Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Amari Barnhill

Amari Raynard Barnhill
December 2012 - November 2015

Amari was two years old when he passed away. His parents were Nakesa Barnhill and Darien Head. One day, at around 8:30 in the morning, Amari was rushed to the hospital after being found unresponsive. At the hospital, Amari was pronounced dead. He had a laceration on his head, bruising on the left side of his face, and more severe bruising on the front and back of his legs and his bottom. The bruises looked as if they were in multiple stages of healing, therefore from different incidents of abuse.

At the time 911 was called to Amari's home, he was in the apartment with his father, Darien, and Darien's girlfriend. Two of Darien's girlfriend's young children were also there that day. Amari's father, Darien, was arrested on charges of aggravated child abuse and child neglect, as well as two other charges unrelated to Amari's abuse and death.

Darien pleaded guilty to second degree murder and was sentenced to twenty-five years in prison. He was credited for 419 days he already served and was also given ten years of probation.


Thursday, August 24, 2017

Christopher Barnard

Christopher Wayne Allen Barnard
August 19, 2003 - April 28, 2008
Christopher was born on August 19, 2003 to Floyd Moore and Roxann Barnard. His stepfather was named Steven Lockler Jr. Before Christopher's death, DHS had investigated eight reports regarding his welfare. The first report came in September of 2003 when Christopher was just two weeks old. The report said that Christopher's living conditions were poor.

When Christopher was eight months old, DHS was informed of Roxann's then-boyfriend, Steven Lockler. It was reported that Christopher had bruises on his cheeks and his arms. It also said that he had a busted lip and a golf ball sized bump on his head. The report went on to say that Christopher seemed upset when Steven was around him. A DHS worker investigated the report but found no injuries on Christopher. They also interviewed friends and family and concluded that there were no signs of abuse or neglect.

The next four reports took place from November 29, 2006 to May 4, 2007. These reports said that Christopher had more unexplained bruises, bumps, and red marks. Christopher also had a black eye. When he was questioned about the black eye, he said, "Daddy did it." For these reports, a DHS worked interviewed family members and friends. Christopher's daycare staff was also interviewed and Christopher was examined. For all the reports, no signs of abuse or neglect were found.

The next report was on August 1, 2007. For this report, DHS was told that Christopher was left unsupervised in the front yard while his mother took Steven to work. The report stated that Christopher had a black eye and that Steven had "hit him hard." The caseworker went to the police for this report. There, the caseworker saw a bruise on his lower left eye. Christopher told the caseworker, "My daddy hit me with a belt."

This investigation lasted until late September of 2007. Then, the caseworker determined that there was no confirmed abuse or neglect. On April 28, 2008, Christopher was being watched by Steven. That morning, Steven called 911 and said that Christopher had fallen in the bathtub. At the hospital, Christopher was pronounced dead. Medical professionals determined that his cause of death was blunt force trauma. They also saw other injuries on Christopher that made them believe that Christopher had been abused on other instances too.

Finally, Steven admitted that while he was watching Christopher, Christopher had accidentally soiled his pants. This angered Steven so he punched him twice in his stomach. Then he hit him with a belt. Steven pleaded guilty to first degree murder and was sentenced to life in prison. Roxann was sentenced to thirty years in prison for enabling child abuse. 

After Christopher's death, his babysitter spoke about how she had been concerned about Christopher. She said that the first day she babysat Christopher, he had a black eye. She also said that Christopher was a great little boy and that he had fun playing with her own sons. She said that when Christopher's mother would come to the door to pick him up, he would be excited, but when he saw that Steven was with her, he would cower and begin crying. She also noticed strips of bruises above his bottom and the small of his back. She said they were very dark and they hadn't been there the previous day. Roxann said that Christopher had fallen on some toys. The babysitter didn't think that was true, so she contacted DHS. After the babysitter called DHS, Roxann would not allowed her to babysit Christopher any longer. The babysitter says DHS dropped the ball by not helping Christopher and that if they would have taken him when she called, he would still be alive today. 

Find a Grave

Monday, August 21, 2017

Alexis Buchanan

Alexis Renea Buchanan
October 26, 2006 - September 22, 2013

Alexis was born on October 26, 2006 to Kevin and Heather Buchanan. Alexis was called "Lexie" by many who knew her. She was in first grade and enjoyed school a lot. She loved her teachers and classmates. She loved Barbie dolls and Hello Kitty. She was also a fan of playing dress up. 

At the time of Alexis's death, Heather was dating a man named Mark Johnson. One day, officers were called to respond to a man that had been shot. The man was Mark. He had been shot in his hand and his stomach. When officers arrived, they saw Mark at a neighbor's house. Heather was sitting on the porch. From the porch, Heather fired twice at an officer, forcing him to take cover and wait until more officers arrived to help him. While the officer took cover, Heather went back inside the house.

When more officers came and they went into the house, they discovered that Heather had fled to the nearby forest. Officers spoke to neighbors and learned that Heather had Alexis with her. When they realized that Heather had her daughter with her, they called for helicopters to search for them. Officers and a helicopter petrol searched for Heather and Alexis for two hours before thick fog rolled in, making the search unsafe for the helicopter crew.

A few hours after the helicopter crew was called off the search, police received a phone call saying that the bodies of Heather and Alexis were found in a driveway near their home. Heather and Alexis had both been shot in their heads. Heather had shot and killed Alexis and then herself.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Gavin Brummett

Gavin Lee Brummett
January 25, 2006 - April 13, 2013
Gavin was born on January 25, 2006 to Rodney and Nichole Brummett. He was in first grade and was a member of the Royal Rangers Youth Group. He was on the Bennington Bulldogs Rec. basketball team. Gavin liked doing anything outside and was known to like to go on adventures. He had two brothers named Garrett and Gunner. 

On the day Gavin passed away, he, his father, and his brother were out having a shooting trip. Gavin's father had turned away and then heard two gunshots go off. He turned around and quickly saw that Gavin had accidentally shot himself in his head with a gun. Gavin was rushed to a hospital and then airlifted to another where he was pronounced deceased shortly afterwards.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Easton Brueger

Easton Curtiss Brueger
August 11, 2004 - December 30, 2012
Easton was born on August 11, 2004 to Justin Brueger and Pamela Rogers. He was a third grade student. He liked playing with his cousins, riding four-wheelers, fishing, doing anything outside, playing video games, playing with Legos, and playing with Nerf guns. He also liked taking photographs of birds and reading history books. One of his best friends was his dog, Buddy, whom he found and rescued.

Easton passed away due to an accidental gunshot wound. He had been with his father, Justin, at the time. Justin was cleaning his gun when it accidentally went off, shooting Justin in his stomach. Justin was taken to the hospital where he later passed away due to the injury. Police charged Justin for Easton's death, saying that he put Easton at "unreasonable risk of harm" by pointing the gun in his direction while cleaning it.

Justin told the court, "I just want to say I'm very sorry to my son." He was placed on a $10,000 bond and all guns were ordered to be removed from his home. He was also ordered to stay away from Easton's mother and her family. 

Tacari Briggs

Tacari Danielle Renee Briggs
June 17, 2011 - February 27, 2013

Tacari was born on June 17, 2011 to Lance Briggs and Delana Aquirre. She had three brothers named Jarviyon, Cordaye, and Xavier. She had three sisters named Shatorrid, Zephanie, and Sakayla. She was a happy little girl that liked wrestling with her brothers and feeding her dog, Rose. She also liked climbing into the refrigerator and riding her rocking horse.

Tacari passed away after being a victim of a shooting. A man named Robert Friar shot into a bedroom of her home where she and her mother, Delana, were sleeping. Delana was also shot multiple times in her torso. Delana's mother called 911 saying that somebody had shot her daughter and her granddaughter. Both Tacari and Delana were rushed the the hospital where Tacari was pronounced deceased. Her mother was airlifted to another hospital where she was treated. She survived and recovered.

Delana had previously been in a relationship with Robert Friar. He had threatened her before shooting her, telling her in a text message that she should "kiss her mom and kids goodbye." Shortly before the shooting, Robert had called her and told her something that she couldn't make out. When she asked what he had said, he hung up. Then the shooting started. Police found Robert after the shooting and took him into custody. 

Robert was convicted of one count of capital murder, two counts of attempted murder, and seven counts of committing a terroristic act. He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole and an additional 165 years in prison.


Friday, August 11, 2017

Julia Barbara

Julia Barbara
--- - May 17, 2016
Julia was a happy little girl who loved anything that was considered girly. She had an older brother whom she adored very much as well. She liked dressing up as a princess and playing with her brother. Julia and her family spent Thanksgiving 2015 on the beach. She appeared completely healthy then, and she had never had any major medical issues at all. After Thanksgiving, however, Julia's parents began to notice that she had some issues with her balance and her facial movements seemed a bit off. They assumed that she had a simple ear infection.

On December 14, 2015, Julia's parents took her to the pediatrician. The pediatrician decided Julia should have a CAT scan. The CAT scan revealed that Julia had a brain tumor so an MRI was done. The next day, Julia's family went back to the hospital and waited for the results of the MRI. Then, they were told that Julia had a rare form of childhood cancer. This cancer is called diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma, often called "DIPG." DIPG is located in the brain stem, making it inoperable. There is no cure for DIPG, although there are treatments that will help reduce symptoms for a period of time so the child can have a more normal life, until the symptoms return, often worse than before, and claim the child's life. No child has ever lived long-term after being diagnosed with DIPG.

Julia's parents had two options:  Take Julia home and watch her decline quickly, which doctors said would happen, as brain tumors progress very quickly, or begin radiation treatment with an experimental chemotherapy drug which would prolong Julia's life. Her parents decided to try and prolong Julia's life, hoping that she would live an extra nine months than she would if no treatment was given.

Julia began six weeks of radiation and chemotherapy. Julia was sedated five days a week to have radiation treatment. Some aspect of the treatment made Julia feel very nauseous, so she also began taking medication for that constantly. Julia lost the use of the right side of her body, so she could no longer walk and had issues swallowing. She was also put on steroids which made her gain a lot of weight. She was always hungry. The medication made her blood pressure rise and gave her insomnia. 

Along with all these other symptoms, Julia's personality changed. Sometimes nothing could make her laugh or even smile. After six weeks of treatment, Julia got to return home. She was weaned off of steroids and it looked like radiation had shrunk her tumor. She regained the use of her right side, so she could walk by herself again. Test results showed that the chemotherapy drug she had been taking had no effect on the tumor, so she stopped taking it. 

A few weeks after returning home, Make-A-Wish helped Julia and her family go visit other family members in Europe. Julia lost the ability to move the right side of her body again and experienced headaches and nausea. She had an MRI which revealed that she had hydrocephalus, which is extra fluid in her brain. She also had radiation necrosis, which is the destruction of her healthy brain cells due to radiation. Julia was admitted into the hospital again.

To relieve the pressure in Julia's brain, she had to have surgery. This surgery did not relieve the pressure as was hoped, so Julia had to have a second surgery involving a shunt placed in her brain. The top of the shunt was connected to a valve to control the flow of fluid in her brain. The shunt extended through Julia's body and down to her stomach. This surgery was successful, but came with many side effects. Julia's eyesight was impaired. She had a large incision on her scalp. She also had to take a heavy dose of steroids.

In April, Julia was taking two times the steroids she was initially prescribed. She did not regain the use of the right side of her body this time, although they did help with reducing radiation necrosis. In late April she began to be weaned off steroids again. On May 17, 2016, Julia was still taking a lower dose of steroids. Her mobility never improved. That morning, Julia's family woke up to discover that Julia had passed away in her sleep at the family home. 

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Natasha Gould

Natasha Rose Gould
January 28, 2004 - August 4, 2016
Natasha was born on January 28, 2004. On May 1, 2015, Natasha's mother took her to the hospital because she felt weak in her left arm and her left leg. She had also been experiencing double vision. Doctors gave Natasha and MRI. The MRI revealed that Natasha had a brain tumor in her brain stem. This was a form of cancer called diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma.

Diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma is often just called "DIPG." DIPG is a rare form of childhood cancer that no cure has been developed for. Due to its location, the tumor is unable to be surgically removed. There are treatments for DIPG that will improve the quality of life for children diagnosed with it for a short period of time before the cancer ultimately comes back and claims the child's life. No child has ever survived DIPG long term.

Natasha bravely fought DIPG for fifteen months. She even kept a blog as she battled cancer. She passed away on August 4, 2016. 


Azalea Harper

Azalea Harper
May 17, 2011 - January 3, 2015
Azalea was born on May 17, 2011 to Delilah and Dee. Those who knew her gave her the nickname "Azzy." On Azalea's third birthday, in 2014, she had a birthday party filled with a lot of fun. The next day her family noticed that she was limping. They were not that concerned and thought she might have just hurt herself a bit and that she would be back to normal soon.

The next day, Azalea was still limping. Her family prepared to take her to the doctor. When they told her to put her shirt on, they noticed that she had trouble lifting her right arm to do so. Her father began to worry a bit more but he thought that it was likely that she had fallen and hurt herself during the excitement of her birthday party two days before. 

A few hours after this, Azalea and her mother, Delilah, went to the hospital. Six hours later Delilah called Azalea's father and told him that he needed to come to the hospital because Azalea was having an MRI. He went to the hospital and talked to a few doctors. The family waited in the waiting room for the results of the MRI. When they were finished, four doctors came into the room to talk to Azalea's parents.

One doctor told them that he was sorry and that he had hoped Azalea had a stroke, but they had discovered that something much more serious was happening. There was a tumor in Azalea's brain stem that was the size of a golf ball. It was a form of cancer called diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma, often referred to as DIPG.

There is no cure for DIPG and it cannot be surgically removed due to its location in the brain. While there are treatments for DIPG, they only help reduce symptoms for a short period of time, allowing the child to have a few months where they can have what is considered a "normal life" before the cancer comes back stronger than ever and ultimately takes the child's life. No child has survived DIPG long-term.

Azalea's father asked how long Azalea had to live. Doctors weren't sure, but because Azalea's tumor was so large, they guessed that she only had six to eight weeks left. They were told they could treat Azalea with radiation and chemotherapy to attempt to prolong her life. Friends suggested the family look into cannabis oil. They got their medical marijuana license and were able to treat Azalea with the oil. In addition, she went through six weeks of radiation.

During treatments, Azalea was feeling quite ill. She stopped eating, talking, and walking. The cannabis oil helped her walk and talk again. When Azalea got another MRI, the tumor had shrunk by 67%. Azalea got a bit better. The third MRI, unfortunately, showed that the tumor had not shrunk at all, but the good news was that it had not grown larger either. 

After her last radiation treatment, doctors were impressed that Azalea was doing so well. She was up singing and dancing. Her family created a GoFundMe page to be able to continue buying her the expensive cannabis oil. People donated, but when they saw Azalea feeling well enough to play, they began to stop donating. They assumed she was getting better, even though she needed the expensive treatments to stay feeling better.

In late December, Azalea began feeling very sick and weak again. On December 20, she had her fourth MRI. This time, the tumor was as big as it was during her first MRI. Her family was told that she did not have much longer to live and hospice was called. She was able to spend Christmas with her family and open some of her presents.

On December 28, Azalea began breathing oddly. The doctor told her family that she probably only had about a day left to live. They notified everyone in their family so they could come say goodbye. On January 2, Azalea's breathing was even worse. Her family called the hospice doctor who informed them that Azalea was in the process of dying and that she only had an hour or two left. Friends and family were called to say goodbye. 

The hospice doctor gave Azalea's family more medications to be sure that she was not in pain during the process. Around sixty friends and family members came to be with Azalea. Azalea's mother was holding her and her father was beside her as she took her last breath on January 3. 

Defeat DIPG