Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Ricky Holland and Marcus Fiesel

It often takes the death of an innocent child to bring reform to a broken system. 7-year-old Ricky Holland and 3-year-old Marcus Fiesel represent two lives that have been sacrificed. Ricky lived in Michigan, and Marcus in Cincinnatti, Ohio -- but their lives had many factors in common.

Ricky's foster parents were approved to adopt him
In Michigan, records show that social workers who checked on Ricky's welfare each month for three years praised his foster parents for doing a "wonderful job." They reported his condition as thriving.

When asked to describe the relationship between Ricky and the Hollands after his adoption, the state adoption worker reported that it was obvious that he "loves them dearly."

Meanwhile, neighbors wondered why Lisa Holland did not allow the children to play outside, and why they frequently heard the sound of babies crying. They wondered why Ricky scrounged for food. They wondered about a lot of things - but they didn't call and they didn't ask.

Marcus' foster mom was described as "perky" by social worker
In Ohio, the Carroll's were also living a duplicitous lifestyle. Foster father David Carroll had a lot to hide, including a domestic violence charge, a live-in girlfriend and evidence of a bipolar disorder.

Meanwhile, a Lifeway caseworker described Liz Carroll as "perky" and "unrushed," and said that Carroll never discouraged the case manager from seeing Marcus.

What else did the Hollands and Carrolls have in common?
1.) Multiple children living in the home: Both the Hollands and the Carrolls had multiple foster children. The Hollands had adopted three of Ricky's four siblings. The Carrolls had four children of their own, as well as another foster child.

2.) Allegations of husbands with mood swings.

3.) Domestic violence charges. Liz Carroll filed one against her husband. Tim Holland filed one against his wife.

4.) Involving the public in the search. Both the Hollands and the Carrolls lied in order to deceive the public. Marcus' foster parents reported him missing in a suburban park on August 15., 2006. They involved the public in the search, claiming that Marcus might have wandered off or been abducted. The Hollands reported Ricky missing on July 2, 2005.

4.) Murder and cover-up. Investigators believe that David Carroll burned Marcus' body repeatedly and tossed the remains in the Ohio River. Tom Holland was allegedly ordered by his wife to dispose of Ricky's body.

What happened to Ricky?
Ricky's body was found on January 27, 2006, six months after he had supposedly "run away from home." He had been wrapped in a sheet, and stuffed inside two garbage bags. According to the forensic pathologist, there is a distinct possibility that, when his body was first abandoned, Ricky was still alive.

In the Holland case, both spouses have turned upon each other. Neither will admit to killing the child. Tom claims his wife overmedicated Ricky. Forensic evidence demonstrates a pattern of abuse, violence and undernourishment, including fresh fractures to Ricky's upper body and face.

The Hollands have been charged with murder and first-degree child abuse.

What happened to Marcus?
In Ohio, the Carrolls wrapped Marcus in a blanket with his hands tied behind him. They taped him up like a mummy, and left him in a hot closet. Then, they left to celebrate a family reunion in Kentucky. When they returned, he was dead.

The Carrolls have been indicted on charges of involuntary manslaughter and two charges of child endangering.

The question remains...
Will Ricky and Marcus, and many other children in many other states whose lives have been sacrificed, be the catalyst for (true and lasting) change in foster care? It breaks my heart that even if change comes, they won't be around to see it...

Bouffard, Karen. Boy's death shows how state fails kids: Program designed to keep children with families can put youngsters such as 7-year-old Ricky in danger. Detroit News, Feb. 15, 2006.
Bouffard, Karen. Doctor: Ricky died a slow death. Detroit News, March 14, 2006.
Bouffard, Karen. Slain boy, siblings abused: State leaves kids with parents for months despite bruises, black eyes. Detroit News, Feb. 14, 2006.
Brooks, Candice. Lifeway Director: 'Nothing else we could have done' byt death may spark changes. Cincinnatti Post, Aug. 30, 2006.
Coolidge, Sharon. Far better off with God. Cincinnati Enquirer, Aug. 20, 2006.
Grasha, Kevin. Lisa Holland: I think Tim snapped. Lansing State Journal, March 18, 2006.
Kresnak, Jack. Parents may have hidden abuse of son. Detroit Free Press, March 6, 2006.
Kresnak, Jack. Records: Parents' deception shrouded years of abuse. March 10, 2006.
Kresnak, Jack. Reports say slain boy was thriving. March 17, 2007.
McLaughlin, Sheila. Lifeway leader defends agency. Cincinnati Enquirer, Sept. 1, 2006.
Range, Stacey. Wife would overmedicate boy, Holland says. Lansing State Journal, Sept. 6, 2006.

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Incredibly saddening stories, the parents should be held accountable, more importantly the children’s case-workers should be held criminally liable.
They neglected their duties and failed those children in the most heinous way.
Children being killed at the hands of those entrusted with their care and being disposed of like so much trash is unacceptable in the extreme.
Under trained, lazy and inept case-workers regardless of there excuses are the primary cause of children being abused and neglected in the system supposedly designed to insure their safety and well-being.
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