I read the report last night about eight-year old Chrystal Ramirez’s death from Dana, at Principled Discovery: Homeschooled girl starved to death by adoptive parents.
These blog posts are the hard ones. They are the reports that a child died because of what those trusted with her care did to her. The little girl from Gonzales County, Texas is not the first to die, and she probably will not be the last, but my hope is that I never have to write this kind of blog post ever again.
I will write an analysis of some of the conclusions about linking homeschooling and neglect, but not in this post. This is not the place to point out illogical connections. This is the place to remember a pretty little girl with brown hair and big brown eyes, and perhaps to swear that if we see evil, we won’t let it go unremarked.
The beginning of Chrystal’s eight years had a rocky start. When she was two years old her mother, Teresa Camarillo, gave up Chrystal, her sister and her brother because Teresa used and sold drugs illegally. In 1999 Chrystal’s father’s aunt and uncle, Rubin Stephen Ramirez and his wife Bettie, adopted the children. It was the last time Teresa Camarillo or family members, other than the new adoptive parents, saw Chrystal and her brother and sister.
In 2004, teachers at the rural Nixon-Smiley school, east of San Antonio, reported Mr. and Mrs. Ramirez to local child protection authorities for abuse and neglect of the then-Kindergartener. Doctors could not confirm the allegations (08-27-07 report).
In 2005, Mr. and Mrs. Ramirez withdrew Chrystal from school, apparently for homeschooling. Because of the homeschooling, a superintendent stated, “Once they begin home schooling, … we lose all contact with them and the state has no way of tracking them after that.”
Ms. Camarillo, Chrystal’s birth mother, said she checked with Child Protective Services about the children and was assured that, “they were making sure the children were safe and okay, …” but another news report states that the girls slept on folding lawn chairs in a locked room with a bell attached to the door.
Last month, on the 23rd of August, Rubin Ramirez brought Chrystal to a local fire station. The reason given was a fall from a trampoline. Her sister showed similar injuries. The sheriff said that the children were hurt, but not from falling from a trampoline. The sheriff later stated that Chrystal had been chained to a wall.
After “forensic interviews” of Chrystal’s brother and sister, and interviews with Mr. and Mrs. Ramirez, officers arrested the couple and held them in lieu of $150,000 and $100,000 bonds. The sheriff said that additional charges were possible against Mr. and Mrs. Ramirez, as well as “others who might have known about the case but remained silent.” Officials scheduled an autopsy, but online searches show no release of that information.
Later, officials brought additional warrants against Mr. and Mrs. Ramirez, with bonds set at $250,000 and $200,000.
Child Protective Services took Chrystal’s brother and sister into custody. One report said Chrystal’s brother attended school in San Antonio. Investigation of the Ramirez home, and information from Chrystal’s ten-year old sister, showed that both girls were tied to what passed for their beds, had their mouths taped closed, and were left starving.
Their mother, Teresa Camarillo, is raising money to try to recover her children. She and other family members were barred from Chrystal’s funeral.
posted by Valerie