TRACY, CALIFORNIA – UNITED STATES.
Witnesses watched as an almost naked boy dropped over a fence and stumbled through the car park. Covered in an array of wounds and injuries, the gaunt boy carried a chain, still locked around his ankle. Not turning back, he could sense his captors weren’t too far behind.
Why has a near naked boy, with chains around his ankles, turned up at local gym?
Lead Up to Crime
Susan Barnett had three children: Brandon Cardiff, Austin Louisgnont, and Kyle Ramirez. Caren Ramirez was a friend of Barnett’s, and Kyle considered her an aunt, though they were not related. The two youngest boys started living with Ramirez when Kyle was eight years old, after being removed from the custody of their abusive father. Barnett had scant involvement in her children’s lives.
On September 20, 2005, Caren Ramirez sent her adopted son, Austin, 16, out onto the streets to panhandle. After spending the day begging around Citrus Heights, Sacramento, the boy returned home in the evening, sat on the couch, and revealed he had made only $9.00. News of the meagre takings sent Caren Ramirez into a violent rage.
Deputies from the Sacramento Sherriff’s Department were dispatched to Caren Ramirez’s home, responding to an assault in progress — a juvenile being hit by an adult. Police found Ramirez had forced Austin into her bedroom.
“I’m going to fuck you up,” said Ramirez. “I heard you talking shit, saying that I’m not your mom!”
She beat him with a martial arts stick. As Austin attempted to cover his head, Ramirez screamed, “Don’t put your hands up.”
The woman told police Austin’s injuries were sustained while he was play fighting with a friend. She stated Austin made the complaint against her after she took away his Game Boy, and that he had not taken his Ritalin in two months. Austin was removed and placed with a foster family.
In the early hours of the morning on May 30, 2006, police returned to the home of Caren Ramirez. Ramirez’s biological daughter, Cristina Sanchez, 21, reported Kyle, 13, had shown her injuries garnered from his adopted aunt: bruised arms, legs, and buttocks, and a split and swollen lip. Caren Ramirez had beaten Kyle with a martial arts stick the day before the report was made. The boy revealed to police officers that when Ramirez was angry she also assaulted him with broom handles, a spatula, and a coat hanger.
Child Protective Services were called and Kyle was taken out of Caren Ramirez’s care, and delivered to the Children’s Receiving Home in Sacramento. His brother Austin, now 18, had been moved to foster care in Central California and had concerns about Kyle. Caren Ramirez stated the allegations made against her were inaccurate, but could not state what the inaccuracies were. She suffered from depression and anxiety and was prescribed Zoloft.
On May 9, 2007, Kyle was reported as a runaway from the receiving home — afraid of being placed in foster care.
Kyle had met with Caren Ramirez who convinced him to travel with her, first stopping at Pleasanton, California. They spent the summer living with Catherine Cockrell and her three children. She considered Kyle “lazy,” who pillaged neighbours houses for food. Cockrell’s son begged for his mother to kick the pair out, accusing Kyle of hogging the computer games.
The pair moved on to Tracy, California, and lodged with husband and wife, Michael Luther Schumacher and Kelly Layne Lau, and their four children.
Care workers from the receiving home failed to make contact with Cristina Sanchez through monthly phone calls.
On August 22, 2007, social worker, Linda Hirsch, was assigned Kyle’s case, and discovered Caren Ramirez had been collecting his Social Security check, but the Social Security office refused to provide her with Ramirez’s address. Police were not able to locate the boy. Hirsch made monthly attempts to locate Kyle, but her searches proved fruitless.
Sacramento County Department of Social Services reported Kyle Ramirez missing on March 27, 2008.
Michael Schumacher, a contractor, and his wife, Kelly Lau, a Girl Scout leader, lived in a detached two-story home at 630 Tennis Lane, in the centre of Tracy, Sacramento. Their street was family friendly; where neighbours hung American flags from their porches and kept their lawns tidy. They had four children between the ages of one and nine, and often babysat the neighbours’ children. They were friends of Catherine Corkrell. Caren and Kyle came to live in their house in July 2007.
Kyle was padlocked by his ankle and chained to a coffee table or the fireplace grill. They called the boy “Iggit” slang for idiot. He was forced to complete all the household chores, look after the infants, and kneel on the floor for hours. Kyle would also help the Schumacher children with their homework.
By David Phoebe.