Seth Johnson, and 6 siblings

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Seth Johnson, age 7, died of acute pancreatitis and possible sepsis because his parents, Timothy David Johnson and Sarah Nicole Johnson, did not take him to a doctor. Seth’s six siblings, including a 16-year-old brother, were not reported to be abused. Seth was homeschooled.

Seth came to live with the Johnsons as a foster child in 2011. In 2012 the Johnsons adopted him and began homeschooling him. His last medical exam occurred in 2013 and was unremarkable. The Johnsons subsequently claimed that Seth had been diagnosed with fetal alcohol syndrome and reactive attachment disorder, but that they had rejected this diagnosis and self-diagnosed him with post-traumatic stress disorder and a traumatic brain injury. There was no record of any such diagnosis for Seth. According to his parents, several weeks before his death in March 2015, Seth “stopped sleeping, would shake on occasion” and began hurting himself. According to a criminal complaint, when he was found, Seth was underweight and “had bruising on his cheek, forearms, chest, buttocks, and lower abdomen. [He] also had two large lesions on the back of each heel that were consistent with pressure ulcers. Pressure ulcers would not typically be present if a child is mobile.” The Johnsons did not take Seth to a doctor, instead treating him with prayer, Neosporin, and “medical honey”. While the Johnsons were out of town for a wedding, Seth’s 16-year-old brother cared for him and reported that “Seth stopped talking and couldn’t get out of bed.” When the Johnsons arrived home, Seth was unresponsive; they still did not take him to a doctor. The next morning he was dead.

The Johnsons were charged with child neglect after a yearlong investigation in which authorities were unable to find evidence of a more serious crime.

Date: March 30, 2015
Location:
Plymouth, Minnesota Continue reading

Natalie Finn, and 4 siblings

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Natalie Jasmine Finn, age 16, was imprisoned, tortured, and starved to death by her parents, Nicole Marie Finn and Joseph Michael Finn II. Natalie’s 15-year-old brother and 14-year-old sister were also starved, imprisoned, and tortured. An older brother, Alexander Kendal Finn (age 23), and another 15-year-old sibling were not reported to be abused. Natalie was homeschooled.

The Finns divorced in 2011 and were living separately but had joint custody of the children. At least one of the minor children was adopted and Natalie and her sister and brother were reported to have disabilities. Natalie attended an alternative school, Walnut Creek Campus, in the 2014-2015 school year, but was subsequently homeschooled. Natalie often wore the same clothes to school and asked other students for food or money. Once she told a friend she did not have shoes and her feet were blistered. In May 2016, the mother of one of Natalie’s school friends reported to child protective services that Natalie asked her for extra food for herself and her siblings; police went to the home but no one answered the door. Other neighbors reported that they rarely saw the children, and that Natalie had asked them for money, food, and clothes on multiple occasions. According to court documents, Natalie and her siblings were locked in the house and subjected to “unreasonable force, torture or cruelty”.

The abuse came to light when emergency services were dispatched to Natalie’s home after she had a heart attack from starvation. She later died at the hospital. Nicole Finn was charged with first-degree murder; both Finns were also charged with kidnapping, child endangerment, and neglect.

Date: October 24, 2016
Location:
West Des Moines, Iowa Continue reading

3 Children of Joshua and Brandi Weyant

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Three children (JTW, a 6-year-old boy; SRB, a 5-year-old girl; and HRW, a 4-year-old girl) were imprisoned, starved, and beaten by their adoptive parents, Joshua Ross Weyant and Brandi Jene Weyant. The children were homeschooled. Five other children who lived in the home, including a 17-year-old girl, were not reported to be abused.

JTW and HRW are the biological children of Jess David, who lost custody of them due to her heroin addiction. They went to live with Joshua Weyant because he was dating their mother at the time of their birth. SRB was reportedly not the biological child of either Weyant. Joshua Weyant served one month in prison in 2015 for the rape of a child (an incident which occurred in 2013) and returned to live with the children in March 2016. No one outside the home saw the children after summer 2016. According to the school superintendent, “the Weyants were sent a kindergarten registration packet, but because none of the children were of the legal school age of 8-years-old, they did not have to report the lack of response.” Though Joshua claimed to have completed homeschool paperwork, the school district had no record of this. The children had not been seen by a doctor since May 2014.

Beginning in September 2016, when Brandi Weyant fell ill, the children were kept locked in an unheated bedroom while the Weyants slept in a heated room; when they were rescued, the children had hypothermia. The children were found with “dirt, animal hair, urine, and feces in their clothing” and severe cases of lice. JTW had an eye wound caused by Joshua Weyant throwing him across the room. SRB reported that Brandi Weyant had punched her in the face as punishment for drinking tea. Both JTW and SRB were dangerously underweight and doctors reported that they would have died of starvation within a week if they were not rescued. All three children suffered from refeeding syndrome. HRW was also starved and beaten but her abuse was less severe than that of her siblings; Joshua Weyant reportedly favored her over the other two and investigators found a locked room in their house with numerous photos of her but no photos of other family members. Brandi Weyant told police she had asked her husband to “get rid of the children.”

The abuse came to light when police and social services visited the house in response to a tip. The children were hospitalized and the Weyants were charged with assault, false imprisonment, and child endangerment.

Date: December 16, 2016
Location:
Halifax Township, Pennsylvania Continue reading

2 Children of Richard and Cynthia Kelly

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A boy (b. 2002) was imprisoned, starved, and medically neglected by his adoptive parents, Richard and Cynthia Kelly. His older sister (b. 1997), who was also adopted, was not reported to be abused. The children were homeschooled.

The boy, who was reported to have special needs, was kept locked in the basement by the Kellys for two years (from age 12 to 14), where he was denied food, water, and medical care. Authorities described the isolation as “disciplinary in nature.”

The abuse came to light when the Kellys brought the boy to the hospital. He weighed 55 lbs. and was described as “severely and chronically malnourished, dehydrated, suffering from acute respiratory distress, shock, hypothermia, hypothyroid and close to death.” The Kellys were charged with aggravated child abuse.

Date: November 13, 2016
Location:
Helena, Alabama Continue reading

Girl by Robert Wyatt

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A girl (b. 2002) was repeatedly sexually assaulted by her pastor, Robert Duane “Bob” Wyatt, who was also her homeschool teacher.

Wyatt, an assistant pastor at Agape Bible Church, began assaulting the girl in 2014, when she was 12. He told her he loved her and planned to leave the country with her when she turned 18. The assaults continued for two years. In July 2016, Wyatt reported the assaults to the head pastor, Darrell Ferguson, and the girl’s adoptive parents, but all three chose not to report the abuse to the authorities in order to protect the church.

The abuse came to light in September 2016 when a parishioner within the church reported it to authorities. Wyatt was arrested and charged with sexual assault.

Date: September 19, 2016
Location:
Thornton, Colorado Continue reading

14 Children of Daniel and Jenise Spurgeon

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At least 11 children (9 girls and 2 boys, born between 1997 and 2008) were physically and sexually abused by their adoptive/foster parents, Daniel Wayne Spurgeon and Jenise Rae Spurgeon. The children were homeschooled (though at least some had attended school as late as 2008). The Spurgeons’ three biological children (two boys and a girl, born between 2001 and 2006) were not reported to be abused.

Daniel worked from home as a programmer and the family were active in their church and community. The Spurgeons became foster parents in 2004 in Alabama. They adopted five girls (born in 2000, 2000, 2002, 2003, and 2005) and were fostering-to-adopt five more children (girls born 2003, 2005, and 2006; boys born 2007 and 2008). All ten of these children reported being abused by their parents. An additional girl, born 1997, who no longer lived with the Spurgeons, also reported being abused from 2009 to 2013.

The adopted and foster children reported that they were treated differently from the Spurgeons’ biological children. The house had two refrigerators; one contained varied meals for the biological children, while the other contained bread, rice, and beans for the adopted/foster children. The children were punished by being forced to swim laps, do pushups with a parent’s foot on their back, take cold showers, and sleep outside. They were smacked with spatulas and thrown against the wall. They went years without receiving medical care. At least five girls also reported being sexually abused by Daniel Spurgeon.

The Spurgeons left their Alabama home in August 2015 to move to Florida, although they weren’t licensed as a foster family in Florida until June 2016. The abuse came to light when police found three of the girls highly intoxicated in the parking lot of a restaurant. The girls reported that the alcohol was given to them by their father as part of the sexual assaults. The Spurgeons were arrested and both were charged with aggravated child abuse; Daniel was additionally charged with sexual assault.

Date: July 18, 2016
Location:
Cape Coral, Florida; Florence, Alabama Continue reading

3 Children of Echo Terry

Three girls–V.T. (b. 2004), J.T. (b. 2005), and M.T. (b. 2010)–were starved and imprisoned by their adoptive mother, Echo Marie Terry. Their infant sister, Ma.T., was not reported to be abused. The girls were homeschooled.

Terry became the foster mother of the three girls–biological sisters–in 2011 and formally adopted them in 2013. The abuse began shortly after their adoption, in August 2013, when Terry changed their names and withdrew them from school to homeschool them. Terry imprisoned the girls in their rooms and denied them food for long periods of time. She also forbade them from eating dairy, gluten, corn, or soy, despite the lack of a medical reason for doing so. When they were rescued, the girls were suffering from severe malnutrition and dehydration and had bruises and lacerations. The abuse came to light when V.T. escaped in September 2014 and reported it to authorities.

Terry was arrested April 12, 2016, after being indicted on charges of assault and child endangerment.

Date: September 2014
Location:
Anchorage, Alaska Continue reading

3 Children of Jim and Paige Nachtigal

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G.N. (a 15-year-old girl), C.N. (an 11-year-old boy), and E.N. (an 11-year-old girl) were beaten, starved, and tortured by their adoptive parents, Jim and Paige Nachtigal. The children were taken out of public school in 2014 to be homeschooled.

G.N. was adopted in 2011, and E.N. and C.N. were adopted in 2012 (the children were not biologically related). All were adopted from Peru, where the Nachtigals were missionaries. The Nachtigals were “active in business and ministry in the Newton community. Jim Nachtigal serve[d] as the CEO of Kansas Christian Home. Paige Nachtigal [was] a former employee of the Newton Area Chamber of Commerce.” The children described being beaten by the Nachtigals using a board and a cane, and the two 11-year-olds were malnourished and had various broken bones. The children had only seen a doctor once or twice since coming to the United States, and C.N. had a serious heart condition for which he had not received treatment.

The abuse came to light after C.N. was reported missing February 6, 2016. When police found him walking barefoot outside, he reported that he was afraid to go home. A February 9 fundraising post on Paige’s blog announces the Nachtigals’ plan to move permanently to Peru as missionaries. The children were removed from the home February 11. The Nachtigals were arrested February 16 and charged with child abuse, child endangerment, and aggravated battery.

Date: February 8, 2016
Location:
North Newton, Kansas Continue reading

Shaun Tara and 5 siblings

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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
Location:
Salinas, California Continue reading

16 Children of Jonathan and Allison Schumm

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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
Location:
Topeka, Kansas Continue reading