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Teen describes beatings by four captors in Tracy home

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Posted: Friday, June 12, 2009 10:00 pm

A teenage boy who allegedly was held captive in a Tracy home endured frequent beatings, often in front of other young children in the house, that worsened over the year he spent there, according to grand jury testimony made public Friday.

The 970-page transcript includes March testimony from the boy, the alleged abusers' children, social workers, police officers and about three dozen other people who had knowledge of the events.

The alleged victim was 16 when he escaped the house in December and stumbled into a nearby fitness center, nearly naked, covered in filth, emaciated and wearing a shackle on his ankle. His physical condition was so bad that he required skin grafts to repair burn damage all over his body, according to a doctor who testified before the grand jury.

Homeowners Michael Schumacher and Kelly Layne Lau, the teen's one-time guardian Caren Ramirez and neighbor Anthony Waiters have pleaded not guilty to multiple charges, including torture, aggravated mayhem and false imprisonment.

A gag order is in place, preventing both sides from discussing the case.

The boy told the grand jury in March that Ramirez and Lau would beat him most frequently for infractions such as forgetting to water the lawn or not cleaning the bathroom properly, the court documents said. He said they initially hit him with their hands, but that eventually escalated to belts, a mallet, a hammer and an aluminum baseball bat.

The teen testified that his abusers often had conversations in front him about how they wanted to torture and kill him.

"I remember they said they would try to, like cut me up and everything and throw me in the delta, and one time he, Michael, asked Kelly for a syringe so he could, like, pump air into my veins and stuff like that," the teen said, according to the documents.

He recounted one incident for the jury, saying Waiters, who later joined in the abuse, sliced his arm with a knife while Ramirez held him down and Lau watched.

"'You better not scream or anything,"' the boy said Waiters told him. "They just told me to shut up."

The teen said Ramirez would pour bleach and salt on his open wounds.

Police previously said Ramirez became the teen's guardian after he was taken from an abusive father three or four years ago. But after Ramirez herself was charged with abusing him, the boy was then placed in a group foster home in Sacramento but ran away in May 2007.

The boy told the grand jury that he reunited with Ramirez, who arranged for him to live with a friend, Catherine Cockrell. Cockrell testified that Ramirez expressed frustration with the boy for his alleged bad behavior.

"Well, (the boy) is, I'm going to say lazy, so that would irritate her," she said.

Reached by The Associated Press on Friday, Cockrell declined to comment.

It was Cockrell who introduced Ramirez to the Schumacher and Lau, who agreed to take the two in after he became too hard for Cockrell to handle.

Prosecutors say the boy began receiving regular beatings shortly after arriving at the Tracy home. By January 2008, he was being chained up in various rooms in the house.

Two of Schumacher and Lau's four children - ages 5 and 9 - testified that the boy regularly was denied food and that his diet consisted of candy bars and water. They said the hungry teen often would be reprimanded harshly for trying to steal food from the refrigerator.

The 5-year-old girl told the grand jury that she witnessed many beatings. Authorities have said they don't believe Schumacher and Lau's children were physically abused.

© 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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1 comment:

  • posted at 4:30 am on Mon, Jun 15, 2009.


    Having been a foster parent myself, I realize the challenges. But nothing, absolutely nothing, a child could do would warrant this. The part that continues to puzzle and amaze me is that, yes there's a chance that one abuser exists in a house, but where do you find 4 people this vile who have a like mind and agree this is appropriate in this society. The story states "three dozen others who had knowledge of the events". It makes me fear that there are more of these animals lurking in places we don't know about.



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