Sunday, April 02, 2000
By Diana Nelson Jones, Post-Gazette Staff Writer
STRASBURG, Pa. -- Within three weeks of each other and nearly 700 miles apart, two babies were dead, one among Pennsylvania Amish, one in an enclave of Georgia Mennonites.
|Dr. Holmes Morton at his clinic in Strasburg, Pa. (Matt Freed, Post-Gazette)|
Each state gathered up the siblings, 15 in all, and took them from their homes.
Each state launched a murder investigation.
But something was wrong with this picture: How could two babies, within three weeks of each other, wind up violently dead in communities that embody America's most enduring images of rural tranquility?
Dr. Holmes Morton, a pediatrician in Strasburg, Lancaster County, was sure he knew. He was sure neither child was murdered.
It was late December in a farmhouse in Dornsife, an hour north of Harrisburg, when Elizabeth Glick found her 4-month-old daughter, Sara, unconscious in her crib; the Amish baby died in the hospital two days later. Within three weeks, in Metter, Ga., Rachel Kreider, a conservative Mennonite, found her 15-month-old daughter Christina dead in bed.
A nationally renowned pediatric geneticist, Morton has studied Amish and Mennonite health disorders since the 1980s. Without even seeing the Glick baby's body, he knew what it took investigators two months to accept: Sara was not shaken or struck, as the county coroner had ruled. The blood in her brain resulted from a vitamin K deficiency.
The Northumberland County district attorney, Anthony Rosini, closed the Glick case on March 9 after several physicians analyzed the evidence and unanimously concurred with Morton: "They were emphatic and clear in their opinions," Rosini says.
Vitamin K helps blood clot, and a deficiency can ravage the body and mimic trauma. Babies' livers are too immature to absorb K, so hospitals dose newborns with the vitamin.
A midwife had delivered Sara Glick at home. Not only did the baby get no vitamin K at birth, she was born with a genetic liver disorder not uncommon among the Amish; she may not have absorbed vitamin K, anyway.
The blood found pooled in her skull and behind one eye may have tipped the county coroner to think abuse, but with trauma or shaking, there would have been blood behind both eyes: "You don't shake a baby sideways," says Morton's nurse practitioner Donna Robinson. Sara Glick was susceptible to bruising because of her condition, but there was no bruising to suggest that she had been gripped or grabbed.
Morton is just as certain that the cause of Christina Kreider's death in Georgia was also medical.
But that case is not proving as responsive to his diagnosis.
Death on a Georgia farm
The morning of their baby's death, the Kreiders called the Kennedy-Morgan Funeral Home, which doubles as the county morgue. Some time later, they opened the door to a prosecutor, a child-welfare worker, a sheriff's investigator and the deputy county coroner.
It is protocol in Georgia for representatives of each office to attend the scene of a child's death, unless the child is in a doctor's care when it dies.
"We were told this child and two other children had the flu," says Tommy Flanders, the deputy coroner and funeral director. The family had recently returned from a visit to flu-ridden Pennsylvania. Flanders, who is not a physician, says he thought at first the baby had probably died from the flu. He examined the clothed body at the Kreider home.
At the funeral home, Flanders began his examination with the investigator, the social worker and the prosecutor on hand.
"When we removed the diaper, we knew we weren't dealing with the flu," Flanders said, because blood was released from the rectum. "On a personal level, I knew something terrible had happened." He called the Georgia Bureau of Investigation's Crime Lab.
Meanwhile, the Kreiders called Mennonite elders to summon Morton. Originally from Lebanon County, Pa., the Kreiders had moved to Georgia four years earlier to buy cheaper farm land. They knew of Morton through friends and relatives. His Clinic for Special Children, built by Amish volunteers on Strasburg farmland, specializes in treating Amish and Mennonite children.
Morton traveled to Metter, near Statesboro in east-central Georgia, to meet the Kreiders. He stayed with them on their dairy farm and interviewed them about Christina. In a Candler County court hearing, he testified that she died of septic shock from an infection.
Morton believes the authorities in Candler County locked into a belief that a crime had occurred: "They should have done blood cultures. She was febrile when put to bed and had been ill for 24 hours. She was covered with petechiae" -- tiny lesions that indicate blood had leaked from vessels as hemorrhages in the skin. In that case, "you biopsy a lesion and stain it for bacteria."
Kris Sperry, a medical examiner at the Georgia crime lab in Atlanta, says Morton made his diagnosis without seeing the body or the evidence: "He made no request even to see the evidence. I am not a pediatric geneticist, but he is not a forensic pathologist. We have tissue slides and organ samples. The child was murdered."
Sperry supervised the autopsy team. Its analysis of the blood that spilled from the baby's rectum indicated no evidence of DNA that was not her own. But damage was unequivocal, he said. He ruled that the baby had been asphyxiated and sexually assaulted.
"If you have asphyxiation in conjunction with a violent act, the reasonable conclusion is she was murdered. There is no other reason for her to be dead," he says.
Rachel and Arnold Kreider remain under suspicion in their daughter's death, but Morton says he "cannot shake the belief that the parents are innocent."
"I'd never assume abuse couldn't happen," he says. "But knowing what you know about these communities, you just know there would be a more likely explanation." Only once in his years among the "plain people" has Morton thought a child might have been abused: "One child had bruises that told me he had been spanked."
With the Kreiders' silence and no evidence, this case may be on the books for a while. The state of Georgia never closes an unsolved murder investigation.
Placed with 'English'
Beyond the deaths of their daughters, the Glicks and Kreiders share the trauma of having had the state remove their children.
Many cultural groups avoid dealing with the government, but the Amish and Mennonites are religious in their avoidance. They may pay taxes, but they refuse military service. Amish and some Mennonites either home-school their children or run their own schools, believing public schools tolerate and expose their children to vices and offenses to God. These offenses include television and radio.
The Amish do not drive motor vehicles. They reject electricity and telephones in their homes. They do not file lawsuits, and even in a defensive position, they must seek permission from elders to hire lawyers.
Mennonites do use telephones at home and drive motor vehicles; some even use the Internet.
While Old Order Amish interact with outsiders, they refuse to live in the mainstream.
The Glicks are Old Order Amish who left Lancaster County several years ago to join three other families in Northumberland County for more quiet and larger farms. They have seven sons, ages 5-15.
Shortly after Sara's death, caseworkers for Children and Youth Services arrived to take the Glicks' sons. They were driven to separate homes on an approved list, a list the Amish would never abide -- homes with televisions, radios, electric lights and other unacceptable stimuli.
Elizabeth and Samuel Glick suddenly had no children. They began to worry that the investigators' videos of their old, dingy farmhouse would be used against them and hurt their chances of ever seeing their boys again.
Convinced this was a medical issue and not a crime, Morton contacted Chuck Hehmeyer, a lawyer in Philadelphia who specializes in representing children with metabolic disorders. Hehmeyer petitioned in Sunbury, Northumberland County, for CYS to release the boys to their parents. By that time, CYS had already moved the children from "English" homes to Amish ones. It then agreed to return the children to the Glicks.
As a result of this case, the state of Pennsylvania now has a list of potential Amish foster homes in Northumberland County. But CYS doesn't really need a list to make placements, says Pa. Rep. Merle Phillips of Sunbury: "The law says they had the right to temporarily put them with Amish relations. Why they didn't is what we want to find out. That was child abuse."
Phillips is proposing four statewide hearings -- the first on April 13, in Sunbury -- in the interest of changing the laws that govern CYS authority.
During the boys' absence, the Glicks' situation, already causing a buzz in their own community, had spread among Amish throughout the state. One day, dozens of men in buggies arrived to give their farmhouse a makeover.
They hoped that when the boys arrived home, CYS caseworkers would deem the house worthy.
On the heels of these events, the Kreiders' eight children -- ages 2-15 -- were rousted from their beds in Georgia the night of Jan. 11 and taken to the county sheriff's office for questioning. Arnold Kreider accompanied them.
"When it got to the older boys," says sheriff's investigator Al Evans, "we let the dad sit in as a courtesy. He said he didn't think the boys should answer any more questions."
The boys were driven to a children's detention home in Savannah.
In the four weeks that the Kreider children lived outside their culture, e-mails bounced throughout Mennonite communities, from Georgia to Maryland to Pennsylvania and Ohio:
"We are perplexed with the events as they are unfolding."
"We know that God hears and answers prayer."
"It is frightening to have children snatched away, to be so powerless to protect them."
"The effectual prayer of the righteous man availeth much."
"Please pray for all involved, with all your heart. And don't forget the hearing on Feb. 7."
A relative of the Kreider family, who didn't want his name to be published, says the family was terrified, especially that their children would be sent to public school. The Georgia Department of Family and Children's Services "did honor that request, and we were grateful for that." But at the detention home, the Kreider children were exposed to television.
"The thing that hurt us the most was the way the law enforcement spoke, very pointedly, about, uh, about, very explicitly about sexual matters, and these dear children with even hardly knowing some of those things."
Crime involving Amish or Mennonites is rare. One gruesome case stands out: In 1997, an Amishman in Crawford County stomped and eviscerated his wife after going off medication for schizophrenia.
In the seat of Amish country, Lancaster County, Sgt. Robert Patterson of the Pennsylvania State Police, recalls "one or two" instances of sexual abuse in the past few years, of Amish adults with children outside their fold. "But no specific cases came to mind.
"We do have some instances of the teenagers involved in minor offenses, mostly under-age drinking, but adult crime is rare."
Sperry, the Georgia medical examiner, says he was reminded frequently during his investigation of Christina Kreider's death that "these are wonderful Christian people who love their children.
"I have no doubt about that. But using your faith and culture as a form of proof of innocence . . . it does not eliminate what we saw."
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.”
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…”).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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Body of Missing 5-Year-Old Boy Found Near Lake Cachuma as His Father Is Accused of His Murder
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.