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Woman Caught in Child Abuse Case

Per. 3   Woman Caught in Child Abuse Case

Sherry Murphy, who was sought in the terrible abuse of three young boys, was arrested at about 2 A.M. at a Newark apartment, January 9, 2003. She had beaten one boy and starved him to death. She was captured Thursday after a man who had found her crying at a phone booth told the police. Murphy had been wanted since the body of 7-year-old Faheem Williams was discovered on Sunday and for child endangerment charges. She had been caring for the boys since their mother, Melinda Williams, Murphys cousin, was jailed on assault charges. When Faheem Williams twin brother Raheem and Tyrone Hill, 4, were found, they were cowering under a bed soaked with urine and vomit. Raheem and Tyrone were found by Murphys boyfriend and they were rushed to the emergency room weak and undernourished. Investigators say the boys were subjected to constant abuse, including being burned with cigarettes and beaten. There is no apparent reason why Murphy did this, yet it may be because she has a crack habit or she wanted control. The case is just the latest revealing the difficulties caseworkers have protecting some of the nation’s most vulnerable children from abuse.

Who: Sherry Murphy, Faheem Williams, Melinda Williams, Raheem Williams, Tyrone Hill, authorities, Murphys boyfriend, caseworkers

What: Sherry Murphy was charged with three counts of child endangerment and the two surviving children were nearly starved to death.

Where: Newark, New Jersey

When: January 9, 2003

Why: Probably since she has a crack habit or she wanted control.

TRENTON, N.J. (Jan. 9) – A go-go dancer sought in the horrific abuse of three young boys, one of whom was beaten and starved to death, was captured Thursday after a man who had found her crying at a phone booth tipped off police.

Sherry Murphy was arrested at about 2 a.m. at a Newark apartment near where the man lived, Mayor Sharpe James said.

Jean Claude Dessources had found Murphy crying at a phone booth on Monday and gave her a place to stay after she told him her mother had died and she was homeless, James said. Dessources went to police two days later after recognizing her picture in news reports.

Murphy was to be arraigned later Thursday on three counts of child endangerment.

She had been sought since the body of 7-year-old Faheem Williams was discovered Sunday, a day after his twin and a younger brother were found emaciated in the basement of a Newark row house. Authorities said the two survivors hadn’t eaten in days.

Murphy, who was wanted on child endangerment charges, had been caring for the boys since their mother, Melinda Williams, Murphy’s cousin, was jailed on assault charges in March, authorities have said.

Faheem Williams’ twin brother, Raheem, and another brother, Tyrone Hill, 4, remained hospitalized Thursday in fair condition. When they were found, they were cowering under a bed soaked with urine and vomit. They were using a jar for a toilet and their hair was infested with lice.

Authorities did not know Faheem existed until Raheem said at the hospital that he hadn’t seen his twin for a long time. Police found Faheem’s remains in a purple storage box. He had been dead for more than a month. An autopsy concluded Faheem died of starvation and blunt force to the stomach.

No one has been charged in the boy’s death, but police Director Robert Rankin said Thursday that more charges were pending. He would not provide details.

Williams, 31, told authorities she couldn’t find Murphy, 41, or the children after she got out of jail several months ago. She was hit by a car Saturday while rushing to see the children and is hospitalized in critical condition.

New Jersey’s Division of Youth and Family Services had received 10 complaints about the family over the past 10 years, including one in October 2001 that Williams was beating and burning her children.

Three of the complaints were substantiated: Williams left the children alone in 1996 and 1999, and she failed to get medical attention for another child, 7-year-old Fuquan, after he cut his hand in 1998. The boy, now 11, is in a treatment center.

Authorities say at least one of the boys also was molested. A friend of Williams was arrested Wednesday and charged with sexual abuse.

Yet the state agency closed the case in February 2002, saying it could not find the boys. That month, Williams was jailed for child endangerment stemming from a 1996 incident, and she entrusted the boys to Murphy, who was dancing in bars under the stage name ”Ebony.”

Police said Murphy has a crack habit but no criminal record.

Raheem and Tyrone were found by Murphy’s boyfriend, who had gone into the basement looking for work boots. The boys were rushed to the emergency room weak and undernourished, and Tyrone, who had scars and burn marks, was put on a liquid diet because he couldn’t handle solid food.

A cat in the apartment was immaculately clean and well-fed.

”The mere fact that he had food means he was better off than those kids,” police Lt. Derek Glenn said.

Investigators say the boys were subjected to constant abuse, including being burned with cigarettes and beaten. James said the 7-year-old told him he had never been to school.

”There’s enough blame here to go around for a lot of people,” James said.

The case is just the latest revealing the difficulties caseworkers have protecting some of the nation’s most vulnerable children from abuse.

In Florida, the state child-welfare agency went through a shake-up last year after caseworkers lost track of 5-year-old Rilya Wilson for 15 months before realizing she was missing. Rilya still hasn’t been found. In Missouri, a caseworker resigned last week after a 2-year-old boy who had been sent back to a foster home was shaken to death.

New Jersey Gov. James McGreevey ordered an investigation of the agency and new procedures for investigating allegations of abuse. The supervisor in charge of the Williams case was suspended Wednesday.

New Jersey’s Division of Youth and Family Services has 1,400 people to supervise some 47,000 children; the average caseload is 35. National advocates recommend that a caseworker handle no more than 25.

Union officials say the caseworker assigned to the Williamses was juggling 107 cases, but state officials claim the number was far less. They say the unidentified worker was responsible for 53 children.

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