Adopted children starved

in General Discussion edited January 2014


October 28, 2003 --

Furious New Jersey officials yesterday booted nine child-welfare staffers in the wake of the horrific starving of four adopted boys - as Gov. McGreevey threatened to push for criminal charges against one key caseworker.

"It's inconceivable how a caseworker could go there and not detect these atrocious conditions," an angry McGreevey said. "People who made bad decisions will be held accountable."


* The sister of the suspected abusive mother insisted the boys - 9, 10, 14 and 19 - were severely disfigured because of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and eating disorders, not extreme malnutrition as alleged.

* Three of the boys were now "doing well" in their new foster homes, enjoying trips to the mall and even a birthday party, officials said. One of them, who gained only two pounds during the seven years he lived with his adoptive parents, gained seven pounds in the past two weeks, while the oldest boy, still hospitalized, had gained eight pounds.

* Supporters of the parents, Raymond and Vanessa Jackson of Collingswood, a well-kept Philadelphia suburb, continued to rally behind them, with their pastor calling them "a very spiritual" couple who fed the homeless and took in and cared for needy children nobody wanted. The couple also had several adoptive daughters, who apparently were not abused.

Meanwhile, cops and a neighbor involved in the case revealed new tragic details about how the boys' plight came to their attention in the early hours of Oct. 10 - after the neighbor, Michael Byrd, called to report a child rooting through his trash.

When officers arrived at the scene to investigate around 2:50 a.m., "Like [the movie] 'E.T.,' they saw a hand come out of one of the trash cans," Collingswood Police Chief Thomas Garrity Jr. said.

Byrd said he and his wife felt so bad for the 4-foot, 45-pound child - actually 19-year-old Bruce Jackson - they gave him a large box of cereal and Tasty Kakes, which he immediately devoured.

"The kid told me he was hungry . . . The whole time we were talking to the officers, he was stuffing cake in his mouth," Byrd said.

The boy wore no shoes and "his fingers were so weak, he couldn't even open the Tasty Kake bag," Byrd said.

At the hospital, the boy continued to wolf down turkey sandwiches, fruit cups and milk, never throwing up any of it, as his parents allegedly insisted he did all the time with food, officials said.

In one particularly touching moment at the police station, overwhelmed officers gave the 19-year-old a small stuffed tiger to play with - and he immediately clutched it to his chest, refusing to let go of it throughout his entire interview, Garrity said.

The police chief said cops received a call from Raymond Jackson five hours later reporting the boy as a runaway.

The officers arrived at the house to find six other children there, some of whom looked horribly thin and facially disfigured.

The officers "realized right away there was a problem," Garrity said.

"The locks on the kitchen door were definitely an indicator something was wrong."

After the boys - Bruce, 14-year-old Keith, 10-year-old Tyrone and 9-year-old Michael - underwent extensive medical exams to rule out possible eating or physical disorders that might be the cause of their malnutrition, authorities finally busted the parents Friday.

The state workers fired yesterday include case managers and social workers, officials said.

The caseworker who had been overseeing the pending adoption of a third girl by the couple and regularly making on-site visits had already resigned.

Among the most egregious charges is that the parents routinely told caseworkers from the state Division of Family and Youth Services that the boys suffered from eating disorders - and none of them bothered to verify the claim.

The boys, who had been adopted between 1995 and 1997, all weighed less than 50 pounds when they were found. Two are believed to be brothers, and the other two are unrelated.

The boys told authorities they were fed only uncooked pancake batter, peanut butter and cereal. They said they tried to supplement their diet with added nutrients by eating bits of the home's wallboard and insulation.

One child resorted to chewing on a flaking windowsill, officials said.

"They had distended bellies," Camden County prosecutor Vincent Sarubbi said. "They actually looked like children you'd see from third-world countries on [TV]."

It was still not immediately clear why the parents apparently favored their female adopted kids, who were as well-fed as the couple's two adult biological children - a son and daughter - who still lived at home.

The parents, born-again Christians, home-schooled all but one of the girls, authorities said. The boys rarely ventured far from home. When they did, it was usually to attended Sunday services at the Come Alive! New Testament Church.

Pastor Harry Thomas, 60, sung the parents' praises yesterday. "They have taken in kids that nobody else would," he said.

Raymond Jackson's brother, Billy, said he is pushing for reduced bail for the couple, which was set at $100,000 each. The pair is still jailed on charges of child endangerment and assault.

"They're not criminals," Billy Jackson insisted. "There's nothing malicious in them."

How can something like that pass inobserved? The facade marriage and family, a smiling family portrait ... What kind of people can do that to their adoptive or non kids??


  • Reply 1 of 3
    this is the type of story I see everyday in the philly region.

    there are no words to describe the cruelty that transpires in homes like these... especially this mocking cruelty...
  • Reply 2 of 3
    Yeah..... it's a cruel, cruel world out there. It's hard to be surprised by anything out there anymore since I work in 24 hour news and am contantly bombarded by this crap.

    Buuuuuuut......... not to be an you need to post the entire story, considering you've also given us a link?

    anyway...... you got a nice long post
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