Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Expert: Boy, 9, Not Competent To Stand Trial


ST. JOHNS, Ariz. -- An expert who evaluated a 9-year-old boy charged in the deaths of his father and another man has determined the boy is incompetent to stand trial, the boy's lawyer said.

The expert nominated by the defense also said the boy could not be restored to competency within the time allowed by law, attorney Benjamin Brewer said this week. Age and intelligence are among the reasons that would keep the boy from understanding the two counts of premeditated murder he is facing, Brewer said. He declined to discuss the evaluation further.

An expert nominated by prosecutors conducted a separate evaluation of the boy on Dec. 22, but it isn't yet known what the conclusions were. The defense report wasn't made public, although it was briefly mentioned in a court document.

The boy's competency is at the core of the case. The issue likely will be discussed at a hearing on a motion Brewer filed to suppress a police interview with the boy or during a competency hearing that could take place in January.

"That will be the biggest decision that will be made, for sure," he said.

If a judge finds the boy is incompetent and unable to be restored to competency within 240 days, the case could be dropped with prejudice, meaning it could not be refiled. Prosecutors are worried the boy never will get the treatment he needs and the victims never will see justice if that determination is made.

If the boy is found fit to stand trial, Apache County Superior Court Judge Michael Roca will hear arguments in a bench trial that attorneys say could wrap up by midyear.

"Unless he's found incompetent with a chance of rehabilitation, I would think sometime March or April we'll either have a trial or a plea agreement," said prosecutor Brad Carlyon.

The next hearing in the case is scheduled for Jan. 6. The case has been on hold pending the results of the competency evaluations. Roca has said he believes it's inappropriate to rule on any substantive issues until the boy's competency is determined.

Police say the boy, who turned 9 on Dec. 29, used a .22-caliber rifle to shoot his father, 29-year-old Vincent Romero, and 39-year-old Timothy Romans as the two men returned home from work on Nov. 5. Romans was renting a room in the family's two-story home in St. Johns.

The case has turned the small town of St. Johns into a media circus, as Roca has called it. It's the most high-profile case heard in the courthouse that was built in 1917 and once housed the county jail.

During hearings in the case, dozens of people fill the gallery seats in a courtroom on the second floor. The row of seats are adorned with an "A" for Apache County, and each seat still has an original hat rack.

Roca presides over the case from a hand-carved solid oak bench that features the state seal. To his right is a hand-carved jury box that won't be filled with jurors in this case.

Brewer, who has advocated for the boy to be released from juvenile detention during the proceedings, said if the boy is found guilty or enters a plea, jail time should not be an option.
"We would want probation," he said. "We would want no kind of incarceration, and we would want any kind of counseling that would be necessary."

He's not convinced, though, that prosecutors have a strong case. Along with the police interview, defense attorneys also have asked Roca to suppress evidence gathered from the home that included a weapon, spent cartridges, blood samples, photographs and forensic material.
The attorneys claim the warrant is invalid because the magistrate who signed it had a relationship with Romero and the boy.

Brewer has questioned the validity of the so-called confession in which the boy admitted to firing at least two shots at each of the men. The boy wasn't read his rights and wasn't represented by an attorney or parent, and Brewer said officers lied to the boy, threatened him and implied promises of leniency to get him to confess.

"We're protecting his rights, and if the police violated those, we're going to call them to the mat," he said.

Brewer's motions and another by prosecutors to drop the murder charge stemming from Romero's death won't be ruled on if the boy is found incompetent.

Prosecutors have asked the state Court of Appeals to determine whether Roca can decline to rule on the motions. The court said it will consider the petition Jan. 13, which could delay the boy's case.

Expert: Boy, 9, Not Competent To Stand Trial - Phoenix News Story - KPHO Phoenix

Earlier postings -

8-Year-Old Boy Admits Killing His Dad in Video

Video Shows Arizona Boy Talking About Dad's Death

Gag Order in Case of Third Grader Charged With Killing Father, Co-Worker

Mourners Dispute Abuse Suspicions in Arizona Man Fatally Shot by Son, 8

Third Grader Due in Court to Face Murder Charges in Shooting Death of Dad, Friend

Neighbors Seek Answers After Boy, 8, Allegedly Shot Father, Another Man Boy, 8, Arrested in Death of Two Adults, Including Dad

8-Year-Old Shoots, Kills Father, Motive Undetermined Experts: Abuse is often cause when kids kill parents, but motive in Ariz. case remains unclear

Boy, 8, Charged With MurderPolice: St. Johns boy vowed 1000th spanking would be limit

Prosecutor seeks to drop charge against young murder suspectExperts: Interrogation of boy, 8, 'out of bounds'

Priest: Slain father taught boy to use guns

Child, 8, accused of killing father, another man

RAW: 8-year-old murder suspect's interview with police

Experts: Abuse is often cause when kids kill parents, but motive in Ariz. case remains unclear

Mother Baffled in Arizona MurdersPsychological tests sought for boy accused of slayings

Gag Order Issued In 8-Year-Old's Murder Trial

Prosecutors Say Boy Methodically Shot His FatherArizona police aim to put eight-year-old on trial as an adult for shooting deaths

8-Year Old Charged With Two Counts of First Degree MurderBoy, 8, Arrested in Death of Two Adults, Including Dad

Mom: Boy charged with killing father 'loved his dad' -

Attorneys see flaws in murder case against 8-year-old

Prosecutor seeks to drop charge against young murder suspect

Experts Doubt That 8-Year-Old’s Taped Confession in Double Killing Is Admissible -

Experts: Interrogation of boy, 8, 'out of bounds' Let boy go, Bloom says

The tape doesn't lie

Priest: Slain father taught boy to use guns

Child, 8, accused of killing father, another man

8-Year-Old Accused of Killing Father Offered Plea Deal

Zimbio Pilot - Vincent Romero

Mother Baffled in Arizona Murders

Psychological tests sought for boy accused of slayings

Gag Order Issued In 8-Year-Old's Murder Trial

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New York Times Psychiatrist to Curtail Industry-Funded Activities

December 30, 2008

A prominent Harvard child psychiatrist will curtail activities financed by the drug industry while Massachusetts General Hospital investigates his failure for years to disclose the consulting fees he received from drug makers.

Dr. Joseph Biederman, a world-renowned and controversial researcher on childhood mental illness, has agreed to stop participating in speaking engagements and other activities paid for by pharmaceutical companies, and also to stop his work on industry-funded activities within the hospital. That includes some clinical trials that are currently underway at the hospital, said Peggy Slasman, a spokeswoman for Massachusetts General.

She said the trials would continue, but Dr. Biederman would not be involved.

“He’s just not going to be doing any of that as long as these review processes go on, until they wrap up and some decisions are made,” Ms. Slasman said. The hospital said in a statement that it is evaluating whether Dr. Biederman violated rules “related to potential conflicts of interest, disclosure and industry-institutional relationships.”

Ms. Slasman said that Dr. Biederman would be allowed to continue working on federally funded research during the review.

A lawyer for Dr. Biederman, Peter Spivack, said, “The agreement is one that was mutual.”

“We support M.G.H.’s desire to do an inquiry, and Dr. Biederman is cooperating with them,” Mr. Spivack added.

Mr. Spivack said that if issues arise with any of Dr. Biederman’s patients who are participating in the industry-funded clinical trials, “he’ll consult with his superiors” and will “be involved for the patient’s sake” to ensure that important information about the patient is relayed to doctors involved in the trial.

He said that the agreement will also prevent Dr. Biederman from participating in some conferences in his field that receive industry money.

Earlier this year, a Congressional investigation of payments received by physicians from industry sources found that Dr. Biederman had been paid at least $1.6 million in consulting fees by drug makers from 2000 to 2007, but had failed to report much of this income to Harvard officials for several years.

Dr. Biederman has been a leading advocate for the idea that very young children can suffer from bipolar disorder... His research contributed to a forty-fold increase in diagnoses of pediatric bipolar disorder from 1994 to 2003, as well as to a rapid increase in the prescribing of potent and potentially dangerous antipsychotic drugs to children.

Dad desperately sought son who was slain on Staten Island

UPDATE on - Disgusted with the system: Staten Island mom accused in beating death of son repeatedly defied judge

Grieving dad Charles Porter told the Advance he tried to locate Melissa Sekulski and their child for three years but was blocked by a Family Court that gave him visitation rights yet kept their ever-changing address confidential.

The father of the 10-year-old boy who was beaten to death in a filthy Mariners Harbor apartment Friday believes he could have saved his son, if only the city had told him where to find the boy and the mother who is now accused of killing him.

Grieving dad Charles Porter told the Advance yesterday he tried to locate Melissa Sekulski and their child for three years but was blocked by a Family Court that gave him visitation rights yet kept their ever-changing address confidential.

"They gave me a warrant and said, 'We can't release her address,' " said Porter, 30, of Harlem.

"They basically said, 'You're on your own.' ... I tried. I was always one step behind."

Jaquan Porter died, police said, after Ms. Sekulski, 30, slammed his head into a wall at their roach-infested Grandview Avenue apartment.

Police said she admitted to repeatedly beating the boy, most often thrashing him with a belt buckle, and under her dysfunctional care, the child ballooned to a morbidly obese 250 pounds.
Left unanswered is how the 5-foot, 6-inch, 160-pound woman was able to control a boy taller than she and 90 pounds heavier. One possibility is that he was intimidated and perhaps weakened by the abuse, which police said went on for at least three years. Also, Ms. Sekulski was both mother and teacher -- she was home schooling Jaquan. The boy's instinct may well have been to retreat and cover up.

Porter probably had legal recourse to find the child's address -- such as requesting that child-support payments be halted unless the warrant ordering visits was served -- but said he couldn't afford a lawyer and no one at Manhattan Family Court explained his options.

Porter maintained that during the time he was trying to locate Ms. Sekulski, the city Department of Education -- which monitors families that home-school -- or the agencies that provided mother and son welfare and Section 8 housing assistance should have done a simple drop-in check.

Just the sight of the boy, who was so heavy that it took six people to carry the body from the basement apartment, would have raised questions, he said.

"She was on public assistance with an unstable address, she took him out of school for a year, and no one's checking on him?" marveled Porter. "If someone would have made one visit, they would have known he was being abused. Now everyone cares."

In a cruel twist, Porter works at Richmond University Medical Center, where Jaquan was pronounced dead. Porter wasn't on duty Friday night.

Sources familiar with Family Court say it is not uncommon for addresses of parents to be kept confidential by request, but judges are willing to waive confidentiality when warrants are issued. Police and city sheriffs execute warrants for free but need somewhere to look.

"You can't just take this warrant to the 120th Precinct and say, 'I want you to find this person,'" said one source, who requested anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the press. "On Staten Island alone, that would be an unreasonable request -- let alone [Ms. Sekulski] is living in Manhattan, the Bronx and Brooklyn and, finally, Staten Island."

The city Administration for Children's Services said yesterday it is continuing to investigate whether it had any prior contact with Jaquan; Porter said the agency has been involved, but only after the couple, who never wed, became estranged.

Ms. Sekulski spent much of her youth living in an apartment on W. 116th St. in Harlem, just around the corner from Porter's Manhattan Avenue home.

Ms. Sekulski's relatives have questioned Porter's commitment to be reunited with his son -- although they themselves admittedly have not been in close contact with her for years.
Porter noted there was a period where he stopped paying child support and was put in arrears; he described it as a misguided attempt to force Ms. Sekulski to appear in court.

Sources familiar with the case said the paperwork to pull Jaquan out of public school in the middle of the last academic year and home school him was "very thorough" and wouldn't by itself have raised red flags.

Ms. Sekulski is charged with first-degree manslaughter and could face more serious charges.
Police say she confessed in written and videotaped statements to beating Jaquan with a belt for three years, and the city medical examiner's office said various internal injuries suffered during that time contributed to his death.

Porter last saw his son alive on Christmas 2003, when pictures show the child at a normal weight and seemingly happy. Soon after, the mother began denying visits. When he went to the morgue at Sea View, Porter saw a body that scarcely seemed to be the same child.

"I always knew I was going to eventually find him, but I didn't think I was going to find him like that," Porter said. "When I went down there to identify him, I know what I saw. I know that wasn't an accident."

My Two Cents...

My heart goes out to this man.. and any other parent who is being kept from thier children because of our dysfunctional/corrupt/self serving court system!

I don't know this man's pain of having his child die while he pleaded with the courts to allow him access..

However I do know the pain of being kept from your children without just cause while the other parent is abusing them.. in this man and his child's case it was phsycially.. in my children's case it is emotionally .. and perhaps phsycially.. but abuse is abuse and a self serving/corrupt court system being at the bottom of the problem... should outrage us all!

Wake up America.. our children are being put with the abusive parent in almost every case.. what's up with that? Or don't you care??

Dad desperately sought son who was slain on Staten Island - Staten Island Real-Time News -

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Federal Appeals Court Finds CPS Tactic Unconstitutional

Contact: Brad Dacus, President , Pacific Justice Institute, 916-857-6900

SACRAMENTO, Calif., Dec. 30 /Standard Newswire/ --

As families gather for the holidays, a recent ruling from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals offers hope to hundreds of thousands of parents haunted by the nightmare of unproven child abuse allegations.

For years, attorneys with Pacific Justice Institute have warned parents that, once CPS decides to investigate them for child abuse--sometimes based on anonymous tips from neighbors or vindictive ex-spouses--their names can end up on California's Child Abuse Central Index (CACI). Parents are listed on the CACI even when CPS eventually deems the charges "inconclusive" and closes its files. The CACI listing shows up on background checks for years to come and prevents parents from obtaining jobs or state licenses.

In Humphries v. County of Los Angeles, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals sharply criticized the ease with which people are listed on the CACI and the obstacles which prevent their names from being removed. The court was also troubled by a study indicating that as many as half of the more than 800,000 individuals listed on the CACI "may have a legitimate basis for expungement." Calling the list "the reverse of the presumption of innocence in our criminal justice system," the court ordered the state to enact greater procedural safeguards.

PJI President Brad Dacus commented, "It is gratifying that the Ninth Circuit has acknowledged what we have been saying for years--that treating parents as criminals when they are never convicted of a crime is unjust. We call on the legislature to finally fix this broken system in a way that honors basic constitutional rights."

Karen Milam, who directs PJI's Southern California office, stated, "Every year, PJI is inundated with hundreds of calls from desperate parents who do not understand how they could be labeled as child abusers based solely on unproven suspicions. This ruling is an important step toward keeping CPS honest."

Federal Appeals Court Finds CPS Tactic Unconstitutional - Standard Newswire

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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Destorying Lives For Profit

Psychiatric Screening:
By Ken Kramer and Thomas G. Whittle

Picture this. You are nine years old, healthy, happy, reasonably carefree, and just returning to your classroom
from a scholyard break.

Your teacher sends you to a room where a serious-looking man tells you to sit down and put on a set of
headphones. You are then probed by a computer with such questions as...

Story continues here on page 8:

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UPDATE on - John Hopkins Drago

A 15-year-old girl has been busted in connection with two Bronx murders, including the savage stabbing and dismemberment of a 22-year-old man, sources said yesterday.

Sharell Butler was charged Friday night with murder and other charges for repeatedly stabbing John Hopkins Drago in the head and neck before stuffing the corpse into a plastic bag, cops said.

His body was found in an alley next to an apartment building on Barnes Avenue near Lydig Avenue on the morning of Dec. 21.

Cops do not believe the attack was random, according to a police spokesman.

Butler was also charged with murder, robbery and burglary last night in connection with a home-invasion gone awry in Throgs Neck, the sources said.

Several thugs broke into an apartment on Dewey Avenue on Dec. 19 armed with a gun and killed Christopher Umpierrie while robbing him, cops said.

Butler was held without bail last night, but her lawyer, Xavier Donaldson, said: "She's just a 15-year-old girl and she's scared. She just wants to be with her mother right now."

Related -

Girl, 15, charged in 2 Bronx slayings, including former Westchester man's

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Staten Island mom accused in beating death of son repeatedly defied judge

Staten Island Advance

Monday December 29, 2008, 5:45 PM

Melissa Sekulski (center, wearing hooded jacket) has been charged with manslaughter in the death of her 10-year-old son, Jaquan Porter.
A day after she stood stone-faced as she was arraigned on first-degree manslaughter charges in the death of her 10-year-old son, Melissa Sekulski broke down in tears during a Family Court hearing in Manhattan today.

The Mariners Harbor mother appeared before a judge on a warrant stemming from a 2005 filing in which the youngster's father requested court-ordered visitation.

During the hearing, it came to light that Ms. Sekulski defied a judge's order by not allowing the boy's father to visit for nearly three years.
Family Court Judge Helen Sturm identified the boy's father only as "Mr. Porter" who filed a request for court-ordered visitation with his son in June 2005.

Ms. Sekulski didn't show up for a hearing on the matter in July 2005, triggering a warrant that was issued "for non-appearance" in August 2005.

The judge said Ms. Sekulski also missed subsequent court hearings regarding the father's visitation in September 2005, October 2006, October 2007, and in June earlier this year.

"This is an involuntary return on a warrant today," Judge Sturm said.
Ms. Sekulski, dressed in a green prison-issued jacket and gray denim pants, broke into tears as court officers led her handcuffed into the Manhattan Family courtroom. She cried throughout the brief hearing, and acknowledged family members as she was led away sobbing.

Family members declined to speak with reporters afterwards.

Ms. Sekulski was arrested Saturday night, a day after police found Jaquan Porter "unresponsive and unconscious" following a beating in which his head was slammed repeatedly into a wall. The 250-pound boy was pronounced dead at Richmond University Medical Center, West Brighton.
The Medical Examiner performed an autopsy and ruled the death a homicide.

Sources close to the case said investigators are looking into the possibility that the youngster was slammed head-first into a wall and the side of a tub. They are also questioning where the beating took place.

"The actual assault could have occurred in Brooklyn, but [Porter] died in Staten Island," one source said, adding, "Now, there's a question of jurisdiction."

If authorities determine that the fatal beating took place in Brooklyn, the case would be handed to the Brooklyn District Attorney's office for prosecution.
Ms. Sekulski was arraigned Sunday in Stapleton Criminal Court on a charge of first-degree manslaughter.

Court papers revealed that Ms. Sekulski made oral, written and videotaped statements admitting that she repeatedly beat Jaquan and used a belt or a belt buckle "on multiple occasions" over the course of three years.

On Dec. 26, the boy's head was slammed "against a wall at least twice," according to court records.

"The defendant has been physically abusing the victim for years," Assistant District Attorney Michael Schollar said during Ms. Sekulski's arraignment.

The prosecutor described the first-floor apartment on Grandview Avenue where Ms. Sekulski lived with her son as filthy, roach-infested, and devoid of food in the refrigerator.

"She thrashed him with a belt and belt buckle, and burned him with the buckle," Schollar charged.

Neighbors told the Advance they saw Ms. Sekulski running out of the apartment Friday and falling on her knees screaming, "My son, my son, pray for me ... He's obese!"

One neighbor said she was shocked to learn there was a child living with Ms. Sekulski.

"No one knew him," Arnell Bryant told the Advance. "I stand at that bus stop every day, we never seen him."

Ms. Sekulski is scheduled to appear in front of a grand jury Wednesday.

Reported by Jeff Harrell
My Two Cents..
Obviously .. the gender of this apparent psychopath.. and the gender of the psychopath in the story below make no diffference.. in the deaths of innocent lives.. do they?
This story however.. proves my point clearer.. that psychopaths refuse access to the other parent because of thier entitled attitude.. sadly that is also the attitude that allows them to kill!

Update on Santa Suit Killer

Santa Suit Killer Planned to Kill His Mother, Ex-Wife's Lawyer


December 29, 2008

COVINA - Police say they believe the man in the Santa costume who allegedly killed nine people at a Christmas Eve party may have intended to kill more people, including his own mother.

Lt. Pat Buchanan said Bruce Pardo had had a falling out with his mother and felt she was siding with his ex-wife, Sylvia, in their bitter divorce proceeding.

Buchanan said Pardo found out his mother was invited to Sylvia's family's Christmas Eve party in Covina and intended to kill her along with others gathered there.

His mother, however, did not attend the party because she had the flu.

Detectives also believe that Pardo planned to kill his wife's divorce attorney, Scott J. Nord, and family.

Police found a car belonging to Pardo parked outside the attorney's home in Glendale, Buchanan said.

No explosives were found, but investigators did find a canister of gasoline, water bottles, wrapped Christmas presents, two computers and a map of Mexico, police said.

Concern Grows For Young Survivors of Christmas Massacre

At least 13 young people were orphaned after the shooting, and two others lost one parent, according to a family attorney.

Donations can be sent to the Ortega Family Fund, C/O Law Offices of Scott J. Nord, 500 N. Brand Blvd., Suite 550, Glendale, CA, 91203.

The family requests that any non-monetary donations be made to a charity of choice in the name of the family.

Coroner's investigators were using dental records Monday to officially identify the nine members of the Ortega family killed when 45-year-old Bruce Jeffrey Pardo opened fire on a Christmas party at his ex-in-laws' home.

The names of the nine victims found in the rubble of the home Pardo torched after his shooting rampage were released Saturday.

Among them is Sylvia Pardo, the 43-year-old ex-wife of the shooter, Bruce Pardo, 45.

Covina Police Lt. Pat Buchanan says the others are the woman's parents: 80-year-old Joseph Ortega and 70-year-old Alicia Ortega; her 46-year-old sister, Alicia Ortiz; and her sister's 17-year-old son, Michael Ortiz.

Also unaccounted for are Sylvia Pardo's brother, Charles Ortega, 50, and his wife, Cheri, 45; another brother, James, 52, and his wife, Teresa, 51.

Police were still listing the victims as missing, however, because coroner's officials say the nine bodies were too badly charred for immediate identification.

Officials have also yet to determine whether the victims died of gunshot wounds or in the explosion.

Police Saturday located the missing second vehicle rented by Pardo. It was found in the 2300 block of Glen Oaks Boulevard in Glendale.

The bomb squad was called to the scene because police fear that Pardo may have booby-trapped the missing grey 1999 Toyota Rav4 or left it filled with ammunition or explosives.

The first car rented in Pardo's name blew up on Thursday as bomb experts were investigating it.

The bomb squad did not find any explosives in the second vehicle, but investigators did find a canister of gasoline, water bottles, wrapped Christmas presents, two computers and a map of Mexico, police said.

Armed with four guns, police say Pardo apparently shot some of his nine victims execution-style in a plot to destroy his ex-wife's family after a costly divorce that was finalized last week.

After the shooting, Pardo had planned to board a plane destined for Moline, Ill., so he could visit a friend across the state border in Iowa, Covina police Lt. Pat Buchanan said.

An earlier report by Los Angeles County coroner's officials that Pardo was bound for Canada was incorrect, Buchanan said.

Police said they found $17,000 in cash on Pardo's body. Officials said his plans were derailed because he was severely burned when he set the house on fire. He was found with 3rd degree burns to his arms and legs with the Santa suit burned into his skin, according to Police Chief Kim Raney.

Pardo, who is believed to have recently lost his job, knocked on the front door of a home owned by the parents of his ex-wife in Covina around 11:30 Wednesday night, said Police Chief Kim Raney.

An 8-year-old girl ran to the door to answer Pardo's knock, police said. He shot her in the face, stepped into the house and began to fire indiscriminately with a semiautomatic handgun, then apparently targeted relatives of his ex-wife as other guests fled.

"There's some information that he stood over them and shot them execution-style," Raney said.

Pardo was carrying what appeared to be a large present but was what police described as a home-made pressurized device used to spray a mix of carbon dioxide or oxygen with high-octane racing fuel.

Fleeing guests saw him spraying the fuel inside the house when the vapor was ignited, possibly by a pilot light or a candle, and exploded.

About 80 firefighters battled the blaze, which destroyed the house. They battled flames that soared 40 to 50 feet high for an hour and a half before extinguishing the fire, according to Capt. Mike Brown.

When the flames were extinguished early Thursday, investigators found three charred bodies in the home's living room area.

Later that day, they found five more bodies. Authorities called off the search for more victims after finding a ninth body Friday.

In addition to the 8-year-old girl who was shot, a 16-year-old girl was shot in the back.

Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center spokeswoman Adelaida De La Cerda said the 8-year-old girl who was shot in the face was released from the hospital Friday.

Her mother had been at the hospital and was "extremely traumatized," De La Cerda said. Her cousin, a 16-year-old girl brought in for observation, had superficial injuries and was released Thursday. The teenager's mother was Bruce Pardo's ex-wife, De La Cerda said.

About 25 people were at the party. Partygoers fled the house on Knollcrest Drive in panic, running to neighbors' homes and frantically calling police.

A 20-year-old woman broke her ankle when she escaped by jumping from a second-story window.

Officials have released a 911 call filled with frantic appeals for help.

"He's still shooting out there," a woman sobs, describing how her ex-brother-in-law was armed and dressed in a Santa suit.
"He's shooting my whole family!
My mom's house is on fire!"

After the attack, Pardo drove to his brother's house in Sylmar --about 25 miles away from the carnage. Shortly before 3:30 a.m., Pardo's brother summoned Los Angeles police to his home.

Officers arrived to find Pardo dead from a single gunshot to the head, police officials said. They found two handguns there, and two more in the wreckage of his former in-laws' house.

By 9 a.m. Thursday, a pair of Covina detectives had arrived at house in Montrose that Pardo owned and lived in, cordoning it off with tape. The detectives sat in their car awaiting a judge to sign a search warrant for the house.

At 3 p.m., members of the Los Angeles County sheriff's bomb squad and other detectives came to the house.

Their search turned up racing fuel, five empty boxes for high-powered semi-automatic handguns and two high-powered shot guns.

A car rented in Pardo's name was left in front of his brother's house in Sylmar loaded with 300 rounds of ammunition and a pipe bomb.

Before the suicide, Pardo used remnants of the Santa suit to rig the car to explode.

When the suit was lifted, it "would pull a trip wire or a switch, igniting a flare inside the car that would then ignite black powder and he had several hundred rounds of handgun ammunition inside the car," said Raney.

All of that exploded when bomb squad technicians tried to disarm the device Thursday, but no one was injured.

Court records show Pardo's ex-wife Sylvia Pardo, 43, filed for a dissolution of marriage on March 24, 2008, and they were legally separated after about two years of marriage.

The two reached a settlement on Dec. 18.
Bruce Pardo owed her $10,000 as part of the settlement, according to court documents that detailed a bitter split. He also lost a dog and did not get back a valuable wedding ring.
"No counseling or delay could help restore this marriage," the settlement stated. "There are irreconcilable differences which have led to the complete breakdown of the marriage."

Authorities now believe that fighting over a child from a previous relationship that Pardo abandoned, but continued to claim on tax returns, may have triggered his divorce from his wife and subsequent killing spree.

Family members said that the boy, who is about 9, nearly drowned when he was a year old and was left physically handicapped.

Pardo had apparently claimed the boy as a dependent on his tax returns for seven years, even though he did not support the child financially.

A family source said Pardo's ex-wife found out about the child and demanded Pardo stop claiming him as a dependent, creating a rift between the two that contributed to their break-up last January.

Bruce Pardo had been employed at ITT Electronic Systems, Radar Systems, in Van Nuys from February 2005 to July 2008, according to court documents.

He worked as an engineer at Northrop Grumman for five months in 2005, said spokesman Tom Henson, who did not know if Pardo was a regular employee or contractor there.

Pardo's resume also indicates that he worked at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory from 1985 to 1994 and had also held positions at medical centers and software manufacturers.
Bruce Pardo wrote in a legal declaration that he was laid off in July and had been denied state unemployment payments in August.

He said he was "desperately seeking" work with many companies.
"I was not given a severance package from my last employer at termination and I am not receiving any other income. I am desperately seeking work and have since applied to many companies, resulting in several job interviews," he wrote. "I ask for support just until I gain employment."
Bruce Pardo complained in a court declaration that Sylvia Pardo was living with her parents, not paying rent, and had spent lavishly on a luxury car, gambling trips to Las Vegas, meals at fine restaurants, massages and golf lessons.
Documents from the divorce show Bruce Pardo got their house, which was valued at more than a half-million dollars, but the couple only had $106,000 in equity in it.

The mortgage was $2,700 a month, a declaration said.
He complained in a filing that he had monthly expenses of $8,900 and ran a monthly deficit of $2,678.
In June, the court ordered him to pay $1,785 a month in spousal support and put him on a payment plan of $450 a month for $3,570 that was unpaid.
His attorney, Stanley Silver, told The Associated Press his client had trouble making the support payments after he lost his job in July, but spousal support was waived in the settlement last week.

Bruce Pardo was trying to pay $10,000 to finalize the divorce proceedings, Silver said, and he never showed any anger or instability.
"All of my dealings with him were always pleasant and cheerful," said Silver, who heard from him last on Tuesday.
Friends and neighbors described Bruce Pardo as a cheerful man who seemed upbeat and doted on a big, brown Akita he owned with his former wife.

He stood more than 6 feet tall and was always gentle and kind, said Jan Detanna, head usher at the Holy Redeemer Catholic Church in Montrose, where Pardo volunteered.

Bong Garcia, Pardo's next door neighbor, said he last saw Pardo between 9 and 10 p.m. and exchanged brief greetings.

Pardo told him he was on his way to a Christmas party and walked down the street dressed in regular clothes, Garcia said.

At his home in Montrose, Christmas lights decorated the roof and plastic nutcracker soldiers and striped candy canes were attached to a fence that edged a neatly trimmed lawn.

Santa Suit Killer Planned to Kill His Mother, Ex-Wife's Lawyer
Related -

Medication Madness

Your Turn with Kathy Fountain -
Weekdays on Tampa FOX 13
Friday, December 26, 2008
Topic: Medication Madness

Guests: Peter Breggin, M.D.
author Medication Madness

Monday, December 29, 2008

Christmas Eve attack shattered close-knit family

By JACOB ADELMAN, The Associated Press 2:42 p.m. December 28, 2008

COVINA, Calif. —

Joseph and Alicia Ortega came from Mexico and raised a large, loving family supported by the metal painting business they started in Southern California.

The remains of that family now are in mourning, after a Christmas Eve attack on the Ortegas' home by the vengeful ex-husband of one of their daughters, Sylvia Pardo.

Bruce Pardo donned a Santa Claus outfit and killed nine members of the Ortega family during the Christmas party where the close-knit family gathered each year, before setting the home on fire. Pardo later killed himself.

"They really were a great family," said Jose Castillo, Sylvia Pardo's brother-in-law from an earlier marriage, who came to pay his respects Sunday at the end of a quiet cul-de-sac where the Ortega's two-story home once stood. "They used to be together all the time."

Joseph Ortega, 80, and Alicia, 70, had retired some 10 years ago from their business painting metal furniture and other items in the nearby city of El Monte.

The couple immigrated to the United States shortly after their marriage 53 years ago in the north-central Mexican city of Torreon, that city's newspaper, El Siglo de Torreon, reported Saturday.

The family is well-known in the city, where Alicia's sisters are prominent businesspeople, the newspaper's editorial director Javier Garza told the Los Angeles Times.

Sylvia Pardo, 43, had been living at her parents' home since her divorce from Bruce Pardo, a 45-year-old electrical engineer, about a year ago, Castillo said.

Her earlier marriage with Jose Castillo's brother, Sabino Castillo, ended with Sabino's death in a traffic accident about 20 years ago, when she was pregnant with their oldest of two children.

The 21-year-old daughter and 20-year-old son had escaped unharmed form the Christmas Eve party where Bruce Pardo opened fire.

The slaughter came six days after Bruce and Sylvia Pardo appeared in court to finalize their divorce.

Police believe the dead included Sylvia Pardo's two brothers and their wives, her sister and a 17-year-old nephew, as well has her and her parents.

Police listed the victims as unaccounted for because coroner's officials said the nine bodies were too badly charred for immediate identification.

Bruce Pardo had planned to flee to Canada following the killing spree but suffered third-degree burns in the fire – which melted part of the Santa suit to him – and decided to kill himself instead, investigators said. His body, with a bullet wound to the head, was found at his brother's home about 40 miles away.

The rented compact car he had driven to his former in-laws house was rigged to set off 500 rounds of ammunition and later exploded outside his brother's home. No one was injured.

Police also found a second car rented by Pardo late Saturday, but a bomb squad did not find any explosives in that vehicle. Investigators did find a canister of gasoline, water bottles, wrapped Christmas presents, two computers, and a map of Mexico, police said.

On Sunday, a stream of visitors drove by to look at the blackened heap of twisted metal and shards of timber that were the remaining pieces of the family home. Others like Tony and Ira Salas, who were close friends with both of Sylvia Pardo's brothers, lay another bouquet on the makeshift shrine of flowers, burning votive candles and stuffed animals on the adjacent curbside.

"They were a very close and loving family," said Tony Salas, as Ira wept.

Christmas Eve attack shattered close-knit family

Related -

X-Rays Needed to ID Victims in "Santa" Killer Case - KNBC-TV-

My Two cents...

Anyone that has been inside the family part division of either the family court or a matrional part knows why I bolded the sentance in the above article like I did.

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Mother and Son reunite after 26 years


Twenty-six years ago, Jeannie Torry lived through the worst nightmare possible for a young mother when her 13-month-old son, Donnie, vanished.

But the years of tears, pain and the desperation searching for her son came to an end with a phone call five days before Christmas.

"I was sitting out on my deck drinking coffee and he called," Jeannie said.

Donnie, now 27, was on the phone.

"I said 'this is her' and he said 'Hi, mom. Mama, this is Donnie' ... and I cried," she said, adding that she sometimes feels it's all a wonderful dream and that she doesn't want to wake up.

Finding him is a sign that miracles do happen when there is hope, Torry and her other three children said, who have prayed for this day to come.

Separated from his mother after an unfriendly divorce in Houston, baby Donnie — Jeannie's second child — was taken by his father, leaving no trace of their whereabouts.

Alone and desperate, the Alexandria native looked for leads and legal help, but with no money for a private investigator, her ordeal turned into days, days turned into weeks, weeks into months and then years.

After some time, Jeannie and her oldest daughter, Sherry, moved back to Central Louisiana, bringing home only a few personal mementos — including photos of her baby, his hospital baby bracelet, a clip of his umbilical cord, his first Christmas decoration — and a lot of pain.

"There was never a moment that I didn't think about him. He has an ornament up on the tree that I have hung since he was a baby ... I never thought this year when we put it on the tree it would be the year we found him," she said.

Her three children, two born after Donnie, always knew their mother suffered in silence.

"Especially when his birthday came around, it was always a kind of sad day for her," said Chris Torry, the first one of the family to make contact with Donnie Wilkerson.

Donnie was the older brother he always missed. "We always prayed on his birthday that one day she would be reunited with him," Chris said.

That day was meant to happen.

Chris e-mailed Donnie after his sister, Sherry, decided to do an online search and found Donnie's profile on My Space, a popular online social network.

Sherry said she was ecstatic when the online search led to the man who resembled the family's facial features, particularly of Chris, and who had the same name of her baby brother.

"I cried when I found him. I knew it was him. Without even talking to him I knew in my heart it was him," Sherry said, who still has vague childhood memories of her baby brother in Houston. "He was my baby brother, he was the only baby brother I had at that time."

Trying to keep calm, the entire family prayed that the man Sherry found online was indeed the relative they've looked for so long.

"I was so scared to get my hopes up," Jeannie said, holding Donnie's photos in her hand. Although she never lost hope that she would find him, she needed to be cautious.

Chris e-mailed Donnie with the family history and asked Donnie to call him if indeed he was his older brother; otherwise, he asked him to dismiss the message.

Chris' phone rang and the two spoke for the first time.

"He told me I've been looking for you all as well for 14 years," which was the time when he began to connect the dots about his mother's absence in his life.

Today, Donnie's father and grandfather have died and Donnie said he still has many questions with no answers, but the biggest question, that of his mother's whereabouts, has been finally put to rest.

"I looked for her and I couldn't find her. I started giving up hope and my wife (Candice) told me not to and to have faith in God," Donnie said.

Donnie said he created a My Space account only recently so that he could communicate with his friends and family when he works offshore.

"I never knew that it would lead to me finding my mother," he said. "If I would have known that, I would have opened it years ago.
Donnie's wife, Candice Almaraz, says she is grateful because her husband "has a full life now.
Jeannie, along with her two daughters, Tiffany, 20, and Sherry, 31, and their extended families traveled to Houston the day Donnie called to be reunited.

"That is the ultimate Christmas present. Everybody was basically bouncing of the walls (because) we found him," Jeannie, 47, said. The first family reunion was emotional as mother and son shared life together again.

The only one missing that day was Chris and his fiance, Kayla Lachney, who lives in California, but who couldn't be any happier for his family.

"I've never been more happy for someone ever," Lachney said.

Finding Donnie means Jeannie has two new grandchildren and one on the way. The family plans to return to Houston in February when Donnie's third child and Jeannie's fifth grandchild will be born.

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Friday, December 26, 2008

Teen Gunned Down at Holiday Roller Rink Party, 19 Year Old Shot Dead in Yonkers Barber Shop

19-year-old shot dead in Yonkers' Getty Square The Journal News

Man killed in Yonkers barber shop -

Teen Gunned Down at Holiday Roller Rink Party NBC New York

Is anyone paying attention?

Child Services and Women's groups have made a busniess out of our children.. if you have any doubts on that statement - research Title VI and V Federal funding > over there in the links or see the stories below with detailed information.

So.. here it is ... our children are either left with one parent - usually the more dysfunctional Narcissist/psychopath of the two (if you want to know how I came to that conclusion it's over there > in the "if your an alienated parent section")... or our children are ripped from both parents.. for even more funding to the state (btw- the states get to use this money any damn way they please - yes even if it is NOT related to helping foster children) .. and what happens in the end?

Wake up America - the end is here for the children who were victims of our money hungry system.... before your child was a victim.. it's been years since the Adoption and Safe Families Act... went into effect Disgusted with the system: Adoption and Safe Families Act sadly leaving parents without any parental authority.. for fear of having their children removed.. and as Walter Mondale warned.. The ASFA= HAS BEEN USED AS INCENTIVES TO DESTROY YOUR FAMILY!

Disgusted with the system: Child Protective Services .. Domest Violence and abuses of Federal Funding..

Disgusted with the system: CPS plunders families and children pay the price

Disgusted with the system: Parents beware: CPS/DSS trafficking children for profit

Disgusted with the system: Childrens Protective Services Strategies - What America doesn't know!

Is this Child Protection?

Disgusted with the system: This is Child Protection?

Disgusted with the system: State’s Child Protection Agencies Collude with Judges to Defraud Federal Government

Disgusted with the system: Dean Tong Child Abuse Prevention Requires2-Prong Approach

Check out my proposal TO STOP THE INSANITY to the ways and means committee as well as to my local officials.... to put an end to the "business" of our children!

Disgusted with the system: FROM THE COMMITTEE ON WAYS AND MEANS

Disgusted with the system: My Personal Letter To The Ways and Means Committee for The Hearing this Week on Federal Funding



SSRI Stories

Disgusted with the system: Suicide rates as a public relations tool

Disgusted with the system: Bipolar Kid or Bad Parents?

Disgusted with the system: Are meds to blame for Cho's rampage?

Disgusted with the system: Suicide Rate of Girls UP BY 76 Percent

Disgusted with the system: Youth suicide rate no fluke, CMU researcher says

Disgusted with the system: Death from Ritalin

Worldandnation: The 'atypical' dilemma Disgusted with the system: Mother says PHS did not treat mentally ill son, who died in jail

Disgusted with the system: World Experts Demand End to Child Drugging in the US - Part I

Disgusted with the system: Demand End to Child Drugging in the US - Part II


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Body found in Bronx was former Mount Pleasant resident, 22

Stories like this break my heart!

My children are 29, 22, 20, 16, and 13.

This kid could have been one of my children..

Is this all we have to offer our children when and if they are lucky enough to leave foster care here in the US or abroad?

Body found in Bronx was former Mount Pleasant resident, 22

MOUNT PLEASANT - After early years in a Russian orphanage, John Hopkins-Drago got what many would consider a huge break.

A Westchester County couple that had already adopted his younger brother did the same for him and his sister and brought them to live in their Mount Pleasant home.

He never made the most of his chance.

Hopkins-Drago, 22, was brutally killed this week in the Bronx. He was stabbed multiple times and dumped in a garbage bag outside a Barnes Avenue apartment building, where the body was discovered early Sunday by the building superintendent.

Police have a suspect in the slaying but have not charged anyone with Hopkins-Drago's killing as of last night. A friend of the suspect's, however, was arrested Wednesday, accused of trying to clean up a crime scene after the killing, New York City police said.

James Medina, 23, of 782 Pelham Parkway was charged with hindering prosecution and criminal possession of marijuana. It was unknown whether Hopkins-Drago knew Medina or his killer.

Ann Marie Hopkins and her husband, Edward Drago, adopted John's younger brother, Patrick, more than a decade ago. Determined to keep the children together, they brought John and his sister, Marie, into their home within a few years.

John started out in the Briarcliff Manor school district, but because of discipline problems, he was eventually sent to live with an uncle in the Throgs Neck section of the Bronx, where he went to high school.

After his uncle died a few years ago, Hopkins-Drago did not return to Mount Pleasant, deciding instead to fend for himself. He lived with a series of friends, but in recent months, he had been living on the streets.

Marguerite Andersen, who lives next door to the family on Beech Hill Road, said she and her husband never really got to know John, but they marveled at how hard his adoptive parents tried to provide for him and keep the siblings together.

"He struck me as someone who was very street-wise. I guess growing up in a Russian orphanage you're going to see a lot of things," she said. "They were there to do whatever they could for him. He was given every opportunity. It's really just such a tragedy that it ended like this."

In recent months, the family's Beech Hill home was burglarized. No arrest was made, but his adoptive parents believed he was involved, Andersen said.

Other neighbors said yesterday that they were unfamiliar with the family.

Mount Pleasant police were notified of the killing on Monday and a detective was assigned to assist Bronx homicide detectives in their investigation.

Police are asking anyone with information to call 800-577-TIPS.

A funeral service was held for Hopkins-Drago in the Bronx on Wednesday, Andersen said.

Reach Jonathan Bandler at or 914-694-3520.

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Thursday, December 25, 2008

The Living Dead Among Us..

The Living Dead.. yeah.. that about covers it..

We know who we are..

We are parents without our children by no fault of our own..

Most days we get by... or at least it appears that way you the rest of the world...

Some of us function on what appears to be a normal level.. some of us are just to traumatized to function on a normal level..

Having your child torn out of your life is like having your soul die..

Today is Christmas... and many Mothers and or Fathers .. wish only for the chance to be with their children again..

While the rest of the world is busy shopping.. enjoying family.. or planning for the holidays.. those of us.. The Living Dead... who will not see our children for the holidays.. perhaps for what will be "yet another" year... have been busy planning... how to stay alive.. how to not go off the deep end.. and end up in an institution.. in jail.. or in a coffin... sorry but gift giving isn't our top priority.. at this time of year...

Most of us suffer severe Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) .. and going into the malls.. or shopping.. is in itself traumatizing...

Believe it or not just being in the presence of other families .. and or children is to painful to bare...

Sometimes some of us attempt to go to families houses and smile...

Trust me that is one of the hardest things I've been called upon to do in the last seven years..

To be expected to smile when all you want to do is cry!

But most don't understand the horrific pain in our hearts... most wouldn't understand why we declined invite after invite to join the rest of the family to celebrate...

Celebrate what? Our souls have been ripped to shreds.. or worlds torn apart... our minds can only focus on how to undo what was usually corruption that tore our children away from us in the first place.. and now you want me/us to sit there and smile while the rest of the family usually all intact.. children and all.. celebrates being "together"

Forgive me.. but that's just not doable.. you may have been able to get us to "show up" if the PTSD is under control .. and we feel we wont have flash backs.. or go into a deep depression if we come.... but even if we are there.. it's only in body.. not in mind or soul.. that has been forever stolen from us.. we can't focus on anything but being whole again.. with our families.. or lives.. our children back where they belong... knowing they have been living a lie.. while we fought desperately to get them back...

For the Alienated families .. after a divorce..

I've heard stories of siblings.. coming back one at a time .. usually after a bitter divorce where one parent alienates the children.. with the courts blessings
(usually due to political connections.. or money).... whatever the reason.. one parent is tossed like a bag of garbage by the more disturbed parent that felt "entitled" as most Narcissists/Psychopaths do... to keep the children away...

Later in life.. as the children grow.. they sometimes learn ... or figure out that the parent they thought left them.. never left.. but was forced out ... and that adult child seeks the tossed out parent...

It has to be hard for those parents.. once the adult children returned.. while the younger children were still held captive... and had not figured it all out yet.. to separate their emotions.. for they would be called upon.. to be elated that the older child/children reconnected and they now have a chance to be together...

At the same time.. the parent is longing for the entire family to be together.. and they are torn between enjoying the older child/children while dying inside that they can not have the younger children there as well...

It also has to be hard for the older child/children to know the pain of the parent and not be able to help.. but just to be there for that parent.. until the family is all back together again...

I have one son (29 years old now) that was never alienated - so I used him as a reference here.. when I share the pain in spite of having one or more of your children return...

For the families torn apart by CPS where no children are left in the home...

Has to be equivalent to what being an alienated parent feels.. but I don't know.. although my estranged husband used child protective services... and lies to get full custody and keep me away.. I wouldn't know what it truly feels like to have your children in foster care .. so if anyone would like to comment and let the readers know.. go right ahead..

In closing.. I want to say ... Happiest possible holidays to those of us among the Living Dead...

My wish for us all .. is that our children figure it out and give us the best holiday gift possible ...

by returning to us by next year!

For those that happen across this blog and are not separated from your children...

I ask that you try to understand how difficult it is living among..


Sadly .. many Alienators will read this .. and not "get it" because they are to dysfunctional.. to get anything.. let alone ... the destruction they have caused not only the target parent .. but those children they kidnapped as well...

Happy Holidays to all.. and to all a good nite!

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Sunday, December 21, 2008

PARENTS EVERYWHERE BEWARE! Family Court may gain foster care option

Carol Nader
December 21, 2008

FAMILY Court judges may be given the power to decide that children are better off in foster care instead of granting either parent custody as part of a range of options being considered by the Federal Government.

Attorney-General Robert McClelland wants the Family Court and state welfare agencies to work together more effectively. In an interview with The Age he said there was a "fracture" between them. The court made decisions about which parent should have residence or access but "the reality is it's not uncommon for both parents to be effectively dysfunctional".

"Quite often, Family Court judges are required to give access and residence to the least worst option and I think we need to certainly explore giving them additional options," he said.

Mr McClelland said there should be greater collaboration between the Family Court and state community services departments.

Giving the Family Court the power to determine all matters relating to the welfare of children would be legally complex, as the child protection system is managed by the states. But linking the two would make sense, as many matters that go to the Family Court involve substance abuse issues or allegations of violence and abuse.

"It's not easy. It's complex, it involves constitutional issues but it's a very important issue and one we're working on," Mr McClelland said.

"We're certainly exploring whether that can be done and indeed whether it is something that the states would regard as desirable in terms of referring powers to the Family Court."

Mr McClelland has asked his department for advice on options, and said he would take the matter up with his state counterparts in the first half of next year.

"In circumstances where child welfare matters are central to issues relating to family break-up my instincts are that most states say it makes sense," he said.

Currently, state welfare authorities seek child protection orders through the Children's Court, which has been overwhelmed with such cases and has experienced long delays. Mr McClelland said at the very least the Family Court should have greater access to information that is considered by state welfare authorities.

Former chief justice of the Family Court Alastair Nicholson has for years been lobbying for Family Court judges to be able to deal with child protection matters.

"I think it's a terrific idea," he said. "There should be an attempt to unify the system so that the one court can deal with all of these issues."

Mr Nicholson said the concept of granting custody to the "least worst" parent was well known in family law. There had been cases where a child who had been subject to a Family Court matter ended up in the child protection system.

"If you have a situation where both people (parents) are that bad, it's inevitable that it's going to come to the attention of child protection authorities, but it might come too late."

Family Court may gain foster care option

Saturday, December 20, 2008

DCF is Denying Children Their Right To Celebrate Christmas

Staff Writers
Connecticut DCF Watch

Hartford, CT - DCF has intentually denied both parents and children in fostercare to engage in their protected 1st Amendment right to celebrate the holidays with their siblings and parents.

DCF has even gone to the extent to tell fostercare providers if they get presents not to give them to the children for which they are intended. Like in Harry Potter under the staircase, the child never gets that letter or presents and the child is left feeling alone and abandoned at the hands of DCF. The foster care system is just a cover name for the incarceration of children. DCF may as well put ankle bracelets on all the foster children. Even enemies in the time of war on the battle field would stop to celebrate Christmas.

DCF has even placed children in non-Christian homes who do not celebrate Christmas who then denies the child the right to celebrate their religious beliefs. This also applies to children of other faiths like the Jewish holidays. One of the requisite requirements to being a DCF worker is that you must be cold as ice and heartless like the DCF commissioner.

DCF has stripped these innocent children of their mothers, fathers, siblings and even their pet puppies as well as the spirit of Christmas.

How would you feel if DCF did this to you and locked you up in some abusive fostercare system and as you cry yourself to sleep wondering when your mommy and daddy was coming to get you and DCF refuses to listen to you when you tell them you were never abused and the worker had lied. This goes on thousands of time every year.

I hope everyone can live with themselves as they have a jolly holiday and remember some child is shivering in the darkness as we speak.

Connecticut DCF Watch
National Civil Rights Advocates For Families
P.O. Box 9775
Forestville, CT 06011-9775

Thursday, December 18, 2008

City big stirs a stink over raises for kid-care workers

Thursday, December 18th 2008, 6:13 AM

The city's child services boss defiantly threatened Wednesday to close day care centers if forced by the state to give raises to 28,000 home-based providers.

Responding to a threat by state officials to cut off child-care funding to the city by Dec. 31, the commissioner said the raises are unaffordable.

"I don't see that I should give increases to some when I'm going to have to take resources away from many," said Administration for Children's Services boss John Mattingly at a heated City Council hearing.

Mattingly said that if forced to comply, he would cut the wages of 15,000 informal child care providers and shut day care centers that serve low-income children.

The state's move, an attempt to force the city to comply with federal regulations, could endanger the care of more than 100,000 children and $475 million in state funding.

State Children and Family Services Commissioner William Gettman warned in a Dec. 8 letter that the city's failure to pass on $26.8 million in state funding for the raises was jeopardizing federal funding for the whole state.

Council Welfare Committee Chairman Bill de Blasio pressed Mattingly to explain why he was sitting on the money earmarked for workers, who average less than $20,000 a year.

"In a sense, that money is being held hostage," de Blasio said.

Mattingly said the city needed more than $50 million to comply and cited the agency's ballooning $62 million deficit to explain its inability to pay.

A United Federation of Teachers official said the union, which represents the workers, had been trying to get the city to pay the raises since October 2007.

"From the very day [the raise] was set, ACS has refused to pay it," said UFT Vice President Michael Mulgrew.

City big stirs a stink over raises for kid-care workers

My Two Cents- Cut into their share and look what happens!

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Courts to decide if ex-spouses may sue for turning children against parents

Should parents be allowed to sue their ex-spouses for turning their children against them?

A judge in Morris County said no in a case he decided in August. But last month, a Hudson County judge ruled the opposite way, state law does not bar a parent from making a parental alienation claim in civil court.

The two cases are now headed to an appeals court, which will decide an issue that's being closely monitored by family law attorneys who are split over the issue.

"What do you do when a child is being programmed to hate the other parent?" Woodbridge attorney John Paone Jr. asked. "I believe you can't get justice in these alienation cases in the family court."

Attorney Cary Cheifetz, treasurer of the New Jersey chapter of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, disagrees.

Such lawsuits "would cause more damage than good to society, families and children," he said. "The proper remedy is to fix the issue and undo the alienation by restoring the relationship." If such litigation were allowed, he said, children would have to give depositions and testify in front of a jury.

In the Morris County case, Superior Court Judge David Rand dismissed a complaint by retired multimillionaire developer Moses Segal against his former Canadian common-law wife, saying "New Jersey law simply does not allow recovery for the causes of action Segal asserts."

Rand cited the 1935 Heart Balm Act that abolished alienation of affection as grounds for a lawsuit.

Ruling in another case, Superior Court Judge Maurice Gallipoli, sitting in Jersey City, disagreed. Gallipoli found the alienation claim barred by the Heart Balm Act pertained only to the marital relationship, not the children, and that a parent's claim of emotional distress resulting from being alienated from his children can be pursued in civil court.

"The Heart Balm Act doesn't prohibit what we're trying to do here," said Attorney Steven Resnick, who represents both Segal and Hoboken resident Vincent Smith, the father in the Gallipoli decision. "We want a jury to decide this."

In the Hudson County case, Vincent Smith sued his ex-wife, Rose Marie Smith, and her parents, accusing them of lying to his two daughters and making allegations of sexual misconduct and molestation.

Gallipoli allowed Smith's lawsuit against his in-laws to proceed but dismissed the case against the ex-wife, saying Smith would first have to take his fight against her to Family Court. But the Family Court judge could allow Smith to seek monetary damages for his emotional distress claim in civil court, Gallipoli ruled.

"The big win is that the claim itself can go forward. Right now, we have a live case against the grandparents," Resnick said.

The grandparents attorney, Marc Raso, said he believes the Heart Balm Act was intended to bar such claims.

"The plaintiff is trying to shift the focus away from the best interests of the children and focus on compensating a parent with money damages," Raso said.

On Monday, Raso filed a motion asking an appeals court to rule on his case alongside the Segal case, which already is on appeal. He said Smith's allegations against his clients "are without any merit whatsoever."

Denise Luckenbach, Rose Marie Smith's attorney, is not appealing since Gallipoli dismissed the claim against the mother.

Resnick is using Gallipoli's ruling to resurrect another parental alienation case in Essex County. Based on Rand's ruling, an Essex County judge dismissed Michael Besen's complaint that alleged his estranged wife, Sandra, caused him emotional distress by badmouthing him to the children and damaging their relationships.

"It's about time this nonsense comes to an end," Resnick said.

Dale Console, president-elect of the New Jersey chapter of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, said such litigation sides with Resnick.

"If you are intentionally alienating, and go out of your way to turn the child against the other parent, maybe you are responsible for damages," Console said. She pointed out such a claim would be very difficult to prove.

When Segal filed his lawsuit in Morris County against Cynthia Lynch in 2007, it was seen as a first in New Jersey. Segal claimed Lynch cut him off from their two children and told lies to turn them against him -- including telling them that Segal had hired a hitman to kill her, according to family court records.

After Lynch left Toronto with the children in June 2006, Segal hired a private investigator who tracked them to Long Hill Township.

Rand wrote that even if the Heart Balm Act didn't govern, he still would have dismissed Segal's civil case because he failed to show Lynch's actions rose to the level of intentional or negligent infliction of emotional distress.

"If Segal has become emotionally estranged from (the children) it is, to a large degree, the result of his own actions and not because Lynch 'intentionally and maliciously' poisoned their relationship," Rand wrote, noting that Moses had moved away from the children before Lynch relocated.

Courts to decide if ex-spouses may sue for turning children against parents - Breaking News From New Jersey -

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