This child disappeared out of the foster home and was not even looked for until two years later. Here is it eleven years later and there still has been no justice for her. What is wrong with this picture. The saddest part is her body has never been found. The Agency that was supposed to protect her allowed her to not only get murdered, they added to the injustice by never finding her body. They should be held accountable as well as the foster care provider who murdered her.
The Foster care provider continued to get money for her every month as did the Miami Dade CPS agency that took her in the first place.
Trial nears for woman charged with killing Rilya Wilson
MIAMI — Rilya Wilson is still missing.
The foster child’s disappearance in 2000, and the uproar after its belated discovery, led to sweeping changes in the state’s child welfare system. But no one knows for certain whether the chubby-cheeked 4-year-old fixed forever in a single official photograph is alive or dead.
Next month Rilya’s onetime caregiver, accused of kidnapping, abusing and smothering her, is scheduled to stand trial in an oft-delayed case that poses the ultimate challenge for prosecutors.
“In a homicide case, generally there is a body, and there is not one
When Graham was indicted by a Miami-Dade grand jury in March 2005 on charges of first-degree murder, kidnapping and aggravated child abuse, prosecutors said they would seek the death penalty.
But at a hearing earlier this year, they quietly abandoned that quest, opting instead to ask for life in prison. While confirming the decision, State Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Terry Chavez said last week that she could not elaborate.
Asked if the absence of a body led to the decision, Chavez responded, “There are always many factors that come into play when putting together a complex homicide case such as this one. Choices and decisions are based on an overall understanding of the case, not on any single issue.”
Sakin said the state’s dropping the death penalty shows “there are no aggravating factors, no body, no evidence of how she might have died.”
However difficult the prosecution’s task, the trial is expected to feature sensational details and colorful witnesses. It will throw a spotlight on the Department of Children & Families months after another highly publicized failure.
The allegations of abuse and caseworker inattention are similar to those leveled after the death of Nubia Barahona. In February the 10-year-old Miami girl was found dead in the back of her adoptive father’s truck parked alongside Interstate 95 in Palm Beach County.
Jorge Barahona and his wife, Carmen, face murder charges in that case and, if they are convicted, the death penalty.
“Two precious lives were lost, and in both cases that did not need to be,” said David Lawrence, a former newspaper publisher who led panels that examined the actions of the state’s child protection agency in both cases.
Speaking of Rilya Wilson, Lawrence said, “Shame on us if we cannot get justice for this little girl.”
Born to a drug-addicted mother, Rilya was placed in a foster home in the care of Pamela Graham. Geralyn Graham, no relation, lived with her in Kendall.
Over the years, news reports, court documents and an investigation into Rilya’s disappearance have included allegations that she was tied to a bed and locked in a small laundry room, kept in a dog cage, and often bore bruises, scratches and other injuries.
The indictment alleges that Rilya was either suffocated or beaten to death sometime in December 2000.
When Graham was indicted by a grand jury in March 2005, State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said, “she basically broke down and told someone in the jail details about Rilya Wilson, including how she killed her.”
That someone is believed to be career criminal Robin Lunceford, 48, who once shared a holding cell with Graham.
Lunceford told prosecutors that Graham admitted smothering Rilya with a pillow because the child insisted on wearing an “evil” Cleopatra costume instead of dressing as an angel for Halloween.
By By Leader Staff
Pontiac Daily Leader
Posted May 06, 2011 @ 08:50 AM
A 4-year-old girl was taken unresponsive from her foster care home in Cullom Tuesday and died the next day in a Peoria hospital, said the Peoria County coroner Thursday.
Kianna Rudesill, 4, “reportedly experienced a seizure at her foster home in Cullom Tuesday and became unresponsive,” said Peoria County Coroner Johnna Ingersoll.
The young girl, who turned 4 on Feb. 9, was placed on life support but died Wednesday at OSF Saint Francis Medical Center, Ingersoll said.
The coroner stated the young girl was initially taken to OSF Saint James-John W. Albrecht Medical Center, Pontiac, in an unresponsive state, and was transferred by a life-flight helicopter to Saint Francis. She was pronounced dead at 2:35 p.m. Wednesday.
Livingston County Sheriff’s Police, in cooperation with the Livingston County State’s Attorney’s office, is investigating Kianna’s death.
Sheriff’s Police were called to Saint James‘ emergency room Tuesday in reference to a child who was brought in with life-threatening injuries.
Ingersoll said an autopsy would be conducted this morning and preliminary findings would be available by this afternoon.
The names of the foster parents were not released by police or the coroner’s office.
Copyright 2011 Pontiac Daily Leader. Some rights reserved
This article also appeared in our paper here in South Florida. It is past time to hold CPS accountable for the murderd and abuse of our children. For years they have remained unaccountable for their part in the deaths and abuse of children they steal for profit. Granted in this case they left the child in a bad place. However, how many more have they snatched out of decent homes and placed them in homes of strangers to be abused or worse. They did what most caseworkers do they falsified the documents stating they had made home visits when in fact they hadn’t. This goes on all the time, a prime example is Nubia, Andrea Fleary stated that the children were fine when she visited the Barahona home on Feb10 when in actuality the twins were already past danger.
The article goes on to state, “Their lawyers say they are scapegoats for a crime they did not commit.” This is exactly what Andrea Fleary’s lawyer has also stated. How can they make such a statement? They may not have “pulled the trigger” so to speak, however, they are just as complicent if not more so simply by doing nothing.
It is past time to take down the system, it is past time to stop these caseworkers from stealing children, lying on paper and getting away with murder. It is time to hold everyone accountable- to if we are going to have this system to teach caseworkers how to know when a child is really being abused not based on heresay. What signs to look for- how to assess a situation without being blinded by money.
Kin, caseworkers charged in girl’s death
Associated Press / March 24, 2011
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E-mail|Print|Reprints|Comments (5)Text size – + NEW YORK — Two former child welfare workers and a grandmother pleaded not guilty yesterday to charges in the death of a 4-year-old girl who was starved, beaten, and drugged, and a prosecutor announced that a grand jury would be convened to look at evidence of potential “systematic failure’’ in the troubled agency.
Brooklyn District Attorney Charles J. Hynes said the former workers with the Administration for Children’s Services didn’t do enough to help Marchella Brett-Pierce, who weighed 18 pounds when she died in September.
Child welfare caseworker Damon Adams and supervisor Chereece Bell were charged yesterday with criminally negligent homicide. The girl’s grandmother Loretta Brett was charged with manslaughter.
Their lawyers say the three are being blamed for crimes they didn’t commit.
A special investigative grand jury will consider evidence of possible systemic failure at the child welfare agency, Hynes said.
Marchella’s death harkened comparisons to the 2006 case of Nixzmary Brown, a 7-year-old New York City girl who died of abuse and malnourishment.
In another case earlier this week, a man was charged with assault and reckless endangerment after his girlfriend’s 17-month-old foster child was found unconscious and badly beaten. Kymel Oram suffered bruising, fractured ribs, a lacerated liver, and a bruised spleen. He was in critical condition, though a criminal complaint against the suspect says the toddler was likely to die.
“ACS has a single overarching mission to protect abused and neglected children in New York City. Our staff live up to this difficult and heartbreaking challenge every day,’’ the child welfare agency said in a statement. “Yet when we fail, it can be with tragic results, which we try to learn from and make adjustments. . . . When staff have failed to carry out their basic responsibilities, ACS will and does take appropriate action.’’
“The particular merits of this criminal case aside, we are very concerned that today’s indictments of social work staff may have the opposite effect from what’s intended because it may discourage excellent, idealistic individuals from taking jobs helping our society’s neediest and most vulnerable children,’’ the agency said.
Marchella’s mother told police that she found her daughter’s cold and unconscious body on Sept. 2 and tried to resuscitate her before calling 911. The girl was born with underdeveloped lungs, had serious trouble breathing, and had a breathing tube in her throat, authorities said. She had been hospitalized in the months before her death.
Marchella’s mother, Carlotta Brett-Pierce, was previously indicted on murder and other charges, and has said she is innocent.
© Copyright 2011 Globe Newspaper Company.
The 3-bedroom home where two abused twins lived resembles a fortress — cloaked in shrubs, protected by cameras and secluded behind a gate.
By Carol Marbin Miller and Diana Moskovitz
Jorge and Carmen Barahona had custody of fraternal twin foster children for three years and were moving slowly toward adoption when they hit a formidable obstacle: a stubborn court-appointed guardian.
Paul Neumann, a volunteer guardian-ad-litem, had seen something in the West Miami-Dade couple that scared him, and he said so to everyone in the child welfare system who would listen.
The Barahonas sought help from an administrator with the foster care agency that oversaw their case. And when that fell short, they prevailed to a higher authority: then-Gov. Charlie Crist.
In a series of three letters spanning the summer of 2007 through early 2008, the Barahonas accused Neumann of conspiring with employees of the Miami-Dade school system, “tampering’’ with witnesses and trying to snatch the twins from their custody. Neumann, they wrote, was violating their civil rights.
“They have been deceitful with us all along,” the Barahonas wrote in a June 4, 2007 letter to Crist, “and we feel that we have been taken for fools.”
Florida child welfare administrators now claim that they were the ones who were deceived.
On Feb. 10, the Department of Children & Families’ child abuse hotline received a report that the Barahonas were binding the twins, Nubia and Victor Doctor, hand-and-foot and forcing them to stand in a bathtub for hours at the family home in West Miami-Dade. Investigators had yet to find the twins when Victor was discovered in a pickup truck on the side of Interstate 95 in West Palm Beach doused in chemicals and in the midst of seizures. Hours later, police found Nubia’s body in the truck’s flatbed, stuffed in a bag and drenched in chemicals. A source said Friday the children may have been sprayed with pesticides.
DCF administrators have declined repeatedly to release records on the couple, though they say some documents may be forthcoming.
But several records obtained last week by The Miami Herald, along with interviews of neighbors and child welfare workers, paint a portrait of a couple determined to raise their adoptive family their own way, shielded from the prying eyes of child-welfare workers, in a house cloaked by thick, overgrown shrubs.
“All roads lead back to that house,” DCF’s top Miami administrator, Jacqui Colyer, said last week.
Jorge Barahona was born in Nicaragua; Carmen in Cuba.
They married on Jan. 19, 1996, in Coral Gables. She was 45; he was 38.
Carmen Barahona has worked for several years at a Miami-Dade County pediatrics practice. Her husband owned a pest control company, and operated out of a red pickup truck that carried lethal chemical in plastic jugs.
The couple had another, rather substantial source of income: state subsidies for the four foster children they adopted. In court last week, Circuit Judge Cindy Lederman ordered that the roughly $950-per-month in adoption subsidies for the three surviving children be immediately discontinued. The amount likely reached $1,200 when Nubia was alive.
The Barahonas lived in a typical western Miami-Dade suburb, close to a hospital, a public school and filled with families whose children move easily between English and Spanish.
The Barahona home, a three-bedroom, one-bath, at first glance passes for the best-kept home on their suburban block, with a gleaming front driveway of fresh pavers, a coat of light-colored paint and a lawn full of lush landscaping. But look closer, and it resembles a well-manicured fortress, armed with heavy shrubbery to keep away glancing eyes and cameras that peered out at visitors, showing those inside whoever came near the front door.
A black metal gate, more than four feet tall, keeps passersby from setting foot on the front yard. Tall wooden planks on the side of the house, bearing Beware of Dog signs, obscure any view from the side. Palm trees and tall shrubs line the front of the house, obscuring the windows.
Thick shrubs grown so tall they brush against the roof guard each side of the front doors like centurions. The heavy tangles of branches and leaves on both sides of the front entrance mean that neighbors like Leida Alonso, who has lived next door for more than five years, can glance over and not even see if the door is open.
What went on in the house was a “family secret’’ that was never to be discussed, one of the Barahonas’ surviving adoptive children — as well as the couple’s biological granddaughter — told investigators in recent days.
‘NEVER SAW A KID’
In all her years in the neighborhood, Alonso said, she saw Jorge Barahona maybe five or seven times. She never saw anyone else at the house at all, she said.
“I never saw his wife, never saw a kid,” Alonso said
Across the street, Hilda Duque said in five years in the neighborhood she only saw children with the couple once. About six months ago, she saw two small children. She thinks they were coming or going to the beach because a little girl was wearing a bathing suit.
But Duque said she never even knew the family’s name. When Duque went outside to water her plants, she would occasionally see Carmen Barahona, but Barahona kept quiet. She guessed Carmen worked as a nurse, based only on seeing her from afar in what looked like a nurse’s uniform.
Even the letter carrier was kept at bay. The couple placed their mailbox at the front gate, so mail could be delivered without a person stepping on the lawn.
The Barahonas became licensed foster parents in 1999, and had adopted their first child, a boy, by 2001. By 2004, the Barahonas had custody of four foster children, including the twins.
Within the next three years, Florida’s child abuse hotline received three reports on Nubia — all of them initiated by someone at the girl’s school. Several school employees testified at the Barahonas’ adoption hearing that they had serious concerns about the couple’s custody of the kids.
Under Florida law, teachers and guidance counselors are defined as “mandatory reporters” of child abuse and neglect, and they can be prosecuted for failing to report their suspicions. State policy grants professionals such as teachers, coaches and therapists great deference when they report suspected abuse, and investigators are taught to assume such reports are credible.
The first report arrived in January 2005: “My father is touching me,” Nubia reportedly disclosed to someone at school. Child welfare supervisors could not determine whether Nubia was referring to her birth father, who had lost custody at least a year earlier, or Barahona, although they suspected the girl meant her birth dad. They took no action on the report, The Miami Herald was told.
A little more than a year later, in February 2006, DCF received a second report. Nubia, the hotline was told, had bruising on her chin and neck and her teachers suspected she had been abused. DCF ordered the Barahonas to take the girl to the Department of Health’s Child Protection Team in Miami, but the couple did not arrive for the appointment for a week, The Herald has learned. By then, the bruising had largely disappeared. The state doctors concluded the bruising was consistent with the Barahonas’ contention that Nubia had fallen, and that no abuse had occurred.
In March 2007, DCF received a third report, that Nubia was dirty and unkempt, constantly complained that she was hungry and smelled badly.
School workers filed a strikingly similar report to the hotline again in June 2010, noting that Nubia was so “uncontrollably” hungry that she was stealing food. The 2010 report also included this detail: Nubia was losing her hair, and had become “nervous” and “jittery.”
In comments to reporters Thursday, DCF Secretary David Wilkins — who did not address the 2007 and 2010 reports directly — said agency investigators’ efforts were critically hindered by the Barahonas’ insistence that what appeared to be poor hygiene was actually the effects of a medical condition that affected the girl’s endocrine system. “The medical condition,” Wilkins said, “complicated the decision-making of investigators.”
The contention, Wilkins said, was one of several ways in which the couple had misled investigators, perhaps for several years.
“It’s always hard to deal with deception,’’ Wilkins said. “There are some assumptions we made that, in hindsight, we would look at differently.”
Sources say DCF did not refer the family back to the Child Protection Team either in 2007 or in 2010 for an independent opinion on the girl’s condition.
It was in 2007, records suggest, when the volunteer guardian, Neumann, became extremely concerned for the twins.
Though Neumann could not be reached for comment, the letters written by the Barahonas in 2007 and 2008 say the guardian had discussed Nubia’s welfare several times with employees of the girl’s school, including an assistant principal.
The school, they said, gave Neumann “a room alone with the children for the entire lunch time,” and allowed the guardian to interview them. “When we picked up the children from school they told us everything.”
Neumann also interviewed relatives of the twins who lived in Texas. A lawyer for the children’s aunt and uncle appeared in court last week and confirmed that the couple had raised “red flags” about the Barahonas during their attempts to gain custody of the children from the Barahonas.
In the letters, the Barahonas repeatedly denied allegations that they were “dirty and uncaring parents.” Though “we put our trust in the courts and the DCF attorney,’’ the couple wrote, “we were humiliated in front of everybody’’ at a court hearing in the summer of 2007.
The Barahonas reserved a special contempt for “Mr. Paul [Neumann], the guardian-ad-litem, with whom we have had a personality conflict since the beginning because of his arrogance and smart remarks, and we put up with this.’’
A June 4, 2007 letter to Crist also suggests the couple had refused to allow Neumann access to the children — a theme that would repeat itself again and again in coming years, and, perhaps, end in tragic results last week.
“We were … told that this is not a game and that Mr. Neumann does this out of the goodness of his heart because he doesn’t get paid. I guess the court believes that we must be doing this for the money,” they wrote in an Aug. 5, 2007 letter to the governor.
“If we have done anything wrong,” the Barahonas wrote, “let us be held accountable for it.”
By Toluse Olorunnipa Miami Herald Staff Writer
Updated: 8:09 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 27, 2011
Posted: 7:21 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 27, 2011
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The small white guestbook in front of St. Paul Lutheran Church on Sunday was sprinkled with words indicating that a little girl was in a better place: “Angel,” “love,” “heaven.”
Friends, classmates and community members gathered to say final goodbyes to Nubia Barahona, a 10-year-old whose body was found doused in chemicals two weeks ago inside a pickup truck along Interstate 95 in West Palm Beach, and whose death has reignited a debate about child protective services.
Inside the sanctuary, about 75 community members celebrated Nubia’s short life, mourned its gruesome end, and were encouraged to channel their sadness into action.
“As a community, it is natural for us to cry, to talk, to hug each other, to be sad and to grieve at the evil that has happened,” said the Rev. Alan Sielk, St. Paul’s pastor of the church in western Miami-Dade County.
Sielk challenged the Blue Lakes community of West Miami-Dade County to not only grieve, but to take active steps towards preventing a similar incident from happening ever again.
“Nubia calls us to action,” he said.
Members of the community wrestled with the fact that a child was allowed to suffer a series of tragedies in the middle of a middle-class community where palm trees line clean streets.
Nubia’s life trajectory began tragically. She and her twin brother Victor were born to a mother dealing with a drug addiction and homelessness. Nubia was reportedly sexually abused by her birth father before she turned 5 and was put into foster care. The couple that would eventually adopt her, Jorge and Carmen Barahona, have been accused of abusing her physically and emotionally.
Teachers told the Department of Children and Families that Nubia regularly came to school hungry, dirty and tired. Jorge Barahona, who owns the pickup truck where Nubia’s body was found, has been charged with aggravated abuse and the attempted murder of her twin Victor, who was found convulsing in the same truck on the shoulder of the highway near Palm Beach Lakes Boulevard.
“Nubia was betrayed by the people that were supposed to love her the most,” said Blue Lakes resident Maria Saunders, during the memorial.
After the service, attendees embraced one another, fought back tears and talked about what went wrong.
“We were always concerned about Nubia,” said Lizzete Mendez-Balladares, who attended the memorial with her daughter, a friend and classmate of Nubia. “She would ask my daughter for food. She would ask the teachers for food. There was only so much we could do because she’s a minor. We did what we could do.”
Even those who never knew Nubia came out to grieve.
“In the past few weeks, I’ve put myself in Nubia’s shoes,” said Saunders, who did not know the Barahonas but felt compelled to come to the memorial. “I’ve had her in my heart, in my mind. She’s been a part of me.”
Joanne Muniz, who was the PTA president when Nubia attended Blue Lakes Elementary, helped organized the memorial to celebrate the life of a child she and her husband suspected needed help.
Speaking to reporters after the service, Muniz expressed disappointment in the administrators at Blue Lakes Elementary, where the Barahona children, she said, “fell through the cracks.” She indicated that teachers had been told not to attend the service.
The children were taken out of school last year by their adoptive parents.
Muniz also urged that policies at the Department of Children and Families be changed to prevent similar tragedies in the future.
Standing next to a photo of a smiling Nubia during the memorial service, Muniz fought off tears as she read from a poem titled “Little Angels:”
“So when a child departs, we who are left behind, must realize God loves children. Angels are hard to find.”
The latest on the horrific case of Nubian d Victor Barahona is one that tears at the very fiber of the family. In the Palm Beach Post the biological aunt and uncle were interviewed and their fight to gain the custody of these two children is something straight out of a horror movie.
For years Ana and Isidro Reyes told anyone who would listen that Nubia and Victor belonged to them. They belonged to family not strangers. They used their three successful adult children as evidence that they would be very loving parents to their twin niece and nephew who at that time were toddlers.
They were also very financially stable and could and would provide a great home for the children. And they kept repeating that they were blood kin. Ana stated in one of her many questionnaires that she would “protect them with her life.” In another questionnaire Ana stated that one of her favorite ways to show her adult children how much she loved them was to do some of the things she had done for them when they were babies.
However, due to the fact that if they did obtain custody of the children, the State of Florida and DCF would lose. The reason was simple the Reyes lived in another state. They lived in Houston Texas. All Federal Funding would be transferred to that state under the Interstate Clause of Title IVB Funding. DCF could not afford to lose that money; neither could the juvenile court who also received a cut. It didn’t matter that the Guardian ad Litem stated over and over that the children didn’t need to be adopted by the Barhanona’s. It didn’t matter that “blood family” wanted these children all that mattered was the money.
DFCS used the excuse that the children had bonded with the foster family. Funny thing, when they were placed in that home, the Barahona’s were strangers too. They used all the normal excuses to keep the Reyes out of the children’s lives. They used every piece of red tape they could come up with to keep the children in Florida, there was too much to lose if the money went to Texas.
While the Reyes plodded through all the reams of paperwork DCF forced on them, DCF in turn wrote egregious reports stating in glowing terms how the children had bonded with the Barhaona’s . This was the hot button in the corrupt arena of child welfare in Florida as well as on the National level. To add insult to injury the State of Florida passed a law in 2006 which eliminated preference for relatives in child custody cases in which children removed from homes were not immediately placed with relatives. They made sure they were not placed with relatives.
To add to the roadblocks the psychologists hired by DCF state that the children had bonded with the Barahona’s but yet Nubia’s teachers were stating that she was coming to school dirty, hungry , bruised or unkempt. The psychologist had a vested interest in keeping the children where they were as she was also getting a cut from the federal funding through DCF.
When the rights to the children were terminated, daughter of Ana Reyes stated, “I honestly feel that these children have no better place than with my parents.”
Florida – Miami- Dade DCF not only lied, they falsified, and killed one child while almost killing another simply because of greed and corruption.
Posted: Feb 25, 2011 6:05 PM EST
Updated: Feb 25, 2011 8:46 PM EST
Ty’ionna Barfield and mother (Source: JC Battle and Sons Funeral Home)
NORTH COLLEGE HILL, OH (FOX19) – Job and Family Services and the North College Hill Police Department are investigating the death of a 7-month-old foster child.
Brian Gregg, a spokesman with Job and Family Services tells FOX19 the Child, Ty’ionna Barfield, died in her foster home on February 18th. Police were called to the foster home just before 10 p.m. on the 18th after a report that Ty’ionna was not breathing. An officer performed CPR on the child until emergency workers got there and took over. The infant died in the home.
The child had been placed in the foster home just two weeks earlier. According to Gregg, the cause and manner of death has not been released at this time.
According to a prepared statement from Job and Family Services, Ty’ionna was placed into a Lighthouse Youth Services foster home on February 4th and was visited by a worker from Lighthouse the following day. The statement also states the child was visited four days later, then again on February 11th, and was then seen by a pediatric nurse on February 14th.
In a statement, Moira Weir, Director of Hamilton County Jobs and Family Services says, “We are working closely with investigators to get to the bottom of this matter as quickly as possible, for the sake of the family, the agency and this community.”
Since the infant’s death, the other children living in the foster home have been removed until the investigation is completed