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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May 23rd:
Jose Castillo-Cisneros
died on May 23rd, 2016

3yo Jose, known among family as Pepe, had developmental delays and often communicated by screaming and yelling. His mom tried to discipline him by spanking, and he responded by smiling and laughing. In March of 2016 she enrolled Pepe in an early childhood special education program, and that seemed to work better. "He was doing so well," his aunt said. "He was learning how to talk and this was his second week at his special school. Today was the first day he didn't cry when the bus picked him up and he got home very happy after school." Mom's 41yo boyfriend, on the other hand, didn't like Pepe. For example, in one message to his brother he wrote "We ended up bad cause of punk ass Pepe. Lil (expletive) ass always yelling wanting everything so I yelled at him and told him to shut the (expletive) up lol. He started crying hella bad too. Like someone killing him." The man had intermittent explosive disorder, history of violence and substance abuse, and used to torture and kill cats as a child. Aside from this man and mom, Pepe had a 9yo sister, and in April his mom gave birth to a third child.

On May 23rd Pepe and his sister were watching a movie, while their mom was doing the dishes downstairs and her boyfriend was in his room. Pepe started crying, and the man beat Pepe, broke a wall with his head, and stabbed him with a knife. Pepe's mom tried to protect him by holding the newborn baby in front of him, so that her boyfriend wouldn't want to accidentally injure his own son, but that didn't help. "You're killing him," she said, and he responded "I know," and "let the dog die". When she told him he would go to jail, he responded "I know, and I don't care." In the end Pepe's 9yo sister called the police, who forced entry into the apartment and found Pepe with a broken skull, in a pool of blood, and his mom injured. "He was only 3 years old," his aunt said. "He did not deserve to die like this."


Posted by Manya on March 27th, 2018
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May 24th:
Gabriel Fernandez
died on May 24th, 2013

Gabriel was an 8yo boy from LA, who died of child abuse and neglect. According to his brother, Gabriel was kept locked in a closet with a sock stuffed into his mouth to gag him, not allowed to go to the bathroom, and forced to eat rotten spinach, cat feces, and his own vomit. He was sent to school in girl's clothes, called gay, and beaten with a club, bat, metal hanger, and belt buckle. He had his teeth knocked out, and went to school with torn lip and black eye. Gabriel's teacher called Child Protective Services several times, but to no avail. On May 22nd, his mother called 911 because he wasn't breathing. When paramedics arrived, they found Gabriel naked in a bedroom, with a cracked skull, three broken ribs and BB pellets embedded in his lung and groin. Gabriel died two days later.

Eight-year-old Gabriel once wrote a suicide note, but authorities dismissed it because it did not include a specific plan to carry out a suicide.


Posted by Manya on February 2nd, 2016
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May 25th:
Timothy Wiltsey
died on May 25th, 1991

5yo Timmy from New Jersey, USA, was a nice and quiet boy, according to his school nurse. He lived with his 23yo mom, and both of them struggled attending school/work. In his first year of school, Timmy was late 63 times, and absent another 25 days. His mom also struggled maintaining a job, frequently being late, calling out sick, or just not showing up without a notice. On May 25th of 1991, Memorial Day weekend, Timmy's mom said he went missing at a local carnival when she turned away to buy a soda. Police officers, firefighters, volunteers, and trained dog immediately started searching for Timmy. The case appeared on TV, and Timmy's photograph was circulated on thousands of missing-child flyers and milk cartoons.

Timmy's remains were found eleven months later, in the woods near his mom's old workplace. Cause of death was impossible to determine due to decomposition, but next to the body were Timmy's sneakers, his baby blanket, and a balloon, all featuring his favorite cartoon characters, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Timmy's mom gave multiple different accounts of what happened, but was finally convicted of murder and sentenced to 30 years in prison in 2017, more than 25 years after Timmy's disappearance.


Posted by Manya on March 21st, 2017
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May 26th:
Mackenzie Maison
died on May 26th, 2015

5yo Mackenzie and her 3yo sister Makayla from Detroit were starved by their parents. Makayla survived, weighing 17 pounds (she was bigger as an 8 month old baby than as a 3yo child), and Mackenzie passed away. Her grandma said that her parents never withheld food, she was just picky. When her mom called 911, she initially also said that she's calling because Mackenzie refuses to eat, and only later admitted the 5yo wasn't breathing. Medical experts have testified Mackenzie was bruised, malnourished, dehydrated and had pneumonia. She weighed 25 pounds. Both parents were found guilty of felony murder in Mackenzie's death, and first-degree child abuse and torture of both girls.


Posted by Manya on February 2nd, 2016
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May 29th:
Asher Lesyshen-Kirlan
died on May 29th, 2013

Asher was a 9yo boy from Colorado who played violin, enjoyed ski jumping, hiking, camping, fishing, and soccer. His parents were living together, but were estranged. On May 27th Asher's mom found out his dad was having an affair. They had an argument where she struck him multiple times, but they seemed to work it out in the end, and he agreed to not divorce her immediately, so that she could keep his health insurance. The the next day seemed to go on as usual, with her going to work and the family eating together, but at 3AM, while her husband was sleeping in the basement, she went to Asher's room and shot the sleeping boy to death, leaving a note to her husband that said, "Remember you are responsible for what has happened here and you are the person that caused it." It was signed, "Lisa & Asher". She then attempted to kill herself too, but survived (though paralyzed), and eventually pled guilty to the murder.

"We did a lot of hiking, a lot of backpack trips. Those are incredibly powerful memories for me," said Asher's dad. "I know every town worth passing through, but what good does knowing do with no one to show it to? I kind of feel that way about Asher."


Posted by Manya on February 27th, 2016
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June 2nd:
Elaina Steinfurth
died on June 2nd, 2013

Elaina was an 18-month-old baby from Ohio, USA, killed by her mom and mom's boyfriend. Elaina was crying, and mom threw her against the wall and then called her boyfriend, who suffocated the baby and hid the body in his garage. Here's a quote from Elaina's father statement to court:

I would like to start by telling the court what kind of sweet baby Elaina was. She was a playful little girl who was full of energy. She loved to swing and would chase her older sister Kylie around for hours. She was also a very loving baby who loved to be held and cuddled. She would lay and nap with me for hours during the day while I slept for work on third shift.

I have many memories I will always keep of Elaina; memories of her playing in the sprinkler in the backyard, memories of her running around at Chuck E. Cheese and playing games. But what I remember most about Elaina is she was a fighter. Due to being born with problems with her feet, doctors said it would take her longer than normal to be able to learn to walk. But Elaina went through months of physical therapy and was walking by her first birthday. Elaina was strong and very determined and that I will never forget about my little girl.



Posted by Manya on June 26th, 2016
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June 3rd:
Wadeema Al Shirawi
died on June 3rd, 2012

8yo Wadeema and 7yo Mira from United Arab Emirates used to live in a studio apartment with their dad and dad's girlfriend. "It smelled really bad and was dirty," the police testified in court. "There was only one bed and the furniture was turned upside down. The girls' clothes stank and there was mess everywhere. The fridge was full of food which was out of date. No one could live in it." The girls' father believed that they were possessed by evil spirits, and, along with his girlfriend, has been attempting to exorcise them for months. Here's how 7yo Mira described this process: "They used wire, bars and a stun gun to torture us. They used to throw boiling water on us and even used a heated iron on my skin for no reason. They used to lock us in the bathroom, tie our hands up and make us eat our own feces." Wadeema died sometime between June 1st and June 5th. Mira was rescued by her uncle, but sustained permanent disability; she's now in custody of her mother, and receiving therapy. The father was executed; his girlfriend was sentenced to life without parole.

Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, ruler of Dubai, visited Mira in hospital in 2012, offered to pay her expenses, and ordered the drafting of a federal child protection law to ensure a secure and stable future for children. In 2016 Federal Law No-3 on children’s rights was issued, and became known as Wadeema Law. It's a 12 page document that lays out the legal rights of minors, establishes punishments for those who violate those rights and allows childcare specialists to remove children from their homes against parents’ wishes and without judicial permission in cases of imminent danger.


Posted by Manya on October 2nd, 2018
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Devin Parsons
died on June 3rd, 2011

12yo Devin from Indiana, USA lived with his little brother and sister, his mom, and his mom's boyfriend. He was an outdoorsy kind of boy, loved basketball, football, fishing, and hunting. Almost every Sunday, he got his little sister and brother ready for church, and they waited for the church bus to pick them up. Devin's little sister called him "the Protector." Their home life wasn't safe; family members, the police, and Devin's school sent a total of 19 reports to Child Protective Services about drugs, violence, and neglect, majority of them being in the last school year. On the first day of school summer break, Devin's mom and her boyfriend beat the boy to death because some of their drugs were missing and they suspected he hid them. Here's a poem that Devin wrote:

Peace is friendship and being healthy
Peace is like the fresh yellow sun
Peace sounds like dogs howling
Peace tastes like candy


Posted by Manya on March 22nd, 2017
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June 5th:
Joylynne Giebel
died on June 5th, 2015

2yo Joylynne from Arizona, USA, lived with her two older brothers, mom, and stepfather. Their mom felt that he was "loving, caring," and said, "Our relationship was awesome. His relationship with the kids was awesome. (...) He never hit me, he never hurt the kids. We never hurt the kids, we love the kids." However, there were at least 5 reports to the Department of Child Safety alleging the adults were dealing drugs and the kids were physically abused and drugged. A caseworker visited the house, but no one was home; she left a business card on their door and didn't follow up.

Joylynne died after her stepfather was "rough housing" with her and "smacked her on the head" to "discipline" her. Joylynne's 4yo brother said 'daddy had hit [her] in the face real hard'. Her head was covered in bruises. Both parents were arrested, the stepfather for manslaughter and the mother for failure to protect her child from abuse and to call for an ambulance while Joylynne was dying. "I sit in my room and cry," said the mother. "I get my bible out, and I pray to God that some light will shine, so that people who know me come forth and tell everybody what a mom I am."


Posted by Manya on March 22nd, 2017
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June 9th:
Suhair Al-Bataa
died on June 9th, 2013

13yo Suhail from Egypt died of FGM, Female Genital Mutilation, a practice that 90% of Egyptian girls are subjected to, that consists of partial or full surgical removal of external genitalia. Suhail's dad took her to a clinic for this procedure, and she died during it. Her grandfather said, "It is God's will. We are not angry with the doctor. The doctor does not want to kill anyone. We are all sorry, and definitely we regret this." While her uncle said, "It has been done in the countryside for a long time. People here are used to it. Without circumcision, girls are full of lust."


Posted by Manya on July 8th, 2016
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June 10th:
Kami Ring
died on June 10th, 2013

10yo Kami from Maryland, USA, was a straight-A student who loved to laugh, sing, and dance. "She loved everything about life," her godmother said. On the first weekend of her school break, Kami attended a local carnival and was staying the night at the home of people she considered her grandparents. She disappeared from her bedroom in the middle of the night, and her body was found the next day just 60 yards in front of their home. Kami was raped, beaten, and strangled to death by their relative who was living in the house at the time. "They would never have even had Kami around him if they knew he was this sick," her godmother said. "We have taught her to scream at the top of her lungs if something ever happened," her stepdad said. "Kami's a model 10-year-old. She was staying somewhere she felt safe."


Posted by Manya on March 22nd, 2017
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