Autopsy: Kids found in Calif. storage unit killed far away
2 children found in California storage locker killed hundreds of miles away.
Dec. 14: Members of the Salinas Police Crime Scene Investigation unit work outside a house in Salinas, Calif., recently lived in by a woman and teenage boy arrested on suspicion of felony child abuse, torture and mayhem.SAN FRANCISCO – Police in the Northern California city of Redding, where the bodies of a boy and a girl were found inside a storage unit, said Wednesday the children died somewhere else and that police in Salinas, where the children had lived until recently, will lead the investigation.On Friday evening, authorities in the rural Northern California town of Quincy received a tip about child abuse at an apartment where Huntsman and her 17-year-old boyfriend, Gonzalo Curiel, were staying.SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Investigators believe two young California children whose bodies were found last week in a Redding storage locker had been killed around Thanksgiving more than 300 miles away in Salinas, police said Thursday.
The girl weighed just 18kg, had missing and loose teeth, broken bones in her shoulder, broken fingers and a dislocated jaw when found in the locked Toyota 4-Runner in the small town of East Quincy in Plumas County, California. The announcement raises the possibility that the children may have been killed before they left Salinas the day after Thanksgiving, although officials would not confirm that Wednesday night. She had open sores and was infested with lice. “That little girl had been subjected to the most unspeakable measure of torture for an extended period of time.
The Associated Press typically does not identify abuse victims; it is not naming the woman and teenager because their relationship to the children is unclear. Salinas police spokesman Spencer Critchley said police and officials from the Monterey County District Attorney’s Office planned a news conference at 2 p.m.
Child welfare workers repeatedly visited the Salinas home of a woman now under investigation in the deaths of two children to check on complaints of neglect, an official said. Shasta County District Attorney Stephen Carlton told the Redding Record Searchlight that evidence found during the autopsy showed “clearly” the children were killed in Monterey County.
There were four complaints between September 2014 and August about general neglect, a category that includes poor supervision, improper feeding, lice infestation and dirty household conditions, Robinson said, adding that none of the complaints alleged physical abuse. Elliott Robinson, the director of Monterey County’s social services department, said Wednesday that his office received four reports involving the family, most recently in August.
Robinson said he was limited by legal issues over what information he could release, but said social workers responding to such calls typically make efforts to ensure children are cared for and to help work with adults to address any problems in the home. The Redding Police Department stopped short of identifying the children on Wednesday, but said an autopsy revealed the children in the locker were killed outside of Shasta County, and that other agencies would take the lead on the investigation.
The girl was rushed to the hospital, where she underwent five hours of surgery Sunday. “When you see what has been done to a beautiful little 9-year-old girl,” Hagwood told the Sacramento Bee before pausing to fight back tears. “Anyone not affected needs to get some help.” Authorities quickly learned that Huntsman and Curiel were new to town. The family lived at a Fremont Street home in Salinas and consisted of Huntsman, 39; two 12-year-old twins she had with a former husband; and three other children she was caring for at the request of their father, Shaun Daniel Tara, who was incarcerated and whose wife, Vivian, died in 2013. When detectives began speaking to the couple’s families Saturday, though, they learned that two other children were unaccounted for: 3-year-old Delylah Tara and 6-year-old Shaun Tara. You think why would anyone want to hurt them?” “They seemed like everyday people going about their lives,” she said. “That’s what’s so shocking; they seemed so mellow, so calm, and like nothing was wrong.” Surveillance video shows Huntsman paying for two rooms.
She probably would have died of her conditions in very short order had she not been discovered.” Hagwood added to KSBW: “This is an unspeakable tragedy. A responding deputy found the 9-year-old locked in a parked SUV and discovered she had multiple fractures, broken teeth, and other injuries and infections, and was severely malnourished, weighing only 40 pounds. And I don’t think anybody can fully appreciate the measure of suffering and pain and terror that people inflict on one another.” On her Facebook page, Huntsman said that she has worked at “Being the best mom (sic) I can be” since August 1994, Heavy reported. In the About section of her page, she wrote, “I love being with my kids and my family.” In 2013 Huntsman sued her former husband, Chris Criswell, for child support, KSBW reported. Plumas County Sheriff Greg Hagwood has said that some officials were so shaken by the abuse endured by the girl that they might have to take time off to recover.
Social services officials were reviewing the agency’s handling of the four neglect complaints. “We’re looking at the case to see if there’s anything we should have done differently that could have prevented this tragedy,” Robinson told the San Francisco Chronicle. The father of Huntsman’s twins, Chris Criswell, arrived in Quincy on Wednesday in an attempt to gather his children, but the sheriff said that reunion would not take place immediately. Wayne Huntsman, 38, “willfully, unlawfully, and maliciously” set the King Fire, a blaze that eventually burned more than 150 square miles of land near Sacramento and forced thousands of home evacuations, according to NBC.
He is currently being held in the Riverside County jail on charges that include felony possession of a controlled substance, felony possession of a dirk or dagger, and probation violations. Laura Garcia Miranda, 30, who set up the GoFundMe site, said she was the best friend of the children’s deceased mother, Vivian Saucedo, 33, and that after Saucedo’s death she raised the kids for several weeks while Shaun Tara struggled to cope with the tragedy. On Monday morning, Criswell took to Facebook to post a frantic plea for money to help him retrieve the 12-year-old twins, who were taken into custody in Quincy. “I have a family emergency and I need gas and hotel money to go get my twins in Quincy,” he wrote, adding that he was selling his new BMX bike to raise the cash.
He eventually took them back, but soon handed over custody to his cousin, Huntsman, she said. “Their father was going through a lot,” said Miranda, speaking by phone from Ontario. “He’s never abused his children. He just didn’t know how to take care of them.” The children regularly phoned Miranda and called her an aunt, even though there was no blood relation.
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