Just Another Guy with Opinions

5-Year-Old Boy Tortured and Abused

Posted by shadmia on June 21, 2008

Starkeisha Brown’s 5-year-old son, who suffered “unbearable psychological and physical abuse” demonstrates the strength of the human spirit in the face of adversity. His will to live after enduring the  horrible torture at the hands of his own mother and her live-in girlfriend, Krystal Matthews, 21, is truly amazing. His name has not been released.

“I’ve never seen anyone with these kinds of injuries who has lived,” Assistant Police Chief James McDonnell told reporters last week. “This kid must have a tremendous will to live, to be able to still hang on despite what he’s been through.”

In his 5 short years:

  • He was hung by his hands and wrists from a door jamb and beaten
  • He was routinely denied food and water.
  • He was burned with cigarettes all over his body, including his genitals.
  • He was left to sit in his own urine and feces.
  • His hands were held to a hot stove that may leave them permanently disfigured.

The boy’s physical appearance was also striking. He had a pot belly suggestive of severe malnutrition, burns across his body in various stages of healing, old scars, bruises, and badly damaged and burned hands, he also had a broken tooth with the nerve end exposed. Lt. Vincent Neglia of the LAPD’s Abused Child Unit, said the abuse was obviously continuous and prolonged.

“This wasn’t just one big beating,” Neglia said. “You can tell by the different stages of injuries that this was prolonged.”

The boy remains in hospital, after suffering kidney failure due to malnutrition. Authorities describe him as withdrawn and shy but plays with people he trusts. He has a healthy appetite and began walking over the weekend with a slight limp. His burnt hand is healing well and regaining its range of motion.

The mother, Starkeisha Brown, 24, and Krystal Matthews, 21, who lived together at a South Los Angeles apartment near 110th and Figueroa streets, were charged with one count each of torture, child abuse, corporal injury to a child, dissuading a witness, and two counts each of conspiracy. A district attorney’s office statement identified Matthews as the live-in girlfriend of Brown. A baby sitter, La Tanya Monikue Jones, 26, was added to the case. Prosecutors charged her with child abuse, corporal injury to a child, conspiracy and conspiracy to dissuade a witness. Jones allegedly burned the 5-year-old’s hand over a stove at one point while baby-sitting, according to prosecutors.

Brown and Matthews appeared in Superior Court in Compton but their arraignment was postponed to June 25. Brown was held on $1.1 million bail. Matthews was remanded to custody without bail because of a probation violation. Both face up to 25 years to life in prison if convicted. Jones is being held on $180,000 bail. She faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

The boy was finally rescued from his abusers after an anonymous tip from a stranger. On June 4th a woman called the abuse hotline saying that the little boy told her at a train station that his mother had burned his hand on top of a hot stove. That call prompted the Department of Children and Family Services to set up an appointment with Starkeisha Brown and Krystal Matthews on Monday, June 9th, to discuss the allegation.

Knowing that she could not attend the meeting with her son, who showed obvious signs of abuse, Brown concocted a scheme to fool the authorities. She “borrowed” the healthy 4-year-old son of La Tanya Monikue Jones and his 6-year-old sister. She planned to pass off the 4-year-old as her own son. Brown and her girlfriend then asked a complete stranger to watch her 5-year-old son while they went to the meeting.

While the women were being interviewed, the stranger who had been asked to watch the boy started asking people in the neighborhood what he should do with the 5-year-old, who looked sickly and injured. Eventually someone called authorities. Officials got word of the boy’s condition as they were interviewing Brown and Matthews and began asking more pointed questions and challenging the pair’s story. Halfway through the interview the two women sprinted from the office, abandoning the 4-year-old and his sister at the office, police said. The children are now in the care of the authorities.

“They realize that no one is buying their ruse,” said Lt. Vincent Neglia of the LAPD’s Abused Child Unit, and “they bug out.”

Capt. Fabian Lizarraga said it was fortunate that the stranger sought help. He “had the sense that something was not right, that the situation he had been placed in was not right,” the captain said.

Authorities launched a hunt for Brown and Matthews while authorities took the 5-year-old child to a hospital. Matthews was arrested Friday and Brown turned herself in to police on Saturday. Both women have accounts on the popular MySpace website. See Starkreisha Brown here and Krystal Matthews’ is here. Both women also have criminal records.

Brown is a known gang member who as a minor served time in the California Youth Authority for battery. She also served a total of two and a half years in prison for two separate convictions: one for felony robbery of an elderly woman in 2003 and later for petty theft, when she and another woman stole a bracelet and other items from a Macy’s department store.

Most recently, Brown was incarcerated from March 2006 to January 2007. During that period, the boy was in the custody of his grandmother, authorities said. Brown regained custody of her son when she left prison in January 2007. But that March, a judge issued an arrest warrant for her in connection with parole violations. It is unclear why officials could not locate her.

Matthews also has a criminal history, including convictions for assault with a deadly weapon and forgery. In May, Matthews got into a fight with her younger brother, slashing him in the face with a box-cutter. She was arrested and eventually pleaded guilty. She was sentenced to 3 years probation.

Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) is investigating why no one followed up an initial case review after a tip in November 2005 that the boy was neglected and at risk while in the care of his grandmother, who took the boy in after his mother was arrested for shoplifting.

An array of other agencies missed their chance to intervene, said Gloria Molina, a member of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, including the state Department of Corrections and the county’s Department of Probation, Department of Mental Health and foster care agencies that had case files for Brown and the two other women charged in the case. Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky blamed a “silo” mentality of agencies that do not reflexively alert one another to potential risks posed by cases.

“Why was there no intervention? It shouldn’t have to be from the hotline,” Molina said.

Friends and family say they suspected that Starkeisha Brown beat her 5-year-old son but nobody called authorities. Such problems are particularly present in neighborhoods like the one where the Browns lived, where distrust of police and child-protection workers is high and residents worry that calling authorities could make problems worse.

“I don’t think it is that they are colluding with the abuser,” said Carole Shauffer, executive director of the Youth Law Center, a San Francisco-based public interest law firm. “For the most part, it’s fear of what’s going to happen, fear of nothing happening, fear of collateral consequences, and denial, that ‘it’s none of my business, and it can’t be as bad as it seems to me.’ “

The boy’s great-grandmother, Barbara Moreno, said she noticed cuts, scratches and bumps on him, but dropped the subject when he told her the injuries were caused by a fall and a dog attack.

“Sometimes you turn your head,”
said Vivian Daniels, a family friend who about a month ago finally asked Brown about the bruises and scratches on her son’s body. She said she didn’t call police or the Department of Children and Family Services because she feared it would make things worse for the boy and perhaps even for her and her children.

“It’s tit-for-tat,” Daniels said. “In South-Central, we don’t do that. I’m just telling you how it is.”

“We have seen time and time again that people say, ‘I’ve seen child abuse, I’ve heard it, I’ve heard screams, but I do nothing,’ ” said Earl Ofari Hutchinson, president of the Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable. “People are so reluctant to speak out on it.”

Hutchinson and others said suspicion and fear of authorities runs deep in parts of South L.A. and that extends beyond the police to social service agencies and other public providers. They said some people are afraid that calling authorities could end up making the family situation worse — particularly if the child is taken into foster care. Others fear authorities might end up checking on them.

In response to the case, community activists on Friday canvassed the neighborhood around 110th and Figueroa streets, where Brown recently lived with the boy, with fliers that read: “Break the Silence on Child Abuse in South L.A.! Help Make Sure a Starkeisha Brown Torture Case Never Happens Again.”

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5 Responses to “5-Year-Old Boy Tortured and Abused”

  1. Reta Krukowski said

    How could anybody not call the police and welfare on this women, especially her relatives that knew this went on for years. This poor little boy suffered unimaginal pain because of that sick bitch of a mother and boyfriend. Every one that knew that didn’t call in is just as guilty as the mother and that pig of a boyfriend. They deserve death or need to be tortured everyday just like she did to the little boy. May you all rot in hell and the ones that stood by too. YOu make me sick. You are inhuman scum.

  2. Reta Krukowski said

    Why would they give that pig that burned his hand such a low bail. Don’t those sickos know that this sicko will get out and probably have children of her own that she will beat or kill. Everyone involved in this or had any knowledge should be put in prison. There should be a law that if you knowledge of abuse, it has to be reported or you will be ciminally responsible too.
    I am so sick of people getting away with child abuse. Thank God that little one told someone about his hand. What is there to be scared about calling the welfare or police on a child abuser. You don’t have to give your name. Keep calling if they don’t respond the first time. Call the police, welfare, government, everybody but just don’t sit there knowing a little one is beaten, burned and torture.
    There is no way as a grandmother that I would have not checked that little boy all over and sure in hell wouldn’t have believe the so called mother. I would call on any of my kids if they ever did anything to hurt my grandkids but thank God I didn’t raise a monster. That is what these people are, MONSTERS THAT DESERVE LIFE IN PRISON

  3. JS said

    Those cowards who did not report the abuse they suspected or saw are just as guilty and pathetic as the scum who actually tortured the child. You nonreporters are a bunch of welfare-seeking cowards.
    The monsters need to be discarded in a California prison like the trash they are. I hope some inmate reads their story and tells all the other inmates who will listen so they two pieces of crap might receive the same torture they doled out to the child.

  4. BB said

    The mother and girlfriend should definitely get what is coming to them. The third young lady was innocent by association. She innocently allowed the mother and son to stay with her for a period of time, when the mother had no where to go. Unbeknownst to her, the mother asked to take her children to the park, but instead took them to the DCFS meeting. The third lady did not burn the little boy, that has been verified. I have known this young lady for just under ten years, before she had her own children; she is a good mother and a kind person. It’s sad to see her mixed up in this.

  5. Ash said

    I am parent and I would not hurt by baby in the world. I just do not understand if one does not want their child one can give up for adoption no question asked. It is not necessary to hurt the child because we need to remember the child did not ask to come in this world. I just wish these mothers would get on birth control so the do not have kids. Also this society needs to stop turning their heads everytime they see or hear anything like this. If one does then we are creating a monster in society. My prayer are for the boy and I hope he doing well now. These ladies get what they what they deserve here and the after life.

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