Thursday, November 29, 2007

Baby Grace

In Texas, two parents were put in jail on charges of beating their 2-year-old daughter to death for refusing to say "please" and "yes sir." Baby Grace is the name being currently used while police identify the body found on and uninhabited island in Galveston's West Bay. It is expected by police and a woman named Sheryl Sawyers that the child was in fact Riley Ann Sawyers (Sheryl Sawyers' granddaughter). Sheryl recognized artist sketches on the news when the body was found and tipped police.

The mother, Kimberly Trenor (19) was living with her husband in Texas. Her husband, Royce Zeigler (24), had ordered that the child be spanked with a belt for not acting the way he expected. Trenor complied with this but Riley still wasn't following his rules. Zeigler then took it upon himself to further punish the child.

Riley's parents are currently in jail on pending charges of tampering with evidence and injury of a child. Their bail is $350,000. Bail should not be an option for these people. They should be put through the full extent of their sentence, when the sentence actually comes. I expect it should turn out to be a clear-cut case. From what I understand, Trenor is admitting to beating Riley with a belt and holding her head under water as punishment, then helping to hide the body when she died. I don't think that Zeigler has come out and confessed any involvement. I know they initially claimed that Child Protective Services had taken Riley and provided false documentation for support.

Zeigler's lawyer has said that Trenor's story did not quite fit. "She is placing all the blame on Royce, but I think that once the facts come to light, once the timeline's established and the evidence is combed through ... I think her credibility is gonna become a big issue."

I read the affidavit and Trenor's statements, which held all of the information pertaining to the death of Baby Grace. On October 29, a plastic box containing 3 black plastic bags had washed up, and the police were called to inspect its contents. When Sgt. Michael Barry arrived, he found a child's body in the bags. The cause of death was three fractures in the skull. On July 24, Zeigler had taken the day off to try to get Riley "under control." When belt whipping and holding her head under water wasn't getting him the results he wanted, Trenor says he proceeded to lift Riley by her hair and throw her across the room. This caused Riley to hit her head on the tile floor.

In Trenor's statement, she said she suggested they call an ambulence, but Zeigler feared repercussions and instead gave Riley over-the-counter pain killers. Riley, however, stopped breathing. They both went out and bought the plastic container, concrete mix, shovels, and some other supplies. The body was not thrown straight into the Galveston Causeway, but kept first in a storage unit for two months or so.

"Baby Grace" was the name given to the body during DNA testing on October 31, then on November 7 Zeigler's mother reported to police that the sketches she'd seen on TV might have been her granddaughter, who she had not seen in months.

I find myself a lot more disturbed reading about stories involving child abuse than probably any other subject. The act of hurting a child in some way is something that I can never wrap my head around. I realize that people who do such things are messed up in a lot of ways, and I recognize that as being why I can't imagine wanting to ever bring a little kid into harm's way. I read another story where a mother in Texas tried to burn her children to death, and she received a life sentence. I feel that this is an appropriate sentence not so much for the sake of what an abuser "deserves" to go through so much as to protect other children from potential harm. Since it takes a disturbed person to hurt a child, who's to say when it's appropriate to let the person be around their own or anybody else's children? Who knows what could trigger them to hurt somebody, regardless of the kind of therapy they go through? I hate to be so absolute about most issues, but I don't know of anything that can damage a human being more than abusing them as a child.


Marj aka Thriver said...

This was very difficult for me to read. My own parents did all of these same things to me as a child. However, they were very careful and knew just how far they could go without killing me.

As hard as it is to face, we need awareness on this type of abuse. Without raised awareness, people just refuse to believe this treatment is possible...and that's just one of the things that perpetuates the abuse.

Thank you for contributing to our BLOG CARNIVAL AGAINST CHILD ABUSE.

Kevin said...

This is a very huge issue to me not because of my own life but because of the experiences of those within the sphere of my own family. I have relatives (and friends) all around that have experienced all kinds of abuse from all kinds of people. I agree with you that awareness must be raised and that people must be forced to acknowledge the truth: that these things DO happen all the time. They have to actually acknowledge that it's not just some fantasy on the news, but really take it in and feel it as though it were somebody they knew. It's not just "someone else's problem." It's everybody's.

Patricia Singleton said...

Kevin, thanks for sharing this story. I agree that everyone needs to know that this kind of abuse does happen and that knowledge is how we stop it from happening again. That is the only reason that I have chosen to write about my incest issues on my blog so that others can be informed of what happens so that it can be stopped rather than passed on to the next generation of children.

Kevin said...

Patricia (and you too Marj), it's really amazing to me to see you and those close to me who've not only overcome the hurdles placed in their lives by the abuse they received as children, but ended the chain of abuse that's been passed down in their families for generations. It really blows me away. I can't imagine being able to stand up and talk about it if it'd happened me. It's hard to say what I'd be like if the trends hadn't been broken. Thank you for your replies though. It really means a lot to hear from people like you who've experienced first hand the kind of damage that these things can cause, and seem to overcome it.