Shaun Tara and 5 siblings

shaun tara
Shaun Tara, age 6, and his 3-year-old sister Delylah Tara, were murdered by their relative, Tami Joy Huntsman, and 17-year-old Gonzalo Curiel (a statutorily nonconsenting minor who lived with her). Huntsman and Curiel also tortured Shaun’s 9-year-old sister F.T. Huntsman’s 15-year-old son and 12-year-old twins also lived with them. At the time of his death, Shaun was enrolled in Monterey Charter Home School.

F.T., Shaun, and Delylah were the children of Vivian Saucedo, who was killed in a car crash in December 2013. The children’s biological father, Shaun Daniel Tara, cared for them until he went to prison in early 2014. Then he sent them to stay with Huntsman, his cousin. In January 2015, Curiel (then age 16) moved in with Huntsman. Child protective services visited their home four times in 2015 due to reports of child neglect (called in by Huntsman’s 12-year-old daughter and various neighbors), but the investigators did not find any evidence of abuse. Shaun and Delylah were killed around late November or early December 2015, and Huntsman and Curiel concealed their bodies in a storage locker in Redding, California. The family then relocated to Quincy, CA, where the abuse came to light after neighbors noticed F.T. locked in a car outside their home and called the authorities. When F.T. was rescued she had “missing teeth, broken bones, and open sores” and she was immediately hospitalized. Investigators then determined Shaun and Delylah were missing and later discovered their bodies. Huntsman was charged with murder, torture, child abuse, and mayhem. Curiel was charged as an adult with the same crimes.

Date: December 11, 2015
Salinas, California Continue reading

16 Children of Jonathan and Allison Schumm

Five children between the ages of 5 and 16 were physically abused by Jonathan Robert Schumm and Allison Nicole Schumm. Jonathan Schumm was a Topeka Councilman, Allison Schumm blogged extensively about their lives, and the Schumms had received an Angels in Adoption award in 2013. They had 4 biological children and 10 adopted children (two sibling groups of 5, adopted in 2008 and 2013), and were fostering 2 additional children when they were arrested. The Schumms’ biological children were homeschooled, and the adopted children were removed from public schools to be homeschooled as soon as their adoptions were finalized.

Between October 7 and October 11, 2015, Jonathan Schumm beat his 12-year-old adopted son, lacerating his eye, then choked him and threatened to kill him. The family had been previously investigated by child protective services in 2013 during their second adoption proceedings after the same boy’s foster family reported bruising on him and abuse of the other children. In her blog, Allison Schumm describes placing her other children with a relative during the CPS investigation so that they could not be questioned. The reports were ruled unfounded. Schumm also describes forcing some of the adopted children (younger than 10 years) to carry heavy burdens across the yard as punishment.

Jonathan Schumm was charged with one count of aggravated battery or child abuse for the 12-year-old and four counts of child endangerment for an incident that took place on October 31. Allison Schumm was charged with the same crimes, though as an accomplice. The children were removed from their home by child protective services.

Date: November 19, 2015
Topeka, Kansas Continue reading

Victoria Evans, Alloma Gilbert, and Christopher Spry

Victoria Evans (left, b. 1986), Alloma Gilbert (center, b. 1986), and Christopher Spry (right, b. 1989) were tortured, starved, and imprisoned by their adoptive mother, Eunice Spry. All three were homeschooled starting in 1994. Spry’s other children—two older biological daughters; two adopted daughters, Charlotte and Sarah; and others—were not abused.

Spry took Victoria in as a baby, later officially adopting her, while she took in Alloma and Christopher as foster children in 1992. After Spry moved them to an isolated farm in Eckington, Worcestershire, removed them from school, and changed their names, the abuse began in earnest. Spry beat them, strangled them, and prevented them from getting medical care for their injuries. Sometimes she starved them; at other times she forced them to eat cat food, vomit, and feces. She punished them with extreme physical labor and made them sleep in the barn or locked them in the attic for months. When Victoria was injured after a car accident, Spry forced her to remain wheelchair-bound for years despite her recovery. Spry, a devout Jehovah’s Witness, was convinced that Victoria, Alloma, and Christopher were “Devil children”.

The abuse came to light in December 2004 when Victoria reported it to a friend at church, who helped her escape and tell the police. Spry was arrested in February 2005 and convicted of child abuse in 2007. She was released from prison in 2014.

Date: December 2004
Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire, UK Continue reading

4 Children of David and ReJeana Moss

david and rejeana moss
Two girls, ages 11 and 13, and a mentally disabled 17-year-old boy were imprisoned, starved, and physically and sexually abused by their adoptive parents, David V. Moss and ReJeana Moss. Their 9-year-old adopted brother was not abused. The children were homeschooled.

The children were adopted around 2004, but the abuse did not begin until 2011 shortly after the Mosses’ two biological sons, who also report being abused, left the home. The three older adopted children were kept locked in their rooms with a bucket for a bathroom. The windows were boarded up and they were not given enough to eat. They were beaten so frequently with a paddle that it had bloodstains on it. The two girls were also sexually abused by David Moss.

The abuse came to light in August 2013, when the two girls managed to escape from their room, took their parents’ car, and crashed it. They reported the abuse to the police during the investigation of the crash, and the four children were removed from the home in September 2013. The Mosses were indicted on several counts including kidnapping, assault, child endangerment, and sexual battery.

Date: August 26, 2013
Dorset Township, Ashtabula County, Ohio Continue reading

Pridine Fru

Actress and talk-show host Pridine Fru (right) was imprisoned and physically and sexually abused by her adoptive parents, Joseph (seated) and Evelyn (left) Djoumessi, from the time she was illegally adopted at age 14 until she was rescued at age 17. During this time, she was forced to live in the Djoumessis’ basement and work as their slave, responsible for all housework and childcare. Though the conditions of the adoption—which occurred under a false name and with a fraudulent passport—included sending Pridine to school, the Djoumessis did not do so and instead homeschooled her. However, the only thing they contributed to her education was to check a GED book out from the library.

Pridine was originally adopted in 1996 from the Djoumessis’ native Cameroon under an arrangement with the girl’s parents whereby Pridine would help provide childcare and in exchange the Djoumessis would send her to school. Instead they enslaved her. She was not allowed to use the showers in the house; she was prevented from ever leaving the house by threats and intimidation; she was beaten with a belt, a spoon, and a shoe; and she was raped several times by Joseph Djoumessi. In January 2000, when she learned that the Djoumessis intended to send her back to Cameroon and bring over another girl, she escaped to seek help from her neighbor, who reported the abuse to the police in February.

The Djoumessis were each charged with child abuse, kidnapping, and conspiracy to kidnap, although the two latter charges were later dropped. Both were found guilty of child abuse and sent to prison. Joseph Djoumessi was also found guilty of criminal sexual conduct.

Date: February 24, 2000
Farmington Hills, Michigan Continue reading

Stacy and Jeremy Beckman

stacy and jeremy beckman
Stacy Beckman, age 10, and Jeremy Beckman, age 8, were imprisoned, starved, and physically and sexually abused by their foster parents, Shane and Judy Huxoll. The children had been pulled from school to be homeschooled, which “mostly consisted of crossword puzzles, math problems and learning how to tell time…Every wrong answer resulted in a beating from Shane.”

Stacy and Jeremy were removed from the home of their neglectful birth mother, Cindy Beckman, when Stacy was 4 years old. The Huxolls cared for the children at first, but the situation soon escalated into an abusive one. The Huxolls “kept [Stacy] locked in her bedroom without blankets or clothing, beat her almost daily with a leather belt, kicked her in the face, pulled her hair out and did not feed her for up to 48 hours at a time.” She was also raped by Shane Huxoll. Stacy weighed 51 lbs. when she was rescued.

When Stacy discovered her brother was receiving similar treatment, she escaped from her prison through a hole in the rotted floor. She was found by a neighbor, who called the police. The Huxolls were each charged with child abuse causing serous bodily injury. They made a plea deal and were sentenced to four years in prison.

Date: April 1995
Greeley, Colorado Continue reading

Children of Christine Baughman

christine baughman 3
An 11-year-old boy was physically and emotionally abused by his adoptive mother, Christine Evelyn Baughman. The boy’s adoptive father, pediatrician Henry Baughman, has not been charged. The boy and his brother were adopted from Ukraine in 2013. The Baughmans’ four children were homeschooled, according to Christine Baughman’s Pinterest profile.

The abuse, which included beatings with a belt, came to light after an anonymous tip brought child services to the home for a welfare check on November 22. Officials then arranged an interview with the boy, who disclosed the abuse. Baughman was charged with cruelty to children.

Date: November 25, 2014
Ringgold, Georgia Continue reading

10 Children of Dave and Wonda Dixon

dave and wonda dixon
Ten special-needs children—six boys ages 14, 14, 12, 8, 8 and 3; and four girls ages 12, 10, 5 and 5—were physically abused by their adoptive parents, Dave and Wonda Dixon. They were beaten with paddles, switches, and a water hose. The 12-year-old girl was singled out for abuse and was starved and deprived of medical care; her parents urged her siblings to hit her. After teachers reported her emaciated appearance to child services, the Dixons removed her from school to homeschool her.

The abuse came to light when a child services investigator saw the girl in August 2013 and ordered her hospitalization. She weighed 57 lbs. when she was rescued. The Dixons were indicted that October on charges of injury to a child and imprisoned. The children were removed to foster homes.

Date: August 21, 2013
Lubbock, Texas Continue reading

5 Children of Jessica Banks

jessica banks
Five girls, ages 4 to 11, were starved, beaten, and sexually abused by their adoptive mother, Jessica Banks. The girls were removed from public school in 2004 shortly after their adoption. Banks was the pastor of the Word of Life Apostolic Church, a “satanic cult” where the girls were homeschooled.

The children began living with Banks in 2000 after they were removed from their abusive birth family. Banks made them sleep in an unheated room in her garage and wear two layers of diapers under long black dresses. The girls were beaten daily with various objects, forced to eat spoiled food and clean Banks’ house. Banks drugged them with sleeping pills and raped two of them while the others watched.

Banks was arrested after one of the girls, age 6, was found emaciated and bruised on the pavement near the church. Banks was sentenced to life in prison.

Date: June 2005
Moreno Valley, California Continue reading

4 Children of Sylvia and Michael Wenger

michael wenger
Four children—Richard Felsch (right), b. 1988; his twin sisters, b. 1987; and an unrelated boy, b. 1995—were imprisoned and physically and sexually abused by Sylvia and Michael Wenger (left), their adoptive parents. The children were homeschooled. It is unknown whether the Wengers’ biological children were also abused.

Three of the children were placed with the Wengers in 1996 after they were abused in their biological mother’s home. The fourth boy later joined them. At the Wengers’, the children were beaten with boards, “forced to stand in a corner for hours, locked into closets and force-fed for punishment.” The twin girls and the youngest boy were also repeatedly raped by Michael Wenger, who had begun dating his wife Sylvia when she was 14 and he was 21.

The abuse came to light in 2001 when one of the girls escaped and reported it to the authorities. The Wengers served 7 years in prison.

Date: 2001
Chewelah, Washington Continue reading

28 Children of Kathy and Dan Blackburn

Twenty-eight children adopted from Haiti (ranging in age from infant to 11 years when adopted in 1987), several with special needs, were neglected and physically abused by their parents, Kathy and Dan Blackburn. Several of the girls also reported being sexually abused by Dan Blackburn and, it is suggested, by their older brothers. The children were homeschooled. The Blackburns also had two biological sons (ages 20 and 18 in 1987) who were not abused.

The abuse came to light when some of the girls reported the sexual abuse to Kathy and she filed for divorce. Custody of the children was first awarded to Dan Blackburn but eventually awarded to Kathy Blackburn. Many of the children were subsequently enrolled in public school.

Date: 1995
Shelbyville, Indiana Continue reading

4 Children of John and Margie Cantrell

Four children—Sheryl* (age 16), Harlan* (13), and Callie* (10), along with their 16-year-old uncle—were emotionally and physically abused by their foster parents, John and Margaret “Margie” Cantrell. The children were frequently “homeschooled”—that is, kept home from school as a form of punishment while Margie claimed to be homeschooling them.

The children had been removed from the home of Shauntel Mayo, the mother of three of them, and her boyfriend Jamie Pittman, due to neglect. In 2005 they had been placed with the Cantrells, who had raised more than 30 children including their three biological children. Shortly afterwards, Margie Cantrell went to the authorities with reports that the children had disclosed ritual sexual abuse in a swingers’ club in Mineola, Texas. After 7 people were tried and convicted in the case, in 2008 two of the Cantrells’ former foster children from California came forward to allege sexual abuse by John Cantrell.

The abuse came to light in 2013 when the children’s 21-year-old foster sister, who still lived in the home, reported it to social services, who removed the children from the Cantrells’ home. Sheryl and the 16-year-old boy alleged that she had been slapped, punched, and pulled by the hair and that he had been “spanked with a wooden back scratcher so hard that it had broken.” The children were forced to sleep in an unheated garage and the food pantries were kept locked. The children had not seen a doctor while in the Cantrells’ care. Three other former foster children reported that Margie was controlling and manipulative and would yell at the children and brainwash them into believing stories she made up. These allegations threw the conclusions of the 7 Mineola cases into doubt.

*Not their real names

Date: October 28, 2013
Lake Brenda, Tyler, Texas Continue reading

Jackie Zudis

jackie zudis
Thi My Lan Nguyen, born c.1967 and later known as Jackie Zudis, was sexually assaulted for decades by her adoptive father, George Joseph England (who used the alias Stephen Arthur Seagoe). He kept her in school until she was a teenager—homeschooling became an option around that time, and England pulled Zudis from school, claiming to be homeschooling.

The abuse came to light when Zudis went to authorities nearly 15 years after she escaped from England. In 2011, England was sentenced to 30 years in prison.

Date: May 2005
West Palm Beach, Florida Continue reading

5 children of Charles and Suzan Sealock

charles and suzan sealock
Three children, a 9-year-old girl, a 7-year-old boy, and a 6-year-old boy, were tortured by their adoptive parents, Charles and Suzan Sealock. The Sealocks’ biological child, a 14-year-old boy, and an adopted 3-year-old child were not abused. The children were homeschooled.

The seven-year-old boy was imprisoned in a bathroom for days at a time with only baby food to eat. He was also beaten, pinched and bitten by his parents. The other two children showed similar previous injuries. The abuse came to light when the 7-year-old boy escaped and went to a neighbor for help. The Sealocks were charged with aggravated child abuse and false imprisonment.

Date: August 30, 2014
Dandridge, Tennessee Continue reading

Children by Timothy and Karen Tolin

tolin parentstolins
Three boys, ages 12, 14, and 19, with severe mental and physical disabilities, along with three disabled adults, were neglected by their adoptive parents, Timothy and Karen “Sue” Tolin. The children were homeschooled.

The 19-year-old was autistic and legally blind and was imprisoned naked in a locked crib. There had been previous social services involvement regarding the children being educationally neglected, but HSLDA had intervened and agreed to perform home visits to monitor the children. These visits were apparently not conducted.

The Tolins were charged with unlawful imprisonment and vulnerable adult abuse.

Date: October 20, 2014
Paris Township, Michigan Continue reading

5 children by Patrick and Sherry Kelley

Five children, girls aged 15, 14, and 6 and boys aged 13 and 11, were burned, beaten, starved, and imprisoned by their adoptive parents, Patrick (center) and Sherry Kelley. Their grandparents, George and Shirley Long, knew about the abuse but did nothing to stop it. After the children were withdrawn from school when the family moved to Big Lake, “the Kelleys soon gave up trying to home school them.”

The children were placed with the Kelleys in 1998 after being removed from their parents, who were substance abusers. They were forced to work outside 20 hours a day. They were beaten with metal pipes and shovels. They were sometimes forced to sleep outside in the Alaska winter with no heat. The younger boy, who now goes by T.J. White (pictured at right), suffered burns over a large part of his body which went untreated; he also lost a finger to frostbite and had his arm broken by a beating. The children were locked in bedrooms and tied to beds; the older boy was chained to a tree and imprisoned in a coffin-like sealed box. They were punished for eating and deprived of food.

The abuse came to light when George Long called the police after one of the children received a particularly vicious beating. Sherry and Patrick Kelley were each charged with 9 felonies and 34 misdemeanors; in a later plea agreement they Sherry pleaded no contest to assault and criminal nonsupport while Patrick pleaded no contest to child endangerment. In November 2006 they were sentenced to time served. George Long was convicted of assault and sentenced to time served.

Date: July 9, 2004
Big Lake, Wasilla, Alaska Continue reading

15 children of Bill and Debbie Rettew

bill rettew
Fifteen adopted special-needs children of Bill and Debbie Rettew were physically abused, medically neglected, and denied food as punishment. The Rettews had adopted at least nine other special-needs children over the years in addition to their biological daughter Deborah Autumn Rettew (age 24) and Debbie’s biological son from an earlier marriage, Wilbur Beddingfield (age 32). All the children were privately adopted. The Rettews were conservative Christians and homeschooled all their children but one.

The Rettews first came to the attention of social services in November 1998 when one of their adolescent adopted children ran away from home and refused to return, citing physical abuse by Bill Rettew. The court ordered an evaluation of the Rettew children in June 2000; when the evaluation panel returned its review in November 2001, the children were removed. Some of the adult children who no longer lived with the Rettews reported being “slammed into walls, whipped with a belt, and thrown down stairs.” They “did not have their own toothbrushes, [and] were bathed only once a week.” The food storage area was kept locked—when they were rescued, “the children had voracious appetites and commented on the availability of food in the new home”. One of the girls told the authorities that “she was a surrogate mother, waking up at 5 a.m. to feed and clothe the other children.” The children did not receive adequate medical, dental, and mental health care.

In February 2002, as part of a deal to get some of their children back, the Rettews agreed to a court order that found that “they physically and educationally neglected their 15 children.” The court ordered that most of the children be enrolled in public or private school, that they be allowed ample socialization time as decided by the in-home therapy team, and that they be provided with any medical care or therapy advised by social services. At least three of the children asked that they not be returned to the Rettews; it is not clear how many eventually returned.

Date: November 8, 2001
Greer, Greenville County, South Carolina Continue reading

Children of Martin and Kathleen O’Brien

Six children, ages 9 to 17, were abused by their adoptive parents, Martin and Kathleen O’Brien. Some of the children were homeschooled. The O’Briens’ three biological children (an adult daughter, Diane, and two minor sons) were not abused and were sometimes forced to participate in the abuse.

Four of the children were biological siblings from Russia and two of them were from Guatemala. Following the children’s adoption in 2004, they were subjected to 7 years of abuse, including: being stabbed, sprayed with pepper spray, kicked in the groin, strangled, slapped, forced to stand naked outside in the cold while their family ate dinner inside, deprived of food, imprisoned in a room for days, and forced to kneel for hours on sharp rocks.

The abuse came to light when the children reported it to social services in August 2011. The O’Briens were each charged with 10 counts of felony child abuse as well as several misdemeanors.

Date: August 3, 2011
Lake Geneva, Wisconsin Continue reading

3 children of Kate Parker

kate parker
Katherine G. “Kate” Parker had 7 biological children (Megan, 21; Adam, 20; Emily, 14; Sarah and David, 11; Isaac, 9; and Joshua, 7) and 2 adopted children (Bethany, 5; and Hannah, 4; adopted from the Ukraine in 2010). Parker is accused of medically abusing Joshua, Bethany, and Hannah by lying to doctors and inventing or causing illness or injury. The other children also underwent numerous procedures for medical conditions which were not independently diagnosed. The children were homeschooled.

Joshua (who had spina bifida) and Bethany and Hannah (who both had Down syndrome) all underwent surgeries officials believe were unnecessary beginning in 2007. In late 2012, Hannah was “re-homed,” a legally sketchy practice that involves passing around adopted children, often to people known only through online websites and forums. Meanwhile, Parker used her children’s alleged illnesses to solicit charitable donations online. When Joshua was hospitalized in September 2013, doctors grew suspicious of Parker’s negative response to news that Joshua’s condition was improving. After Parker’s friend notified social services, Parker coached her other children in how to respond to social workers’ questions. Parker’s minor children were removed from her home.

Parker was arrested on April 1, 2014 for “24 counts of first-degree criminal mistreatment, four counts of first-degree assault, one count of child abandonment, four counts of computer crime, four counts of identity theft, five counts of witness tampering and one count of recklessly endangering another.”

Date: September 2013
Grants Pass, Oregon Continue reading

2 children of Emily Miller

Two boys, ages 10 and 9, were removed from the custody of their adoptive mother, Emily Miller, after the younger boy—who had cerebral palsy—was found tied to a urine-filled bucket in the basement. Clad only in a t-shirt and tied by a dog leash, he had been there for at least a day. The older boy, who had learning disabilities, was apparently unharmed. Both were homeschooled and had been pulled from school.

Miller, a longtime foster and adoptive mother of special-needs children, had previously had two of her children die: in January 1993, her 4-month-old adopted daughter Ieisha Dyson had died of a severe birth defect, and in April 1995 Miller’s 2-year-old adopted son DuJuan Miller had died of supposed SIDS. Earlier in 1999, a baby Miller was fostering was found to have injuries consistent with abuse.

Due to lack of evidence of abuse, Miller was not charged.

Date: November 1, 1999
Detroit, Michigan Continue reading

2 children of Sandra and Jeffrey Weller, and 4 siblings

sandra and jeffrey weller
16-year-old twins, a boy and a girl, were beaten, imprisoned, and starved by their adoptive mother Sandra Weller and their stepfather Jeffrey Weller. The twins were pulled out of school to be homeschooled after school officials reported suspicions of abuse. Despite the abuse, the twins “participated weekly in home-school social events outside the home,” according to the Wellers’ lawyer.

The twins were originally adopted by Sandra Weller and her previous husband in California around 1997 and stated that they had been abused as long as they could remember. The Wellers locked them in a bedroom with one mattress, no electricity, and newspapers covering the windows. They were released once a day to eat canned vegetables. Because they were starving, they stole food from the locked refrigerator and pantry whenever they could; when the Wellers caught them, they were beaten with a heavy board. The girl, who was bald from malnutrition when they were found, took the brunt of the abuse and was also strangled and punched in the face. The twins were not permitted to talk to or touch the other members of the family. The other four children in the home—two boys aged 14 and 12 from Jeffrey Weller’s earlier marriage to Tina Toth (who had lived there since June 2011), a 10-year-old boy from Sandra Weller’s earlier marriage to Tim Graf, and the Wellers’ 4-year-old son—were also physically and emotionally abused, especially when they tried to sneak food to the twins.

The abuse came to light when the girl passed a note to her therapist and the police were notified. The Wellers were originally charged with five counts of second-degree assault and two counts of unlawful imprisonment. They were eventually convicted in 2013 of “three counts of second-degree assault with a deadly weapon, unlawful imprisonment, second-degree assault, and four counts of third-degree assault causing bodily harm. Jeffrey Weller was also found guilty of strangulation of the girl twin” and on several counts of abusing his other four children. The Wellers were each sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Date: October 7, 2011
Vancouver, Washington Continue reading

2 daughters of Johann and Kimery Jorg

Two girls, ages 13 and 11, were abused by their adoptive parents, Johann and Kimery Jorg. Both girls were made to sleep outside using a bucket for a bathroom, and they were not allowed to wear clothes. They were forced to run barefoot in the heat for hours and beaten with a wooden paddle as punishment for supposed “lying and stealing”. The older girl’s hair was also shaved off as punishment. They were systematically deprived of food; the older girl weighed only 60 lbs. when they were rescued and she had to be hospitalized. The Jorgs’ other two adopted children, girls ages 8 and 7, were not abused. The children were homeschooled.

The abuse came to light when the Jorgs went to Southwest Behavioral Health Services to seek help with the oldest girl’s “deviant” behavior. They informed the workers of how they had been disciplining their daughters, and the workers called child protective services. The Jorgs maintained that the punishments were in the girls’ best interest and were intended to “train” them. The Jorgs were each charged with four counts of child abuse.

Date: May 30, 2014
Location: Peoria, Arizona Continue reading

10 children of Sharon and Reed Leonard

sharon and reed leonard house

Sharon Leonard struck her ten adopted children with a paddle or other objects, including a plastic pipe, a metal rod and a snow-removal brush. The children told investigators that Sharon had threatened to kill a couple of the boys. They also reported that six of them had been made to stay outside the Leonards’ home from time to time and to sleep in calf huts and the detached box trailer of a truck. The children were adopted from Ethiopia and China. Four of the Ethiopian children were siblings adopted together, and the other three were obtained through disrupted adoptions. One of the three children from China was also obtained through a disruption. The children were homeschooled through a virtual charter school, and their abuse was discovered when one of the children reported it to a teacher. Sharon and and her husband Reed were charged with misdemeanor child endangerment, and Sharon was also charged with felony child abuse, which was later reduced to a misdemeanor.

Date: September 18, 2010
Neosho, Missouri

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6 children of Lora and Aubrey Thomas

laura and aubrey thomas
T.T. (a 15-year-old boy), G.T. (a 14-year-old girl), B.T. (a 14-year-old boy), and E.T. (a 13-year-old girl), were tortured, starved, and sexually abused by their adoptive parents, Lora (or Laura) and Aubrey Thomas, and their older brother Garrett, the Thomases’ biological son. The Thomases also had at least two other older biological children, who did not report being abused.

The Thomases became foster parents to six children in 2001. In 2003, two of the children were removed because they had been abused. The four remaining children were homeschooled.

The Thomases withheld food from the children as punishment. The children were fed bar soap and cayenne pepper and were forced to eat their own vomit if they got sick. They were forced to eat horse manure as punishment for failing to clean the horse pen. They were paddled regularly with a paddle called “Mr. Awesome” and then made to lie in an ice bath to reduce the swelling. They were forced to perform sex acts with Aubrey and perform oral sex on each other in exchange for food. The girls in particular were singled out for abuse and were punished for bed-wetting by having their soiled underwear stuffed into their mouths. Garrett Thomas also forced the children to touch his genitals.

The abuse came to light when one of the girls reported it to a counselor in a psychiatric facility where she had been placed. Lora was charged with four counts of felony child abuse and Aubrey was charged with three counts of felony child abuse and one count of enabling child abuse, also a felony. Garrett was charged with child abuse.

Date: October 14, 2011
Sperry, Oklahoma Continue reading

3 children by Iliana, Rogelio, and Tim Archuleta

10-year-old twins, a boy and a girl, and their 8-year-old brother, were tortured, imprisoned, and starved by their adoptive mother, Iliana Archuleta, and her brother-in-law Rogelio Archuleta (center). The children’s adoptive father, Tim Archuleta (right), knew about the abuse but did nothing to stop it. The Archuletas’ two biological children, a 13-year-old girl and a 6-year-old boy, lived in the home but were not abused. The Archuletas also operated a day-care facility, though none of their charges were abused. The Archuletas had previously been foster parents to two children who were removed in 2007 due to abuse and neglect.

The three children were placed with the Archuletas in 2008 after being removed from their biological parents for abuse and neglect. They attended public school for the 2008-2009 school year, but one of the children kept missing school and child services worked with them through the rest of 2009. The children began attending school again in spring 2010 and continued through the 2010-2011 school year. After they were formally adopted in spring 2011, they did not return to school for the 2011-2012 school year. Iliana told authorities that she was homeschooling them at her day-care facility. One investigator reported that the Archuletas “would say they were taking them to a charter school or were homeschooling them…That’s all they have to say. They don’t have to prove it.”

The children were forced to bite each others’ toes and ears as punishment and then pour bleach into the open wounds. As a result, the girl was missing part of her ear and the boy had an infected toe which had turned into a serious bone infection. There was a lock on the refrigerator and the children had lanugo and other signs of severe malnourishment. They were forced to eat sticks of butter until they felt full, and forced to eat their vomit if they threw up. The children were also made to sleep upright in their parents’ bathtub with the sliding glass door closed and a bucket to relieve themselves. Iliana periodically made them wear diapers and locked them in her office at the day-care facility.

The abuse came to light when Iliana brought the 8-year-old to the hospital after he had a seizure. Doctors noticed the boy’s injuries and called the authorities. Each of the Archuletas was charged with three felony counts of injury to a child.

Date: October 13, 2012
San Antonio, Texas Continue reading

2 children of Erin and Jennifer Pickel

erin and jennifer pickel
Erin and Jennifer Pickel abused and imprisoned two of their five children, a 15-year-old boy and a 13-year-old girl, starting in 2008. There were also two younger children and one child over 18 in the home. All the children were homeschooled.

The children, who were both adopted (the boy in 2005 and the girl in 2006) when the family lived in South Carolina, were periodically locked out of the home and forced to stay in the backyard playhouse, which had no electricity or running water. When they were taken into protective custody they were covered with cuts and bruises.

The abuse came to light when an anonymous tip brought the police to the door. The Pickels were each charged with five counts of felony child abuse and five counts of felony child neglect.

Date: May 29, 2013
Goldsboro, North Carolina Continue reading

3 children of Lev Dzyuba

dzyuba family
Three of Lev Dzyuba’s children, ages 15, 10, and 8, were starved and imprisoned for months by their father and his sisters Alina Dzyuba and Natalia Mellon. The children were adopted from Ukraine in 2012. According to the children’s maternal aunt, their mother Larisa died shortly after the adoption, and they were subsequently homeschooled by Alina and Natalia while their father worked. Larisa’s obituary and family photos indicate that the Dzyubas had four children; it is unknown whether the fourth child was also abused.

The children were rescued after an anonymous tip brought authorities to the house. Dzyuba and his sisters were charged with cruelty to children and false imprisonment.

Date: August 14, 2013
Conyers, Georgia Continue reading

Christopher Smithburg

Christopher Smithburg, adopted from the Philippines at age 8, was physically abused by his mother, Susan Smithburg. Christopher, his 17-year-old brother, and his 10-year old sister were homeschooled.

Christopher got into trouble in school, and was ultimately sent to a boarding school and then homeschooled. His mother put an alarm on his bedroom door, and her use of physical discipline escalated over time. On March 26, Christopher lied to his mother about making toast and was punished by being forced to do 1,500 push-ups. After four hours of push-ups, Christopher could not continue, so Smithburg hit him in the head. The next day, Susan struck Christopher again and the boy ran away from home, camping in the woods for six days until authorities found him and he reported the abuse. Christopher’s siblings were also punished by being forced to exercise excessively.

Smithburg was charged with aggravated child abuse and neglect. Christopher was placed in foster care and reportedly did well both at home and at school. The charges against Smithburg were later dropped after she produced documents showing that Christopher was 18 at the time the abuse occurred.

Date: March 27, 2014
Location: Nolensville, Tennessee Continue reading

Lauren Kavanaugh, and 5 siblings

lauren kavanaugh
Lauren Kavanaugh, also known as Lauren Calhoun, was freed at age 8 from a six-year imprisonment in a closet where she was systematically tortured, raped, and starved by her mother and stepfather, Barbara and Kenneth Atkinson. The Atkinsons’ other children, who ranged in age from 22 months to 10 years, were also neglected; they did not know how to use a toothbrush or a fork, or how to wipe themselves after going to the bathroom. There is no evidence any of the children were enrolled in school.

Lauren was discovered when her stepfather revealed her condition to a neighbor, who called the police. The Atkinsons were convicted of felony injury to a child and sentenced to life in prison.

Date: June 11, 2001
Location: Hutchins, Texas

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3 children of Eraca Dawn Craig and Christian Jessica Deanda

eraca dawn craig and christian jessica deanda
Three children—an 8-year-old girl and two boys, ages 5 and 3—were abused, imprisoned, and starved by their parents, Eraca Dawn Craig (left) and Christian Jessica Deanda, who were domestic partners. The children were homeschooled.

The girl had been chained to the wall with shackles around her ankles and a collar around her neck, reportedly to keep her from stealing food. All three children were emaciated and had hardly eaten for months. The 3-year-old boy was the biological child of one of the women and the other two children were adopted. The women were arrested March 15 on charges of felony child cruelty and false imprisonment and the children were placed in foster homes. Craig and Deanda were scheduled for a preliminary hearing on March 28.

Date: March 15, 2014
Location: Salinas, California

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Shane Graham and 10 Siblings

judith leekin
Shane Graham, age 11, disappeared in 1999 or 2000. He had autism, Down’s Syndrome, and sickle-cell anemia. His adoptive mother, Judith Leekin, is believed to have murdered him and buried him in the yard of one of her houses, although his body has not been found. Leekin also abused 10 other adopted special needs children. Leekin adopted eleven times between 1988 and 1996 in New York before moving her family to Florida in 1998. Neighbors reported Leekin for child abuse in 1999 and the police attempted to substantiate the reports, visiting her houses multiple times, but were never able to observe the children. The abuse was eventually discovered in 2007 when police found adopted daughter Tracey Wells, age 18, abandoned in the parking lot of a supermarket. The police then conducted a search of Leekin’s house. Most of the children were scarred and missing teeth. None could read or write. The children said that Leakin had threatened to shoot them or cut off their heads if they ever revealed her secrets. Neighbors reported hearing Leekin screaming at the children, “cursing at them, the ‘whacks’ of her hitting them and the cries of the children.” Leekin constructed an elaborate surveillance system which allowed her to keep watch on a closed-circuit monitor. Tracey Wells reported “being forced to hide in secret rooms when someone would come to the house.” Leekin homeschooled the children. Leekin was tried and sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Stephen Wells (born in 1987) reported that he was handcuffed, tied up, and forced to sleep on a cold tile floor in a locked hallway, where he soiled himself because he wasn’t allowed to use the bathroom. He was denied education, medical care and food, and  spent his entire life indoors. Jamel Wells (born in 1988) reported that Leekin used a billy club to beat him and the other children. He was also handcuffed to a crib and pistol-whipped by Leakin’s biological son, Desmond Leekin, who then put the gun in Jamel’s mouth and threatened to shoot him. Tracey Wells (born in 1989) said Leekin once punished her by burning her hand on a stove. She also reported that Desmond Leekin frequently beat the children “including with shoes, belts and sticks.” Another of Leekin’s children was an autistic and developmentally disabled girl adopted at age 7. Though she cannot describe her abuse, her siblings have described “her pulling her decaying teeth from her own mouth, the result of a childhood of no dental care.” Another of Leekin’s children was an autistic and developmentally disabled boy adopted at age 5. He is now blind and missing teeth, and his disabilities also prevent him from expressing what happened to him.

Date: July 4, 2007
Location: New York City and Port St. Lucie, Florida Continue reading

Minnet and Jasmine Bowman and Sister

Minnet (age 9) and Jasmine (age 7) Bowman were murdered in 2006 by their adoptive mother, Renee Bowman, their bodies stored in her basement freezer. The murders were discovered two years later when their then-7-year-old sister jumped out of a second-story window to escape imprisonment in her room. She was found by authorities with open sores and lesions on her buttocks and lower thighs, marks on her neck made by a cord, rope or other item and bruises on her hands and lips. Renee Bowman had adopted Minnet in 2001 and Jasmine and the youngest girl (who were biological siblings) in 2004. She received $2,400 total per month in adoption subsidies for the girls since they were considered to be special needs children, and continued to collect subsidies after their deaths. Minnet was originally enrolled in preschool, but after an employee began to suspect neglect Bowman withdrew the girl and decided to homeschool all three of the girls. Bowman claimed that Minnet died of starvation and that Jasmine died in an argument when Bowman pushed her and her head hit the wall. However, Bowman later told a cellmate that she had smothered both of her daughters with a pillow, and autopsy results showed both girls had died of asphyxiation. Minnet died with broken bones in her arms and hand while Jasmine suffered lacerations to her scalp. While the dates of their death are unknown, Bowman’s boyfriend Joe Dickerson claimed that Minnet disappeared in May 2006 and Jasmine in June 2006. Bowman told Dickerson she had sent the girls to another state to live with a friend. With her daughters’ bodies in the freezer, Bowman moved to Charles County, where CPS investigating an anonymous tip found no evidence to substantiate abuse of the remaining daughter. Then Bowman, freezer still in tow, moved to Lusby, where neighbors were unaware that a child was living in her house. When the girl finally escaped, she was wearing only a t-shirt stained with excrement and she reported that she had been beaten with a hard-heeled shoe. She was taken to the hospital and eventually placed in foster care. Police investigating the allegations discovered the other girls’ bodies in the freezer. Renee Bowman pled guilty in September 2009 to charges of first-degree child abuse in Calvert County and was sentenced to 25 years in prison. In 2010, she was tried in Montgomery County and convicted of two counts of murder and three counts of child abuse and sentenced to life without parole.

Date: September 27, 2008
Location: Lusby, Maryland Continue reading

Colin David Jones

Paramedics responding to a 911 call on Christmas Eve about an “unresponsive” child found that 6-year-old child had physical injuries that suggested foul play. The child was taken to the regional hospital and then airlifted elsewhere for care, where he died four days later in spite of efforts to save his life, and the five other children in the home were taken into Walton County DFCS county. The boy’s adoptive parents, Louis David Jones, 39, and Jami Lea Jones, 36, were charged with aggravated battery and first-degree cruelty to a child. These charges were upgraded to murder after the boy’s death. Both parents were found guilty of murder and sentenced to life in prison. News reports described the family as a homeschooling church-going family.

Date: December 28, 2009
Location: Loganville, Georgia Continue reading

5 Children of Wanda Sue Larson and Dorian Harper

Larsona nd Dorian
Wanda Sue Larson and Dorian Harper were arrested on child abuse charges after they handcuffed their 11-year-old foster son to the porch in November in his underwear with a dead chicken tied around his neck. The foster child and four other adopted children, aged 8, 9, 13, and 14, were removed from the home, which investigators found was littered with animal feces. It is reported that the children were often underfed and hungry and that they were chained to a piece of railroad rail found in the home when they did not finish their homeschool work quickly enough. Larson filed notice of intent to homeschool in March 2012, naming her homeschool the “Eclectic Primer School.” It is unclear when the children were placed with Larson and Harper or where they attended school before being homeschooled. Larson was a supervisor for the Union County Department of Social Services, and is being charged with failure to discharge her duty as a public official as well as intentional child abuse, inflicting serious injury, false imprisonment, and cruelty to animals. The family was reclusive and kept pigs, donkeys, llamas, chickens, turkeys, geese, and other animals.

Date: November, 2013
Location: Union County, North Carolina Continue reading

Hannah, Noah, Mollie, and Josiah Carroll

On September 21, 1992, six year old Hannah Carroll died of severe bleach burns, which covered one third of her body and were left untreated for three days. Hannah, who had Down syndrome, was one of ten special needs children adopted by Kathleen and Timothy Carroll, a fundamentalist Christian homeschooling couple. In the three months after Hannah’s death, three more of the Carrolls’ adopted children died. One month old Chloe died shortly after being returned by court order to the adoption agency that had preliminarily placed her with the Carrolls, and her death was not included in future investigations. The remaining deaths were those of three year old Noah, who suffered seizures, and three year old Mollie, who had mental retardation and severe allergies. When it appeared that Mollie had been dead for 12 hours before her death was reported, officials temporarily removed the remaining Carroll children from the home, returning them shortly before Christmas.

In January 1993 Kathleen and Timothy Carroll pleaded guilty to child neglect in relation to Hannah’s death. They were placed on probation and prohibited from adopting more children without court permission. In June 1993, there was a fifth death: twelve year old Josiah, who had cerebral palsy. The county had an inquest in July where inconsistencies emerged between experts’ testimony and family members’ stories. A judge recused himself amid concerns that he had grown too close to the case.

In August, the couple’s eldest biological son, James, then 17, was charged with involuntary manslaughter; James had been the one supervising Hannah at the time she received the bleach burns that resulted in her death. A new judge ordered Samuel, then 5, and Isaiah, then 11, to be placed in foster care. In October the bodies of Mollie and Josiah were exhumed, and the deaths of both Hannah and Josiah were ruled homicides while the deaths of Noah and Mollie were ruled inconclusive.

In November, James was acquitted of all charges. Kathleen and Timothy immediately turned their attention to regaining custody of Samuel and Isaiah, and were eventually granted home visits. In June 1994, Isaiah implicated James in Josiah’s death. Home visits continued, but the judge ruled that James must not be present. In May 1995, after James had turned 18 and left home, Samuel and Isaiah were returned to the Carrolls. In October 1997, as a result of legal representation by the Home School Legal Defense Association, the Carrolls were allowed to resume homeschooling Samuel and Isaiah.

Date: September 21, 1992, through June 14, 1993
Location: Cedarville, Ohio

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Two Children of Mother and J.S.

Savannah and Selena, both adopted, were subjected to horrific sexual abuse at the hands of their adult brother, Michael, who was also adopted. The couple, described only as Mother and J.S. in court documents, had three additional young adopted children and four additional older biological children. When Selena told their mother about her abuse at the hands of her older brother, her mother responded by disciplining her. Selena then went to school officials about the abuse, and her mother responded by withdrawing both Selena and Savannah from school to homeschool them so that they would not “spread lies.” Fortunately, the school officials had already involved the Department of Child Services, and the children were subsequently removed from the home. As the trial continued, allegations surfaced that both J.S. and Mother had sexually abused the children and that J.S. had beaten the children with a belt. After a trial, the court terminated parental rights.

Date: August, 2005
Location: Knoxville, Tennessee Continue reading

Child by David Allen Goddard

David Alan Goddard molester oc 7
David Allen Goddard homeschooled his wife’s adopted stepsister, T.B., who lived with the family, while his wife worked long hours as a nurse. T.B. came to live with the couple when she was 10, and Goddard’s sexual abuse of the girl began immediately. After years of grooming the abuse went from bad to worse, and by the time T.B. was 15 Goddard was raping her regularly. After T.B. reached out to a family friend via facebook, the abuse was reported and Goddard was tried, convicted, and sentenced to 18 years in prison.

Date: May, 2010
Location: Santa Ana, California

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Erica Lynn Parsons

Erica Lynn Parsons
Erica Lynn Parsons, who would today be 15, has not been seen since 2011, but she was not reported missing until August 2013, when her 19 year old step-brother went to the authorities. Erica’s adoptive parents, Casey and Sandy Parsons, claim that they left her with a biological relative, but their story does not add up and neither Erica nor the biological relative are anywhere to be found. Relatives who knew the family are now saying that the Parsons household was often violent, and that Erica frequently bore suspicious bruises. There was also a previous child abuse case that had been closed. Erica was not reported missing by her school because she was homeschooled from 2005, when she was seven, until her disappearance. When they began homeschooling Erica, Casey and Sandy filed the required North Carolina homeschool paperwork, establishing “Parsons Christian School.” Authorities did not know that Erica did not participate in the required standardized testing in the two years since her disappearance because the state does not check up on homeschools or require them to submit their test scores. As the adoptive parents of a special needs child, Casey and Sandy continued collecting state checks until she was reported missing. The search for Erica is ongoing, and her biological mother has been calling for greater oversight of homeschooling.

Date: August, 2013
Location: Salisbury, North Carolina Continue reading

Child of Wilson and Brenda Sullivan

Wilson and Brenda Sullivan’s 17 year old mentally handicapped adopted son was found caged in a crib by investigators responding to an anonymous tip. He was severely malnourished and weighed only 49 pounds, less than what he weighed when the couple had adopted him at age 7 ten years prior. Two other adopted children, aged 10, were kept in similar cages. The family homeschooled. The couple had been praised for their willingness to adopt special needs children by the governor himself in 1995. Wilson died before the trial was completed, and Brenda was found guilty and sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Date: March 8, 2005
Location: Jacksonville, Ohio

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6 Children of Zion and Glenda Lea Dutro


Zion Dutro tortured and molested his four biological daughters and two adopted nieces over the course of two decades, with the assistance of his wife, Glenda Lea Dutro. Glenda would choose one of the girls and tell her it was her turn to “cuddle” with Zion. The abuse involved sodomy in addition to other sexual acts. The abuse began in 1982 and continued until 2003. Collectively, the girls were raped over a thousand times and lived in abject fear of their parents. The couple, who homeschooled the children, were known as friendly churchgoers, but their squeaky-clean public appearance masked what was actually going on in the home. The girls were homeschooled, and in 1995 they told the pastor of their Pentecostal church about their abuse in a desperate cry for help. He responded by telling the Dutros of their daughters’ accusations and then discussing the matter with a church member who was also a police officer. This police officer then spoke with the girls, violating common procedure in a multitude of ways in an effort to protect his fellow church member. After both the church and the city failed to take action, the torture worsened. The girls were “isolated, starved, tortured, sleep-deprived and beaten.” The abuse only came to light in 2009, when the girls, now grown, once again reported their childhood abuse after learning that the Dutros were looking at adopting children from Mexico. The young women then sued the city for failing to protect them.

Date: January 1, 2009
Location: Antioch, California

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2 Children of Paul and Amanda Lavoe

Paul Lavoe beat his teenage daughter and a teenage relative adopted from Ghana with electrical cords in what one doctor called an “extremely violent assault.” The two girls were enrolled in a virtual school but quickly fell behind in their work because their parents expected them to watch their three younger children while both parents worked each day. The beatings were routine and were often carried out using whatever objects Lavoe had on hand at his motorcycle shop. Lavoe claimed the beatings were punishments for stealing.

Date: April 16, 2012
Location: Milwaukee, Wisconsin

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Child of Ardee Verlon Tyler and Penny Sue Tyler


Ardee Verlon Tyler and Penny Sue Tyler adopted five girls from Liberia in 2005. The couple had two older biological children. The second adopted daughter, age 8 when she first arrived in the family and 10 when the children were finally removed, was singled out for abuse by her adoptive parents. They tied her with a rope during the day and restrained her in the basement at night, beating her, depriving her of food, and once forcing her to spend the night outside in the cold for stealing a cookie. She was also sexually assaulted by her older adoptive brother (he pleaded no contest at trial), and her older adoptive sister cooperated with their parents in restraining her. The Tylers were convicted of child abuse and each received ten year sentences. The Tyler’s older biological son was sentenced to two years and their biological older daughter received a 90 day sentence. The abuse did not come to light until the Tylers were in the process of handing the girl off to another family. The Tylers homeschooled all of the children and a retired teacher who came in to help out with the girls’ education served as a key witness against the couple in court. The other adopted children were also abused—deprived of food and called degrading names—but none to the extent that the second adopted daughter was. The couple asserted that the second adopted daughter was controlled by Satan and that the abuse they subjected her to was for her own good.

Date: October 1, 2007
Location: Fairview, Oklahoma

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2 Children of Ingrid Brewer


Ingrid Brewer adopted two children out of foster care, and reported them missing on January 15 less than a year later. The children, an 8 year old boy and a 7 year old girl, were found laying by a road not far from their home, wearing only light clothing in the mid-20s weather and hiding under a blanket. The children, whom Brewer homeschooled, told the sheriff’s deputies that they had run away from home because Brewer beat them. They reported that Brewer locked them in separate bedrooms while she went to work each day and sometimes tied their wrists with zip-ties, beating them with an electrical cord or a hammer and depriving them of food. Both children had injuries that backed up their claims, including wrist marks indicating zip-tie restraint.

Date: January 15, 2013
Location: Palmdale California Continue reading

Children of Earl and Deborah Dinkler

A 13 year old girl and an 11 year old boy were forced by their adoptive parents, Earl and Deborah Dinkler, to run 15 laps around the property before breakfast each day. This had been going on for four years when the abuse came to light. If Earl and Deborah were not satisfied with the children’s speed, they beat the children with a belt, a miniature baseball bat, and a bamboo rod. The Dinklers also withheld food and water as punishment. The abuse came to light when the girl ran to a neighbor’s house and hid one morning, exhausted, panting, and afraid of being punished for not doing her exercises. Earl and Deborah were found guilty and convicted of cruelty.

Date: August 9, 2007
Location: McDonough, Georgia Continue reading

Child of Todd and Lisa Mortensen


Todd Mortensen is alleged to have sexually abused a 12 year old girl placed in his home. The girl was in the process of being adopted by another family, but when this family began to struggle with caring for her they made private arrangements to place her with the Mortensens. Todd and Lisa Mortensen homeschooled the girl along with two other foster daughters and one adopted daughter. Todd convinced the 12 year old that their sexual relationship was appropriate in the eyes of God by showing her an error on her baptismal certificate that listed him as her husband. The family was Mormon. The girl was not Todd’s only victim, and this was not his first offense.

Date: April 4, 2010
Location: Farmington, New Mexico Continue reading

Esther Combs

Elsa Garcia listens to testimony being given during the hearing.

Esther Combs, originally named Elsa Garcia, was taken from Baptist Children’s Home in Valparaiso, Indiana, by Joseph and Evangeline Combs at 4 months old in 1978. Esther was never actually adopted, although she grew up believing that she had been. Joseph, a Baptist minister, sexually abused Esther and Evangeline beat her with a baseball bat and a hose, burned her with a curling iron, and pulled out chunks of her flesh with pliers, leaving more than 400 scars across her body. Esther was treated as a family servant, and while her parents were ostensibly homeschooling her she was not actually educated. The Combs kept Esther imprisoned in their home even after she turned 18; the abuse came to light after she was hospitalized following a suicide attempt at age 19 and doctors found evidence of prior brutal physical abuse. The Combs were arrested in 1998; Joseph Combs was sentenced to 114 years in prison for kidnapping, rape, assault and perjury, while Evangeline Combs was sentenced to 65 years for kidnapping and child abuse. Esther has since been reunited with her birth parents.

Date: November, 1998
Location:Bristol, Tennessee

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Child of Samuel and Diana Franklin


Diana and Samuel Franklin confined their 15 year old adopted daughter to a chicken coop, required her to wear a shock collar, and restricted her food and water. The girl was adopted in 2007, five years before the abuse was discovered, and was homeschooled. She reported that her long stints in the chicken coop (up to six straight days) and other outbuildings (including a small outhouse) were punishments for not completing her schoolwork or for not doing her chores properly, and that jolts of electricity from the shock collar were likewise a form of punishment administered by her parents. Diana told a neighbor that she was just “doing what the Bible says” when administering such punishments. The girl was also required to perform extensive manual labor.

In November 2015, Diana was found guilty of 28 counts of child abuse. Her lawyer based his defense on the argument that Diana was merely trying to raise her daughter in accordance with her religious beliefs. Samuel’s trial will take place in December 2015.

Date: May 30, 2012
Location: Butler, Georgia

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Child of Steven and Mikelann Renwick

RenwickRenwick 2

A year and a half after Steven and Mikelann Renwick adopted their 6 year old son, he was admitted to the hospital with severe injuries to his head, legs, and body. The boy had been only allowed in the house for meals. He was forced to sleep in the laundry room with the dogs and was locked in the family’s garage the remainder of the day. The child was also beaten regularly, sometimes until he bled. The family homeschooled. Mikelann Renwick served as a pastor at a Holiness church.

Date: August 18, 2010
Location: Tavares, Florida

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Child of Tai-Ling Gigliotti

Tai-Ling Gigliotti

Tai-Ling Gigliotti, an accomplished musician who was employed in a local orchestra, adopted her biological nephew from Taiwan when he was four years old. In 2007, she removed him from school, telling school officials she planned to homeschool him. Whether she followed this with the proper paperwork for her state is unclear. Two years later, at age 16, the boy ran away from home and told of horrifying abuse at the hands of his adoptive mother. Gigliotti had regularly stripped the teen naked and beat him brutally with a board and a hose; she locked him in a bathroom at night and during the day when she went to work. When he ran away the boy was covered with bruises and lacerations and had a broken arm. Gigliotti claimed that the teen was rebellious and that she only acted in self defense. Despite these claims, she was sentenced to fifteen years in prison.

Date: February 11, 2009
Location: Spring Hill, Florida

Dominick J. (Andrew) Diehl

Dominick Diehl, who also went by Andrew, was 13 when he was beaten to death by his adoptive parents, Michael and Karen Diehl. He was regularly tied to the floor of the family’s bus and beaten with rods and a homemade whip as a form of punishment. The couple homeschooled their brood of 17, including 4 biological children and 13 adopted special needs children. Two years before Andrew’s death, the family left their home in Post Falls, Idaho, and went on a road trip that was originally only supposed to last for a couple of months. During these years they lived in their school bus, parking at camp sites across the country. While the family of 19 was on a 2 year school bus trip they had become heavily involved in a fundamentalist Christian faith community in Virginia. The couple was sentenced to a collective seventy years in prison for the beating death of their adopted son.

Date: October 29, 1986
Location: Virginia Beach, Virginia

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