Prosecutors: Couple Hid Toddler's Death While Pleading For His
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
August 29, 2006
UNION TOWNSHIP, OHIO--Sad. Angry. Disgusted.
Those words might best describe the mood in this Cincinnati suburb this week, following the news that the foster parents of a three-year-old boy with disabilities misled thousands of volunteers into searching for him -- long after they knew he had died while deliberately locked alone inside a closet at their home.
Liz Carroll, 30, and David Carroll Jr., 35, were arrested Monday and charged with child endangerment and involuntary manslaughter in the death of Marcus Fiesel, who reportedly had autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. On Tuesday, prosecutors added charges of making a false report and inducing panic. They added that it is only a matter of time before the manslaughter charges are upgraded to murder.
Detectives said that on August 4, the Carrolls wrapped Marcus "like a mummy" in a blanket and then taped it around him with only his head uncovered. Then the couple left him in a playpen-type crib inside a 5-foot by 7-foot closet -- and locked the door before heading out of state to a family gathering. When they returned two days later, the boy was dead. Investigators speculated that he likely died from dehydration and heat stroke: The temperatures that weekend hovered around 100 degrees.
To cover up the boy's death, Mr. Carroll took his body to a remote area in nearby Brown County, and tried several times to burn it inside the stone chimney of a house that had collapsed many years ago, investigators said. Then he dumped the boy's remains in or near the Ohio River.
The next step of the cover-up apparently took place on August 10, when the Carrolls cancelled an appointment with a social worker, telling her that Marcus was ill.
Then on August 15, just hours before Mrs. Carroll was scheduled to meet with a worker in the Women, Infants and Children program, a health and nutrition program for low-income children, she "passed out" for ten minutes in Juilfs Park in Hamilton County. An hour after she awoke, she said that little Marcus must have wandered off.
That prompted a massive, weeklong search involving a helicopter, dive teams, a cadaver dog, and hundreds of volunteers. Scores of well wishers gathered in a park for an August 20 candlelight vigil organized on behalf of the boy's birth mother, Donna Trevino.
Still a fourth step in the cover-up took place on August 22, when a tearful Liz Carroll held a news conference and pleaded for witnesses to come forward if they had seen Marcus. The foster mom purposely wore the same clothes she wore at Juilfs Park, hoping the sight would jog somebody's memory, she said.
Sheriff's detectives said they began to suspect something was wrong with Mrs. Carroll's story, however, when eyewitnesses at the park gave accounts that conflicted with hers, and she and her husband began changing details.
Evidence gathered over the weekend led prosecutors to take the case to a grand jury, which handed down the initial indictments.
The couple will likely face charges in Clermont County, where Marcus is believed to have died; Brown County, where his remains were found; and Hamilton County, where Mrs. Carroll originally reported that the boy had disappeared.
"It really is one of the most heartless things I've ever seen," said Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters at a Monday press conference. "The bottom line is you wouldn't treat a dog like this."
Hamilton County Sheriff Simon Leis added: "In my 35 years involved in law enforcement, this is the worst I've seen."
By the end of last week, questions began surfacing about Lifeway for Youth, the private, nonprofit foster care program that placed Marcus with the Carrolls. Officials with the program said the couple had been cleared by proper background checks.
"Marcus Fiesel's Remains Recovered By Detectives" (WCPO)
"Foster parents charged" (Cincinnati Post)
"Marcus left in closet, burned" (Cincinnati Enquirer)
"Marcus' searchers 'in shock'" (Cincinnati Enquirer)