oklahoma City  traumatized this great nation. We were forced to face the anxiety of knowing that at any time, in any place, violence can strike, and in that respect, we are now victims of terrorism.

            While we feel a deep sadness for the victims of the attacks in New York City and Washington D.C., the plane crash in Pennsylvania and their families and the Oklahoma City Bombing and their families, who have lived to suffer the devastating pain of the loss of a loved one, we began to think about the children here in the United States who live under this anxiety every day. How did we overlook their terrorism?   Most call it child abuse. We call it child cruelty.

            In child’s world, violence comes not at the hands of politically motivated extremists, but from their parents or caregivers. Suffering comes not from weapons of mass destruction, but fists, belts, scalding water, locked in dark closets, and cruel words. Attacks are not a rare occurrence, but a daily reality. Knowing that it is coming is the epitome of terrorism especially since a child is incapable of defending himself and does not know where to turn to avoid the torture and pain of neglect or abuse.

            We kept thinking about the fact that while we watched news coverage of buildings crumbling and thousands of terrified, innocent people running for their lives, young spirits are being crushed at the hands of heartless adults with no high-profile media coverage to spark a country to awareness and action. Yes, we occasionally see, hear and read of young victims being abused or killed, but, few people are moved to act. The usual response to such news is an “…Oh, no!...” statement, and then on to breaking news.

            While troops of rescue workers sift through debris in a desperate attempt to recover victims, young children are cowering in corners after yet another merciless beating, wondering if anyone cares enough to rescue them. While an entire nation mourns for the victims of the Sept. 11 attacks and the Oklahoma City Bombing, abused children continue to suffer horrifically with no tears of sadness shed on their behalf. Is it apathy on the part of the general public? Apparently so. we don’t see any great rush of humanity at the breaking story of another child being beaten or killed. Nor do we see more than platitudes from public officials or legislators. Yes, you will hear comments that such and such should be investigated. You hear that so and so is understaffed, overworked, and over whelmed but you do not hear from the front line workers who deal with child abuse on a daily basis.

            For the past 25 years, we have been working to increase America’s awareness to the horrors of child cruelty and to bring the reality of the unimaginable level of physical and mental suffering these children deal with to the forefront.

           We have written numerous commentaries and letters to the editors of newspapers and given speeches and talks to various groups and organizations. We have spoken in Washington, D.C. before a distinguished group of professionals and even sponsored a law in the California Legislature to provide computerized criminal history to child protective service workers so that they do not reunify the child with criminals.  Unfortunately, that law failed in the appropriations department.  Apparently $50,000 for the entire State of California is not worth protecting children.  We have spent anguished hours over the opposition we have received and welcomed the pats on the back. But, child cruelty continues and children continue to live the daily terror awaiting the next blow.

            Statistics show that everyday, scores of children are terrorized by abusive parents and that list continues to grow each year. Every 10 seconds a child is abused. Every 5 hours a child is killed. In cold, hard terms that means that every day a small hand is held over a flame, an infant is dipped in scalding water, a child is forced to swallow household cleansers, an empty stomach grumbles while parents eat, a terrified toddler trembles in a dark, locked closet, a tiny arm is broken, a life comes to a premature end. The scenes of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were difficult to look at, but, they can’t compare to the scenes that flash in front of the small eyes of an abused child.

            I leave it to you to decide if a child, under these circumstances, is experiencing not only terror but wondering when it all will end.

            The unified resolve shown by the American people following the recent terrorist attacks is impressively powerful and elicits confidence that swift, sure action will be taken to punish and prevent terrorist acts. If only that same level of mass resolve were focused on saving abused children. If only our country stood unified in the defense of these helpless children, how many young victims of daily terrorism could be saved? How many small spirits could be recovered? How many terrorists could be stopped?

            We wonder what horrendous atrocity must occur to a child before every American resolves to put an end to child cruelty in every home in which it occurs.We  have stated before, in print and speeches, that there is a pandemic of child cruelty throughout the world. Now, with the advent of the bird flu, mad cow disease, tainted spinach, Aids and other “epidemics”, the word pandemic has become as familiar to us as the word terrorism and, unfortunately, we must now state that a pandemic of child cruelty now exists on this Planet.

            Simply put in perspective, if a disease were killing hundreds of children in America each year, the Center for Disease Control would mobilize everything it could to find the cause. Federal and State governments would spend millions on treatment and trying to find a cure. No stone would be left un-turned and no sum of money would be too great in an effort to end the pandemic.  Over 3,000 children are kiled through abuse and neglect each year.  Is that not an epidemic in your eyes?

            Yes, our lives were forever changed by our  visit to the Oklahoma Bombing Memorial

By Michael Weitzman 28 Jul, 2017

Interesting stories about famous people, biographies, humorous stories, photos and videos. Top of Form

Bottom of Form

By Leo Alvarez 24 Jul, 2017
It bothers many of us, and if it doesn’t bother you there is something wrong with you. I’m referring to child abuse and neglect and the killing of children.
They may deny it but the Powers That Be don’t care about American children suffering and dying, at least the Record indicates this. If they did things would change. They are interested in keeping families together, particularly the dysfunctional ones because they do not deal with “normal” families.
An attorney once said, as he referred to abused children, We may not necessarily do what is in the best interest of the child, but, we do the legally correct thing. He was and still is in the Just A System, along with the judges, Court appointed child advocates and CPS – they all know, but either keep silent or quit and give up and the children continue to suffer and die.
One law, CAPTA (Google it), Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, is a Federal law which cannot be superceded by State laws. It is the tail that wags the dog because all States, if they want federal funding for Social Services, must comply with it. Child abuse, and resulting death, are crimes and should be prosecuted, but sometimes they are not.
CAPTA contains the confidentiality clause and the clause that says a child cannot be reunified with the killer of its sibling, except on a case by case basis to be determined by a judge.
Do you want a child abuse victim to be sent home with the abuser? It is done every day and it will continue until You and I and every American wises up.
By Michael Weitzman 05 Jul, 2017
Azcentral THE ARIZONA REPUBLIC  
By Michael Weitzman 03 Jul, 2017

Body of Missing 5-Year-Old Boy Found Near Lake Cachuma as His Father Is Accused of His Murder

By Dave Quinn @NineDaves  July 1, 2017

The body of a missing 5-year-old California boy last seen in late April  has been found near a Santa Barbara County lake, homicide detectives confirmed to PEOPLE Saturday.

Aramazd Andressian  Jr. was found near Lake Cachuma on Friday, after additional leads brought homicide detectives back to the area searching for additional evidence.

The discovery came hours after the boy’s father, Aramazd Andressian Sr., was extradited to Los Angeles where he has been charged with the 5-year-old’s murder. The 35-year-old man was detained on June 23 in Las Vegas  in connection with his son’s death, and is being held on $10 million bail on a single murder count.

The boy was last seen on April 20, when he and his father visited Disneyland in Anaheim, California. They left the theme park around midnight.

Within a week of the boy’s disappearance, police arrested his dad on suspicion of one count of child endangerment and one count of child abduction. But they released him days later , citing “insufficient evidence.” It was not immediately clear what prompted his re-arrest.

Officials confirm that Andressian, Sr. and his wife, Ana Estevez, are embroiled in a bitter divorce, but they shared custody of their son.

Andressian, Jr. was supposed to be dropped off by his father in San Marino, California, on April 22 — but the elder Andressian failed to show. Instead, he was found passed out near his car in a nearby park. Police have alleged that the inside of his car was doused with gasoline and there were matches in his vehicle.

Andressian, Sr. told investigators he believed he was attacked, but he had no memory of the assault. He also told police he had taken some prescription medication that morning before falling unconscious, CNN reported .

“There has been a great deal of speculation regarding the timeline around his disappearance,” Andressian, Sr. wrote in a statement  issued nearly a week after his son vanished. “The last time I saw my son was on Saturday morning, the 22nd, at Arroyo Park near my home in South Pasadena. After breakfast Aramazd Jr. wanted to go to the park before we were to meet his mother for a custody exchange at 9:00 a.m.”

“In one moment, I was at the park with my son, and then I found myself waking up in Huntington Memorial Hospital hours later,” he continued. “I was told that a good Samaritan found me unconscious on the ground near my car, with young Aramazd nowhere in sight. I can only speculate that I must have been attacked in the park, given my unresponsive state and subsequent physical condition.”

“My family and I are heartbroken and grief-stricken that Aramazd Jr. is missing and may be in harm’s way,” he continued. “I am pleading with the public to come forward with any knowledge of Aramazd Jr.’s whereabouts or information regarding the circumstances leading up to his disappearance.”

Estevez has also spoken publicly , pleading for the public’s help at a May news conference with law enforcement.

“There are no words to describe how devastated and heartbroken I am,” Estevez said through tears, before speaking directly to her son. “This message is for you my love: Be brave, honey. Don’t ever forget that mama loves you to the moon and the stars. I am counting the days until I see you honey, and I will never stop looking for you.”

“To those who are concealing my son, I pray every day that God will touch your heart and guide you to do the right thing and return my son,” she said.

Anyone with any information about this ongoing case can call the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department at 323-890-5500 or police in South Pasadena, California, at 626-403-7297.

 
By Michael Weitzman 03 Jul, 2017
The Columbus Dispatch
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