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Suspected child killers charged with ‘cruelty’

By Benjamin Flowers
Staff Reporter

Anke and David Doehm, the Americans accused of killing their adopted daughter in San Pedro, were charged with ‘cruelty to a child’ in relation to the death of 13-year-old Faye Lin Cannon on Thursday and were remanded to the Belize Central Prison, while the murder investigation continues.
Anke was charged on Wednesday afternoon while David, who had previously been remanded to prison for possession of a controlled drug, was charged on Thursday. They were both arraigned in Magistrate’s Court on Thursday afternoon and subsequently remanded after their request for bail was denied by Chief Magistrate Anne Marie Smith.

Police moved forward, charging the couple for ‘cruelty’ based on advice from the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Cheryl-Lynn Vidal. In a rare interview with the media following the proceedings in court on Thursday afternoon, Vidal said that the investigation so far has not yielded enough evidence to warrant a charge for murder, however, there was sufficient evidence to prove cruelty.

“The observation of the post-mortem report reads like a horror story,” Vidal said, noting that the examining doctor observed fresh injuries as well as old ones. According to Vidal, the adoptive parents even admitted during interrogation to knowing of injuries sustained by the child.
And while it is not certain that the parents caused the injuries, they were aware but were of the view that she was suffering from a certain illness but never took her to a doctor for a diagnosis or for medical treatment.

Instead, Vidal added, the parents administered Valium to the child, despite not having a valid prescription for the drug, for which David was later charged. Vidal said there was clear and massive neglect on their part.

Attorneys for the Doehms, Richard ‘Dickie’ Bradley (representing David) and Ellis Arnold (representing Anke) indicated they would seek an application for bail for their clients at the Supreme Court level as early as possible. Vidal, however, intends to object to bail for the Doehms as they are considered a flight risk.

Police detained the couple last week, following an investigation which began when cops found Cannon dead in her bedroom.
The post-mortem revealed that Cannon had been physically and sexually abused. She died of chest compression, or force to her chest so severe that it snapped three ribs, one of which punctured her heart.

The incident took a sensational turn when the residents of San Pedro held a peaceful demonstration on the island calling for justice for Cannon’s death. Residents say that they have been complaining about the Doehms mistreating their children for over three years, going as far as contacting the United States Embassy in Belmopan. However, none of the relevant authorities made any meaningful intervention.

Residents originally scheduled the protest for Friday, but had to reschedule for Saturday, because they did not have a permit.
The Department of Human Services in the Ministry of Human Development issued a statement on the case, pointing out that there was only one report against the family in 2014. The Department said that it could not divulge the details but that the report was a “report of improper supervision and inadequate parenting whereby the Cannon children were being exposed to the elements.”

The Ministry maintains that it conducted an intervention in the matter; but did not receive any other reports with respect to the Doehms. The Ministry says that it takes all reports of child abuse seriously, and have consequently taken custody of the Doehms’ three other adopted children. The Department is launching its own child abuse investigation and have referred the children to counseling to assist with the trauma of losing their sister.

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