Adoptive mother abuses twin girls
The bruises, welts and cigarette burns covering the bodies of twin 8-year-old girls made even veteran investigators cringe.
"It's horrific," Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith said. "The girls were beaten with a foot-long spring that's used for exercise, and you can clearly see the spring marks on their bodies. There are fresh bruises and spots where the girls were burned several times by cigarettes."
The girls, who were adopted in 2005 by Tamika Williams, are living in a foster home after Williams was charged with what local authorities say is one of the worst cases of child abuse they've seen.
"The girls feel like they've been rescued," Smith said. "But they're understandably a little scared still. Apparently, the woman told the girls, 'If you ever tell anyone what I've done to you, I'll hunt you down at your new home and kill you.' "
Child welfare advocates say the case is an example of a problem in the state's foster care and adoption system. According to relatives, Williams adopted the girls while they were in foster care at a home in Southfield.
"How many more children have to suffer this way before Michigan gets the message?" said Richard Wexler, director of the National Coalition for Child Protection Reform in Alexandria, Va.
"Over and over and over again, Michigan takes away children (from their birth parents), often needlessly, only to have them severely harmed or killed in substitute care."
Michigan's child welfare system was thrust into the national spotlight recently when 7-year-old Ricky Holland was killed by his adopted mother, Lisa Holland. She was sentenced this week to life in prison.
State officials removed the Williams girls from Warrendale Elementary School on Nov. 16, the day after teachers first reported seeing the girls' injuries.
Williams, 30, was arrested Nov. 22, and is in Macomb County Jail in lieu of $1 million bond. She was charged Wednesday with child abuse and torture.
Williams is the second person in Michigan to be charged under a torture law that went into effect in May, Smith said.
"Without that statute, we would have had to charge her with child abuse," Smith said. "But child abuse doesn't encompass what this woman did."
Child abuse is punishable by up to 15 years in prison. If Williams is convicted of torture, she could spend the rest of her life behind bars.
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