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Rest in Peace

Maribel Gomez Kills Son, Social Workers Ignored Signs that Child Was in Danger

by Anne-Marie Nichols on February 16th, 2007

rafael-gomez.jpgMaribel Gomez, 32 of Spokane, Wash. is charged in the death of her 2-year-old son, Rafael “Raffy” Gomez. While in his mom’s care, the boy suffered concussions, bruises, burns, and two broken legs. Yet state caseworkers continued to return him to his birth parents after the child was placed in foster care four times. The last time Raffy was reunited with his family, he died of of blunt-force trauma to his head. Maribel told police her son died after throwing himself out of a high chair.

raffy_abuse.jpgRaffy was born in the back seat of a car and was placed with foster parents after tests showed he and his mother had cocaine and methamphetamine in their systems. Denise Griffith, Raffy’s foster mother and court-appointed representative of his estate has filed a civil-rights lawsuit. She claims his death was caused by breaches of duty and negligence by the birth parents and by social worker Murray Twelves. Twelves no longer works child custody cases, and works as an intake worker for social services.

Washington’s Department of Social and Health Services concluded that social workers were biased toward the birth parents, ignored obvious signs that Raffy was in danger, and failed to follow the agency’s own rules. Social workers pushed for reunification because they thought Maribel Gomez was loving and attentive. Yeah, right.

Unfortunately, only the birth mother is at trial for homicide by abuse and first-degree manslaughter.

Sent: 9/29/2007 7:32 AM
Foster Mother Abused Foster Child - Sentenced to 10 Years
"A Federal Way woman accused of poking hypodermic needles into her foster
daughter's eyes pleaded guilty to assault. Thirty-four-year-old Chornice Lewis
 faces more than ten years in prison when she is sentenced November 16th in
 King County Superior Court at Kent. The Tacoma News Tribune reported the
foster child was left blind in one eye and that foster care workers failed to follow
through on a decade of complaints about Lewis. She also was accused of beating
the girl with an umbrella and burning her tongue with a hot fork. The Department
 of Social and Health Services reassigned and retrained some workers as a result
 of the case."

Rest in Peace

Foster father charged in death of 20-month-old child in Spokane


SPOKANE -- A convicted felon whose wife was sought on two warrants when the couple gained custody of a little boy as foster parents has charged with beating the child to death.

Avery E. Sam, 37, was arrested over the weekend for investigation of first-degree assault after Devin L. Miller, 20 months, was taken to a hospital. On Monday, a day after the little boy died, Sam was charged with second-degree murder and remained in jail with bail set at $500,000.

Documents filed in Spokane County Superior Court show Sam was a convicted felon and his wife was wanted on two warrants when Child Protective Services gave them custody of the boy who died and a 7-month-old foster child, one of two children who have been removed from the home.

Officials in the state agency were not available for comment Monday,

Resting in Peace

Detectives: "It's beyond abuse ... it's abuse by torture" Staff
Last updated: Tuesday, March 13th, 2007 02:34:59 PM


Detective: 'This is the worst case I've ever seen'

Couple make first appearance in child's death

SPOKANE -- The parents of a four-year-old girl who was murdered over the weekend appeared in court Monday in a case that one veteran police detective has called the worst case of abuse he has ever seen.

Jonathan Lytle, 28, and Adriana Lytle, 32, the father and stepmother of the victim, appeared in court Monday after they were arrested Sunday and charged with the young girl’s death. Both are being held on a $500,000 bond.

They were arrested after Jonathan Lytle had taken his daughter to Deaconess Medical Center late Saturday night bruised from head to toe and had varying degrees of bruising that revealed a potentially long-term cycle of abuse.

The victim, who was apparently developmentally disabled, was also allegedly made to wear a shock collar, which is typically used for dogs, in her parents’ attempts to discipline her.

"There was the use of a electric dog training collar used on this girl," Sergeant Joe Peterson of the Spokane Police Department said. "And what's even more dreadful is that isn't even nearly the worst of it."

The child allegedly suffered a variety of other injuries brought on by beatings with belts and spoons and had human bite marks on her body. According to court documents, Jonathan Lytle admitted to police after being told of his rights to remain silent that the girl had kicked Adriana in the chin and Adriana had responded by biting the girl.

Peterson added the girl had injuries "from her feet to the top of her head" and investigators would have to wait until the conclusion of an autopsy to determine the full range of injuries the child sustained.

On Saturday a nurse was paying a visit to the Lytles' apartment to look at their 8-month-old son and Jonathan Lytle took his daughter out of the apartment so as not to disturb the nurse while she checked out the infant boy. Later after the nurse left he returned and his daughter was made to wash clothes and towels soaked in urine in the apartment's bathtub while she was standing inside of it.

Adriana later told police during an interview that the child frequently wet herself and that she resorted to both dunking the child in water and forcing her to wash her clothes while standing inside of the bathtub with her feet together, bending over at the waist while she washed her soiled clothes.

"My house, my rules," Adriana reportedly told police during her interview. "You're not at mommy's house anymore."

At one point, according to the affidavit of probable cause, Adriana - who had been cooking a dinner to celebrate the couple's first wedding anniversary on Saturday - went into the bathroom and found the girl unresponsive and lying on her back in the bathtub filled with water and urine.

Adriana allegedly tried to perform CPR "using her hands and feet"; Jonathan came into assist but at one point left the room to go have a cigarette. While trying to revive the girl Adriana repotedly said, "We might have killed her" and Jonathan took his daughter to Deaconess Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead shortly after she arrived.

"They had concocted a story the child fallen down one time to cause these injuries," Sergeant Peterson said.

Doctors and nurses informed investigators as soon as they arrived at Deaconess Saturday night the child had been abused. Nurses who were attending to the child went into the room to help and almost universally came out crying.

Once investigators got an opportunity to see the child for themselves, a single cursory glance was all it took to see the four-year-old girl had suffered abuse over a long period of time.

"This is the worst case I've ever seen and my detectives feel the same," Peterson said. "It's probably the worst case of abuse that any of us in hundreds of combined years in this unit have ever seen."

"It's beyond abuse ... it's abuse by torture."

The family lived in unit 25 at the Dresden Apartments, located at 707 North Monroe in downtown Spokane. The child had only been living with her father and stepmother since last August. Lytle told investigators that the girl's biological mother had asked if she could live with Jonathan and Adriana for a month but never made an attempt to regain custody of the child.

The second child in the Lytle's home, an eight-month-old boy, was taken and placed in foster care Saturday night.


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Resting with Angels
Kyeimah age 6



Mother says she beheaded daughter
First she drowned 'demon' 6-year-old in bath, police told


She told friends her daughter was an uncontrollable "demon."

So, detectives contend, the woman drew a bath in her White Center home, placed the 6-year- old child in the water and held her under until she died.

Then, using an ax she bought at a nearby hardware store, she cut the child's head off.


Yesterday, King County prosecutors charged Samara L. Spann, 30, with first-degree murder for the slaying of her daughter, Kyeimah Spann. She was being held under watch in the medical ward of the Sacramento County Main Jail in Sacramento, Calif., where she was arrested last week for allegedly slapping another child.

The murder case against Spann began with a call from California, where she had been living since February.

According to documents filed in court, a caseworker with California Child Protective Services contacted King County detectives Feb. 22, asking them to check on Kyeimah's welfare. The caseworker had heard from one of the mother's friends that the child may have been killed.

Detectives checked the address provided, but the family living there did not know the Spanns. When they checked with the local school, Mount View Elementary, they learned Kyeimah had attended first grade there from September until Jan. 11.

School officials gave detectives another address to check. They found that residence vacant as well, but neighbors told them Spann had moved just a week earlier.

During the next few weeks, detectives found no reports of missing children that matched Kyeimah's description.

Detectives later learned that Spann had contacted Washington's Department of Social and Health Services in January to report she would no longer need welfare for Kyeimah. She reportedly told authorities that her daughter had moved to Missouri to live with her grandmother.

Then, last Tuesday, the girl's grandfather called from Sacramento to file a missing-person report.

Three days later, a Sacramento County sheriff's detective went to Spann's home and arrested her for slapping her 14-year-old daughter.

Once in custody, detectives asked Spann about Kyeimah. She initially denied hurting her child, but eventually confessed, according to the court documents.

In several interviews with King County detectives, who traveled to Sacramento to speak with Spann, the mother related a horrific story.

Spann said she was a heavy drug user when Kyeimah was born, and that as a crack baby, the girl was difficult to control. In the late hours of Dec. 31 or Jan. 1, Spann said, she'd had enough.

When the girl kept getting out of bed, interrupting a conversation Spann was having on the phone with a friend, she decided to drown the child.

Spann told detectives that without telling her friend, she filled her bathtub with water and drowned Kyeimah, leaving the body in the home for two days. She said she then left and stayed at a Georgetown motel during that time.

She bought a heavy chain, padlock and an ax at a hardware store. While buying these items to hide Kyeimah's body, she also tried to buy a teddy bear for her third child, an infant boy. But she did not have enough money, investigators said.

Once at home, she used the ax to decapitate the child. She padlocked a chain around her daughter's remains, then placed the child in a plastic bin.

Spann allegedly had a friend baby-sit her infant son while she drove to a bridge and dumped Kyeimah into a body of water. So far, investigators have been unable to find the little girl's remains.

Court documents indicate Spann admitted killing her daughter to at least two friends and her eldest daughter, who didn't want her mother arrested.

"The girl convinced Spann not to turn herself in because she would lose her mother," prosecutors said.

The girl and her infant brother have been placed in protective custody, Sacramento authorities said.

Spann is expected to have a court hearing tomorrow in Sacramento Superior Court, where she could waive extradition proceedings. If that happens, officials said, she could be in Seattle within days.

About two months before she allegedly killed her daughter, Spann filed for a protection order against the father of her son.

In her request, Spann said she was being treated for depression and was on medication.

Her criminal history includes arrests for prostitution, forgery and theft.

In July 2000, Washington state CPS officials were contacted after Spann was caught shoplifting with her children, state officials said.

There was no information available on what came of that contact.



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