Category Archives: Physical Abuse

One of the 5 forms of Child Abuse

A Knight’s Shield

Retired biomedical engineer bikes across country to battle Child Abuse

Headlines illustrate the Tri-State area’s struggle with child abuse and neglect:

“Hedgesville woman placed on probation in scalding death of her child.”

“Hagerstown man sentenced to 20 years in birthday cake beating death.”

Larry Heyn said he couldn’t stand along the sidelines and say nothing when children are abused.

The retired biomedical engineer is riding his bike across the country to bring attention to child abuse.  Heyn estimated that he talks to about 15 people a day about the problem and refers them to his website at shieldthechildren.com to learn more.

The 67-year-old Minneapolis man departed Mission Bay in San Diego on April 7 and anticipates reaching Washington, D.C., this week.  Heyn neared the Tri-State area biking on the Great Allegheny Passage, then getting on the C&O Canal.

Heyn left the Paw Paw, W.Va., area Monday morning and made his way through Hancock before reaching the Cushwa Basin in Williamsport Monday afternoon.

While Heyn rides, his wife Debi drives a used Winnebago that Heyn refers to as his “sag wagon”.

Debi takes care of the laundry, cooking and making reservations at campgrounds. Larry helps people understand all of the different types of child abuse, whether it’s forced labor or a mother abusing alcohol while she’s pregnant.

Heyn said its troubling the way children are treated, such as the frustrated mother who screams at her child in the grocery store and says she wishes the youngster were never born.

“A lot of this abuse that goes on doesn’t have to go on,” Heyn said.

Heyn and his wife were planning to stay at an area campground Monday night.

Justice For Gabriel, CPS Next

Mother, her boyfriend sentenced in boy’s “beyond animalistic” Child Abuse death

LOS ANGELES, CA  –  A judge sentenced a California mother to life in prison Thursday and gave her boyfriend the death penalty in the “beyond animalistic” killing of the woman’s 8-year-old son, who prosecutors say was punished because the couple believed he was gay.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge George Lomeli told the couple that he hopes they wake up in the middle of the night and think of the injuries they inflicted on 8-year-old Gabriel Fernandez of Palmdale.

Lying Is Part Of What Needs Total Realignment

Four Social Workers Charged

LA Judge Walking Tall Against 4 CPS Employees
Prosecutor Says CPS Covering Up Own Misbehavior

“I can only wish … that it tortures you,” the judge said.

Gabriel was repeatedly beaten, starved, tied up, locked in a cabinet, shot with a BB gun and once had his teeth knocked out with a bat, the judge said.  Court records also detailed that Gabriel had been doused with pepper spray, forced to eat his own vomit and locked in a cabinet with a sock stuffed in his mouth to muffle his screams, according to CBS Los Angeles.

“It is unimaginable the pain that this boy probably endured,” Lomeli said.

The boy also had a fractured skull, broken ribs and burns across his body.

“It goes without saying that the conduct was horrendous and inhumane and nothing short of evil,” Lomeli said.  “It’s beyond animalistic because animals know how to take care of their young.”

Gabriel’s mother, 34-year-old Pearl Fernandez, pleaded guilty to murder in February in the death of her son in exchange for a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole, reports CBS Los Angeles.  A jury found her boyfriend, 37-year-old Isauro Aguirre, guilty of murder last year and found that he intentionally tortured the boy.

Fernandez called 911 on May 22, 2013, to report that her son wasn’t breathing.  She told responding deputies that he had fallen and hit his head on a dresser.

When paramedics arrived, they found Gabriel naked in a bedroom, not breathing, with a cracked skull, three broken ribs and BB pellets embedded in his lung and groin.

He died two days later of blunt-force trauma and neglect, the coroner’s office found.

Gabriel’s siblings testified that Fernandez and Aguirre would call the boy gay, punish him if he played with dolls and forced him to wear girls’ clothes to school.

Gabriel’s first-grade teacher, Jennifer Garcia, tearfully addressed the court ahead of Thursday’s sentencing, saying she thinks of him every day and how he just wanted to be loved.

“I find comfort in believing he is now at peace,” Garcia said.  “And I know that unlike him, his abusers will never have peace.  They will have a lifetime of suffering to endure, and I know I’m not alone in hoping they experience the same abuse in their lifetime and worse.  They are evil people for what they did.”

Gabriel’s biological father, who is serving time for robbery, was also present at the sentencing hearing, but declined to speak.  He watched the sentencing from his cell, reports CBS Los Angeles.

An expressionless Fernandez spoke briefly during the court hearing, saying she was sorry and wished Gabriel was alive.  She also criticized family members who have spoken of their grief over Gabriel, saying they just want fame.

A jail chaplain who has met with Fernandez told the court that she loved her son and is a different woman today than when she walked into jail.

Several agencies investigated abuse allegations leading up to Gabriel’s death. Garcia, the teacher, had called authorities to report that the boy had asked her if it was normal for a mother to hit her children with a belt, reports CBS Los Angeles.

On several occasions, investigators concluded there was no evidence of abuse.

Prosecutors have since filed charges of child abuse and falsifying records against four county social workers in Gabriel’s death.

Wichita KS Toddler Remembered

Child Abuse victim laid to rest

WICHITA, KS  –  A couple dozen people including family, friends and community members gathered at St Joseph’s Catholic Church, 145 S. Millwood Ave., Thursday morning to say their final goodbyes to two-year-old Tony Bunn.

.jpg photo of Kansas child killed by child abuse
Tony Bunn, 2-years-old

“Nobody knows how many times I’ve broken down and cried, I want to tell you something, there won’t be any doubt, you’re so wonderful to think about, but so hard to be without.”

Zak Woolheater doesn’t know the author of this poem, but it’s helped him put into words the pain his family feels at the loss of his grandson, Tony Bunn.

“He was the most amazing kid you’ll ever see,” Zak says.

First responders were called to Tony’s home on May 4.  Police say he wasn’t breathing.  He was hospitalized and died two days later.

An autopsy report showed he had blunt force trauma injuries.

The family’s attorney said Thursday was not only about Tony but about keeping other children safe and never having another child taken from abuse.

“We are still trying to figure out what all needs to be done, it’s certainly not just a DCF problem, and not just a law enforcement problem.  That is a systemic breakdown,” said Shayla Johnston, the Woolheater family’s attorney.

Tony was buried St. Mary’s Allepo Cemetery in Garden Plain.

His mother, Elizabeth Woolheater and her boyfriend, Lucas Diel, are charged with first-degree murder in his death.

They are set to be back in court next week.

Two Toddlers Die In Hot BabySitter

.jpg photo of vehicle where 2 toddlers died of heat stroke
Two Toddlers were found in an SUV in front of the home.

5-month-old twins die after being left in SUV

#HotVehicles Are Not #BabySitters

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, VA  –  The second of twin infants found unresponsive in a vehicle Thursday has died, according to police in Chesterfield County, Virginia.

The 5-month-old twins were found unresponsive around 2:30 p.m. in an SUV in the 2400 block of Alfalfa Lane near Jefferson Davis Highway, according to WTVR.

Police, along with Chesterfield County Fire and EMS responded to the scene and transported the children to Chippenham Hospital.

One of the children was pronounced dead at the hospital Thursday afternoon. The other child died several hours later.

The children, according to neighbors were a boy and a girl.

A woman who lives a few doors down defended the children’s parents through tears.

“They go to work, they come home to their kids.  They’re not any trouble, they’re awesome,” the woman, who declined to be identified, said.

“It’s tragic what happened, I don’t even know how to help them with their pain. It was certainly not an intentionally negligent act, it was a horrific mistake that can never be erased,” said another neighbor, Donna Gusti, who also works with both parents at a nearby Waffle House.

The woman who lives next door to the family said the wife was at work Thursday afternoon when she called her.

“His wife called me at 2 p.m. to wake him up to come and get her from work and that’s when everything happened,” the neighbor said.  “That’s when he found the babies in the car.”

She believes the husband just forgot the babies remained in the car when he got home from dropping his wife off at work.

Police continue to investigate the incident.

Ignorance Of Chemicals Is No Excuse

.jpg photo of Intermediate School in Prairie du Chien, WI
Bluff View Intermediate School in Prairie du Chien, WI

PDC community divided as principal charged with Child Abuse makes first court appearance

Prairie du Chien, WI  –  On Wednesday, Aaron Amundson, a Prairie du Chien principal for Bluff View Intermediate School charged with physical abuse of a child, appeared in court for the first time.

According to a criminal complaint, Amundson used chemical cleaners to scrub off two letters on a student’s hand.  According to the victim’s mom, her son’s hand was chemically burned from Amundson’s actions.

Before Wednesday’s hearing, Amundson’s defense filed a motion to dismiss the charge, but the prosecution was not ready to argue that motion.

However, the prosecution did ask the judge for a $1,000 bond and a strict no contact order between Amundson and the victim.

In response, the defense asked for the no contact order to have exceptions for Amundson to accidentally run into the student at Bluff View.  The defense argued a strict no contact order would prevent Amundson from going back to work at the school as long as the victim attends the same school.

The judge granted the no contact order with exceptions for incidental contact at the school.

Critics of Amundson say this case highlights the deeper divide in the Prairie du Chien community.

“Since the recession, our community got divided.  It’s either you have money or you don’t,” Darlene Natwick, a mother with a son in the PDC School District, said.

She said Amundson’s supporters, “want to protect him.”

An Amundson supporter said Amundson did not intentionally chemically burn a student.

“It’s a tragedy what occurred.  It was a mistake,” Kurt Kravchuk, who had a child in the PDC School District, said. “Aaron freely admits he made a mistake and didn’t look at the directions.  He was just trying to help out a child that came to him in need.”

Amundson has been on paid, non-disciplinary leave, but some women say they’ve seen him at the school.

District Administrator Bob Smudde said that’s because he has allowed Amundson back.

“He’s been going to administrative meetings at the bookends of the day, no student contact,” Smudde said.  “Since he is on paid leave we are trying to get him to be as involved in the administrative process with meetings with adults as possible, but he is doing nothing with students at this time.”

Smudde said the District Attorney did ask him to not allow Amundson back on campus, and Smudde said Amundson has not been back since.  He added that there has not yet been a decision made as to if Amundson will be allowed on school grounds after the judge created a no contact order with exceptions allowing for Amundson to be on school grounds.

Smudde said that no decision has been made in regards to Amundson’s employment because of the ongoing court proceedings.

In the meantime, Amundson’s supporters and critics both hope for different outcomes.

“I really think it’s time for a new principal.  I would like to see a new principal,” Natwick said.

Kravchuk said, “I just hope justice is carried out in a proper manner.”

A motion hearing and preliminary hearing are set for May 31 at 2:30 at the Crawford County Courthouse.