Abuse case shocks New York

In the eyes of her stepfather, 7-year-old Nixzmary Brown was an out-of-control troublemaker. She stole money from her parents and broke her siblings' toys, she stole milk from a younger sibling and broke their computer printer, he said.


And when he found that she had gone into the refrigerator and taken a cup of yogurt she wasn't supposed to have, he flew into a rage.

Police say Cesar Rodriguez beat the little girl to death, then tossed her on the floor of what was known in the family's apartment as the "dirty room," a rodent-infested room where she had been tied up and left with only a litter box as a toilet.

During a jail interview with newspaper reporters, Rodriguez did not admit fatally beating his stepdaughter but said: "I have a lot of guilt."

"I'm sorry about all that happened. I have a problem with my emotions. It builds up and I hold it all in. I emotionally just burst," he said.

Nixzmary's killing reverberated throughout the city. Hundreds of strangers showed up at her funeral, and the case has been a daily fixture in the tabloids newspapers. It also has forced a major shake-up at the city's child protection agency.

"It touched everyone," said Caridad Ramos, 44, Nixzmary's great aunt.

Rodriguez, 27, and Nixzmary's mother, Nixzaliz Santiago, 27, are charged with multiple felony counts, including second-degree murder. Rodriguez also is accused of molesting Nixzmary and abusing her five siblings.

Both have pleaded not guilty.

The case has shocked the most seasoned investigators and child advocates.

"The circumstances of the abuse this girl suffered were horrifying and among the most tragic that I've ever come across," said Erik Pitchal, director of the Center for Family and Child Advocacy at the Fordham School of Law. "The manner in which she spent her last days is heart wrenching."

There had been warning signs.

Last May, a guidance counselor at Nixzmary's school reported the child had missed 47 days of school. The city's Administration for Children's Services responded immediately but closed the case weeks later.

The agency failed to find "educational neglect when it was clear the girl had not been attending school," said ACS Commissioner John Mattingly.

In early December, ACS received another complaint about Nixzmary. She, her siblings and her stepfather were interviewed but Mattingly said caseworkers were unable to gain access to Nixzmary's home. The case stalled.

Santiago's relatives said they didn't know what was taking place. They lost contact after Nixzmary moved from Puerto Rico to New York several years ago.

Ramos, Santiago's aunt, said she hadn't seen Nixzmary in four years.

"If the family had been aware this never would have happened," Ramos said. "Never. Never. Never."

An indictment alleges that, beginning on New Year's Day, Rodriguez used anything he could to subdue the little girl he described as "a handful," including a belt, a piece of wood, a bungee cord.

Authorities said he bought yogurt for his children but refused to give Nixzmary any.

On the night of Jan. 10, Nixzmary's mother discovered one of the yogurt cups was missing, and she went to Rodriguez. The frightened girl denied taking it, but one of the other children tattled, authorities say.

Later, Rodriguez discovered his computer printer was broken.

He stripped Nixzmary of her clothes and beat her in front of Santiago, Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes said.

He dragged her into the bathroom and repeatedly dunked her head under the cold water, and loud banging noises and screams of "Mommy" were heard throughout the apartment, authorities say. Rodriguez carried Nixzmary's limp body into the dirty room and tossed her to the floor, Hynes said.

Along with Nixzmary's slaying, the ACS's record has been highlighted by the bumbling of two recent cases in which another 7-year-old girl was murdered and a baby drowned.

Since her death, six ACS employees have been suspended or reassigned. In just the first week, the agency received 2,170 reports of child abuse and neglect, a 71 percent increase from the same period a year ago.

Before Nixzmary's little white coffin was laid to rest, the Rev. Robert O'Neil said her nightmare was finally over.

"Nixzmary is now surrounded by love, beyond the touch of evil," he said.
news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060122/...us/child_death (external - login to view)
I think not
Yep I heard about this on the news this evening. He has a problem with his emotions huh? He's going away for a long long time.
I can't even imagine what that little girl was going through.

It is just sad, and over a f*cking popsicle.

Hopefully he doesn't see the light of day again, as well as his wife.
I think not
He's lucky the death penalty was declared unconstitutional under New Yorks Constitution, although I doubt the DA would have requested it in this case.
It's disgusting. Some people just shouldn't have children.
People treat their dogs better.

But the Children Services departments just aren't doing the right thing every time. We have to look at this also.

On this morning's news was a video of a police traffic stop...the woman had locked all 3 of her children in the trunk! Regarding the NY case,at the least the SOB will be properly punished
he'll get what is coming, while incarcerated!

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