It Takes a Village to Kill a Child: The Rebecca Riley Case
If it takes a village to raise a child, it might just take a village to kill one, too, which is what I believe happened to Rebecca Riley. Here are some facts about and testimony from some of Rebecca Riley’s “caregivers” as reported by Boston.com, The Patriot Ledger, and Carolyn Riley herself during her 60 Minutes interview with Katie Couric, along with some commentary.
One of the most telling things about Carolyn Riley was something she said during her interview with Katie Couric for 60 Minutes. The night before Rebecca Riley died, Carolyn had given Rebecca an extra half pill of clonidine. When Couric asked why, Carolyn replied, “Because she hadn’t been able to get to sleep since six o’clock.”
Who expects a four-year-old child to go to bed at six o’clock in the evening? Even worse, when the kid can’t get to sleep so early in the evening, the mom sedates her?! Whether Carolyn Riley’s actions were criminal, I won’t say, but based on that interview and everything else I’ve read about her, she seems overmedicated herself, clueless as a cucumber, overwhelmed, or overly concerned with pleasing her husband… probably a combination of all those. Unfortunately, nobody else in the village curbed her destructive behavior, regardless of the root cause(s). Some tried, others facilitated it, and several essentially looked the other way.
“Williams [see section on Kelly Williams, later in this piece] said she and McGonnell kept asking Rebecca’s parents to take the girl to the doctor. The father, however, was preoccupied with a dispute over his disability benefits requiring visits to the Social Security office in Quincy and kept demanding that his wife keep Rebecca quiet.”
“He apparently became livid when Rebecca, during one trip on Dec. 11, 2006, vomited in the Social Security office, cutting short their visit.” [This was two days prior to the morning when Rebecca was discovered dead.]
“Carolyn Riley insisted to Williams that she would be taking Rebecca to the doctor, but kept putting it off even as Rebecca’s condition seemed to worsen, Williams said. On the night before Rebecca died, when she allegedly kept knocking on her parents’ closed bedroom door asking for her mother, the father kept ordering the girl to go back to her own room, Williams said.”
“Ultimately, after Rebecca kept moaning for her mother, Carolyn Riley persuaded her husband to let the girl sleep on the floor next to their bed. The following morning, the girl was found dead.”
I have a daughter. This sickens me.
Dr. Kayoko Kifuji
“Kifuji is testifying as a prosecution witness under a grant of immunity, it was disclosed in court today.”
What makes her so special?
“Dr. Kayoko Kifuji acknowledged that when she first met Rebecca Riley, at age 2, she had initially diagnosed her with having attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder after only a one-hour meeting.”
“After a one-hour meeting in her office, the psychiatrist diagnosed Kaitlynne [Rebecca’s older sister, 2 at the time] as having bipolar illness and immediately prescribed Depakote based largely on the mother’s depiction of the girl as physically aggressive to her older brother, and the girl saying she sometimes saw ‘monsters’ and ‘ghosts.'”
In another report, I read that Dr. Kifuji testified as diagnosing Kaitlynne without even examining her. The diagnosis was based solely on information from Carolyn along with a family history.
Must be a drive-thru clinic: Shrink in a Box.
“A Tufts Medical Center child psychiatrist today testified about how she had frequently approved higher dosages of psychotropic drugs for Carolyn Riley’s two preschool daughters, often just after the mother admitted to doing it on her own anyway without asking the doctor.”
“At that time, the mother acknowledged she had already been trying out clonidine on Kaitlynne, having taken some of these prescription pills from a bottle designated for her oldest son, Gerard.”
“While Kifuji told Carolyn Riley that a parent cannot just introduce new medications without a doctor’s approval, the psychiatrist went ahead and added clonidine to Kaitlynne’s regimen of prescription pills.”
In other words, the doctor gave more medications to someone who had a proven track record for irresponsibly dispensing medications. Why not give Carolyn Riley her own prescription pad?
“Still, however, she [Kifuji] faces a medical malpractice lawsuit filed by the estate of Rebecca Riley.”
I guess that’s one way to put the Dr. on trial, but I don’t think it’s the right way. Nobody should see any money from this tragedy.
Angela Smith, Social Worker
“Five months before 4-year old Rebecca Riley died of an alleged overdose of psychotropic drugs, a Weymouth social worker [Angela Smith] warned the girl’s mother that the child seemed overmedicated and contacted the state’s child-protection agency to say the family relied on an alarming amount of mood-altering medications.”
“Smith also said she told the Department of Social Services that the mother might be overmedicating herself. According to earlier testimony, the mother was on drugs for depression and migraines.”
“Smith said seeing Rebecca walk into walls and fall down prompted her to inform the state Department of Social Services that the girl seemed overmedicated.”
Angela Smith tried. Heads should roll at the Department of Social Services .
Traccie Hillion, Mental Health Counselor
“Traccie Hillion, a mental health counselor who provided therapy to Kaitlynne for three years in Springfield, said Carolyn Riley expressed concerns that the girl threw tantrums, heard nonexistent noises, said she saw ghosts, and attacked her older brother.”
“Hillion said her own observations suggested only ‘normal toddler behavior.’ She testified that she urged Riley to seek another opinion after Dr. Kifuji prescribed Depakote for the bipolar disorder.”
Traccie Hillion sort of tried, but after three years, you’d think she’d realize that giving Carolyn Riley advice is the same as doing nothing.
Kelly Williams (Housemate) and James McGonnell (Kelly’s Boyfriend and Carolyn’s Half Brother)
“Williams said she and McGonnell kept asking Carolyn and Michael Riley to take the girl to the doctor. The father, however, was preoccupied with a dispute over his disability benefits requiring visits to the Social Security office in Quincy, and kept demanding that his wife keep Rebecca quiet. He became livid when Rebecca, during a trip on Dec. 11, 2006, vomited in the Social Security office, cutting short their visit, Williams said.”
“Carolyn Riley kept insisting to Williams that she would take Rebecca to the doctor, but kept putting it off even as the girl’s condition seemed to worsen, Williams said. On the night before Rebecca died, the girl kept knocking on her parents’ closed bedroom door, asking for her mother, but the father kept ordering the girl to go back to her own room, Williams said.”
“While Williams had testified before a grand jury that she believed Rebecca’s condition was so serious she had nearly wanted to call an ambulance herself, she testified today that she had never thought the girl was in a life-threatening situation. She said she believed Rebecca should be seen by a doctor for her worsening illness. As for Rebecca dying, ‘It never crossed my mind that that would happen,’ she said.”
Condition was so serious she had wanted to call an ambulance, but the possibility of Rebecca dying never crossed her mind? Unbelievable.
Carol DeSantis, Carolyn Riley’s Aunt
“[Carol] DeSantis recalled her niece saying that her children ‘don’t respond to kid doses; they need adult doses.'”
What else did she observe? She did nothing?
“Referring to the Riley’s living room, [Roberta] Coady said, ‘it smelled of feces’ and was littered with ‘Doritos and Cokes and cigarettes and clothes.'”
No call to the Department of Social Services?
Teachers and School Nurse
“Rebecca’s second teacher, Jym-Ann Curtis, said she did leave numerous phone messages in early 2006, but never got a response. She and Rebecca’s first teacher, Kathleen Yuscevicz, said Carolyn Riley didn’t respond to their written notes, either.”
No surprise here.
“Yuscevicz said she took Rebecca to the school nurse ‘at least once a week.'”
The school nurse couldn’t tell something was seriously wrong?
“[Victoria] Silberstein [principal of Weymouth’s Elden Johnson Early Childhood Center] said she tried to file a so-called ’51-A’ abuse report with the state Department of Social Services in the spring of 2006, after she had to carry Rebecca from the bus into school in her arms. But she said DSS told her the agency couldn’t investigate because the girl was in the care of a doctor.”
If a kid’s so medicated you have to carry her from the school bus into the school, doesn’t that warrant calling an ambulance or phoning a doctor, particularly if the parent is not responding?… and another reason heads should roll at the Department of Social Services.
Kraynak, J. (2010). It Takes a Village to Kill a Child: The Rebecca Riley Case. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 28, 2015, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/bipolar/2010/01/it-takes-a-village-to-kill-a-child-the-rebecca-riley-case/