William Alcantara

Photo of a heavyset young man with dark hair and pale skin, smiling for the camera.Name: William Alcantara.
Died: December 10, 2020.
Age at death: 24.
Cause of death: Deep vein thrombosis.
Location: Chula Vista, California, USA.

Details:
William lived with his parents as a young adult. When he had to be taken to the emergency room, the state took him away from his parents and put him in a group home. His father believes this was because he had a habit of making waves–complaining about William not being scheduled for a dental appointment he needed, and later on in the group home, complaining that William was over-medicated so that he became tired but could not sleep.

At the group home, William began to lose weight. Originally a chubby young man, he became thin and his father worried he was going to starve to death. But because of the COVID-19 pandemic, William and his parents were unable to visit, and even phone and video chat was becoming less available. William’s father told the county guardians about his son’s situation–how he was getting skinnier and more unhappy and unhealthy–but nothing was done.

William died from deep venous thrombosis, and on autopsy it was noted that his body was badly bruised. His death certificate calls his death “natural”, but his family believes he died from being forced to stay in one place all day, not allowed even to walk around. “The caregiver kept assaulting my son,” William’s father says, “punishing him to keep… calm.”

Deep vein thrombosis happens when a blood clot blocks a major blood vessel. The risk factors for DVT are old age, recent surgery, pregnancy, obesity, trauma, and inactivity. Of these risk factors, William had only two: Trauma (the bruising to his body) and inactivity (being forced to stay quiet in the same place all day, or perhaps restrained). DVT is a known risk factor of restraint or forced inactivity. Although DVT can happen without risk factors, the bruising to William’s body and the fact that this death was that of a young, otherwise healthy man makes it clear to me that there should be further investigation.

References: Father of son who died files negligence claim against San Diego County

Karreon Walter-Franks

School photo of a boy with dark skin and very short hair, wearing a black T-shirt.Name: Karreon Walter-Franks.
Died: November 27, 2020.
Age at death: 15.
Cause of death: Neglect (Starvation, pneumonia).
Location: Vancouver, Washington, USA.

Details:
Karreon lived with two siblings and his aunt and uncle. His aunt had legally adopted the children.

At the time of his death, Karreon was known to the child welfare system. His aunt reported to social workers that Karreon and his siblings had been starved for years and had to steal food to survive, and that Karreon was emaciated and had collapsed from hunger. His brother told them that Karreon’s mother had hit him with a cane for throwing up. The last contact by child welfare to the home was only a week before Karreon died. His death was reported as pneumonia; but the funeral home contacted police because his body weighed only 65 pounds and was in very poor condition.

After his death, Karreon’s two younger siblings were removed from the home. His adoptive mother and uncle are under investigation, but currently not charged with anything.

References:
Disabled 15-year-old boy dies weighing 65 pounds DAYS after CPS visits adoptive parents’ home: Reports
Washington teen’s death ruled homicide due to starvation and neglect
Police: Authorities visited starving teen days before death
Child welfare visited disabled 15-year-old boy DAYS before he died weighing only 65 pounds, court docs reveal

Sayeed Neilson

Neilson, SayeedName: Sayeed Neilson.
Died: October 23, 2020.
Age at death: 14.
Cause of death: Abuse (Injuries “inconsistent with a fall”).
Location: Nashville, Tennessee, USA.

Details:
Sayeed loved Star Wars and Halloween. He never missed a day walking his dog Chloe, rain or shine. He had planned to dress up as Ghostface, from the Scream movies, for Halloween.

Sayeed’s stepbrother punched and kicked him in the head; his mother told his stepbrother to stop, but then walked away without actually checking to make sure he had stopped. When Sayeed died, they claimed he had fallen in the shower; but his injuries were “inconsistent with a fall”. His mother and stepbrother were arrested and charged with child abuse, homicide, and criminal tampering.

References:
‘It Was Like Reign Of Terror’: Man Accused Of Beating His Autistic 14-Year-Old Brother To Death
Vigil for teen with Autism killed by family members
‘Reign of terror’: Slaying of Nashville 14-year-old involving brother, mother leaves relatives reeling
Aunt mourns 14-year-old boy with Asperger’s beaten to death in Tennessee home
Mother, stepbrother charged with homicide in death of autistic 14-year-old boy
Tenn. mother, stepbrother charged in death of autistic 14-year-old

Makeisha Maynard

Maynard, MakeishaName: Makeisha Maynard.
Died: February 9, 2020.
Age at death: 8.
Cause of death: Murder-suicide (Beaten).
Location: Caroni, Trinidad and Tobago.

Details:
Makeisha knew her numbers, colors, and shapes, but had trouble writing. Her mother and father were separated, and her mother had left her father because he was abusive; but she was unable to get Makeisha out of the house.

Makeisha’s father beat her to death with a cutlass because she wet the bed. He hung himself the next day.

References:
Girl, 8, beaten to death after wetting bed, father takes own life
Girl, 8, beaten to death with cutlass
Trinidad: Father beats 8yro daughter to death with cutlass

Thomas Valva

Valva, ThomasName: Thomas Valva.
Died: January 17, 2020.
Age at death: 8.
Cause of death: Murder.
Location: Long Island, New York, USA.

Details:
Thomas was a friendly, well-liked second-grader who liked to play outside. When he was two, he spoke his first words–“Ball” and “go”–when playing with a therapist, rolling a ball back and forth. He also liked puzzles. His therapist remembers how affectionate Thomas and his mother were, while his father seemed distant.

When Thomas’s mother and father divorced, his father used his clout as a police officer and his ex-wife’s status as a Polish immigrant to get sole custody. There Thomas lived with three stepsisters and two brothers. His father and stepmother abused the children, especially Thomas and his older brother, who is also autistic. The boys were starved, beaten, and made to sleep in the cold, unfinished garage.

One morning, after a 17-degree freezing night, Thomas’s father found him dying from hypothermia and mocked him as he died, then tried to pretend that he had fallen on the driveway. Their story fell apart–Thomas’s injuries, including the marks of beatings and hypothermia, were simply not consistent with it–and they were charged with second-degree murder.

References:
NYPD Officer Michael Valva, charged with murder after his autistic son froze to death in garage, quits police force
A Dozen Calls to Child Abuse Hotline Did Not Save 8-Year-Old Boy
House of Horrors Boy ‘Made the Ultimate Sacrifice’
Thomas Valva Death, ‘Amazing’ Mom Lost Her Special Boy to a House of Horrors
NYPD officer and fiancée charged with murder of cop’s 8-year-old autistic son who froze to death in garage
NYPD Dad Charged In Frigid-Garage Death Of Boy, 8: Cops
NYPD cop Michael Valva abused son Thomas Valva for years before his death, mom claims
‘I’m Not Surprised,’ Nanny Says Of 8-Year-Old’s Horrific Death
Child services ignored complaints about cop before his son died
NYPD officer Michael Valva, fiancée charged with murder in death of cop’s 8-year-old son
Father, His Fiancée Face Murder Charges In Death Of 8-Year-Old Long Island Boy
NYPD Cop & Fiancee Accused of Killing 8-Year-Old Boy