Damn, that's just sad.
February 11, 2002 3:51 PM   Subscribe

Damn, that's just sad. 13 kids. 4 moms. 1 dad. No dairy products, no sunshine, and apparently no clue. One child is dead of malnutrition, others have ricketts, and none of the adults are cooperating with authorities.
posted by ilsa (25 comments total)
From the article
[The children] were severely malnourished and most suffered from rickets, a bone-softening disease almost unheard of in suburban America.

Good god, rickets in the suburbs, I tell you, the suburbs! Somebody do something!
posted by Ty Webb at 4:08 PM on February 11, 2002

praise the lord! 10 bux sez they're religious nuts.
posted by quonsar at 4:17 PM on February 11, 2002

The story is from Marin County. Quonsar, if religion is involved, I don't think we're talking about one that everyone loves to hate.
posted by Real9 at 4:27 PM on February 11, 2002

Drug addicts, more likely quonsar, or merely pathologically self-centered.
In any case, these kind of cases of horrendous neglect seem to be happening more often, or at least we're hearing about it more. I think the "Jeannie" case back in the 1970's, involving a child strapped to a chair for years on end was the first one to recieve national attention. Behavior like this truly makes me worry for the state of humanity.
posted by jonmc at 4:30 PM on February 11, 2002

After John Walker it's hard to imagine anything that would do more to bolster Marin's "reputation" in red america. Supposedly a friend of a friend went to school with one of the accused here in SF.
posted by mlinksva at 4:30 PM on February 11, 2002

This is a terrible situation, but I can't help pointing out that you do not need to consume dairy products in order to avoid rickets. There are plenty of lactose-intolerant people (as well as vegans) who manage fine with vitamins and other foods containing the proper nutrients.
posted by bingo at 5:53 PM on February 11, 2002

Drug addicts, more likely...

Which would explain why they live in an upscale rental home and paid the bills, right? Or is this the form of addiction that somehow makes money magically appear, but stops you from buying food?

These people are nuts; either religious lunatics or paranoiacs. Probably both.
posted by aramaic at 6:15 PM on February 11, 2002

This is yet another one of those that leaves me shaking my head bereft of anything even resembling a reason or cause of such behavior.

Here in Texas, we had a horrific case where an eight year old was locked in closet and weighed only 25 pounds when she was found. Tonight on the local (Dallas) news, a report of a three year old forced into scalding water for wetting his pants and the parents waiting four days before taking him to the hospital!

Like jonmc, it leaves me worrying about the state of humanity.
posted by sillygit at 7:28 PM on February 11, 2002

Death penalty. People like this make me sick.
posted by owillis at 8:21 PM on February 11, 2002

Uh, death penalty for child endangerment and neglect? Maybe a bit severe?
posted by phatboy at 8:31 PM on February 11, 2002

No, the death penalty would be for the 19-month old child that they murdered through their endangerment, neglect and abuse. First paragraph of the article, phatboy.
posted by Dreama at 8:47 PM on February 11, 2002

phatboy - it was neglect so severe that a toddler is left dead. I dunno about the death penalty, legally speaking, but I can definitely second oliver's disgust. What the legal punishment's will be is for a court of law to decide, here in this forum , we're speaking from the gut, and any sane persons gut would tell them that the people who perpetrated this deserve to suffer severely.
Doubly so because children who suffer this level of abuse and neglect usually turn on themselves or on society-so the full costs of these peoples crimes will be perpetrated on all of society and will not be fully calculated by society for years to come.
Quite frankly, I think the Death Penalty is appropriate here, and legally speaking they might be able to make it stick
posted by jonmc at 8:53 PM on February 11, 2002

I read. I just think that asking for the death penalty in a case like this is way too extreme. Does anyone think they did this on purpose? They deserve to go to jail for child abuse, however.

I remember a similar case like this in England a few months back. A women and her boyfriend had been convinced by their friends that aside from something like barley, anything they fed their child would screw it up some way (cancer, hormones, etc). The baby eventually died from malnutrition.

IMHO this is probably a similar case, the parents probably believed they were acting in the child's best interest in some twisted way.

All I am saying is that they may be deluded enough to deserve some sympathy along with the disgust.
posted by phatboy at 8:56 PM on February 11, 2002

What a classic line:

We don't know exactly what their affiliation is together other than they are cohabiting and producing children.

Owillis: You're in California. 2nd degree murder gets 15 to life. But more likely they get'em on the manslaughter charges.
posted by dhartung at 8:57 PM on February 11, 2002

they may be deluded enough to deserve some sympathy along with the disgust....

They'll get none from me. In this case my sympathy begins and ends with those kids.
I'm also a little bit shocked that these people managed to slip thru the net of the numerous Child Welfare angencies in the state. What the hell were they doing all this time? I can definitely see a class action suit.
posted by jonmc at 9:05 PM on February 11, 2002

Today's story from the Marin Independent-Journal. My suggestion for (part) of the punishment: sterilize the adults.
posted by Carol Anne at 5:19 AM on February 12, 2002

Does anyone think they did this on purpose?
It seems quite obvious that they did, as in the English case you cited.

dhartung: I was more talking about a punishment under "Oliver's Rules of Engagement" in which all sickos like this have a date with Old Sparky. But thanks for the saddening (what a pathetic punishment) info.

Sometimes a license to have babies sounds like a really good idea.
posted by owillis at 5:30 AM on February 12, 2002

In some cases the death penalty does make sense. This might be one of them.

But, recommending the death penalty based on a news report seems ill-advised, don't ya think? I think that the justice system should have some say here. The news media is just wrong too many times.

I'm not defending the alleged actions of anyone. I'm simply reminding everyone that we should let a jury decide what is appropriate, after a thorough trial. That will be a slow process--not perfect--but better than the alternative.
posted by mooncrow at 7:48 AM on February 12, 2002

Considering the lack of sunlight (could be caused by mode of dress), the attentiveness to not letting non-family members see anyone, and the four women, one man arrangement.....

Does this sound like any particular major religion to anyone else?
posted by dwivian at 8:04 AM on February 12, 2002

bah, dwivian, jingoistic propaganda much?

let's not turn this into 'if malnourished babies die, the terrorists win'. in this case, it's a hell of a stretch, and in any event, there's evil and craziness in the world that has nothing to do with any God or Allah at all.
posted by Sapphireblue at 8:11 AM on February 12, 2002

I would like to caution that despite all of the indignation evident in this discussion, we should be very careful about advocating strong legal intervention. Remember the discussion about the Florida case in which an overweight girl was removed from her home by a social worker, because obesity itself was evidence of poor parenting?

Overlegislating parenting could lead to less parental discretion. What, you're keeping your kids on a vegetarian diet? Nope, can't do that, gotta have Social Services intervene. You don't follow the USDA's "food pyramid?" Cause for intervention. Have a non-standard approach to discipline? Different views on potty training? Give your 10-yr old a glass of wine at Thanksgiving dinner?

Be careful what you wish for, folks.
posted by yesster at 8:38 AM on February 12, 2002

Call me crazy, but maybe society needs to interfere a little when babies are dying of malnutrition in a country full of food like America. A hands-off policy did this kid no good, did it?
posted by owillis at 9:03 AM on February 12, 2002

Sapphireblue -- not really, no. Bah yourself.

But, there is merit in the thought that this was either paranoia, or religious fervor. The only two groups I know of with one father and multiple wives with any real presence in the US are the Mormons and the Muslims. I wasn't picking either, actually, but speculating that it was probably religious action, and not paranoia.

I could care less about terrorists; but, when children die or are starving, I have to wonder -- why? How could people continually pervert their faith this way? Christian mothers burning kids to get demons out of them, and now the possibility that someone here was following God's Law in starving kidlets....I just don't get it.

I don't advocate government intervention on a microlevel. Still, was no one aware that there were so many kids in that home? Apparently, from the article, not even the neighbors knew. What could the government have done to prevent this? Not a heck of a whole lot. So, why rely on them to fix it?

No, we need to try to figure out the root cause, and see if it can be treated. Then, we solve a great many things at one time.
posted by dwivian at 9:12 AM on February 12, 2002

I have to go with Owillis here with one qualification: let's get all the facts and then put the parents to death.

Children will die despite everything a parent may do. A moment's inattention and the child falls down the stairs or chokes on a bottle cap. A parent at the end of their patience lashes out at the latest source of irritation with fatal results. However, the systematic deprivation or maltreatment of a child is a crime that requires some special attention to punishment: it was not an accident or a momentary loss of self-control. In this case, there were five adults in the house and any one of them could have stopped the abuse. This child spent his entire life suffering at the hands of the people who are charged by society and humanity with his protection and well-being.

One thing I can't figure out: the article describes the house as both "upscale rental" and "modest". To me, upscale rent gets you a house that is more than modest. Perhaps the author saw no other way to underscore the point that these people had money and weren't bothering to budget too much for child care.
posted by joaquim at 11:23 AM on February 12, 2002

Death Penalty, eh?

Sometimes its best if the government doesn't lead its criminals by example.
posted by shepd at 6:56 PM on February 12, 2002

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