Name: Otto Smith
Died: April 13, 2014
Age at death: 18
Cause of death: Abuse/Murder
Location: Auburn, Seattle, Washington, USA
Otto and his younger brother were being raised by a single mother. His favorite thing was a musical keyboard, and he liked to watch The Lion King.
Everything changed for them when she started dating one of the men she met through Craigslist. The man moved into the house and beat both boys, taking them out of school to keep the abuse secret. He also forced Otto’s mother to cancel the caregiver who normally came to help Otto. Otto’s younger brother was so isolated that he never had a chance to tell anyone what was happening; Otto himself tried to communicate by his behavior how bad his home was, but no one was listening.
During one beating, Otto’s stepfather hit him with the musical keyboard he loved, smashed it, and then flushed its keys down the toilet. Otto was beaten badly enough that his mother had to take him to the hospital, but she lied to the doctors, claiming that Otto had fallen down the stairs and then that he had injured himself deliberately. Otto was taken to a residential treatment center briefly, and when the stay ended, he was so afraid of returning that he tried to jump out of the car on the way back.
Otto’s fear was well-founded. Only days after he returned home, his stepfather murdered him. His mother was there at the time, but she didn’t help him as her boyfriend stuffed a sock into Otto’s mouth, duct-taped it closed, and waited for him to suffocate. Once again, she covered for Otto’s killer, and the death was ruled a natural one.
The month after Otto’s death, Otto’s brother lived a hellish existence of abuse and starvation, forced to sleep in the bathroom and often beaten. They were made to exercise to exhaustion and to take ice baths. Otto was shocked with a stun gun.
When his mother and her boyfriend were arrested for causing damage to their apartment complex, Otto’s mother and brother finally had a chance to come forward–his mother admitting to helping to hide the murder, and his brother reporting the abuse he and Otto had been subjected to.
Otto’s killer has been charged with abusing his younger brother; the investigation into Otto’s death is being re-opened. Otto’s younger brother moved out a month after Otto died and is now living with his grandparents.
With Otto’s death known to be a homicde, his mother and stepfather were arrested and convicted–his stepfather of murder, his mother of helping cover up the crime.
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