On Monday February 14,2011 a red truck was spotted on the shoulder of I-95 in Palm Beach county. When the police arrived they began to unravel a tapestry of lies, deceit, abuse and murder. In this truck was a man by the name of Jorge Barahona and a ten year old boy by the name of Victor Barahona, the man’s adopted son.
At first emergency personnel were so concerned with removing the injured man and boy and the fumes coming from within the truck, they didn’t notice a large plain black plastic garbage back in the back of the truck. It was only after the tow truck driver had been called to remove the truck and had moved that bag to the front seat that the tapestry really began to unravel. The tapestry which took the life of Victor’s twin Nubia and has probably destroyed Victor for life.
The events of this tapestry start in 1996 when Carmen and Jorge Barahona decide they would make good foster parents. They contact the Miami – Dade Department of Children and Family services and apparently from all indications go through all the proper motions and are given the blessing of DCF to become foster care providers. They also wrote the Governor of Florida Charlie Crist and urged him to speak on their behalf.
In a long single spaced letter to the Governor in 2007, the Barahonas portray themselves as loving and misunderstood parents, and suggest they had been the victims of a witch hunt by a guardian ad litem for their twins (Victor and Nubia) and wanted intervention from the Governor. She states “If we have done anything wrong, then let us be held accountable for it, which we have not done anything to (these children). …. “Just give them all the Unconditional Love a father and mother have for them.”
They also wrote a letter to the overseer of the adoption and stated, “We have never had any problems with any caseworker or anyone else that has been assigned to our home. Now we understand we are being taken to court on …. Allegations… This is being done behind our backs. All we would like is to be treated fairly; we feel that we deserve at least that much. We love our children very much and we will do whatever we need to do for them.”
Then they wrote the Governor and stated. “It has taken us ten years as foster parents to build our family. Our home has never been an in and out home for foster children. The twins, have already built a bond with us. There has never been any neglect on our part …. We are being falsely accused of these things by Mr. Neumann”, with whom they had “a personal conflict from the beginning because of his arrogance and smart remarks.”
The Gov. forwarded this letter on to DCF. Then the next August they wrote again of a June Court hearing on removing the children from the home, “We were humiliated, in front of everybody, we were portrayed as dirty and uncaring parents… How long is this going to continue?”
Apparently this letter was also forwarded because five months later the Gov received another letter in which Carmen stated, “After my second letter to you, we saw hope, regarding our situation. Hopefully the next time we write to you it will be to let you know that we have finalized the adoption.”
The Guardian ad litem tried unsuccessfully to keep the children from being adopted by the Barahonas, due to the fact that DCF had received four calls from the time they had placed the children in the home up to the day they wanted to adopted them.
This enabled them to earn thousands of tax payer dollars which are non taxable under Title IV-B Funding and the Adoption and Safe Families act which was signed into law by Bill Clinton in 1996. In 2004 Nubia and Victor came into that household as foster children. Once the children were adopted they would continue to receive money for them every month until they turned 18 years old. Plus they would receive additional monies if the children were special needs.
Then a year later the reports started coming into the hotline and DCF office from teachers in the school about Nubia’s condition.
According to records, there were red flags all over the map with these two people. There were sixteen calls to their house by law enforcement and DCF from 1996 until Feb 11,2011. On two occasions when the police went out to the home they didn’t even bother to write up a report. This was a home which housed children who had been taken from their biological parents. In 2005 a called was placed to DCF by the school who told the caseworker’s hotline that Nubia the child found dead in the truck smelled bad, had bruising on her face, acted as if she was starving and had missed 17 days of school. When Carmen was questioned about the bruising she stated that she didn’t know how Nubia got the bruise. Then she went one step further and stated that the children had been acting up since they had returned from a supervised visit with their father.
When an investigator talked to Nubia, they found her unresponsive about her home life. A Red flag for sure.
DCF was also told that Nubia was very skinny and her hair was falling out. At this point DCF should have asked for medical records when Carmen told them she had a medical condition. On one occasion she even came to school with caked applesauce in her hair. When DCF finally showed up at the home two weeks later, the bruising was already gone, the report stated that all appeared well in the home.
On Feb 10,2011 a therapist at the school where the biological granddaughter attended school called the hotline once again and stated that the granddaughter had told her therapist that there was abuse against the twins at the home and that she had been told not to tell “family secrets”. She told her therapist about the twins being tied by their hands and locked in a bathroom or made to stand in trash cans. On Feb 10th Andrea Fleary the caseworker went to the home. She was told by Carmen Barahona that she was separated from her husband Jorge and had been for six months and she didn’t know where he or the twins were. That was yet another red flag. On Friday Feb 11th Fleary went back out to the house and this time Carmen’s autistic adopted son tried to tell her the twins were being abused and Carmen made him go to another room until Fleary left. Fleary never went back and on Monday Nubia was dead and Victor was almost dead. On Monday the 14th after Victor was found and before Nubia was found in the bag, Andrea Fleary went back to the house to remove the two remaining children one of them the autistic child who tried to warn her of the abuse.
At an emergency hearing the judge asked Andrea Fleary why she didn’t go back to the house after Friday. The response was “We don’t work on weekends.” Fleary was a 22 year veteran with DCF. She knew better than to make that kind of remark. They work 24/7.
There are several questions one has to ask here – Why didn’t Fleary go back or why didn’t she hand the case over to the on call person that weekend? Why didn’t she leave the home and go straight to the police station or place a call to them to come to the house and find the children? She had that authority. They have done it on less evidence. She not only had “reasonable suspicion”, she in this case had “probable cause”. She should have put a BOLO out on the truck and Jorge and the children. Again children have been taken for less. At no time did any caseworker write anything but glowing reports of how healthy and well adjusted the children were in this home. WHY? In each report the DCF has released about the Barahonas and the allegations of neglect they describe themselves as “loving parents”.
In a handwritten letter by Carmen Barahona to a parent whose rights had been terminated she wrote “ I know it must be very difficult to give up your child but please know that we will try and be the best parents we can possibly be to your child. We will give him a good home and family life and all the love he could possibly need.” REALLY! The question begs to be asked would that child have been better off with his biological parent?
Immediately David Wilkins the new Head of DCF stated that there would be an investigation and that Andrea Fleary had been put on paid administrative leave. He even went so far as to post a letter to the editor in the Palm Beach Post which read “Words alone cannot express the sorrow each Department of Children and Families employee fees when any child in any situation dies. The circumstances surrounding the death of Nubia Barahona, whose body was found Monday off of Interstate 95 in Palm Beach County, have stunned us all. I know I speak for all department employees when I share our pain and condolences for this senseless loss of life.
Our prayers and hopes are with Victor Barahona as he struggles through recovery from his injuries. I know that everyone is confident that the world – class staff at Jackson Memorial Hospital is providing the most thorough and passionate care for his survival.
It is our mission to protect the state’s most vulnerable children and families. This case has proven that, despite the best efforts of this department, our community partners and so many others, it is impossible to prevent evil people from doing evil things.
Our immediate priority is to work with law-enforcement officials and ensure the safety and well being of the other children who were exposed to a life that none of us can imagine. The degree of this tragedy only would be exacerbated if we did not immediately review the history of this family life. We will study it for lessons that may allow the hardworking professionals for the department and our partners to have the knowledge and training to pursue their challenging jobs. We have begun gathering the facts, and we will be sharing those with the public, as soon as possible, to fulfill our critical duty to be accountable. We also have begun a review of the case that will provide a consolidated narrative of the many challenges these children faced.
I have also asked our leadership team to begin assembling an outside review, to allow an independent analysis of any issues- post-adoption support for families, communications between the department and our partners and training for workers- that will help us to continue its mission for all Floridians, and we will continue with our collective diligence and professionalism and passion.”
Now while this letter is admirable, it is too little too late. The signs he talked about were already there but no one was paying attention. The abuse started almost as soon as they children were placed in the home as foster children. On more than one occasion someone tried to tell and no one listened.
David Wilkins is the third head of DCF in almost as many years. Granted he has only been on the job for a couple of weeks, but the corruption, abuse and greed has been going on so much longer. The judge approved the adoption because that court received Federal Funding under the Adoption and Safe Families act for that adoption. The DCF office of Miami Dade County received a bonus for the same reason. The caseworker who helped finalize that adoption also received a bonus also for the same reason under the Adoption and Safe Families act.
Lastly, they ie David Wilkins and DCF claim their caseworkers are under paid and over worked. That is a lie. They would not be over worked if they didn’t steal children for profit. They are not underpaid, the average salary is over 35,000 per year plus bonuses. The fact of the matter is two lives are forever changed because of greed and corruption.
Since this happened Andrea Fleary has been fired from DCF she should be criminally charged as an accessory for the murder of Nubia and the attempted murder of Victor. Once again these children were not kept safe.
Carman Barahona has filed for a divorce from her husband- She should also be charged, Allesandra the granddaughter has been taken from her mother, Carmen’s daughter and placed in foster care. The two remaining adopted children were also placed in foster care. This is almost laughable it were not so tragic. That is like closing a barn door after all the horses have fled. It does no good the damage is done.
I will be following this case very closely and posting more as it comes out in the open. The system is broken.