Woman, 37, is charged with murder of newborn baby boy whose body was found in Hampshire woodland
- The tiny newborn baby boy was discovered in woodland in Hampshire in 2020
- Investigating police officers arrested Silipa Keresi, 37, from Pylewell Road, Hythe
- Keresi was also arrested last year but released on bail as inquiries continued
Published: 10:49, 29 March 2021 | Updated: 10:56, 29 March 2021
Police have charged a woman with the murder of a newborn baby boy. The tiny body was found wrapped in a white blanket in woodland in Hythe, Hampshire, on March 5 2020. Silipa Keresi, 37, also from Hythe, was arrested in connection with the death of the ‘recently born baby’ for the second time at the weekend. A Hampshire Police spokesman said Keresi was arrested in March last year and released on bail but remained under investigation while inquiries continued. A Hampshire Constabulary spokesman said: ‘Silipa Keresi will appear at Southampton Magistrates’ Court this morning, Monday, March 29. She had previously been arrested back in early March 2020 after the discovery of the body of a recently born baby in an area of woodland in Hythe on Thursday, March 5, last year. She was initially released on bail then later released under investigation while enquiries continued. Detectives arrested her again at the weekend and following advice from the Crown Prosecution Service and have now charged her with the murder.’
The tragic infant was discovered by retired HGV driver Michael Dorsett who was out walking his collie cross through the wooded area. Officers appealed for the mother to come forward at the time and carried out door-to-door inquiries.
Revealed: Chilling social media posts of teenage mother who ‘carried on like normal’ and tried to become a Pretty Little Thing model AFTER leaving her 20-month old daughter to die alone while she partied for her 18th birthday
Revealed: Chilling social media posts of teenage mother who ‘carried on like normal’ and tried to become a Pretty Little Thing model AFTER leaving her 20-month old daughter to die alone while she partied for her 18th birthday
- Verphy Kudi’s daughter Asiah Kudi died at home in Brighton in December 2019
- Mother seen on CCTV leaving flat on her birthday and returning six days later
- Today, Kudi spoke only confirm her name and enter guilty plea for manslaughter
- Baby not under a child protection plan and there was no social worker assigned
- Lived in sheltered housing block where staff are on duty by the front entrance
Published: 11:24, 26 March 2021 | Updated: 09:49, 27 March 2021
A mother who went on a six-day bender leaving her baby to starve to death took to social media to sell concert tickets on the day the body was found before campaigning to become a model. Verphy Kudi’s daughter Asiah perished in a flat at a ‘supported housing’ block in Brighton in December 2019 after being left alone for six days with no food or water. A serious case review has been launched into the 20-month-old baby’s death after she was abandoned by her mother who went to London, Coventry and Solihull to celebrate her 18th birthday. Now, it has been revealed Kudi tried to sell concert tickets on Twitter on the day the baby’s body was found. Another tweet showed her attempting to become a Pretty Little Thing model months after Asiah’s death. Kudi’s flat was one of eight in a residential complex run by charity YMCA DownsLink to house vulnerable young families on behalf of Brighton City Council. YMCA DownsLink staff are located at the entrance to the block at all times. Residents with social workers can receive visits but because the flats are independent units YMCA staff do not enter the living areas or carry out regular inspections. Baby Asiah did not have a social worker. Kudi has repeatedly gone missing since the age of 14 and been the subject of numerous police appeals. MailOnline has asked the council if she had a social worker at the time of her baby’s death. Brighton and Hove Safeguarding Children Partnership (BHSCP) an association of council services, police and NHS has launched a serious case review into the case. The mother, now 19, was seen on CCTV leaving the flat on her birthday before attending parties in London, Coventry and Solihull more than 150 miles away in the Midlands. A post-mortem examination and forensic tests found that Asiah starved, was dehydrated and developed flu. Her cause of death was given as neglect. Today, Kudi appeared at Lewes Crown Court to enter a guilty plea to manslaughter as her father watched on. Speaking after the hearing, Muba Kudi, 59, said: ‘My heart is so broken. My daughter was missing. She had been missing since the age of 14.’
Kudi’s sister, Aisha Batrane told MailOnline: ‘This whole situation has completely broken my family. It might be entertainment for the rest of the world but it’s totally shattered us. ‘We are heartbroken and angry at how Verphy behaved. Verphy had been estranged from the family for quite a long time and we had minimal contact with her. We have spoken to her and we’re still not clear what she was doing for those six days, who she was with and why she left like that? Who the hell knows? We can’t understand it. As a family we now want to be left alone to grieve and try and understand what’s happened.’
This morning, the judge ordered that all social services records relating to the case be disclosed to the defence ahead of sentencing. The court heard how, after returning home from the party spree in December 2019, Kudi called 999 saying her baby would not wake up. Asiah was taken to Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital in Brighton but was declared dead on arrival. Today, Kudi held her hands to her face after the charge of manslaughter was read to her. She spoke only to answer guilty to the charge and confirm her name. Wearing a plain black top and black trousers with a blue medical face mask, she wiped a tear from eyes as her father looked on from the public gallery. Muba Kudi Verphy Kudi’s father sat with his arms crossed throughout the short hearing at Lewes Crown Court. His daughter waved at him from the dock when court staff pointed him out. Asiah was born on March 22, 2018 and was only 20-months-old when she died. It is not clear who the baby’s father was. She had been living at the flat in Brighton with her mother where they had been housed by social services since September 30, 2019. Cameras showed Kudi leaving the building on December 5 at 5.39pm. She did not return until December 11, when at 6.06pm she dialled 999 telling a call handler her baby would not wake up. A few days later, staff at the Brighton mother and baby unit for teen mothers where they had been living contacted police after reviewing CCTV footage. Data gathered by Sussex Police showed Kudi had been at parties in London, Coventry and Solihull before returning to Brighton. Kudi admitted the manslaughter of her daughter between December 4 and 12. Asiah was pronounced dead on arrival at the Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital in Brighton on Wednesday December 11. Judge Christine Laing QC told Kudi: ‘You have heard that before I get to sentence you the defence want to get a report on your behalf and a doctor will no doubt make arrangements to see you and interview you over the next few weeks.’
The case was adjourned to a provisional sentencing date of May 28, but Kudi was warned this may be delayed. Brighton and Hove Safeguarding Children Partnership (BHSCP) said: ‘We are deeply saddened by the tragic death of Asiah. In our safeguarding role, we will work with our partners to look into what has happened and carry out a Child Safeguarding Practice Review. This includes working with our partner Sussex Police to make sure our review is carried out in support of or alongside their ongoing actions in this case.’
YMCA Downslink said: ‘This tragedy has shocked us all. Our staff, particularly those who work the complex, have been and continue to be, deeply affected by it. Verphy Kudi and her daughter, Asiah had been living at the independent living flats, for 11 weeks, when Asiah died. We will be working with the Safeguarding Practice Review to understand any lessons that can be learned from this tragedy. Our sympathies and thoughts are with the family and everyone affected by this tragic event.’
YMCA DownsLink was handed a three-year contract worth £336,000 by Brighton council to run the accommodation, starting on Sunday 1 September 2019, Brighton and Hove News reported. The contact offered a ‘medium’ level of support for families, with all flats self-contained with their own kitchen, space for staff on duty, and a communal area for group activities. It is not clear whether any staff visited the unit while Asiah was there alone. MailOnline has YMCA DownsLink. The service used to be run by Peabody, which still owns the building and currently leases it to the council. Family Mosaic Housing, which later merged with Peabody, paid £15.5 million for the flats in November 2014. The Senior Investigating officer, Detective Chief Inspector Andy Wolstenholme, said; ‘This was a particularly distressing case for my team and me to investigate, and has caused great sorrow amongst Verphy’s family and the many agencies that have supported Verphy and Asiah. We note the guilty plea entered in this case, and continue to prepare for Verphy’s sentencing in May.’
A council spokesperson said: ‘We have been deeply saddened by this tragedy. The case is currently the subject of criminal proceedings, and the city’s Safeguarding Children Partnership is also conducting a review of the circumstances in to the tragic death of this young child. We are undertaking an internal review, which will feed into the partnership review. We have fully supported the police investigation, and are committed to working with the Partnership in its review and taking learning from this. Asiah was not on a child protection plan and was not involved with social work services when she died. It would not be appropriate for us to comment further while the criminal proceedings and reviews are ongoing.’
Boy, 14, dies after falling through roof of derelict building
The young boy was taken to hospital after the incident in Coventry but sadly nothing could be done to save him and he died a short time later, West Midlands Police confirmed
By Danya Bazaraa Senior News Reporter
- 11:37, 24 MAR 2021
- Updated12:38, 24 MAR 2021
A 14-year old boy has died after falling through the roof of a derelict building in Coventry. Police were called to the scene at Torrington Avenue at around 5pm last night. He was taken to hospital but sadly nothing could be done to save him and he died a short while after. The boy’s death is not being treated as suspicious. A spokeswoman for West Midlands Police told the Mirror: “A 14-year-old boy has died after falling through the roof of a derelict building on Torrington Avenue in Coventry yesterday (23 Mar). Emergency services were called just before 5pm and the child was taken to hospital but sadly nothing could be done to save him and he died a short time later. His death is not being treated as suspicious and will be referred to the coroner.”
A worker in a nearby factory told the Sun: “The building hasn’t been used for years.”
They added: “They took the lad away about 6pm, he was still alive. But this morning I heard that he had died.”
Another described the incident as ‘devastating’.
WARNING: UPSETTING CONTENT. Maureen Wood kept her horrific childhood abuse secret for three decades, before finally feeling able to police that she had been sexually assaulted by her mother, step-father and brother
By Ann Cusack & Zoe Forsey Features Editor
- 16:45, 17 MAR 2021
- Updated16:49, 17 MAR 2021
Maureen Wood was first raped by her older brother on her ninth birthday. A year later, their step-father walked in on the abuse she felt relieved as she believed he would protect her and the nightmare would end. But he did nothing, and a few months later began abusing her too. She now had two abusers to cope with. “I hoped against hope that my mum might step in and help me. But she walked into my bedroom and called me a ‘little wh*re'”, Maureen says.
Soon after her tenth birthday, Maureen’s mother became involved with the abuse. Maureen says: “They used to make me sleep in their bed, between them, and they took it in turns to abuse me. My mum helped to get me ready for when my step-dad would rape me. It felt like the end of the world. With them all against me, I had nowhere to turn.”
Maureen kept her horrific childhood abuse a secret for three decades before telling police the horrifying things she had been through as a child. She had given birth to a son as a result of a rape by her brother but he tragically suffered a cot death. And it was the exhumation of his body, more than two decades after his death, which brought justice for his mother from beyond the grave. Maureen’s childhood torment had remained secret for most of her life, until she bravely called in police. Her abusers were jailed and Maureen launched a legal action against the social services who were supposed to have protected her. The brave mum of five was later awarded £200,000 in an out of court settlement from Staffordshire County Council. She has now written a book, entitled: ‘A Family Secret’ which will be released this week. Mum of five Maureen, 50, says: “The minute I went to the police, all my fear was lifted. It wasn’t my shame and guilt to deal with any more. By going to court, I handed the fear and shame back to my family. My baby son, Christopher, was vital to the prosecution’s case. The police had warned me that they would be unlikely to get a viable DNA sample from his body – but when he was exhumed, his body was intact and the sample was perfect. It feels as though he was looking down on me from heaven, helping me. He is a true angel my guardian angel.”
In 2015 Maureen received a settlement from social services, following a lengthy legal case in which she claimed they had failed to protect her from her brother as a child. Maureen says: “It was a kick in the teeth, I felt like I had been let down twice; by my family and then by the social workers. I took my children on a month long holiday to Disney with the money. But it doesn’t change what happened to me. I brought the case, not for the money, but to ensure that they don’t let this happen to another child.”
At Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court in October 2011, her stepfather, John Wood, then 68, was convicted of seven counts of rape and sentenced to 16 years in prison. Her 46-year-old brother John Donnelly, received two years in jail after admitting rape, incest and indecent assault. In a re-trial, her mother, Maureen Wood (senior), then 65, was found guilty of four counts of aiding and abetting the rape of a girl under 16. She was jailed in October 2011 for nine years. She says: “The abuse by my mother was, and still is, the hardest thing to process. As a mother, you nurture and protect your child but she destroyed me.”
Maureen had been placed in care at the age of three, after her parents separated. Four years later, her mother, Maureen senior, took her and her older brother, John, back out of care and they were introduced to their new step-father John Wood. When Maureen was eight, the sexual abuse began. She says: “I remember every detail of that day. We had been outside, having a water fight, and as I dried off in the bathroom, my brother, John, who we called Jock, came in and started touching me. I didn’t understand what he was doing but I knew it felt wrong and it was horrible.”
On her ninth birthday, Maureen was raped for the first time. A year later, their step-father walked in as she was being raped. Maureen says: “I felt relieved – because I thought he would stop it. I thought he would look after me.”
Instead, her step-father said nothing. And weeks later, he began abusing Maureen too. he says: “I hoped against hope that my mum might step in and help me. But she walked into my bedroom and called me a ‘little wh**e.'”
Soon after her tenth birthday, Maureen’s mother became involved with the abuse.
Despite her horrific family life, Maureen enjoyed school and did well academically. She had friends but confided in nobody. She says: “My family threatened that if I told anyone, I’d end up in care again. I was terrified of that. They said nobody would believe me and that I’d get into trouble with the police. It was difficult because, to the outside world, my parents were respectable people. They worked at a local social club and they were managers at the Masonic hall too. They were well-known and well-liked. I tried running away and once stayed away for two days. But the police found me and took me home.”
When she was 13, Maureen fell pregnant. By the time she realised, it was too late for a termination. Maureen says: “My mother was mortified; all she worried about was what the neighbours would think of her, with a 13-year-old pregnant daughter. Yet of course she knew that either her own husband or her son was the father. But she just blanked that out. The abuse stopped while I was pregnant. For the first time in my life I could remember, I wasn’t being abused and it was like a little piece of heaven. I was ordered to tell people that I was raped by a stranger but I knew, for certain, that my baby’s father was my brother.”
In October 1984, Maureen gave birth to a son, Christopher. He was born on her brother’s 19th birthday. She says: “Christopher had blond hair, blue eyes. It didn’t matter why he came about, or where he came from. He was mine. That maternal instinct kicked in immediately. I adored him with all of my heart and for the first time in my life, I felt what love was.”
But just under a month later, he suffered a cot death. Maureen discovered his body. She says: “When he died, I felt like my life had ended, my world had finished. He was the only person I truly loved. It was raining the day we buried him. I felt like the heavens were crying with me. I just wanted to die.”
After Christopher’s death, Maureen’s mother and brother stopped abusing her. But her stepfather began assaulting her again only a couple of weeks afterwards. The abuse continued until, at 16, Maureen left home. She had suffered eight years of horrific abuse. She says: “My teens were very difficult. I was grieving for Christopher and I felt very angry and confused. I drank too much and I went off the rails a bit.”
But despite finally finding happiness, Maureen was haunted by nightmares of the abuse. She realised she had to seek justice and eventually she contacted police. Maureen says: “It was 29 years since the abuse began and so the CPS insisted that the only way they would take the case to court was if the Home Office would approve an exhumation of Christopher. His DNA would prove that my brother was his father, and that I had been telling the truth. I was warned that the DNA sample was unlikely to be viable. Yet when his body was exhumed it was almost intact. The sample was perfect and it proved I had been telling the truth. It was almost as if Christopher was watching over me, helping my court case. He was and still is my guardian angel.”
Christopher’s body was exhumed in July 2009 and reburied a month later. Maureen has no pictures of him but she has the small plaque from Christopher’s original coffin. She says: “I didn’t want my baby to be exhumed. But it was the only way. The night before, I went to his grave and came away with a sense of peace. I felt I had his support.”
Maureen’s step-father, brother and mother were all convicted of the abuse. Her mother died in prison and Maureen found it in her heart to attend the funeral. She says: “My mum and step-dad never apologised. But my brother pleaded guilty and told me he was sorry. I still grieve for the childhood I didn’t have and for the mother I didn’t have. I think of Christopher every day. Writing a book is my way of making sure that my voice and the voices of so many others who suffer is heard.”
Maureen’s book is available on Amazon.
Mystery of boy, 15, found dead upside down in snow with family desperate for answers
EXCLUSIVE: Alfie Lawton’s family have called for people who may have been with him when he died in South London to come forward, after the 15-year-old’s death on the coldest day of the year
By Milo Boyd
- 14:58, 25 FEB 2021
The family of a 15-year-old found dead upside down on a snowy hill believe witnesses might be able to help unlock the mystery of how he died. Alfie Lawton was discovered near railway lines in New Malden, South London just before 7pm on Monday, February 8. After a long search the teenager had been found by members of the public, lying with his head at the bottom of a steep bank, his family have said. He was unresponsive at the Green Lane Recreation Ground and – despite the best efforts of police, paramedics and members of the public – could not be revived. A post-mortem exam found no drugs or visible signs of injury on his body, although the Met says it is waiting for full toxicology results. Alfie had told his mum Sarah that he was going to meet friends several hours earlier the first time he’d gone out in months, because the great-grandma he’d been shielding was in hospital with Covid. From speaking to witnesses in the park, the family believe at least one of the people he’d met was with him when or just before he died. “We know who he was with when he died, we have established that with various witnesses,” Sacha, his cousin, told The Mirror.
She said she thought if Alfie’s friend had seen what happened and called for help Alfie would probably be at home and back to normal now. Alfie had religiously stuck to the lockdown rules since November in order to protect his great-grandma. When the 84-year-old fell ill with the disease and was hospitalised, his mum Sarah thought “you know what, nan has covid, you’ve been in the house watching me cry for a week, off you go and get some fresh air Alfie”.
At 3.30pm, two hours after he went out, Sarah started to get worried because Alfie wasn’t responding to her or his sister, which was out of character for the Southborough High School student. According to Sacha “all indications” are that he died around 5pm, when the family would usually be having tea. In the two weeks since the family have been able to rule out death by drugs and suicide thanks to information from the post-mortem. “He was upside down in the snow on a bank,” Sacha said.
“It was steeper than a staircase, you need to virtually crawl to get up it. We were working on the basis that he had somehow fallen down the bank. We have heard now there is no clear sign of death, so he hasn’t fallen out of a tree.”
Members of the public helping to search for Alfie came across him at around 6.45pm and the emergency services responded at 6.59pm. “It was the coldest day of the year,” Sacha said.
“When he was found a paramedic was overheard saying he was 22C. There was a massive effort to revive him. It was bitter. It was still snowing. The place in the park where he was found was secluded and tucked away.”
Alfie’s family have been completely rocked by the death of the teenager, who was “very ambitious and clever.” “He was just funny,” Sacha said.
“A really funny kid. He used to sing the Only Fools and Horses theme tune and he was always pulling pranks. A friend told us he dressed up in all the girl’s stuff when they went out shopping to make them laugh. He was the one that was going to turn the family into millionaires. When we got his phone back we found out he had a real estate folder on it. His eye was firmly on the future and it was going to be bright. Everybody liked Alfie. He was beautiful inside and out. Everyone we have come across loved him.”
The pain of Sarah, Alfie’s dad Josh, sister Jordan and brother Freddie and their large extended families has been intensified by the mystery of his death. Sacha said: “He has gone to the park one day and he hasn’t come back, and there are no visible signs of him being attacked. Alfie didn’t kill himself. We think something medical has happened. We just want answers.”
She said if any of Alfie’s friends knows anything she would encourage them to come forward with anything they know. There have not been any arrests in relation to this case. Detective Inspector Andy Griffin said: “Alfie’s family, and their community of neighbours and friends are struggling with the grief of losing such a wonderful and vibrant young man. Police are actively investigating the circumstances that led to Alfie’s tragic death, which currently remains unexplained. We need as much information as possible to assist our enquiries, and answer the questions the family has about what happened to Alfie on that day.”
The police said all efforts are being made to trace any witnesses, people with information or people who were in or near Green Lane Recreation Ground between 2pm and 7pm February 8. Anyone with information that could help with police enquiries is asked to call 101 or tweet @MetCC quoting ref CAD5562/08FEB21.
Family finally discovers truth of five-year-old boy’s death in NHS surgery blunder 43 YEARS after the tragedy
Family finally discovers truth of five-year-old boy’s death in NHS surgery blunder 43 YEARS after the tragedy
- Carl Marrows lost his life because of errors by NHS hospital staff, inquest hears
- He suffered ‘massive blood loss’ due to a known complication of the procedure
- An inquest in 1986 put the five year old boy’s death down to natural causes
- Driven by a sense of injustice, his family challenged the decision years later
Published: 23:19, 14 February 2021 | Updated: 23:19, 14 February 2021
A family has won a 43-year fight to discover the truth about a five-year-old boy’s needless death following a hospital operation. Carl Marrows was originally said to have died from natural causes but in reality he lost his life because of errors by hospital staff, an inquest heard. A coroner, who reinvestigated the boy’s death after a legal battle by his family, concluded Carl had been the victim of neglect and ‘gross failure of care’. The ruling at a new inquest in Hull last week was welcomed by the boy’s father who said there had been a cover-up by hospital staff. The youngster, who had spina bifida, died following an operation in 1978 at Scunthorpe General Hospital to correct his gait. He suffered ‘massive blood loss’ due to a known complication of the procedure. An inquest in 1986 put the death down to natural causes but, driven by a sense of injustice, his family challenged the decision years later. Carl’s father John approached coroner Professor Paul Marks who uncovered records of the case, agreed the verdict was ‘not sustainable’ and backed his bid to have the inquest finding overturned at the High Court. The youngster, who had spina bifida, died following an operation in 1978 at Scunthorpe General Hospital to correct his gait. The hospital is seen above in later years . They succeeded and a fresh inquest was ordered. It heard how precautionary measures should have been taken in case Carl suffered bleeding after surgery. Instead of having a tube fitted to allow for the emergency treatment, he was simply sent to a ward. When a nurse realised something was wrong, there was a delay before a doctor arrived and staff were unable to save his life. Professor Marks said had the proper procedures been carried out Carl would not have gone into cardiac arrest and died. He also noted some medical records were incomplete. The coroner recorded a narrative conclusion including that neglect had led to the child’s death. Describing the death as sad and tragic, he added: ‘If Carl had survived this operation he would have been 49 this July. His family have conducted themselves with the deepest integrity and dignity throughout these proceedings.’
Carl’s father John approached coroner Professor Paul Marks who uncovered records of the case, agreed the verdict was ‘not sustainable’ and backed his bid to have the inquest finding overturned at the High Court. After the hearing Mr Marrows, 74, a retired HGV driver from Howsham, Lincolnshire, described Carl as ‘a very bright little lad’. He said: ‘The whole thing has been a cover up. They just did not want the hospital or the NHS to look bad. I am glad the truth has finally come out but it grieves me that my poor lad could still have been with us now.’
He said his ex-wife Jennifer, who died several years ago, was ‘hit hard’ by the tragedy and they split up. Dr Peter Reading, of Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Trust, said: ‘We hope that this new inquest verdict brings the family some closure.’
TV detective joins hunt for man missing for 28 years after walking into public toilet
EXCLUSIVE: Charles and Doris Clark are being investigated over the death of son Steven who vanished in 1992 and are helping Mark Williams-Thomas with a new ITV documentary
- 22:54, 14 DEC 2020
- Updated08:48, 15 DEC 2020
The elderly couple arrested on suspicion of murdering their son are working with a former detective on a TV documentary about the case. Charles and Doris Clark are helping Mark Williams-Thomas while under investigation in connection with the death of their son Steven. The 23-year-old mysteriously vanished on December 28, 1992, after going into a public toilet in Saltburn, North Yorks, while his mum was in the ladies. Doris, 82, was spotted filming last month close to the spot where Steven went missing. Both she and husband Charles, 78, were due to answer bail on Sunday but were released under investigation by Cleveland Police after their arrest in September. They deny any wrongdoing and are trying to solve the mystery of their son’s disappearance. Mr Clark, like his wife a former police officer, confirmed they agreed to do an ITV documentary. He told the Mirror: “We have no evidence at all of Steven being dead. I think he is alive so let’s look for him. He went for a walk on the beach and was then seen two or three days later by a lot of people. He was alive in Redcar days later, from the police statements (at the time).”
Asked if he thought it was unusual to film a TV documentary while under investigation for murder, he laughed, adding: “We did not seek legal advice at all. We are looking for Steven. He is missing. They are putting a TV documentary together to find him, and I don’t know any more than that.”
ITV and Mr Williams-Thomas were approached for comment. The Clarks still live in the home in Marske-by-the-Sea three miles from Saltburn which they shared with their son. A mystery letter writer who named Steven’s “killer’” in a 1999 message to police came forward after the Mirror published extracts for the first time last month. One witness has come forward to say that she saw him close to his family home, two hours after he was reported missing. Steven was described as having a “distinctive” gait after a car accident had left him with a limp.
‘My little boy died on Christmas in his festive pyjamas just three years after his brother’
Stephanie and Adam Curry’s first son lived for just 40 minutes, and the couple faced a second tragedy when their little boy, Teddy, died on Christmas Day last year.
By Ann Cusack & Zoe Forsey Lifestyle Editor
- 13:43, 1 DEC 2020
Stephanie and Adam Curry’s world fell apart when their gorgeous little boy, Louis, died in December 2016.
Then just three years later, on Christmas Day last year, they had to say goodbye to their two-year-old son, Teddy, as he lost his battle with a rare genetic condition.
The brave little boy was wearing his new Christmas pyjamas when he died in his heartbroken mum’s arms. Stephanie, a 34-year-old nurse, says: “Teddy was born one year after Louis, both boys were born just before Christmas and Teddy died at Christmas. “It gives me great comfort to know that my boys are together now. Before his death, Teddy completed a bucket list, which included a visit to Santa, a paddle in the sea, trick a treating, pumpkin picking, and visiting Blackpool lights.”
Adam and Stephanie met 14 years ago and were delighted when she fell pregnant in 2016 with their first child. The pregnancy went well but at 20 weeks the scan showed their baby had excess fluid around his brain. Tests showed he had the most severe form of spina bifida and they were advised to end the pregnancy. After much agonising, they opted for a compassionate miscarriage at 21 weeks, on December 4 2016. Stephanie, from Liverpool, says: “I had to take a tablet and I went into labour. We were heartbroken. We didn’t want our boy to suffer any longer and it seemed like the kindest choice. It took three days for the baby to be born and it was horrendous.”
Baby Louis lived for 40 minutes. The couple had the chance to baptise him and say goodbye. Stephanie says: “The coroner insisted on a full inquest for Louis which was very harrowing.”
The couple were anxious to try for another baby but were warned the chances of another baby with spina bifida were dramatically increased. Stephanie fell pregnant in March 2017. Scans showed no problems at all and the couple were hugely relieved. Baby Teddy was born on December 7, 2017 almost exactly a year after his big brother, Louis. Stephanie says: “I had a water birth and it was lovely, so peaceful. We couldn’t wait to meet our baby.”
Baby Teddy at first appeared perfectly healthy but medics quickly realised he was struggling to maintain his temperature and he was rushed to special care. Though he was allowed home, five days on, his problems continued. Stephanie says: “Teddy’s development was slower than other babies and we were worried about him. But the doctors told us not to worry, that it might not be anything serious. We were in denial too; we didn’t want to see the problems. We had lost one baby and we wanted everything to be OK this time. He was a lovely little boy, we adored him, and we just wanted to be parents.”
In July 2018, Teddy was diagnosed with peroxisomal disorder, a rare genetic, metabolic condition. His devastated parents were told he was deaf and was also losing his sight. Stephanie says: “We were heartbroken. We didn’t know how long Teddy would live but we knew he wouldn’t make it to adulthood.”
Determined to make the most of their time, Adam and Stephanie embarked on a bucket list of adventures for their little boy, which included paddling in the sea, riding a donkey, having his face painted, seeing Father Christmas, watching a Liverpool FC game, visiting the Blackpool lights, trick a treating, and bouncing on a bouncy castle. Teddy attended Liverpool v Newcastle on Boxing Day 2018 with his family where he met Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool star Trent Alexander-Arnold. Stephanie says: “Teddy was a lovely, smiley little boy. He loved all the attention and he really cheered people up, wherever he went. He was full of mischief and brought such light and happiness for us. He loved listening to classical music and also to whistling! I downloaded the world whistling championships onto my phone so we could play it for him wherever we went.”
But during 2019, Teddy began suffering seizures and his health deteriorated. In December he was admitted to hospital with breathing difficulties but was allowed home again on Christmas Eve. Stephanie says: “Teddy loved Christmas because of the lights and the fuss; he liked anything sensory because he could sense the lights despite his blindness. We had put up a tree and we bought him lots of presents. We also booked a holiday for him, but we knew the end was coming. We had been to see Santa and had bought Christmas pyjamas for Teddy to match with his cousins. On Christmas Eve, Teddy slept with us and Adam and I took it in turns to watch over him.”
On Christmas Day, at lunchtime, Teddy died in his mother’s arms wearing his Christmas pyjamas. Stephanie says: “Teddy opened his eyes and looked at us both for the last time. And then, very peacefully, he passed away. It was totally heart-breaking but also we knew that his struggle was at an end.”
Teddy’s funeral was held on January 3 this year, where his parents chose ‘How Long Will I Love You,’ and ‘Lullaby’, and Stephanie also wrote a poem.
Horror blaze that killed four children was caused by fumes from discarded cigarette
Riley Holt, 8, Keegan Unitt, 6, Tilly Rose Unitt, 4, and Olly Unitt 4, all died in the fire in Stafford last February, and an inquest was told their parents had been smoking in bed despite a warning from social services
By Kathie McInnes
- 16:03, 12 NOV 2020
- Updated16:06, 12 NOV 2020
A fire which killed four young children was caused by fumes from a discarded cigarette, an inquest into their deaths heard. Siblings Riley Holt, 8, Keegan Unitt, 6, Tilly Rose Unitt, 4, and Olly Unitt, 3, were all killed in the horrific blaze in Stafford, on February 5 last year, Stoke on Trent Live reports. Their mum and dad Natalie Unitt and Christopher Moulton were initially arrested on suspicion of manslaughter by gross negligence. But police later confirmed no further action was being taken against them after a file was passed to the Crown Prosecution Service. The blaze was likely to have started in the main bedroom, an investigation by Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service found. The couple disputed the experts’ conclusions at the coroner’s court hearing on Thursday. But they admitted they had both been smoking in bed, despite a previous warning from social care services. This then caused a ‘flashover’, with everything in the master bedroom becoming alight before spreading to the landing. The parents said they had woken up to discover the fire, with Ms Unitt describing the first thing she was aware of was a ‘heaviness’ in her chest. “I still have nightmares about it now,” she said.
But she told the inquest she could not recall exactly what had happened as she had been suffering post-traumatic stress since then. Mr Moulton said he was unable to reach the four children sleeping in other bedrooms, and suffered serious burns to his hands during the fire. Their youngest child, aged two at the time, survived the fire as he had been sleeping near his parents. The couple told the inquest they had escaped via their bedroom window. Police and fire investigators noted there were discrepancies in the parents’ accounts, in relation to each other and to the evidence found at the scene. West Midlands Fire Service’s Leigh Richards said he believed the fire started with a discarded cigarette on the bed. Mr Richards suggested Ms Unitt had gone downstairs to get water to throw on the fire, but was unable to get back up to the bedrooms. He said she appeared to have escaped via a downstairs door. South Staffordshire coroner Andrew Haigh recorded a narrative conclusion, saying it was due to fumes from the fire caused by unextinguished cigarettes. Describing the deaths as a “tragedy”, he added: “My hope is the children died quite peacefully in their beds.”
Georgia Tann Abducted Children And Sold Them To Celebrities And Pedophiles, Making Millions
People | November 8, 2019
Have you ever wondered why someone would get it into their head to steal babies and flip them like so many houses?
Well, you’re in luck, friend. Buckle up, and hold onto your babies, because it’s time to learn about Georgia Tann: pianist, social worker, and baby-napping enthusiast. You might call her a triple threat.
Cue Georgia’s Birth
Beulah George “Georgia” Tann was born in Philadelphia, Mississippi, and by all accounts, was not baby-napped. Wouldn’t that be a great origin story?
In flat reality, however, Tann was raised by her father, Judge George Tann, and her mother, Beulah Yates. Judge Tann was hellbent on Georgia playing the piano, and play she did, right through college, despite her apparent loathing of the forced musical rigor. Allegedly, she had aspirations toward law, but her father discouraged her on the sound basis that chicks can’t argue well. Apparently a bit of a masochist as well as a sadist, Tann nonetheless majored in music and graduated with a degree from Martha Washington College in 1913. Though she took and passed the bar exam, she ultimately studied social work at Columbia University for two summers. Once Tann had finished her education, she finally unleashed all the fury that only years of mandatory piano lessons can give a person. By 1924, she got into human trafficking. What, were you expecting a scene phase?
The Worse-Than-A-Scene Phase
In 1922, Tann began working at the Mississippi Children’s Home Society, but she got fired for “dubious child-placing practices” that official documents alarmingly don’t elaborate. Following this termination, she and her “gal pal,” Ann Atwood, packed up and moved to Memphis, Tennessee, where Tann became Executive Secretary at the Shelby branch of the Tennessee Children’s Home Society, who apparently didn’t believe in background checks. At the time, adoption was not popular or chic, and even worse for someone like Tann, it was not lucrative. You could adopt yourself a brand new baby to the tune of just $7 dollars, or a little over $100 in 2019 money. For perspective, you could buy one new iPhone, or you could buy eight babies. They were, shall we say, undervalued in the market. Tann saw that market, and she had a solution: arrange expensive out-of-state adoptions, skim off the top, and then literally shred the evidence. Foolproof! The only problem, at that point, was procuring enough marketable babies. It seems that Memphis simply didn’t produce enough orphans for Tann’s liking, and there were only so many she could coerce from poor families, so she started straight-up stealing them. Think your child is safe in the hospital?
Nope: Nurses and doctors were in on it. What about at the park?
Wrong again they could be taken right off the playground. Have you just given birth and aren’t fully aware of your surroundings due to, you know, giving birth?
Tough luck; you’ve just been baby-napped. It’s estimated that Tann was responsible for trafficking more than 5,000 children throughout 48 states. Most of these children were placed with affluent families in New York and California, and some of these rich parents were even celebrities, including Joan Crawford, Mary Pickford, Ric Flair, and Herbert Lehman. (Don’t worry: There’s no reason to think Tann’s clients knew the children they adopted were kidnapped, so you’re free to continue enjoying the Golden Age of Hollywood.) If you were lucky, you were placed with a wealthy family that was stable, sane, and even loving. If you were unlucky, your experience ran the gamut from being returned to the orphanage to plain, old death. Yes, seriously.
Speaking of Death
Tann didn’t immediately place all these babies into the semi-capable arms of the semi-affluent. Between the stealing and the selling, she had to put them somewhere. That place was Tennessee Children’s Home Society, where they were subjected to neglect that included the denial of medication and food your basic kids-definitely-need-it stuff. Many of the children were also straight-up abused, sometimes sexually, sometimes by Tann herself, having apparently looked in the mirror and thought “Nope needs to be more cartoon-villainy.”
According to one report, the children were “dropping like flies” about 500 flies, to be exact. More of a swarm, really. You might think that surely, these many children weren’t disappearing without consequence, but alas, gentle reader, they were. Thanks to her lucrative scheme, Tann was friends with quite a few of the well-to-do around Memphis, including Judge Camille Kelley and Mayor E. H. “Boss” Crump, and it’s not like the kind of person who’s willing to sell children is above a little bribery. Ever the ambitious sort, Tann even used her “success” to befriend Eleanor Roosevelt, though it’s doubtful that the first lady knew of Tann’s affinity for infanticide.
Okay, But How Much Did She Make?
As mentioned, adoptions in Tennessee at the time went for about $7 a (mom and) pop, and Tann decided to up that a bit. She charged for background checks that she didn’t do, documents that she didn’t file, inflated travel expenses, and for some older prospective parents, essentially for the privilege of getting to adopt anyone at all. She padded the bill so heavily that she made over $1 million peddling children. It’s really an appropriate word: She put ads in the paper captioned like Kewpie dolls, which no doubt appealed to the pedophiles she sometimes worked with when she couldn’t land a celebrity. The most marketable children?
Blue-eyed blondes. Despite making all this paper, she did very little of the actual paperwork. On top of that, she practiced exclusively closed adoptions. That means no information about the birth parents to anyone, and no information about the children to anyone, either. It’s a license to keep people in the dark, and if Tann’s enthusiasm for shredding is any indication, keeping people in the dark was the name of the game. In fact, at the time, Tann was viewed as a sort of champion of orphaned children. She made adoption more commonplace, and her insistence on placing children with well-to-do families meant that adoption became associated with the upper class. In other words, she put adoption in vogue. That’s how she managed to make the acquaintance of the first lady: She had become a small-time celebrity humanitarian, at least until people found out about all of the kidnappings and killings. That put a bit of a damper on her new friendships.
Did they get away with it, Scoob?
Pretty much, in the sense that no one went to jail. Tann died of uterine cancer three days before the state filed charges against the society. It’s rather poetic for a woman who was responsible for the deaths of so many children to die from her womb, but it can’t beat the regular ol’ justice system. Speaking of the justice system, that judge never did time, either. A handful of children have managed to get in touch with their birth parents, but thanks to Tennessee’s closed adoption laws and Tann’s shredding habit, many of the trails have long since gone cold. In 2015, a memorial to Tann’s hundreds of victims was placed in Memphis’s Elmwood Cemetery, where 19 of the unnamed children are buried. If you’re hoping that number is so low because the rest of the victims were identified and returned to their families to be laid to rest, we’re sorry to disappoint you one final time: Their bodies were simply never recovered. Sleep tight!