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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April 21st:
Aaliyah Lewis
died on April 21st, 2016

2yo Aaliyah from Florida, USA, died hours after her mom's boyfriend "gave her a whooping" because she had an accident on his bed. "Why? Why would you beat her like that?" Aaliyah's mom said. "She was my only child. She was my everything and I lost her...The only thing she kept (saying) ... 'Mah!' I said 'Liyah!'... 'Mah!'... She was in pain. And I couldn't do nothing about it. I tried, I tried. And she took her last breath in my arms."


Posted by Manya on March 11th, 2017
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April 22nd:
Gabriel McFarland
died on April 22nd, 2014

Gabriel from Iowa was adopted at birth. His biological mom was 16 and his biological dad was 17. The adoptive parents, Heidi and Rachel McFarland, paid the teen's medical bills and legal fees, and even coached her through labor. Gabriel was born on December 28th, and the McFarlands took him home from the hospital. In most places, adoptive parents are granted custody 72 hours after the baby is born. In Iowa, birth parents have 96 hours to change their minds. Gabriel lived with McFarlands until March 13th, when his birth mom demanded him back. She was able to get him back because McFarlands' lawyer didn't file paperwork terminating her parental rights, which is the first step in any adoption. It was a clerical error, and McFarlands were scheduled to regain custody of Gabriel on March 24th. However, on March 23rd Gabriel was murdered by his biological dad while his biological mom was out of the house.


Posted by Manya on March 12th, 2017
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April 25th:
Crown Shakur
died on April 25th, 2004

Crown Shakur was a 6-week-old baby from Georgia, USA, who died of starvation. His parents said they loved him and didn't mean to harm him. Crown was their first child, and they fed him soy milk and apple juice because breastfeeding was against their vegan beliefs. There's no problem with veganism, but babies should not be given juice for the first six months of their life, and soy milk doesn't have all the nutrients necessary for them. Parents who choose to raise their kids vegan can buy soy milk-based formula instead, which has protein, calcium, and vitamins D and B12. First-time parents who are unsure how to feed their baby can ask their pediatrician, or doctors or nurses at the hospital they delivered. When the police were investigating Crown's death, they found his bottle, which was rancid and caked with debris.

The prosecutor said "No matter how many times they want to say, 'We're vegans, we're vegetarians,' that's not the issue in this case ... The child died because he was not fed. Period."


Posted by Manya on February 4th, 2016
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April 26th:
Zyon Thompson
died on April 26th, 2015

3yo Zyon from Virginia, USA, was staying with his mom's friends the last three weeks of his life. They made Zyon eat crab seasoning which gave him diarrhea, and then punished him for soiling himself, using "military torture techniques" such as waterboarding, making him stand with his arms out and water bottles strapped to his wrists, making him hang from a cabinet door, etc. During waterboarding they told the 3yo that his mother didn't want him. There were three adults and multiple children in the house, and Zyon's health was quickly deteriorating, but nobody called for ambulance because they were afraid of getting in trouble. On April 26th Zyon died of dehydration. All three adults blamed each other, but were convicted and sentenced for 32, 27, and 22 years in prison.


Posted by Manya on March 21st, 2017
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April 27th:
Aidan Fenton
died on April 27th, 2015

6yo Aidan from Australia suffered from diabetes. His 41yo mom and 56yo dad took him to an alternative healer who was visiting from China and was offering his services for AU$1,800 at a hotel. The services involved slapping and stretching Aidan's body to drive out toxins. "The slapping and stretching work together to clear the meridians of blocks and help the body get rid of disease," explained the self-proclaimed healer. Aidan died that night; the healer left the country, and the parents were charged with manslaughter. "We are losing the battle," said John Dwyer, a University of NSW professor of medicine about this case. "It's terribly important that alternative medicine in Australia is underpinned by credible evidence and science."


Posted by Manya on March 19th, 2017
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April 28th:
Christopher Barnard
died on April 28th, 2008

Christopher was a 4yo boy from Oklahoma who lived with his mom and mom's boyfriend. Neighbors, friends, and relatives started calling DHS two weeks after Christopher was born. They alerted DHS about poor living conditions, marks and bruises on Christopher, and the fact that he was left unsupervised on the front lawn while mom drove away to do some chores. DHS investigated the reports but found no confirmed abuse or neglect.

On April 28th four-year-old Christopher soiled his pants. In response to this, his mom's boyfriend twice punched Christopher in the stomach, and whipped him with a belt. Christopher died of internal injuries.


Posted by Manya on February 12th, 2016
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May 4th:
Kianna Rudesill
died on May 4th, 2011

4yo Kianna from Illinois, USA, was murdered by her foster mother because she spilled some dog food. At the trial, the woman insisted that Kianna's injuries were self-inflicted, that she was a troubled child and a head-banger. She said, "I loved Kianna very deeply. My husband and I made the decision not to give up on her and we never did. We were committed to all four (foster) kids. I spent a lot of time with Kianna; I never hurt her (...) I didn't think it was anything more than a bruise." However, several doctors testified during the trial that the amount of force needed to bring about the trauma Kianna suffered was "acute" and "catastrophic." "She had staples on her head," said Kianna's grandmother. "Her long, beautiful hair had been cut. Her head, body and hands were covered in bruises. The doctors said this was abuse. Who could have hated her so much to inflict this kind of pain on her?"


Posted by Manya on March 19th, 2017
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May 7th:
Kaleib L Higgins
died on May 7th, 2011

2yo Kaileb from Tennessee, USA, was visiting with his dad (whom he only knew for 5 months) in Kentucky. Dad was out of the house, and Kaileb was left with dad's girlfriend and her three children (all under 10 years of age). Kaileb died of multiple blunt force trauma to his head and body. The woman pleaded guilty to first degree manslaughter.


Posted by Manya on March 19th, 2017
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May 8th:
Sanam Navsarka
died on May 8th, 2008

2yo Sanam from UK was abused to death by her mom and mom's boyfriend. She was beaten, neglected, and locked in a cupboard if she cried. At the time of death, Sanam had 107 separate external injuries, including fractures of both legs and both arms. "Sanam had been in a great deal of pain and distress over a long period leading up to her death," prosecutor said. "Her pain and discomfort would have been obvious to anyone who saw her, let alone who lived with her. (...) No doubt Sanam, as a two-year-old child, looked to both defendants to help her and to protect her. Neither defendant did anything to assist or save Sanam from the horrific injuries that she received. Those injuries were not caused during a brief and singular episode of violence by an adult upon a small child."

Sanam's mother was convicted of manslaughter for failing to protect Sanam from abuse, and her boyfriend - of murder. "You did nothing, absolutely nothing," the judge said to Sanam's mother. "That is unbelievable. It is also incredibly cruel. This was a gross abuse of trust by you as a mother. You selfishly put yourself and relationship with [your boyfriend] before your child."


Posted by Manya on March 19th, 2017
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May 9th:
Brittany Legler
died on May 9th, 2004

Lisa M. Iarussi blamed Linda Fisher and a bike accident for the 200 bruises and scarred head, lip and ear that the coroner discovered during his autopsy of 15-year-old Brittany Legler, who died May 9 in Erie Pennsylvania. Brittany had over 200 bruises, it was discovered that around 82 of them were fresh while the rest were in various stages indicating that they appeared to be as old as three weeks. Brittany had a broken rib that was healed, what is called "cauliflower ear" which she got from being hit repeatedly and her lips were so bad that the muscles were starting to degenerate. Brittany's case was said to the be the worst case of child abuse they had seen up to that point. Iarussi, 35, told the Erie Times-News that she used physical punishment to discipline Legler, but never hit her with her fist. The teenager also easily bruised because she was anemic, Iarussi said. Iarussi adopted Brittany after child-welfare officials told the teenager's biological mother that she couldn't raise her six children on her own. According to prosecutors, school officials and court documents, Millcreek Township school officials made numerous reports of suspected abuse to police. Everybody failed her — her family, the system, this defendant," Sambroak said. "Nobody deserves what this child went through. "I am asking you, you are the only one left to give her any justice. It is a shame she has to get it after she is dead," he said.


Posted by weepingwillow on April 15th, 2019
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