Memorial Wall : victims of child abuse

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This Memorial Wall is our tributes to those who have died as a result of child abuse, domestic violence, rape, religious abuse, or other types of abuse. Some of these people we knew personally, others we only heard of. Abuse is not a theoretical concept, it happens to real people, and costs lives. It's important to honor those we lost to abuse by telling their stories, so that the secret that killed them does not remain secret, and so that other lives might be saved, as a result of increased awareness.
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February 25th:
Victoria Climbie
died on February 25th, 2000

In November of 1998 6yo Victoria from Ivory Coast came to France to stay with her aunt (whom she never met before), so that the aunt would get social security benefits, and Victoria would get an education. Things didn't work out with social security in France, and next April they moved to UK. Victoria was abused and neglected, and numerous people saw that, but she never got the help she needed. For example, workers at social security offices (which the aunt frequently visited to apply for benefits) said that Victoria "looked like a child from an ActionAid advertisement", but they assumed it was an attempt to "persuade the authorities to hand out money." Doctors at the hospitals Victoria was taken to for her injuries reported the problem to CPS, but the aunt said Victoria had scabies, and CPS cancelled the follow. In August a social worker spoke with Victoria on four separate occasions for a total of less than 30 minutes (so about seven and a half minutes each time). This social worker visited their flat three more times between December and January, but received no answer and assumed they must have moved back to France. In February CPS wrote to the aunt saying that if she doesn't respond, they'll close the case. A week later they closed the case; it was February 25th, the same day that Victoria died.

8yo Victoria was forced to sleep in a bathtub in her own excrements, had been burnt with cigarettes, tied up for periods of longer than 24 hours, and hit with bike chains, hammers and wires. She died of hypothermia, multiple organ failure, and malnutrition, and had 128 separate injuries and scars on her body at the time of death. During her life in Britain, Victoria was known to four social services departments, three housing departments, two child protection police teams, two hospitals, an NSPCC centre, and a few local churches. Her death led to a public inquiry and produced major changes in child protection policies in the United Kingdom.

Posted by Manya on March 18th, 2016
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February 28th:
Eric Dean
died on February 28th, 2013

Eric died Feb. 28, 2013. Amanda Peltier was caring for him at her Starbuck home in February 2013 when she allegedly became upset with the boy and launched him across a room. Eric reportedly fell ill that night and into the next day before an ambulance was called to the home late Feb. 27. The boy was airlifted to St. Cloud Hospital, where he died early the next morning. Throughout the trial, testimony and evidence revealed a pattern of physical abuse the boy suffered. Medical Examiner Michael McGee testified that based on the injuries he saw during the child’s autopsy, he believed Eric was an abused child and the manner of death was homicide. District Judge Gerald Seibel handed down a life sentence to Peltier

Posted by Jane on June 18th, 2018
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March 1st:
Elijah Dillard
died on March 1st, 2014

6yo Elijah from Michigan, USA, was killed by his father. The man beat Elijah on his head and punched him in the stomach for two days, till Elijah passed out. Neither the man nor the mother of the child called 911 because the man believed Elijah was faking it so that CPS would come and remove him and his siblings from the house. Instead, he took the boy to shower (post mortem examination revealed burns), and when that didn't help, the mother (who was about to get certified as a medical assistant) wrapped him in blankets and took him to the bedroom. Elijah died three days later of internal bleeding and brain hemorrhage.

Posted by Manya on March 27th, 2016
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Delcelia Witika
died on March 1st, 1991

Authorities were first alerted to this case by a phone call on the night of 21 March 1991 from Tania Witika, Delcelia's mother. Witika made a call from a local video store to report in a matter-of-fact way that she had just arrived home after "a couple of hours" absence to find her two-year-old daughter dead.

When police arrived, Tania Witika sat outside in a patrol car with Detective Constable Caroline Fisher who says she's never forgotten the coolness and lack of emotion shown by the mother, who casually asked her for a cigarette.

Witika first met Eddie Smith in a South Auckland bar in June 1989. Within two weeks of meeting, Smith had already started to 'knock' Tania Witika around.

Tania kept a detailed diary, which often mentioned Smith belting her, but it also extensively mentioned an enjoyable life with him...Her diary also spoke of her own violence against her daughter. Initially she told police that she alone was responsible for beating Delcelia. Smith blamed Witika also. When Witika found out that Delcelia's injuries included massive sexual abuse, she changed her story claiming Smith was responsible for the major injuries.

The police photographs of the Delcelia's squalid bedroom and her tiny, tortured body remain to this day among the most harrowing, gut-wrenching evidence ever presented to a jury in a child abuse case in this country.

...photographs of the crime scene showed that Delcelia's body was used as a punching bag from one end of the house to the other. Her blood was splattered on walls and carpets. There was a large pool of blood on the sheet less, blanket less mattress she slept on. Vomit had dripped down the skirting board where the little child was sick during her final night alive. Burns aside, some close-up photos of Delcelia's neck showed vicious injuries caused by long fingernails. Photos of the inside of her mouth showed where teeth have been smashed out and the inside of her top lip ripped from the gum. Other photos showed scarring to her head where her hair has been violently pulled over several months.

During the trial Witika claimed she had gone partying with Smith while Delcelia was dying because Smith had threatened to 'waste her' with a steel bar if she didn't go and had also put a knife to her throat and threatened to kill her on the way there. But barrister Christopher Harder, representing Smith, was given a home video of that party which crown prosecutor Mike Ruffin screened in court the morning final addresses were made to the jury.

The video showed Witika happy, smiling and enjoying herself with Smith. It would have been influential to any juror. Witika and Smith were both found guilty of manslaughter and the other counts of neglect and ill treatment.

Both were sentenced to 16-year prison terms.

Posted by Jane on March 20th, 2015
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March 3rd:
Daniel Pelka
died on March 3rd, 2012

Daniel was a 4yo boy from UK, abused and murdered by his mom and her boyfriend. They starved the child, beat him, locked him in a room, force-fed him salt, and put his head underwater in the bath. Both the mother and the boyfriend were convicted of murder; the mother hung herself the day before his 8th birthday; the boyfriend died in prison as well.

Posted by Manya on January 3rd, 2016
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March 5th:
Soren Chilson
died on March 5th, 2013

5yo Soren from South Carolina, USA, died of brain injury while in the care of her mom's boyfriend. According to him, Sorren suddenly had a seizure and started coughing up blood, so he called 911. However, aside from broken skull, she also had bruises on her back, chest, and feet; the man was charged with murder. Soren's aunt said, "I would have taken her in a heartbeat. She was my family. She was my little buddy. Some people just shine. God bless her, everyday of her life, she shined."

Posted by Manya on March 27th, 2016
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Mekhi Patrick Dean Boone
died on March 5th, 2013

As 4 yo Mekhi Patrick Dean Boone lay on a hospital bed hooked up to a ventilator a visiting social worker noted that: "There is not a 2 inch part of his body that doesn't have bruises…he was beat to death". Mekhi was pronounced dead the next day — apparently without family by his side. His father and his father's girlfriend were prosecuted for murder.

Posted by Jane on August 19th, 2018
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March 6th:
Dontel Jeffers
died on March 6th, 2005

4yo Dontel from Massachusetts, USA, was "a very joyful, vivacious young man, full of life, vibrant and spry," according to his family and friends. "He was very energetic and happy, cheerful, you know, and he always liked to play with other kids and be around kids." Dontel's parents were separated before he was born. The first four months of his life he stayed with his mom at a homeless shelter. Then she dropped him off by his dad. Dad took good care of Dontel, but was arrested and deported on drug and violence related charges four years later. Dontel was placed with his mom for a month, then removed from her due to drug abuse and placed with a series of foster parents. He only spent ten days in his last foster home, before dying of physical abuse inflicted by his foster mother.

Posted by Manya on March 5th, 2017
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March 8th:
Gabrielle Randel
died on March 8th, 2009

2yo Gabby from Texas, USA, was living in a Florida hotel with her mom, 3yo brother, and mom's boyfriend. At 5AM on March 8th Gabby's mom called 911 and told them Gabby wasn't breathing. The police was greeted by Gabby's 3yo brother, who had "Dumb A**" scribbled on his forehead by his mom. Gabby was unconscious and died a few hours later. She had multiple bruises, blunt trauma to her forehead, and serious trauma to her genitalia. Mom's boyfriend explained that he wrapped Gabby in a sheet and repeatedly hit her to get her to stop crying. The man was sentenced to 20 years in prison. The 3yo boy went to live with his dad.

Posted by Manya on March 5th, 2017
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March 9th:
Sally Chesebro
died on March 9th, 1978

6yo Sally from Michigan, USA, drowned in a bathtub back in 1978. The death was ruled a tragic accident at the time, but fourteen years later her sister Nancy came forward and explained what really happened. Nancy and Sally wanted to use their mom's nail polish to paint their nails. She gave them permission to do so, but told them to wait till she wakes up. The girls thought it would be OK to paint their nails even though mom was still asleep. When their parents found out about it, Sally took the blame, and was punished the way girls were usually punished in that household: by being made to lie in a bathtub full of ice cold water for long periods of time. That's how Sally died. The case was reopened, and the girl's dad was sentenced to life in prison. Nancy wrote a book about Sally's death, The Walls Of Jericho.

Posted by Manya on March 5th, 2017
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March 10th:
Summer Phelps
died on March 10th, 2007

4yo Summer from Washington state, USA, was living with her dad, stepmom, and baby brother. She had developmental disabilities and stepmom didn't cope with it well. Summer Phelps was beaten, bitten, shocked with a dog collar, burned with cigarettes, denied food and dunked in cold water after being forced to stand in a bathtub for hours washing urine-soaked clothes. Her hair was pulled out in clumps, and her body was covered from head to toe with bruises. Emergency room doctors and nurses who treated her testified during the trial that it was the worst case of child abuse they'd seen. 4yo Summer died on March 10, 2007, submerged in the bathtub. "My house, my rules," stepmom reportedly told police during her interview. "You're not at mommy's house anymore."

Posted by Manya on March 5th, 2017
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March 15th:
Noelani Robinson
died on March 15th, 2019

2yo Noelani from Wisconsin, USA was "extremely joyful and a ball of life," according to her family. "She had a personality out of this world, tiny but feisty," and "could make anybody smile and laugh." Her mom was a prostitute, her dad was a pimp; they broke up when Noelani was born, mom moved across the states, and Noelani stayed with dad. On March 11th mom came to pick her up, but was murdered by dad. Dad was arrested, Noelani was missing, and he wouldn't say where she was. Her body was found on March 15th, by the side of the road, wrapped in a blanket, with a blunt force trauma to her head.

Posted by Manya on May 6th, 2019
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