Evil exists. If you need proof, just look at the horrific case of little Charleeni Ferreira.
Charleeni, age 10, of Philadelphia, Pa., died on October 21, 2009. Her father, Domingo Ferreira, 53, and stepmother Margarita Garabito, 43, were charged with murder and endangering the welfare of a child.
So how bad was the abuse? The police called it “torture.”
Charleeni actually died from an infection that resulted from broken ribs that were not treated. She had a host of new and old injuries, including a fractured pelvis and a 7-inch gash on her head that had been stuffed with gauze and covered with a hair weave.
For more details, read Signs of Charleeni’s “torture” were hidden, in the Philadelphia Inquirer.
What makes this case so appalling is that a school nurse reported suspected child abuse. In the three years before her death, Charleeni was seen by numerous doctors, a psychiatrist and a therapist. The Philadelphia Department of Human Services (DHS) provided services to the family for five months.
Now, the DHS commissioner is trying to figure out what went wrong.
Here’s what I think happened: One or both of the parents were sociopaths, and they bamboozled the child welfare workers.
The parents denied any abuse—workers described them as “hurt” by the allegations—but agreed to intervention anyway. After a period of supervision, child welfare workers closed the case. They also recommended that Charleeni’s parents contact a legal aid agency if the school nurse continued to complain about child abuse.
Charleeni herself was also terrorized and manipulated. She told a doctor at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children that her family treated her “like a princess.” Welts on her hand occurred when she accidentally stabbed herself with a pencil in the dark. She and her parents always had explanations for her injuries, although they didn’t always match.
Police apparently believe that the stepmother, Margarita Garabito, was the main perpetrator. But the father, Domingo Ferreira, didn’t stop her. In fact, he showed no remorse and fell asleep in the police interview room. Then, Ferreira hung himself in his jail cell.
This, of course, is convenient for the stepmother. Her court-appointed attorney terms the suicide “an admission of guilt.”
See Charleeni’s death blamed on her dead father, in the Philadelphia Inquirer.
I don’t know who initiated the child abuse. Women can be abusive sociopaths. They can also be accomplices, under the control of male sociopaths.
So what’s the lesson here?
Evil exists, but it can be concealed by seemingly plausible explanations.
Evil exists, but it can be disguised by expressions of concern.
Evil exists, but victims can be too terrorized to speak of it.
People who are in a position to see signs of child abuse—doctors, teachers, social workers—need to understand that evil does not want to be discovered, so they must pay close attention to any small clues.