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Shackled teen escapes

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Posted: Tuesday, December 2, 2008 10:00 pm

A 17-year-old boy who entered the national spotlight when he ran into a health club half naked, bloodied, bruised and shackled, is in Sutter Tracy Community Hospital today recovering from his many injuries.

Kelly Lau

His alleged captors, Kelly Layne Lau, 30, and Michael Schumacher, 34, are each being charged with torture, child beating, false imprisonment by violence, conspiracy to commit a misdemeanor and kidnapping. Each is being held in lieu of $1.85 million bail and both are set to appear in court on Thursday.

Police are searching for another suspect, 43-year-old Caren Ramirez, a woman who has lived with the family on and off since earlier this year, according to police. Ramirez faces the same five charges as Schumacher and Lau, and there's a felony warrant out for her arrest. Police believe she'll try to make her way to her brother's house in Palo Alto.

Michael Schumacher

The emaciated 17-year-old shocked employees at the Tracy Boulevard In Shape Fitness Center when he hopped over the brick wall separating the gym parking lot and the family's backyard, picked up the chain padlocked to his ankle and ran weakly to the gym foyer.

Terrified, the teen frantically implored the workers with cries of, "Don't let them get me, don't let them get me," recalled fitness manager Dan Quihuiz.

He was covered in soot and clad in boxer shorts that were "way too big" for his gaunt frame, said witnesses, who first called police at 3:31 p.m. Monday. The boy's hair was matted with some "white gooey stuff, like old pudding," Quihuiz said, and his hair was patchy and bald in some spots, "like someone shaved him just to be mean."

When he ran toward the health club, the boy held the huge chain and a padlock in his hand. One witness said the chain appeared to have been sawed apart in one place. "He was so distraught," said Quihuiz. "He had cuts and blood all over. And he was so skinny. I thought he was 11."

In Shape manager Chuck Ellis took the boy into his office, where the teen curled up in a fetal position, crying and shaking violently. Membership manager Glenna Conway offered the frightened boy her jacket and gave him a banana and some water.

Then, she and Quihuiz went to the next room and cried.

"I was shaken up," Conway said this morning. "It's so sad. I don't know what to make of this. It's like, this kind of thing happens in Tracy?"

The boy was reported as a runaway from a group home in Sacramento about a year and three months ago, according to police.

Monday's eerie event comes on the heels of a similar abuse case in Antioch, when investigators found the body of a 15-year-old girl who had allegedly been locked up by her aunt, the girl's foster parent, for months. The girl was apparently starved and beaten to death.

On Monday night, police obtained a search warrant for the Tracy couple's house at 630 Tennis Lane and found "evidence of abuse," according to Tracy spokesman Matt Robinson.

The family rented the house from a Greg Kent, who has a post office box in Alamo, records show. Lau and Schumacher had lived at the house that abuts the health club parking lot for about two years.

Neighbors said they wondered why the teen never went to school and were always unclear about what his relationship was to Lau and Schumacher, who lived with four young children ages 1 to 9 years old. The other four children were taken by Child Protective Services, which is conducting an investigation into the alleged abuse.

The family, though secretive, appeared normal, Portillo and other neighbors said. On Lau's MySpace page, the self-described Christian gushed about her husband - "a man who I love to death" - her "four beautiful kids" and her "typical life" as a stay-at-home mother in Tracy.

Lau volunteered as a Girl Scout leader, took one of her daughters to ballet lessons and dropped her children off at South/West Park Elementary School every weekday.

The role the 17-year-old boy played in Lau's family remains unclear. But the only time neighbors ever saw the boy was when he was working - taking out the trash, walking the youngest kids in a stroller, mowing the lawn, or otherwise playing Mr. Mom, remembers Portillo and others who live on the same block.

Police have kept quiet about how the boy wound up with Schumacher and Lau.

Police ask that anyone with any information about the case to call the Tracy police at (209) 831-4552.

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  • posted at 6:06 am on Wed, Dec 3, 2008.


    LodiGirl snatching and selling children is a lucrative business - whether sanctioned by the state or not. There are certain "buzzwords" such as those involved calling themselves "Christians" - whether they are or not - that gives these people preferential treatment.And when snatching and selling children is sanctioned by the state - especially when it's said to be done "for the children" - there is rarely any oversight of these people (the CPS).A few years ago, the CPS in Florida "misplaced" over 300 children; they tried to say they ran away until it was discovered that one of those children was a five year old - then they said they didn't keep records of the kids they had in their system.Same thing happened in New Jersey.

  • posted at 5:29 am on Wed, Dec 3, 2008.


    LodiGirl FYI: "Other sources told News10 a teenage stepdaughter of the man in the home was removed after that visit because of suspicion of abuse, although other children were allowed to remain in the home."Victims in Family Murder Identifiedhttp://www.kcra.com/news/16980973/detail.htmlCPS: Protocol Not Followed In Slain Boy's CaseBoy Suffered Head, Internal Injurieshttp://www.kcra.com/news/16980973/detail.htmlThere are a lot more horror stories about the CPS; these are two of the most recent and are fairly local. Fact is, this type of thing is more common than you realize.

  • posted at 5:20 am on Wed, Dec 3, 2008.


    LodiGirl guess you haven't been watching the news recently. The CPS in Sacramento have been caught several times recently neglecting their jobs. The most recent has resulted in the deaths of two toddlers two years old and a three year old in critical condition.A few months ago, the Sacramento CPS said it was safe for a child to remain in a home where he was subsequently murdered. These aren't "libelous" statements as you claim; I would say that it is **you** who should check the facts before spouting such self-righteous hypocrisy.Perhaps I've struck a nerve. Are you one of those questionable "Christians" or do you work for the CPS?

  • posted at 3:18 am on Wed, Dec 3, 2008.


    They need to take these people, read them their rights, give them a fair trial with legal representation, and then, when they have been convicted, light them on fire.

  • posted at 2:46 am on Wed, Dec 3, 2008.


    I know pleanty of people that have Christian marked on their myspace but don't really practice, it was simply asking them to pick one so they did. And labeling all Christians in a catagory with these dispicable human beings is disgusting. Also the CPS claim really should be on more then instinct, give facts before you make libelous statments.

  • posted at 1:34 am on Wed, Dec 3, 2008.


    Read the article, LodiGirl. It says, "On Lau's MySpace page, the self-described Christian gushed about her husband."Not mud flinging at all, just stating that my gut instincts have been verified by the article. The rest of what I wrote is speculation on my part.

  • posted at 1:25 am on Wed, Dec 3, 2008.


    WOW wtf: without any factual evidence you are sure flinging a lot of mud at people and groups of people that so far have not shown to be involved at all.

  • posted at 1:13 am on Wed, Dec 3, 2008.


    Since this story first aired, I knew that these people would be calling themselves "Christians" and my gut says that further investigation will show that the CPS in Sacramento where this kid was will also be involved....I seriously doubt this boy "ran away" as they say.CPS has a problem with shipping kids in their "care" to other counties and "forgetting" to mention this fact.Chances are this kid had some type of behavioral problem or had indications he might be gay and these "good" people were going to do some type of "exorcism"Ugh!



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