Trial coverage in Part II at this link
This will be an archive of heinous actions by those involved in child welfare, foster care and adoption. We forewarn you that these are deeply disturbing stories that may involve sex abuse, murder, kidnapping and other horrendous actions.
From Sedro Woolley, Washington, 13-year-old Ethiopian adoptee, Hana Grace-Rose Williams died of hypothermia and exposure in her home’s yard on May 12, 2011. The first reports of this occurred just yesterday.Hana was adopted in 2008 along with her 10-year-old brother. Larry and Carri Williams have eight other children ranging from ages 7 to 17. Stories so far indicate that only Hana and her brother were adopted and that the rest of the children were biological. They live in a gated community on a large property that is described as “clean.”
Her obituary stated that she died “unexpectedly” and had “enjoyed knitting and crocheting, reading, drawing and various crafts, playing soccer and riding her bicycle.”
King 5 reports: “A source close to the investigation said Hana was 30 pounds lighter than when she arrived from Ethiopia.
The Washington state Department of Social and Health Services says all eight of her siblings have been removed from the home. The prosecutor’s office said it is still waiting for more information before making a decision on charges.”
The Seattle Times reports “The county Sheriff’s Office has forwarded its report to the county Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, but no charges have been filed.
“This case certainly has some unusual aspects to it, and that is why we have referred the matter to our prosecutor for a charging opinion,” said Sheriff Will Reichardt. “Unfortunately, at this time it wouldn’t be fair to anyone to comment on the details or speculate about if the facts in this case add up to a criminal act.”
“According to a spokeswoman with Child Protective Services (CPS), the state agency was contacted by law-enforcement officers and the county coroner, who had learned that the girl had suffered significant weight loss before her death.
“They were concerned because she was outside at night when she died,” said CPS spokeswoman Sherry Hill.
The eight remaining children of the girl’s parents have been removed from their home and placed in foster care, according to Hill.”
“Before the girl’s death on May 12, CPS had not had contact with the family, Hill said.
“That’s when we heard about it,” said Hill. “We attempted to speak with the parents and the [surviving] children twice in May, but the parents would not allow the children to be interviewed without the parents present.” So a strange child death is not cause for asking the other children questions in private?
Hill said she was unable to give specifics about the CPS investigation, but she said a Skagit County judge at a July 22 hearing had “enough concern” to order the children be placed outside the home.”
“According to the National Weather Service, a low temperature of 42 degrees was reported in Sedro-Woolley on May 12.”
Comments from the articles written by family members state that fellow church members, likely of the Good Shepherd Baptist church in Burlington of whom officiated at her funeral, were supportive of the adoptive parents during the closed-door hearing on July 22. Allegations are made in the comments of methodical torture, abuse and starvation that led to being punished with being locked outside to sleep and that the other siblings witnessed the abuse.
Komo News reports that “CPS told KOMO News it believes Hana, who was adopted from Ethiopia in 2008, was outside most of the night in the rain on the day she died…When asked if it appeared Hana was living outside, Turner responded: “At this time, because it’s an active investigation, I can’t comment.”
CPS says the children are cooperative and doing well. Meanwhile, the Skagit County Sheriff’s Office sent its findings to the prosecutor to make a decision on possible charges. The parents have requested a hearing to fight to get their children back.”
We will be looking for other child collector features to this family.
Adopted girl’s death prompts neglect investigation in Sedro Woolley
[King 5 8/1/11 by Elisa Hahn]
Death of adopted girl outside in cold yard prompts CPS probe
[The Seattle Times 8/1/11 by Christine Clarridge]
Child adopted from Ethiopia dies of ‘hypothermia’
[Komo News 8/2/11]
Update: Quick update about the background of the adoptive parents. “The teenager, Hana, and her brother came to the Skagit Valley in 2008 to live with Larry and Cindy [sic]Williams and their seven biological children.
Neighbors said that Larry, a Boeing engineer, and his wife were private and homeschooled all nine children.
“They were cheerful, playful,” a neighbor said. “They appeared to be well-cared for.”
Hana and her brother had been living in the secluded home since 2008.”
“Department representatives conducted interviews with the children the day they were notified of Hana’s death. The Williams insisted they be present for all interviews with the surviving children.
Investigators returned two weeks later and sometime after that all the children were removed from the home.”
[13 Fox 8/1/11]
Update 2: “Several members of the Ethiopian community want answers in the shocking death of a 13-year-old Skagit County girl who died of Hypothermia in her adoptive parents back yard.
“We just want the truth,” said Mulumebet Retta, President of the Ethiopian Community Mutual Association in Seattle.
“The ECMA plans an August 21 candle light vigil for Williams at their location at 8232 Rainier Ave. South in Seattle.
Members are also concerned about the length of time its taken for the investigation to happen. Three months after Williams was found and there is still no word on any charges.
“We want to know what is going on,” said Retta. “We’ve sent them a letter expressing our concerns. This is a wakeup call for our community and we want to know what happened.”
“A Facebook remembrance page has been set up for Hana at http://www.facebook.com/groups/156422897766042/”
Ethiopian community wants answers in girl’s death
[King 5 8/12/11 by Jake Whittenberg]
Update 3: Information about the vigil:
“A night to remember Hanna ECMA center on August 21st at 5PM
Ethiopian Community Mutual Association has organized a vigil on Sunday August the 21st at 5 P.M. at the community center (Contact info can be found here). This vigil is about:
- Remembrance and memory of Hanna
- Getting to the bottom of and finding the truth about how Hanna came to pass at such a young age and
- The protection and care of Hanna’s remaining 8 siblings
More information can be found at the following links:
- First report by King 5 on August 1st 2011
- Second report by King 5 on August 12th 2011
- Facebook Group Page for Remembrance of Hanna(2707 members as of this post)
Please invite all your friends and recommend this note.
Additionally a new blog has begun about Hana here relating to the book How to Train Up a Child.
Update 4: Vigil held on Sunday August 21, 2011. One hundred attend.
“Details about the death of an adopted girl in Skagit County continue to have an impact on the area’s Ethiopian community.”
“[O]n Sunday, there was a remembrance vigil for her in Rainier Beach at the Ethiopian Community Mutual Association.
Moer than 100 people attended the vigil. And even though none of them knew Hana, some say they’re just broken-hearted over the child’s death – and they’re hoping to keep her story alive.
Organizers of the vigil say a lot of members were outraged when they first heard about Hana and her ordeal.”
“”But we don’t know what really happened, so we are hoping we will find out,” says Mulu Retta of the Ethiopian Community Mutual Association. “It’s about finding out the truth, and we want to do that for Hana.”
Vigil remembers adopted girl who died in the rain, cold
[KOMO 8/21/11 by Elizabeth Dinh]
Update 5: Some disturbing spin is being placed on this case. The details of the latest report AND some important connections are reported in this update.
Latest report: Questions Surround Death Of Hana Williams[ KUOW Radio Show 9/12/11 by Amy Radil]
- Her brother’s name is Immanuel. He is deaf. The transcript indicates that one reason that the Williams were picked as APs was that they knew sign language. Immanuel is now attending a school for the hard of hearing and deaf in Anacortes.
- The transcript indicates that it is likely that the other children are attending public school.
- CPS: “Sherry Hill is the spokeswoman for the state’s Children’s Administration. She says there was no delay in the investigation by Child Protective Services, but there were difficulties.
Hill: “During our investigation, we did attempt to interview the parents and the siblings twice in May, so that takes time as well. But the parents, when we did go to the home would not allow the children to be interviewed without the parents being present.”Ultimately, Hill says, CPS got enough information to argue for the removal of the other eight children. She says once the criminal investigation is concluded, her agency will also be able to share what it’s learned.Hill: “It’s likely that we will have determined, since we already argued this for the dependency, that Hana died due to abuse and neglect. Much of that information will be releasable.”
Initially the EMCA was going to hold a justice RALLY instead of a VIGIL. (more on this in the connection section below).“Meanwhile, the bystanders to Hana’s case are trying to wait patiently. Habtamu Bekele came to the US from Ethiopia at age 12. Now he works for a financial firm in downtown Seattle. Bekele saw a report on the investigation into Hana’s death in August. As the story made the rounds, he says people became fired up.Bekele: “The initial reaction was anger, and Let’s go rally, and this and that, and I think through time and a couple days of discussion, we realized that this is still under investigation. It’s not like we have all these facts of wrongdoing and nothing has been done.”After more reflection, members of the Ethiopian Community Mutual Association decided to hold a vigil instead of a rally. They invited the public to mourn Hana, and hundreds came. But no one at the event had known her.”
ECMA would like to reach out to Immanuel but it is complicated.”Mulu Mebet Retta is president of the Ethiopian Community Mutual Association, and helped organize the vigil. She says she’s worried about Immanuel, and has been in touch with Child Protective Services in hopes of reaching out to him. S he wants to invite him to visit their community center in Seattle, but such a visit would potentially need a judge’s approval.”
“All the children are in foster care except one. He’s now 18, and moved back with his parents.”
“Attorneys for the children say they want to be reunited with their parents. Judge Paxton warned them that despite any assurances their parents are giving them, it’s not clear if or when they’ll be able to return.”
Connections:The transcript says the following: “Among the vigil organizers was the Bainbridge Island–based writer David Guterson, who adopted a child from Ethiopia four years ago. He used the same agency that the Williams family used when they adopted Hana and her brother Immanuel.
We are appalled that this adoptive parent brazenly is suggesting that her hypothermia was self-inflicted and that his concern is misplaced with how the adoption community LOOKS instead of WITH THE CHILD WHO DIED! The phrase “depraved indifference to the life of a child” comes to mind. This spin is absolutely uncalled for and is very suspicious because we know that how the adoption community looks is usually tied to the moaning of the adoption industry.This led us to research WHO this David Guterson really is. About 10 seconds on Google gave us enough information to understand this spin.
1. From his biography it says that he homeschools, just like the Williams family. Furthermore, he wrote a book on it. One of his books is entitled Family Matters: Why Homeschooling Makes Sense (1992). So it is hard to believe that he is this innocent bystander who is commenting and wanting to join the communities together when he has a book to sell and an educational belief system that he doesn’t want challenged.
2.Twenty-one days after Hana’s death, he spoke with AAI (Washington) client and author Melissa Faye Greene at an ECMA function entitled Melissa Fay Greene & David Guterson:
International Adoption .
3. The AAI head and unashamed seller of the #4 most racist toy ever sold–the Golliwog , Merrily Ripley, attended this event and she gushed about it on the AAI blog . I wonder if she brought her Golliwogs to the ECMA event?
So it concerns us that an unrelated person of David Guterson who used the same agency as the Williams (currently the agency is not named) and is seen in high profile with AAI (Hmmmm…) somehow was TASKED with getting information about Hana’s life in Ethiopia AND somehow FOUND her PRIVATE ADOPTION RECORDS. Hmmmm…I wonder how THAT HAPPENED?
Update 6: “Skagit County prosecutors filed charges against the adoptive parents of a 13-year-old girl who died of hypothermia in her own backyard.
Hanna Williams was found dead on May 12, naked and wrapped in a sheet.She has been living with her adoptive parents since coming to America from Ethiopia in 2008.
Larry and Cari Williams are in police custody, charged with homicide by abuse and assault of a child. They are each being held on $500,000 bail.
Child Protective Services and the Skagit County Sheriff’s Office launched an investigation, concerned that Williams lost a significant amount of weight before her death. Officials said she was 30 pounds lighter at the time of her death than one year prior.
Prosecutors said Hana was often locked in a small closet, too small for her to lay down. They contend she was denied food for days at a time and received daily spankings. They said the abuse lasted for more than a year.
The Williams’ had eight other children in their care. They were all removed from the home. ”
Skagit County couple charged with death of adopted child
[King 5 News 9/29/11 by Jake Whittenberg]
They were booked into county jail this evening. See roster here.
Update 7: “A Sedro-Woolley couple denied food to a 13-year-old adopted daughter who died in May at home, Skagit County prosecutors said Thursday in filing homicide by abuse charges.”
“Hana Williams, who was adopted in 2008 from Ethiopia, lived in a closet, and some people who know Carri Williams said she regretted the adoption, court papers say.
The couple also was charged with first-degree child assault for allegations they abused Hana’s 10-year-old brother who was adopted with her.
Early May 12, Carri Williams called 911 and reported Hana was not breathing, saying the girl had refused to come into the house. She was found face down in the backyard with mud in her mouth. An autopsy found she died of hypothermia, but malnutrition and a stomach infection were contributing factors.
In July, the Williams’ remaining seven children were placed into foster homes.”
Sedro-Woolley couple charged with child death
[Seattle Time 9/30/11 by The Associated Press]
“They are also charged with abusing their adopted son who is now in foster care. KUOW’s Amy Radil reports.”
“The cause of death was hypothermia, but the charging documents against her adoptive parents Larry and Carri Williams also accuse them of abusing and starving her. The couple home–schooled their six biological children as well as their two adopted children from Ethiopia. Visitors to the home say they observed the adopted children being treated differently and left apart from the others.
Members of Seattle’s Ethiopian community held a vigil for Hana in August, but lamented that no one knew much about her life in the US.
Charging documents from the Skagit County Sheriff’s Office say the parents and older children often hit the younger ones with flexible plumbing line. For the last year of her life, documents allege that Hana was regularly left outside and in locked rooms, forced to use a port–a–potty and deprived of food. When the biological children were interviewed by investigators, they described her as rebellious and said that’s why she was being punished so much.
All the remaining children, including the adopted boy, have been in foster homes since July.”
“Discipline” with a flexible plumbing line is the HALLMARK of the To Train Up A Child evangelical discipline techinique that we alluded to in our Update 3. This is something that SHOULD HAVE been discerned in a homestudy and they NEVER should have been approved to adopt if they use this “technique.” It is wholly abusive and has NO PLACE in raising any child let alone an international adoptee. The homestudy and placing agency NEED TO BE INVESTIGATED.
We are disgusted, but not surprised, to FIRST learn TODAY that Immanuel, who is deaf, was also abused.
Parents Charged In Death Of Ethiopian Adoptee Hana Williams
[KUOW 9/30/11 by Amy Rudil]
Immanue’s abuse: “Prosecutors said the abuse she and her adopted 10-year-old Ethiopian-born brother endured included beatings, starvation and being made to sleep outside and use an outdoor toilet.”
“The investigation into the Williams family, including whether the biological children were abused, was continuing, she added, adding that the process can take months.
“We worked with the coroner and we had our medical consultants review the records to make sure that we had all the information we needed to make a good decision about the rest of the children and that we didn’t jump to any conclusions,” she said. “We didn’t want to do anything to jeopardize the investigation.”
The 10-year-old Ethiopian-born son is hearing-impaired and joined the family at the same time as Hana, but was not her biological sibling, Hill said.”
“The Williams children had been homeschooled, but now some are attending public schools, Hill said. Each has been placed in a foster home with at least one sibling, she added, to make the adjustment easier.
All the children were very isolated and had very little contact with non-family members, Hill said. They live in a gated community in a rural area on about 5 acres.
“Our concern is the isolation they experienced,” Hill said. “We do rely on schools and teachers to report abuse to us, because they see the children and they’re probably the first ones to notice when something has changed with a child.”
Larry Williams, 47, and Carri, 40, were being held in Skagit County Jail, and were next scheduled to appear in Skagit County Superior Court on October 10.”
Washington state couple charged in adopted daughter’s death
[Fox 59 9/30/11 by Reuters]
“Skagit County authorities say, 13-year-old Hana died because her adoptive parents chronically starved her, abused her and left her outside on a cold May night with inadequate clothing.”
“Skagit County Prosecutor Rich Weyrich said in charging papers the couple engaged in a pattern of assault or torture on Hana.”
“They also made her sleep in a barn, shower outside with a garden hose and even sit outside while the family celebrated Christmas inside.”
“If guests came over, the affidavit says, Hana was allowed to sit at the table but was given only bread to eat. [Who were these guests and why did you allow this to happen? You are culpable too!]
Hana lost nearly 30 pounds in the last two years of her life, and her thinness meant her body wasn’t able to retain enough heat that night in May, according to an autopsy report. Hana died May 12 when the temperature dipped to 42 degrees.
A report on her death concluded she’d died from “a culmination of chronic starvation caused by a parent’s intentional food restriction, severe neglect, physical and emotional abuse and stunning endangerment.”
“For instance, both were disciplined for being “rebellious,” one family member told investigators. The punishment included eating outside, away from the family, and having cold leftovers topped with frozen vegetables.
Another person told investigators that Carri Williams locked up the food and served only small portions, at times withholding food from her adopted children.”
“”The house is exceptionally clean and organized and did not have the appearance that eight children lived in this house,” Detective Theresa Luvera wrote in the affidavit.
One person told investigators the couple had a book called, “To Train Up A Child,” which teaches parents to switch their children with a plastic tube, starting at the age of 1. It also advocates putting children in cold-water baths for toilet training or putting them outside in cold weather, having them miss meals and sleep on the floor as punishment, the affidavit says.”
“When Hana was locked in the closet, one person told authorities, the parents played the Bible on tape and Christian music.”
“If convicted, the Williamses face potential life sentences, court papers say.”
Murder charges for parents who left girl outside
[Seattle Times 9/29/11 by Jeff Hodgson]
“Skagit Count Prosecutor Richard Weyrich told NBC station KING 5 that Hanna Williams’ death ranks right up there among the worst cases he’s ever prosecuted. ”
“She wasn’t allowed to use the bathroom in the house, instead having to go to a porta-potty behind the barn. In addition, according to an affidavit, Hanna was struck daily with a plumbing tool, a flexible plastic tube with a round ball on the end.
Last Christmas when Hanna was forced to watch the family celebrate Christmas from outside and only let in when her parents had guests. ”
Police: Adopted child was starved, left outside to die
“Hana Williams, 13, never adapted to life with her strict, adoptive parents.
Court documents say she was considered “rebellious” and was forced to sleep in a dark locked closet, eat table scraps, bathe outside with a hose and was routinely beaten with a plastic rod. Her parents, Larry and Carri Williams, allegedly witheld food for days at a time. At the time of her death last May, the teen weighed just 78 pounds.
“It’s the worst case I’ve ever investigated,” said Dr. Francis Chalmers, a pediatrician who examined the case for prosecutors.
The night she died, Hana was found by her siblings naked, outside, face down in a mud puddle. It was 42 degrees.
“I think she was severely abused and ultimately tortured,” said Dr. Chalmers.”
“Little is known about the Williams family, except that they were strict homeschooling Christians who rarely left their five-acre property. ”
Controversial book part of adopted girl’s murder investigation
[NCWN 9/30/11 by Eric Wilkinson/King 5 News]
Update 8: The Why Not Train a Child website has links to many places that are talking about Hana and the Pearls’ book. This site says Hanna Beck was her original name in Ethiopia.
This blog linked to the Why Not Train a Child website http://chucklestravels.wordpress.com/2011/10/01/the-short-life-of-hanna-williams/ boldly states that Adoption Advocates International (AAI), a JCICS and Hague-accredited agency, was the placing agency of Hana and Immanuel.
Furthermore, it is important to mention that Lydia Schatz, an adoptee from Liberia, was killed and the Pearl method was associated with the case. See our coverage of the 2011 parts of the case and this book here .See the 2010 coverage of that case at PoundPup Legacy here.
Adoptee Sean Paddock also died by the hands of his adoptive parents and the Pearl method was associated with his case. See PoundPup Legacy’s coverage here.
As if this is not disturbing enough, we have found another link with David Guterson and AAI at http://www.precious.org/blog/adoption-information/news/faces-of-layla-a-journey-through-ethiopian-adoption/237 It appears that the 2007 book Faces of Layla: A Journey Through Ethiopian Adoption, A Full Color Photo Essay, Photography by Emma Dodge Hanson, Forward by Melissa Fay Greene was written about Mr. Guterson’s child in Layla House, the AAI orphanage. According to Amazon.com, one retailer of this book, the proceeds of this book go to the Grace Fund which is used to “reduce the agency fees paid by the family. Funds could be available for families adopting children designated by AAI as more difficult to place. These would include: 1. Boys 10 and older or sibling groups of boys where the youngest is 6 or older 2. Sibling groups of 3 or more 3. Girls 12 and older (single or in sibling groups) 4. Children (any age) with special needs (e.g. blind, deaf, HIV+ sibling) 5. Children (any age) who have been at Layla House for more than 18 months.” Did the Williams use this fund? It is one more question to add to a long list of why this unprepared family was allowed to adopt two, unrelated, special needs children at the same time.
Part of adoption preparation is understanding the POST ADOPTION costs. Agencies and grant funds and ministries mislead PAPs into thinking the costs are upfront. Well where are these ministries and grants when you need care for your child post-adoption? While it sounds good on paper for churches and grants to support prospective adoptive families, why is there not the same vigor to support family preservation of the original family? See our adoption preparation post here about costs of raising special needs children.
Layla House is described at the book link above as a “haven for children.” Layla House was where a sibling group of four children of Sharon and Reed Leonard came from. Pound Pup Legacy has information on that case here. PoundPup Legacy describes the abuse of those children as physical abuse that included beating with “paddles, plastic pipes or metal rods.” This sounds very similar to To Train Up a Child technique.They were also homeschooled. The similarities are disturbing.
Layla House has also been the subject of a January 2011 graphic and disturbing review. See
http://www.adoptionagencyratings.com/adoption-advocates-international.htm . Some of the things discussed in Schuster Institute Private Report on Adoption Irregularities (found at http://www.brandeis.edu/investigate/gender/adoption/ethiopia.html; scroll down the page) are reflected in the review.
This September 30 article from KOMO Case file: Parents starved and beat girl, locked her out in the cold includes some more details about the church that they once attended.
“Howard Cooper, a retired pastor who said the Williams and their children sometimes attended worship services at his church, said he had no idea abuse was going on inside the home.
“The kids, to me, they were nice loving kids. I loved to see them come,” Cooper says.
Then, last spring, Cooper says Larry Williams asked him to officiate at Hana’s memorial service.
“They told me they found her in the yard,” Cooper says. “I wondered, ‘What’s she doing in the yard?’ But I didn’t press that.”
“I was totally shocked,” says Cooper. “I had no idea why this happened.”
“Yet at her funeral, Pastor Cooper says he saw an image of a grieving father.”
“The Williams’ other adopted child, a 10-year-old boy who also was adopted at the same time as Hana, is deaf – and also reportedly showed signs of abuse.
Prosecutors say the first-degree assault accusation against the Williams stems from allegations relating to the boy, who was also from Ethiopia but no relation to Hana.
According to court papers, the Williams also withheld food from the boy at times and switched him regularly – sometimes for not listening to them – even though he was deaf.”
We recommend also reading our Tuesday Term: Child Collector post and our Food Abuse and Child Abuse post . The second one, though written after Hana’s death in June 2011, does not include her statistic because media reports of her case did not surface until August 2011.
Update 9: Carri’s and Larry’s photos are finally published. Yes, they are white as we all suspected. The first two article links below have photos. It is significant that their photos or mugshots were not published until today. As of today, we have 206 cases in our How Could You? archive (we have posted for 276 days this year to give you an idea of how many not-so-good foster and adoptive parents there are out there) and almost all of them from the US have photos in the links from the time of arrest.
They pleaded not guilty on homicide and assault of a child charges today in their first court appearance.
“The Williams had adopted Hana from Ethiopia in 2008 as a diseased little girl to begin a new life in America.” Diseased little girl? I think many of us would use the “diseased” term for the adoptive parents. The characterization of these dead adoptees as disordered and diseased is disturbing and inappropriately placing blame on the kid. We just went through this with Nathaniel Craver’s case.
“In addition, Hana was forced to use an outdoor portable toilet behind the barn instead of the home’s indoor bathroom, and she sometimes was made to take cold showers while naked outdoors under a garden hose, the case file says.
The Williams told investigators that they made Hana use the outdoor toilet because she had hepatitis and they didn’t want any of their other children to become infected with the disease. ”
Where were the postplacement social worker visits? What kind of training was provided to these people?
Couple pleads not guilty in homicide of adopted daughter
“Skagit Prosecutor Rich Weyrich asked that both have no contact with each other or their children, including an 18-year-old son who was in the courtroom.”
“Among those in court for Thursday’s hearing were several members of Seattle’s Ethiopian community.
“She’s a child whose life was trusted in their hands. And they broke that trust and it’s heartbreaking to hear this,” said Abez Aberra.
A man a lawyer identified as Carri Williams’ father declined comment on the charges against his daughter.
Attorneys said all of the children, both biological and adopted, are either with family members or in foster homes.”
Couple in abuse death of teen daughter make first appearance
[KIRO TV 10/6/11]
“Although investigators found the Washington state couple adhered to a harsh child-rearing regimen prescribed by a controversial Christian parenting book, the prosecutor said Thursday that religion was not relevant to the criminal case.”
“Prosecutor Rich Weyrich insisted that issues of faith were not a factor in the case against the couple. “Religion’s not an element we have to probe. We have to prove that the children were assaulted, tortured and died,” he told Reuters on Thurday [sic]”
Couple accused of starving daughter plead not guilty
Update 10: The hearing on Thursday had another major piece that I missed in the last update. Their bail was reduced from $500,000 apiece to $150,000 apiece. Disgusting! They are not to have contact with any of their children. This seems to be par for the course in these adoptee death cases. The KOMO article quoted in update 9 has a commenter that says that Carri bonded out on Friday October 7 and that Larry was soon to follow.
This Winnipeg Sun article from October 6, 2011 Was child abused to death due to advice from book? by Thane Burnett, QMI states “Hana’s mom, Carri Williams, found the book so helpful she apparently passed it along to another mother.” It also says “The guide — sold by 10 distributors across Canada, a country [is] responsible for the second-highest amount of clicks to the ministry’s website.”
Update 11: KOMO News obtains the 911 transcript. Blame is assigned to Hana and Carri claims to not know her age. Charged mother of dead teen: ‘ I think my daughter killed herself’ [KOMO 10/12 11 by Michelle Esteban]
“”Yes, I think my daughter killed herself,” Carri Williams told the 911 operator.
When asked why she thought that was the case, Williams answered, “She’s really rebellious and she’s been outside, refusing to come in. And she’s been throwing herself all around, and then she collapsed.”
It was May 12, a chilling 40 degrees and raining. Police learned 13-year-old Hana Williams had been in the backyard of her Sedro-Woolley home for half the day.
911 Operator: “Is she breathing?”
Carri Williams: “I don’t think so, no.”
911 Operator: “How old is your daughter?”
Carri Williams: “I don’t know. We adopted her almost three years ago.”
911 Operator: “You don’t know how old she is?”
Carri Williams: “She’s somewhere between the ages of 14 and 16.”
“She was throwing herself all over the gravel, the yard, the patio,” Carri Williams said. “We went to bring her in. My sons tired to carry her in, and she took her clothes off.”
But court documents state Carri and Larry Williams had forced the girl to spend the day outside as a form of punishment. Detectives say the girl led a hellish existence, often starved, beaten and locked in a dark closet for hours.
The girl’s brothers dragged her into the house, and the 911 operator coached Carri Williams through CPR. Hana Williams had a lump on her head, and was covered in blood, and investigators believed marks on her body were from repeated whippings.
Carri Williams insists the girl killed herself.
“She’s very passive-aggressive…I don’t’ know how to describe it,” she said.
A witness told investigators the parents took their discipline cues from a controversial book that recommends withholding food and putting children in cold weather to punish them. The Williams’ eight other children have been taken into protective custody.
The two suspects have been released on bail, and have refused to comment.”
Update 12: A talk was given in Seattle on October 16, 2011 by the author of a book on how some children are abused in the name of religion. Hana was mentioned. “Janet Heimlich, a journalist from Austin, Texas, wrote “Breaking Their Will,” published in June. It’s described as the first book to take an in-depth look at child abuse and neglect caused by religious belief.” The talk was held at University Temple United Methodist Church.
Author to Discuss Child Abuse Roots
[Seattle Times 10/14/11]
Update 13: CNN is now covering this story. The media circus is continuing to focus on To Train Up A Child book. While we acknowledge that this is an easy point to rally around, we hope that this does not deflect from the root cause of this situation.
Important questions need to be answered: Why were these people approved to adopt? Was there any postadoption monitoring? What actions by the adoption agency contributed to this? Did people who visited the home ever report anything to CPS? Have public deflections by adoption industry apologists negatively effected a just outcome for Hana and Immanuel?
“But investigators are looking into whether the Christian book, titled ‘To Train Up a Child’ may have been involved in the death of Hana and will be shown in a CNN documentary.”
“Gary Tuchman will be reporting on the allegations in the show titled ‘Ungodly Discipline’ on Anderson Cooper’s 360 news show, despite prosecutors insisting that issues of faith were not a factor in the case against the couple.”
Parents accused of killing adopted Ethiopian daughter ‘were inspired by religious discipline book that encourages children to be biblically punished’
[Daily Mail 10/27/11 by Jessica Satherley]
On Wednesday October 26, Anderson Cooper, CNN, had Pearl on his show. Pearl was dressed in a suit, looking respectable and Mr Cooper ended the interview with an acknowledgment of respect for this man’s views. This case needs hard-hitting local journalistic coverage of the family and circumstances surrounding the last few years of Hana’s life, not a sideshow.
The adoption process will have to be examined here and a spotlight will have to be placed on the recklessness involved in the international adoption process.
Update 14: On Tuesday night October 25, CNN did a segment about Hana and To Train Up a Child. See this link . It reveals only one new circumstance: Carri and Larry are not staying together. Carri is with her parents and Larry is at the family home where Hana died.
Two other major developments need to be shared and unfortunately SHREDDED. It is unfortunate because these developments are not going to SOLVE anything. In fact, they are nothing more than diversions, just like the To Train Up a Child path that this story is taking. These developments are a mere smokescreen to cover up people’s mistakes and encourage FAUX (Facts Are Useless; X them out) reform.
First, related on Facebook and announced as a Press Release on their website, the ECMA has created a Hana fund. See here.
“The Ethiopian Community Mutual Association (ECMA) of Greater Puget Sound now announces the advent of its Hana Fund. The purpose of the fund is prevent cases of abuse and assault in adoptive families via a program of outreach and crisis intervention, and via cultural awareness education and counseling.”
Don’t be fooled. This is not what it seems to be. This is nothing more than a POST-adoption band-aid. There should not ever be a need to teach parents post-adoption to not abuse their kid. This is the kind of despicable behavior that should be assessed and training presented PRIOR to adoption. This is the RESPONSIBILITY of the homestudy agency and placing agency. Vetting their parents after the fact is not only idiotic, but it shifts blame away from its true source.
It goes on to state: “Hana Williams was born on July 19, 1997, in Ethiopia. Her mother disappeared when she was 3, and her father died a few years later. By the age of 9 she was living in an orphanage.”
Wow. How is this known? Only the date of birth is in the probable cause document. Did this information come from another fact-finding mission? It certainly seems to Rally that this is a violation of Hana’s private family information.
Their fund is for the following:
“Costs associated with ECMA’s Hana Program will include:
• legal research
• compiling a data base of adoptive children in its service area
• establishing and maintaining a hotline
• fees and expenses for social workers and counselors
• establishing and maintaining cultural programming
• website and social media presence
• production of educational materials
• outreach “
Legal research? Why do they need to do legal research to give training?
Compiling a database? How is that legal or practical? Do they think that AAI will hand them a list of clients? Do they believe that only one agency places in their area? PAPs can use any agency in the country.
A hotline? Who is going to answer the phones? Why not support already existing mental health hotlines in the area?
Why does it sound like adoption industry folks will be getting some funding here?
Lastly, Why not name it Hana and Immanuel Fund. There were TWO Adoptee victims here. We certainly won’t be forgetting Immanuel and how he was tortured too. Why not set up a fund to HELP HIM?
Let’s call it what it is: A crock. Things that sound nice on paper aren’t going to cut it. Major reform in the PRE-ADOPTION PROCESS, AGENCY PUNISHMENT, and ETHIOPIA PROCESS need to occur here. Sooner rather than later.
AAI Responds in Letter to Adoptive Families
AAI has now publicly acknowledged themselves as Hana and Immanuel’s agency. Their letter has been published at http://whynottrainachild.com/tag/aai/ . Rally’s comments, additional important details, questions, and analyses are in orange.
“Letter from AAI, Hana’s Adoption Agency,
Dear Adoptive Family,
Everyone at AAI is shocked and saddened by the tragic death of Hana, a 13 year old from Ethiopia who had been with her adoptive family for three years. She passed away in May [she died alone in the cold and was found by siblings with mud in her mouth] and, after several months of investigation [and media blackout], the adoptive parents have been charged with homicide by abuse and assault of a child. The coroner determined the …cause of death to be hypothermia. She died in the family’s yard. It is hard to imagine a more horrible end to the dream of a new life in America for this girl. [Who says she dreamed of America or this family? How could any child dream of having a family who would torture and abuse her? Stop the spin!]
AAI learned of Hana’s death in August, seeing it in the press, as did everyone else. AAI quickly informed the Ministry of Women’s and Children’s Affairs in Ethiopia. [Hmm… How about DOS or COA, did you inform them too? The state licensing agency? or just authors located in your area? Why did you forget about the American entities responsible for you being allowed to stay in business?] The Minister asked AAI to arrange to have a representative from the Ministry travel to the U.S. to write a report. [Why, was there damning paperwork that may have been falsified such as Hana’s true age and circumstances?] Adoption programs such as AAI working in Ethiopia are typically asked to host foreign delegations every few years and it had been six years since AAI had done this. [Wow so your agency was WAY over due for any checks and balances and what a totally perfect time to do this – right in the middle of a murder investigation!] Last week the Vice Minister came to Washington State, accompanied by AAI’s legal representative in Ethiopia, Temesgen. Meetings were arranged with the prosecuting attorney, lead detective, and child protective services involved with Hana’s case. [Why? What was that all about? How would that help Hana or Immanuel? What could possibly be the reason for this except to back your agency up and/or deny any complicity in having approved the religious fanatics who isolated Hana by homeschooling her, showed themselves as sadistic monsters and must have paid AAI doubly for two kids?] The Vice Minister met with adoptive families in their homes and in groups, having the opportunity to converse with many Ethiopian children. [How about Immanuel? Did they meet with him?] He visited a school, a court room to attend a re-adoption, and met with AAI staff at the office. [Oh, agency-directed activities…] He then visited another agency in Washington and one in Minnesota. [This has to do with Hana how? Was the Minnesota agency CHSFS? How are they doing in Ethiopia now?Not so good, huh?] He concluded, as we had, that given the circumstances it was not possible for AAI to have known or predicted the outcome of this adoption. [What a joke! He concluded that a proper homestudy was done? Bull! That placing two unrelated special needs kids in a family with 6 other kids was just fine and not risky? BULL!]It was his first visit to the U.S. He loved the beauty of the countryside, enjoyed seeing the children, and had his questions about Hana’s tragic death answered to the extent possible. [Did he enjoy seeing the lovely countryside back yard where Hana died alone in the cold because her family isolated her from any schools or outside activities since they were too busy locking her in a closet?] Temesgen reports that it was a successful visit, given the sobering circumstances. [Successful because you won’t be prosecuted?]
But, we ask ourselves, what can be done to prevent such a tragedy in the future? We have developed a new form that each adoptive family will be required to sign, that lists very clearly the types of discipline that are not allowed to be used in AAI’s adoptive families. [This is JUST PLAIN IDIOTIC! Agencies have no-spanking forms already. People lie all the time on these forms. This will do NOTHING and is impossible to enforce!] Homestudy workers will be asked to speak with applicants in much more detail about discipline. [Hana was not disciplined. She was ostracized from the beginning because her age did not match what they thought, according to the probable cause document. Then they isolated her and abused her. There is NOTHING about this that remotely looks like discipline.] Our goals are to eliminate applicants with harsh discipline plans and to promote training methods [training methods? TRAINING? ]which are more humane [so you think some things done to her were what? Slightly humane?], effective, [effective TRAINING?] and neurobiologically based [say what? How do you neurologically base TRAINING for menstruating and blood safety precautions, feeding a child, attaching, etc]. There will also be a change in the post placement schedule for agency visits. For families whose child arrives after November 1, 2011, reports will be required at 1, 6, 12 months intervals after placement. For families applying after this date, a fourth agency post placement report will be required at the 24 month mark. [Why would you not add the 24 month mark for all current families and any child after November 1? IDIOTIC!] We are hoping that this elongated schedule will give us all a better idea of how placements are progressing while keeping families connected with their agencies and social workers for a longer period of time, allowing for more personalized support and guidance, if necessary. [You seem to be CLUELESS to how any family that aren’t writers who grace their presence at fundraising events are doing! And why the heck aren’t you changing the PRE-ADOPTION VETTING PROCESS BECAUSE THAT IS WHAT ALLOWS LIKE CARRI AND LARRY TO ADOPT IN THE FIRST PLACE?]
Because of concerns raised by this tragic death, AAI has been given approval to request the assistance of law enforcement to make safety checks on any families who are behind on post placement reports. [What? Where is this in the law? “given approval” by whom? How will this be enforced? Whose privacy will be violated?] Several countries require that families submit reports annually until the child turns 18 years of age. In the past we have sent multiple reminders to some families asking for reports, in the future AAI will contact law enforcement for assistance if the reports are not forthcoming, to assure the well being of the children. [And just how are you going to squeeze out post-placement reports which are NOT required by any US law? Call the ACLU because this is the most ludicrous idea in the history of international adoption and is patently impossible to oversee.]
We are also pleased to know that the EMCA (Ethiopian Community Mutual Association) has responded by establishing a “HANA FUND” with the purpose of preventing cases of abuse and assault in adoptive families. [Oh, you HAVE heard of this fund. Gotta love money, huh?] This fund will promote a program of outreach and crisis intervention, focusing on cultural awareness, education, and counseling. [What expertise will they be offering? They have none.] For more information or to make a donation see ecmaseattle.org. Though EMCA is a Seattle organization they hope the effort will expand across the country. [Expand across the country? Creating a database of private information and legal research? Are you nuts?!?]
Nothing will soften the impact of this sad death, but AAI will strive to learn, grow and improve as we reflect on the tragedy.” [How about just closing down your business? Why do you get to be afforded the opportunity to learn, grow and improve when HANA DID NOT GET AFFORDED THAT OPPORTUNITY!!!!! If you had any heart, you would set up a fund for Immanuel and at least HELP THE CHILD LEFT BEHIND AND ALONE]
One of the final pages of the probable cause document states: “DM suggested several Times to Carri Williams to contact the adoption agency and seek help. Carri Williams told her that wasn’t an option and that nobody would take these children because they were so horrible. “
So let Rally get this straight. All of a sudden AAI is sooooo proactive about post-placement reports and supervision. Why wasn’t it an option to contact AAI before? Now THERE is a question that I DARE journalists to ask!
What happens when an AP in conflict contacts any agency for help? Please let us know. Because from what we at REFORM Talk have heard, it isn’t too pretty…maybe those APs should call a law enforcement person for back-up if help is not forthcoming…
Update 15: Two new reactions have been printed in the last several days.
The first one is from Rh Reality Check. An anonymous former Quiverfull follower” wrote Corpses Don’t Rebel: Former Quiverfull Mom Reacts to Death of Hana Williams by “Biblical Chastisement” via Corporal Punishment. Quiverfull has a website that explains this movement of fundamentalist Christians here. No Longer Quivering is the counter-movement. Their website is here.
Two excerpts from the RH Reality Check post:
(1)”I followed the Pearls’ teachings for years, and the children I subjected to “biblical chastisement” are very much the worse off for it. I’m wondering which part of Michael Pearl’s teachings he’d say I was missing:
- Get Pearl’s teachings and read every single word and pray. Check.
- Start striking infants with objects on the hand or in the buttocks area as soon as they are able to reach for something you don’t want them to touch and ignore your “No.” Check.
- Hit them harder if they continue. Check.
- When they cry, lovingly console them and “reconcile” them to yourself and God. Check.
- Always use physical chastisement on them when they don’t respond to spoken correction. Check. If I didn’t strike them, my husband did.
- Believe that they will end up juvenile delinquents and go to hell if you slack off. Check.
- Pray and study the Bible some more. Check.
- Be joyful about chastising your baby all day. Praise God while you slap a three-month-old’s hand with a ruler and think about how godly he’ll turn out. Half a check. It was hard.
- The children will quit rebelling and be wonderful children who sweetly, quietly obey and love you to pieces. . . No check.
This is what I was missing: the part where the Pearls’ teaching worked. Only one child out of the oldest four quietly obeyed in response to chastisement, but she also had signs of severe emotional disturbance. She withdrew into herself and didn’t speak until she was two. The other three oldest children out of my Quiver Full of kids would rebel. And rebel. They would go to the wall rebelling. They would rebel until the cows came home and the bulls came home and calves were born. The more you hurt them, the more they rebelled.
Michael Pearl has only three methods to deal with continued rebellion in children, since his teachings are straight from the Bible, and therefore infallible:
- Blame yourself. You must not be getting my teaching right.
- Hit harder. Pain is of the essence.
- Blame the kid. What else is left? Other people’s kids give in and act godly.”
(2) “Options b. and c. [#2 and #3] are hard to do without getting angry. They are hard to do without leaving bruises, especially since Pearl discipline is cumulative: faced with entrenched rebellion, you are supposed to hit repeatedly and in the same areas. My ex-husband got angry with the kids for thwarting the Pearl method, but he remained coldly self-controlled. He also left bruises. A lot of bruises.
Update 16: More about the ECMA Hana fund and an adoptive parent volunteer with 13 adopted children.
“Few Ethiopians in Seattle knew Hana Williams, but the news of her death was widely forwarded among friends, posted on Ethiopian diaspora blogs, and covered in Awramba Times, a Seattle newspaper written in Amharic, the Ethiopian national language. There was anger at the Ethiopian government for “selling” their children away. There were questions about the adoption process. There was guilt for failing to prevent Hana’s death.
Grief has galvanized the broader Ethiopian community in Washington state, America’s third-largest behind California and the Washington D.C. area. The American Community Survey says 15,000 Ethiopians live here, although community leaders estimate the real number falls closer to 40,000. Last month the Ethiopian Community Mutual Association (ECMA) of Seattle launched the Hana Fund to support families who adopt from Ethiopia.”
Hana’s Ethiopian Name
“Hana Williams or Hana Alemu (her Ethiopian name) was adopted in 2008 by Larry and Carri Williams from Sedro-Woolley, WA, a rural town between Seattle and the Canadian border.”
“For years, adoptive parents have leaned on Mulugeta [from Ethiopian Community Center] and other community members for informal help. “People would come and ask you, ‘I’m going to go bring a child [from Ethiopia]. Could you tell me what I should do? When I come back, can I get in touch with you?’” She would advise them, and even meet the families for a meal of Ethiopian food.
After Hana’s death, Mulugeta and other community leaders agreed they had to finally formalize their outreach and cultural exchange activities. They decided to create a place where both parents and children in adoptions could seek advice, and get help if the relationship was not working. “We are here as a friend, as an aunt, as a grandmother, or even as a mother to support you – because raising a child is not easy. Especially with the cultural differences,” she says. The Hana Fund will provide the monetary resources for this program; organizers hope to support a full-time staff member to manage the program in the future.
Laura Corkern is the mother of 14 children, one biological, five adopted from Ethiopia, and eight adopted from other countries. Corkern felt compelled to be part of meetings for the Hana Fund. Corkern’s family “struggled desperately” through their first adoption in 1995 of an eight-and-a-half year-old girl from India. “If we’d had a community with a very welcoming spirit and the desire to help us and her become a family and understand each other, it would have been immensely helpful and probably saved years of misunderstandings,” Corkern says.
Seattle’s Ethiopian community feels encouraged by the new action plan. “When they bring [Ethiopian children] to this country, if they register them with the community, hopefully the community will follow up how they’re doing. Because it’s like throwing one little fish in the ocean,” said Fakadu Desalegne, who attended a recent community meal at the Ethiopian Community Center. “But if the community knows where that person is and who sponsored them, once a year or every six months to check up on those cases, I believe it’s a good idea.”
In Seattle, Ethiopians Turn Grief to Action
[Latitude News 11/23/11 by Anna Boiko-Weyrauch]
Update 17: To Train Up A Child Book again is mentioned in a media article. “The authors say raising a child is as simple as training a dog, and they cite biblical verses supporting use of the “rod.” Their website includes comments from many followers who say they have successfully raised happy, obedient children using the Pearls’ principles.”
“”It’s truly an evil book,” said Michael Ramsey, the district attorney for Butte County, Calif.
Ramsey successfully prosecuted Kevin and Elizabeth Schatz for hitting their daughter Lydia to death in Paradise, Calif., in 2006 with a plastic plumbing-supply tube — the kind the Pearls mention in an article on their website called “In Defense of Biblical Chastisement.”
Lydia, 7, was adopted from Liberia. Her transgression? Mispronouncing the word “pulled” from a children’s book. She said “pull-ed,” according to Ramsey, and the hitting began.
The Pearls also drew fire after the 2006 murder of 4-year-old Sean Paddock, who suffocated after his mother swaddled him too tightly in a blanket. Lynn Paddock told a Johnston County, N.C., court she wanted to keep her son from getting out of bed.
She was a devoted follower of the Pearls, prosecutors said, and she had come across their writings while surfing the Internet. She’s now serving a life sentence for first-degree murder and felony child abuse.
In Washington state, the death of Hana Williams marked the third time the Pearls’ names and their book have surfaced after the death of a child — but the first time Washington state child-welfare officials had come across it. The Williamses have pleaded not guilty and their case is in the pretrial phase.
Dead of hypothermia
Hana, 13, was adopted from Ethiopia in 2008 by Larry and Carri Williams, of Sedro-Woolley.
She was regularly spanked and locked in a closet, and was forced to sleep in a barn and take garden-hose showers outside, according to an affidavit from the Skagit County Sheriff’s Office. The affidavit was based on information from the couple’s six natural children, another adopted child, medical experts and other family and friends. The interviews were conducted by detectives and investigators from the state’s Child Protective Services.
In 2009, Hana weighed 108 pounds, but over the past two years of her life, she lost 30 pounds, largely because her parents denied her food as punishment, the affidavit says. She was so thin she couldn’t retain enough heat May 12, the night she died. She had been outside with no clothes and died of hypothermia, an autopsy found.
On the backs of her legs were marks consistent with being beaten earlier in the day, the affidavit alleges.
According to the investigators, the Williamses were familiar with the Pearls and had given a copy of their book to an acquaintance.
Larry Williams, 47, a Boeing worker, told sheriff’s detectives the children were disciplined with a piece of white plastic more than a foot long. It had a round ball on the end, and he said he had picked it up at a plumbing-supply store.
On Sept. 29, after four months of investigation, the Williamses were charged with homicide by abuse. They were also charged with assault for allegedly torturing Hana’s adopted brother, 10, also from Ethiopia.
The couple are free on bail. If convicted, they face life terms in prison.
All but one of the Williams children have been placed with relatives or foster parents, CPS says. The eldest, now 18, is back home.
The Williamses, through their attorneys, declined to comment for this article.
Rachel Forde, who represents Larry Williams, said in an email: “Just because the government makes an accusation doesn’t mean it’s true. … Once the jury hears the evidence, unfiltered by the prosecutor’s lens, we believe that a much different picture will emerge about the lives of the Williams children and Hana’s tragic death.”
After Hana died, Michael Pearl issued a statement.
“We share in the sadness over the tragic death of Hana Williams,” he said. “What her parents allegedly did is diametrically opposed to the philosophy of No Greater Joy Ministries and what is taught in the book, ‘To Train Up a Child.’ ”
No Greater Joy Ministries is the name of the business the Pearls run in Pleasantville, Tenn.
If the Williamses had a copy of the book, Pearl said, they either didn’t read it or “totally ignored its contents.”
In a telephone interview, Pearl, 66, said spanking is just one part of a comprehensive program on child-rearing and should be “reserved for rebellion when children are angry or defiant.”
“I’m passing on traditional parenting methods, traditional common sense that’s been around for 6,000 years,” he said.
Much of the book — written mostly by Michael Pearl — features advice on developing better “fellowship” with children and serving as a good role model. It’s also got short chapters on home schooling and what to do when your child gets bullied.
But spanking is clearly the heart of the book.
“He that spareth his rod hateth his son,” from Proverbs 13:24, is cited often, as are other biblical references to discipline.
Many Christians disagree with the Pearls, but the Tennessee preacher argues the rod is a gift from God.
“A child properly and timely spanked is healed in the soul and restored to wholeness of spirit,” he writes. “A child can be turned back from the road to hell through proper spankings.”
Pearl encourages parents to think of the switch as a “magic wand” and says teaching a child to obey is like training an animal:
“A dog can be trained not to touch a tasty morsel laid in front of him. Can’t a child be trained not to touch?”
That’s a comparison that irks many child advocates.
“Children aren’t dogs,” says Karen Moline, a member of Parents for Ethical Adoption Reform, a New York-based advocacy group. “They’re thinking, speaking people who have needs and their own identities.”
A Christian website called Why Not Train a Child? was created in 2004 to counter the Pearls’ arguments.”
“The book contains a brief anecdote about a man who toilet-trained his toddler son by washing him with a cold hose, but that is the only reference to cold showers.
He doesn’t write about withholding food or suggest that children be forced to stay outside.
As for locking a child in a closet, Pearl said, “I would consider that an act of extreme child abuse.”
There’s one issue Pearl and his critics agree on — that the Pearls’ spanking strategies weren’t designed to work on older, adopted children. “I encourage Christian parents not to adopt children from foreign countries,” Pearl said, and they shouldn’t be older than any of the parents’ biological children.
He added that spanking is “almost counterproductive” for children once they turn 6.
Hana was 13; Lydia was 7. Both were from foreign countries.
In the end, the Pearls’ book may not be of much significance in the prosecution of Larry and Carri Williams.
“It doesn’t make any difference,” Skagit County Prosector Rich Weyrich said. “If the child’s abused, the child’s abused. There’s no excuse for a death.”
Did Hana’s parents ‘train’ her to death?
[Seattle Times 11/28/11 by Jeff Hodgson]
Still waiting for the media to re-focus on the Williams and AAI.
Update 18: It is worth pointing out a comment on the Update 17 article
“The agency that placed these children in this sick home was ADOPTION ADVOCATES INTERNATIONAL of Port Angeles, WA, run by a family that was previously investigated for sexual molestation of their blind 12 year old adopted child. This agency has many other allegations of sick practices, particularly in Ethiopia.
WHY AREN’T THEY BEING HELD ACCOUNTABLE FOR THEIR ROLE IN THIS TRAGEDY, OF PLACING THE CHILDREN IN THIS HOME? THEY ARE STILL PLACING CHILDREN TODAY….!!!! THERE NEEDS TO BE A *CRIMINAL* INVESTIGATION!!!!”
Update 19/January 6 afternoon: “The Sedro-Woolley couple charged with the death of their 13-year-old adopted daughter, Hana Williams, were denied their motions to suppress investigative photos Wednesday in Skagit County Superior Court.
Larry and Carri Williams are charged with homicide by abuse and first-degree child assault for the treatment of their two adopted children from Ethiopia, one of them Hana.
First, the defense argued photos of Hana’s undergarments and a sanitary pad violated her right to privacy and would be offensive to a reasonable person. They also asserted that images of red-stained socks belonging to Hana would impede the Williamses’right to a fair trial because they gave a “false impression of injury.”
Finally, attorneys claimed that photos of Larry Williams’ phone showing his phone number and exterior shots of the family home would endanger his safety.
Judge Susan Cook rejected all three arguments.”
Motion denied to suppress investigative photos in Hana Williams death case
[Go Skagit 1/5/12 by Lynsi Burton]
“County prosecutors filed a motion Wednesday to revoke the bail of the Sedro-Woolley couple charged with homicide in the death of their adopted daughter, claiming the two have attempted to contact each other and their children against court orders.”
“The motion will be considered this afternoon in Skagit County Superior Court, which could lead to the Williamses returning to jail.
“This matter need(s) to be heard with short notice to prevent further attempts to influence the children who are witnesses in this matter,” wrote Skagit County Prosecutor Rich Weyrich in a Jan. 4 court filing.”
Prosecuters seeking to revoke bail for Larry, Carri Williams
[Go Skagit 1/6/12 by Lynsi Burton]
Update 20/January 6 evening:
” A judge has raised the bail amount of the man charged in the death of his adoptive daughter.
Larry Williams’ bail was increased to $500,000 on Friday. The bail of his wife, Carri Williams, remained at $150,000, and she remained free on bail.
Skagit County Prosecutor Rich Weyrich said the amount was increased over Larry Williams’ alleged attempt to contact his children via a third party — a violation of the conditions of his release. ”
Bail increased for Sedro Woolley man in abuse death of daughter
REFORM Puzzle Pieces
These people never should have adopted. They were not prepared and went into this for all the wrong reasons. This alone would have stopped this tragedy.
Honesty in the AP’s abilities was lacking and the kneejerk accusations in the aftermath that Hana committed suicide is related in that protecting the institution of Ethiopia adoption and the agencies involved became more important than figuring out what happened to Hana. Honesty about the conditions and age of the children is also questionable.
Update 21: “The Washington state review of adoption and foster care abuse cases will begin on February 21, 2012 and the governor hopes that a report will be available in May 2012.
“Jeffrey and Rebecca Trebilcock of Bunker Hill, in Cowlitz County, have been accused of staving their five adopted children, three of them from Haiti. The Trebilcock children, as well as Hana Williams, were home-schooled and isolated from the community.
Mary Meinig, of the Office of the Family and Children’s Ombudsman, read case files on each child starved and found striking similarities.
“These parents were withholding food, beating the children, putting them outside, locking them in closets, locking them in bathrooms or not giving them bathroom facilities,” Meinig said.
DSHS oversees foster-care placements and assigns caseworkers who follow up with the families, but adoptions are a different story.
“Once that adoption is approved and closed by the order of the judge, the child welfare agency would no longer have responsibility. The parents who have adopted the child would be legally responsible for the care,” DSHS Assistant Secretary Denise Revels Robinson said.
In February, a work group of child experts ordered by Gov. ChristineGregoire will meet to discuss what more can be done.
“We really want to learn from international adoption agencies what they do and what they look for and their follow-up after children are adopted here,” Meinig said. “It’s very serious business. We all promise these children a safe and loving family, and with these children we’ve failed to give them that and we need to know why.”
The governor hopes the group can complete its work in May and make a presentation on proposed changes.”
State reviewing adoption placement after child starvation cases
[Q13Fox 1/25/12 by Dana Rebik]
“The group of child experts will examine adoption abuse and the “cluster of very concerning situations in 2011,” according to the letter sent by state officials. Five abuse cases involving starvation were reported in 2011, and four involved adopted children. Included in that group is the Cowlitz County criminal case against Jeffrey and Rebecca Trebilcock in May. The couple denies ever harming their children.
The work group will be lead by Denise Revels Robinson, assistant secretary of the state Department of Social and Health Services and Mary Meinig, ombudsman of the state Office of the Family & Children.
The work group will be asked to answer several questions, including:
• Are neglect and abuse, including withholding food, on the rise? And are they more prevalent in adopted homes?
• Are changes needed to foreign or cross-race adoptions procedures? Or in the foster care adoption process?
• Do child welfare agencies maintain adequate long-term data on adoption outcomes?
• Does a push to have more foster children adopted sooner created risks to child safety?
The first meeting is Feb. 21 in Olympia. Officials hope to have their report completed by May.”
State work group on adopted child abuse will meet in February
[TDN 1/29/12 by Barbara La Boe]
Update 22: Carri contacts one of her sons. That is not allowed, so back in jail she goes.
“A mother accused of abusing and starving her 13-year-old daughter to death is back in jail after she violated a no-contact order with one of her other children, the Skagit County Prosecutor’s Office said.
Carri Williams of Sedro Woolley was arrested Thursday after allegedly violating a court order prohibiting her from contacting her son. She is now being held on $300,000 bail.
She was initially arrested in 2011, along with her husband Larry, after the couple’s adopted daughter Hana was found dead – naked, in her own backyard – after spending much of a cold, rainy day outside as punishment, according to court documents.
Carri and Larry Williams were later released from jail after posting bail, and they were under strict orders not to contact their other children. But Larry was re-arrested in January after violating the no-contact order, and Carri was re-arrested late Thursday.
The couple is charged with homicide by abuse in Hana’s death. They also were charged with first-degree child assault for the alleged abuse of their younger adopted son. It was this son that Carri Williams was trying to contact, the prosecutor said.
Hana died of hypothermia in May 2011 after she was systematically starved, beaten, forced to use an outdoor toilet and sometimes locked in a dark closet for days by the Williams, according to court documents.
Hana had been adopted from Ethiopia in 2008 as a diseased little girl to begin a new life with her new parents in America. Instead, she was beaten, starved, forced to sleep in a barn at times and deprived of love and basic necessities, court documents say.
Although she died of hypothermia, there were other contributing causes to her death, including severe malnutrition and chronic gastritis, doctors said.
The Williams’ other children told investigators that Hana sometimes was beaten with a switch for standing more than 12 inches away from where she was told to stand or for speaking without permission.
But in the 911 call she made after her daughter’s death, Carri Williams claimed it was the girl’s own rebellious and self-destructive attitude that led to her death.
“Yes, I think my daughter killed herself,” Carri Williams told the 911 operator.
When asked why she thought that was the case, Williams answered, “She’s really rebellious and she’s been outside, refusing to come in. And she’s been throwing herself all around, and then she collapsed.”
A witness told investigators that the Williams got their ideas for the disciplinary measures from a book, “To Train Up Your Child,” which recommends switchings with a plumbing tool, cold water baths, withholding food and putting children out in cold weather as forms of punishment, court documents say.”
Mom accused in daughter’s abuse death is back in jail
Update 23: A search of the Washington state court system here .An evidentiary hearing for Carri was on 5/11/12 where the order for bail for $300,000 was set. Bail bond was posted on 5/14/12.
Update 24/June 30, 2012: A few new developments. A public search of Washington state court system for Larry Paul Williams of Skagit Superior Court (there are over 200 Larry Williams’ cases in Washington so you need to know his middle name) reveals that he has an omnibus hearing on 7/27/12 and trial date is set for October 1, 2012 which could be moved as a hearing is set for a few days prior to that. Carri’s case record has nothing significant since her bond posting in May.
Additonally, ECMA has begun their “training” sessions called Hana’s Hope. See the announcement here for June 30 , 2012 session and pasted below:
“When: June 30th, 2pm
Where: Ethiopian Community Mutual Association, 8323 Ranier Avenue South, Seattle WA 98118 Phone Number:- 206 325-03-4
Many of the children in our community have experienced loss at a young age. Bereavement, separation or divorce of parents, separation from birth family and even chronic illness in the family all create crisis in any young life. Children and teens are resilient, but research suggests that unresolved grief can leave them emotionally vulnerable and at risk. Join us at 2pm on June 30th for a discussion on grief and how we can help children discover their own coping skills. Special guest speaker Tom Freeman, Director of Programs at The Healing Center in Seattle will present an overview of how children grieve. Adoptive parent Susan Denning will introduce Rainbows, a peer-support group for children which will run for 12 weeks at ECMA Seattle next fall as part of the Hana’s Hope project. This presentation is intended for adults only. Childcare will be available for a nominal fee. ”
It is important to note that “adoptive parent Susan Denning” is an AAI client who has posted on AAI’s blog in the past. This entire “training” is disturbing as Hana did not die because of bereavement or birthfamily separation issues or lack of peer support. Her adoptive parents have been charged with MURDER and to name this after her is just awful. To have AAI vicariously involved by one of their very-involved clients having a major role is equally disgusting.
Update 25: The trial did not begin on October 1, 2012. A search of public court case records showed that on August 17, 2012, both Larry and Carri had orders for continuance of trial date to February 4, 2013.
Update 26: Hana is mentioned in Washington’s Adopted Child Abuse Report. See this post for details.
KOMO News has obtained some documents from DCS detailing more of the alleged abuse. Documents: Teen was abused, tortured before her death [KOMO News 10/24/12 by Elisa Jaffe]
“Hana Williams came to the U.S. from Ethiopia with parasites and ringworm, but that’s not what killed the young teen. Skagit County authorities say Hana was constantly denied food, locked in a dark closet for days, and forced to sleep in a barn. Police say Hana was left out in her backyard barely clothed on a cold, rainy May night just hours before dying in a hospital.”
“Thomas Shapley says Department of Social and Health Services staff were not satisfied with the results of the autopsy.
“It just wasn’t enough,” Shapley said. “The autopsy came back ’cause of death could not be determined.’ Our folks were tenacious and concerned some bad thingswere going on in this house.”
DSHS first asked a medical consultant to review records, then two more eminent doctors including one from Children’s Hospital.
“It was their conclusion that abuse and even torture was involved,” Shapley said.
The DSHS documents reveal Carri Williams told investigators she’d spanked Hana the night before her death, leaving a large number of marks on the child’s legs. The Skagit County coroner said the red marks could have come from someone hitting Hana with a switch. The thin teenager weighed 75 pounds at the time of her death. [Hitting with a switch is part of the To Train Up A Child punishment routine]
“She had actually lost weight from when she had arrived here from Ethiopia,” Shapley said.
She’d dropped a fourth of her body weight. One doctor concluded severe starvation potentially contributed to her death.
“We went to court and asked the court to remove the children,” Shapley said.
Hana’s seven siblings were all placed with relatives and foster parents. The oldest, now 18, has returned to his Sedro-Woolley home. He’s there with his mother Carri who is out on bail. Her husband Larry, a Boeing worker, remains in jail awaiting trial for homicide by abuse and assault for allegedly torturing Hana’s adopted brother.
If convicted, the couple faces life in prison.
Hana’s brothers and sisters are being monitored in monthly visits and DSHS says it might ask for a severing of parental rights even if the Williams are not convicted.”
Update 27: “Attorneys agreed Friday to postpone a hearing on whether to exhume the body of young teen Hana Williams, whose parents are charged with homicide by abuse in her case.
Defense attorneys want more time to respond to the prosecutors’ motion.
Prosecutors moved earlier in the week to exhume the girl’s body to verify her age and back up the homicide by abuse charge against her adoptive parents, Larry and Carri Williams.
The homicide by abuse charge only applies if a victim is younger than 16. Though Hana, adopted from Ethiopia, was believed to be about 13 at the time of her May 2011 death, the reported ages of adopted children from overseas are known to often be inaccurate.
The exhumation would help prove Hana was younger than 16, prosecutors contend.
Hana died from hypothermia brought on by malnutrition in her family’s back yard outside Sedro-Woolley. Law enforcement and Department of Social and Health Services investigations indicate she was starved and assaulted at home.
The Williamses face trial in February.”
[GO Skagit 11/10/12 by Lynsi Burton]
Update 28: “Prosecutors filed additional charges Wednesday against Larry and Carri Williams, the Skagit County couple accused of killing their adopted teen daughter Hana Williams last year.
A charge of first-degree manslaughter by domestic violence was added to each of their existing charges.
The couple already is charged with homicide by abuse for Hana Williams’ death and first-degree child assault for their treatment of their adopted son.
The charging documents also say aggravating factors in the manslaughter are that the “offense was part of an ongoing pattern of psychological, physical, or sexual abuse of a victim or multiple victims manifested by multiple incidents over a prolonged period of time.”
The accusation details that the offense occurred within sight or sound of minor children under 18 — in this case the Williams’ other biological children — and that the offense resulted in “deliberate cruelty or intimidation” of the victim.
Hana was found unconscious in her parents’ backyard outside Sedro-Woolley on a rainy night in May 2011.
She was later determined to have died of hypothermia brought on by malnutrition.
Investigative records allege systematic abuse inflicted on Hana and her brother that included starvation, assault and extended periods of time left outside or in small spaces.
Skagit County Prosecutor Rich Weyrich said the new charges wouldn’t add time to the Williams’ sentence if they’re convicted, but “gives us more options.”
Larry and Carri Williams are scheduled to be arraigned on the manslaughter charges Nov. 28.”
[Seattle Times 11/23/12 by Lynsi Burton]
The public court record shows that November 28 is the date that the motion to exhume will be heard. Also, on November 19, 2012, a declaration was made by Frances T. Chalmers, who is an adoption medicine doctor at Skagit Pediatrics.
Update 29: The Williams plead not guilty. The motion to exhume her body in an attempt to prove that Hana was older in order to save them from the abuse charge was granted. You both are Sick POS!
“A charge of first-degree manslaughter by domestic violence was added Wednesday to each of their existing charges. The couple already is charged with homicide by abuse for Hana’s death and first-degree child assault for their treatment of their adopted son.
In addition to their arraignment today, the judge granted the request by prosecutors to exhume Hana’s body to confirm her age. While Hana was believed to have been 13 years old, the defense may contend that she is older. That could affect the charge of homicide by abuse, which only applies to victims under age 16.
Hana was adopted from Ethiopia, and her exact age is unknown.
Hana was found unconscious in her parents’ backyard outside Sedro-Woolley on a rainy night in May. She was later determined to have died of hypothermia brought on by malnutrition.”
[Go Skagit.com 11/28/12 by Kate Martin]
Update 30: “The case of young teen Hana Williams’ 2011 death continued with another step Thursday morning after Judge Susan Cook said she will allow some defense expert examination of Hana’s body when it is exhumed.
Hana’s adoptive parents, Larry and Carri Williams from near Sedro-Woolley, are charged with homicide by abuse and first-degree manslaughter by domestic violence in her death.
Investigative reports indicate she was assaulted repeatedly in the Williams’ care and that she died of hypothermia brought on by malnutrition as she was left outside in her family’s backyard.
Cook granted prosecutors’ request for exhumation two weeks earlier in an attempt to determine Hana’s age. Though she was believed to be about 13 at the time of her death, her exact age is unknown because she was adopted out of Ethiopia and did not have birth records.
Hana must be under 16 for her parents’ homicide by abuse charge to apply.
Forensic experts employed by defense attorneys said they plan to perform an independent age analysis and re-examine the possible cause of her death.
No date has been set for Hana’s exhumation from the Union Cemetery in Sedro-Woolley.” SICK!
[GO Skagit.com 12/13/12 by Lynsi Burton]
Update 31/April 23, 2013
On January 2, 2013, the trial date was moved to July 22, 2013
[GO Skagit.com 1/2/13]
A look at the Skagit county court records shows that numerous motions have been filed including several sealed documents pertaining to expert witnesses and payments.
The last court hearings were on April 4, 2013 with an order of continuance to June 27, 2013. We will see if the trial can commence as soon as July 22 when nothing will be happening for two and half months.
Update 32/May 10, 2013
“The hope of verifying Hana Williams’ age at the time of her death is now pinned on an attempt to track down an Ethiopian man believed to be her uncle.
An examination of Hana’s bones and teeth have not conclusively determined whether she was younger than 16 when she died, Skagit County Prosecutor Rich Weyrich told the Skagit Valley Herald after a hearing Thursday.
Hana’s adoptive parents, Larry and Carri Williams, are charged with homicide by abuse and first-degree manslaughter for her death two years ago. The homicide by abuse charge only applies to children younger than 16.
Originally from Ethiopia, Hana was believed to have been 13 at the time of her death. Her exact age is uncertain because birth documentation has been unavailable.
Carri Williams called 911 after finding Hana laying in the mud in the backyard of their Sedro-Woolley area home on a rainy night in May 2011.
Her death was caused by hypothermia brought on by malnutrition, according to the autopsy report. Investigative reports detail allegations that the Williamses starved Hana, beat her and forced her to live outside.
After her body was exhumed in January, experts examined various bones and teeth and gave approximate age ranges for each body part, Weyrich said. But the estimates vary and did not determine that she was definitely younger or older than 16, he said.
Now prosecutors hope that an apparent biological uncle to Hana can help prove her birth date.
Prosecutors filed a supplement to their witness list on Monday, stating that an Ethiopian man who claimed to be Hana’s uncle could testify that she was younger than 16 at the time of her death.
Weyrich said during Thursday’s hearing that the man, Kassaye Woldetsidik, was present for her birth. The man also was willing to track down Hana’s birth certificate in the town of her birth, Weyrich said.
Larry Williams’ defense attorney, Rachel Forde, aired concerns about the man, saying that she, too, wanted access to the uncle.
Prosecutors, however, have had difficulties getting in touch with him after making initial contacts. Weyrich said the man may have to travel to the United States or someone may have to find him in Ethiopia.
The next hearing is set for June 7, when Forde plans to make a motion to dismiss charges.
Larry and Carri Williams are also charged with first-degree child assault for the alleged abuse of their adoptive Ethiopian son.”
[GoSkagit.com 5/9/13 by Lynsi Burton]
Update 33/June 9, 2013
A check of the public court records reveals that a Motion to Dismiss is on the calendar for June 19, 2013. At the June 7 hearing, there is a line item for “Defendant’s List Of Witnesses Second Amended ”
Update 34/June 21,2013
A check of the public court records reveals that on June 11, 2013, there were motions to seal a document. There was also a motion to retain expert services that was sealed. An affidavit was submitted and is sealed. On June 14, 2013, a notice of association of counsel was recorded in the record with the names “Trueblood, Cassie Cordell ”
The June 19, 2013 hearing was cancelled per defendant’s request.
Update 35/July 11, 2013
A check of the public court records reveals that on June 20, 2013 a motion to unseal adoption file was made. On June 27, 2013, the defense motions to suppress evidence. Additionally on that day, there was a “Memorandum Objecting To St’s Ongoing Efforts To Impede Investigation And Motion For Deposition Cr4.6” On July 2, 2013, the states list of witnesses was supplied. Also on that day, there was a “Memorandum For Protective Orders Re: Testimony Of Iw”. On July 3, 2013, there was a “Declaration Marianne Yamashita ” On July 10, 2013, there was a “Declaration Of Laura Mixon Re: Mt For Protective Order Re Iw Testimony”. On July 10, there was a “responsive memorandum”
“Iw “likely is Immanuel Williams.
Update 36/July 17, 2013
Motion to dismiss charges was denied on July 17. Trial to begin Monday July 22.
“Attorneys took pretrial motions to a judge Tuesday morning in advance of next week’s trial of Larry and Carri Williams, the couple charged in the 2011 death of their adopted Ethiopian daughter.
The Williamses both have pleaded not guilty to homicide by abuse and first-degree manslaughter in Hana Williams’s death. Their trial is scheduled to begin July 22.
Attorneys for Carri Williams asked that the trial be postponed a week, but Judge Susan K. Cook turned them down. Prosecutors and Larry Williams’s attorneys had both opposed that motion.
The trial has already been postponed several times as attorneys squabbled over issues including whether Hana’s body should be exhumed in an attempt to determine her age at the time of her death. Those tests were not conclusive.
Hana was found lying dead in the mud in the backyard of the Williamses’ Sedro-Woolley-area home on a rainy night in May 2011. She died of hypothermia hastened by malnutrition, according to the autopsy report.
Investigative reports detail allegations that the Williamses starved Hana, beat her and forced her to live outside.
The couple also is charged with first-degree child assault, tied to allegations they physically abused their Ethiopian adoptive son.
Attorneys for the Williamses moved to dismiss the assault of a child and homicide by abuse charges based on their “vagueness,” but were denied, said defense attorney Wes Richards, who is representing Carri Williams.
In court Tuesday, Cook granted prosecutors’ motion to unseal Hana’s adoption file.
Attorneys for Larry Williams asked Cook to supress testimony by Hana’s alleged biological relative, but were denied. That testimony could be key in proving Hana’s birth date.
Larry Williams’s attorneys also moved to bar a video of Hana from being shown at the trial because it was brought up as evidence too late, Richards said.
The video is a one-minute “vignette of Hana while she was still in Ethiopia,” Weyrich said. Whether it can be shown at trial is still “a maybe,” he said.
Another motion to exclude two torture experts the prosecution plans to call as witnesses also was denied.”
[GO Skagit 7/17/13 by Gina Cole]
Jurors are being selected on Monday July 22, 2013.
“ury selection will begin Monday in the trial of a Sedro-Woolley-area couple accused of abusing their adopted Ethiopian daughter to death in 2011.
Larry and Carri Williams are charged with homicide by abuse and first-degree manslaughter in Hana Williams’ death. Both have pleaded not guilty.
The homicide-by-abuse charge applies only if the victim was younger than 16, and Hana’s exact age has been at issue throughout the investigation. She is believed to have been 13 when she died, but documentation of her birth has been unavailable.
Witnesses for the defense could testify that birth certificates are issued in fewer than 15 percent of Ethiopian births, and that birth dates given for adopted children are often unreliable or inaccurate, according to court documents.
Motions Friday by Carri Williams’ attorneys to postpone the start of the trial were denied. Attorney Wes Richards said repeatedly that he and attorney Laura Riquelme were not prepared to provide adequate counsel for Carri Williams because they had received some evidence from the state as late as Friday.
Judge Susan K. Cook, who is presiding over the case, said a “last-minute flurry of activity” is typical.
Prosecutors and Larry Williams’ attorneys had both opposed that motion, with Larry Williams’ attorneys arguing he has spent 19 months in custody and should not have to wait longer for his day in court.
“This is a situation where one side holds all the cards,” said Larry Williams’ attorney, Rachel Forde, gesturing to the prosecution and then to her client, “and one side is facing all the jeopardy.”
Larry Williams, unlike his wife, has been held at the Snohomish County Jail under Skagit County’s custody.
The couple also are charged with first-degree child assault, tied to allegations they physically abused their Ethiopian adoptive son.
Hana was found lying dead in the mud in the backyard of the Williamses’ home on a rainy night in May 2011. She died of hypothermia hastened by malnutrition and a stomach condition, according to the autopsy report.
Investigative reports detail allegations that the Williamses starved Hana, beat her and forced her to live outside.
About 125 people will be called in Monday as possible jurors. That group eventually will be whittled to 15 — 12 jurors and three alternates, Cook said Friday.”
[Seattle Times 7/21/13 by Gina Cole]
Trial coverage in Part II at this link