OLYMPIA, Wash. — Documents released Wednesday to KOMO News from Child Protective Services paint a disturbing picture of torture and starvation that led to the death of a 13-year-old girl.
Hana Williams came to the U.S. from Ethiopia with parasites and ringworm, but that’s not what killed the young teen. Skagit County authorities say Hana was constantly denied food, locked in a dark closet for days, and forced to sleep in a barn. Police say Hana was left out in her backyard barely clothed on a cold, rainy May night just hours before dying in a hospital.
Now, her adoptive parents Carri and Larry Williams are charged with her death.
Thomas Shapley says Department of Social and Health Services staff were not satisfied with the results of the autopsy.
“It just wasn’t enough,” Shapley said. “The autopsy came back ’cause of death could not be determined.’ Our folks were tenacious and concerned some bad thingswere going on in this house.”
DSHS first asked a medical consultant to review records, then two more eminent doctors including one from Children’s Hospital.
“It was their conclusion that abuse and even torture was involved,” Shapley said.
The DSHS documents reveal Carri Williams told investigators she’d spanked Hana the night before her death, leaving a large number of marks on the child’s legs. The Skagit County coroner said the red marks could have come from someone hitting Hana with a switch. The thin teenager weighed 75 pounds at the time of her death.
“She had actually lost weight from when she had arrived here from Ethiopia,” Shapley said.
She’d dropped a fourth of her body weight. One doctor concluded severe starvation potentially contributed to her death.
“We went to court and asked the court to remove the children,” Shapley said.
Hana’s seven siblings were all placed with relatives and foster parents. The oldest, now 18, has returned to his Sedro-Woolley home. He’s there with his mother Carri who is out on bail. Her husband Larry, a Boeing worker, remains in jail awaiting trial for homicide by abuse and assault for allegedly torturing Hana’s adopted brother.
If convicted, the couple faces life in prison.
Hana’s brothers and sisters are being monitored in monthly visits and DSHS says it might ask for a severing of parental rights even if the Williams are not convicted.
Hana’s death also plays a prominent role in a new report ordered by the governor’s office on the severe abuse of adopted children. The state doesn’t do any background checks or home checks on international or private adoptions, and is looking into standardizing those procedures.