A 3-year-old Philadelphia girl died Monday of severe starvation. Nathalyz Rivera, who was born blind and had Down syndrome, weighed just 11 pounds. Her body was covered in bruises that doctors believe to be insect and rodent bites.
Her parents, Carlos Rivera, 30, and Carmen Rameriz, 27, were arrested on suspicion of child abuse and homicide.
“This is one of the worst cases of abuse that I’ve seen in my five years on the homicide unit. Very sad and very disturbing,” Philadelphia Police Homicide Captain James Clark said Monday.
Nathalyz’s condition was so severe, child-abuse pediatrician Cindy Christian explained to the Philadelphia Inquirer, it “doesn’t happen to a child in a couple of weeks. Generally, it is a process that takes months and months, or even years of neglect.”
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Her condition suggested she was "starved like people in concentration camps starved," Christian said.
Captian Clark said Rivera returned home Monday and discovered Nathalyz was not breathing. Instead of calling 911, he called her mother. Rameriz, who had been staying with a boyfriend at the time, took the girl to Einstein Medical Center where she was pronounced dead at 1:50 a.m. The medical examiner ruled her death as homicide by starvation, according to Clark.
The home where Nathalyz lived was infested with fleas and rats. In order to search the home, investigators had to wear hazmat suits. According to UPI, she was one of five children living in the home with Rivera. One of them is Nathalyz’s twin brother.
Clark said the Department of Human Services had been in contacted with the family at least once before.
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In a statement DHS spokeswoman Alicia Taylor said, “[w]e are working with police. Our job is to make sure that the other children in this family are safe, and that includes that they are checked out of the hospital and cleared medically.”
The couple’s next door neighbor, Annetta Dangerfield, said during a fight between the couple, Rivera broke out all the front windows on the house. She told the Philadelphia Inquirer the children were rarely let outside to play.
She said she heard crying through her wall on Saturday night.
"The baby cried for about an hour and a half," she said. "Just cried constantly."