Crime - Sacto 911

Sacramento region has had numerous child-torture cases

Adrian Conway, 3, was killed by his mother in 1996.
Adrian Conway, 3, was killed by his mother in 1996. Sacramento Bee file

The child torture and death case discovered in the north state this month is the latest of numerous cases involving allegations of child torture. These are some Sacramento-area cases in which caregivers were accused of torturing children:

Unidentified girl

Age: 12

The case: The girl’s torture began when her father was incarcerated and left her in the care of his fiancée, Duewa Abeana Lee, in 2011. Over the course of months, the girl was whipped with an electrical cord, burned with an iron, stapled in an ear, thrown down stairs and kicked in the stomach. The girl escaped when Lee took her with her to a Department of Motor Vehicles office in Sacramento and, while Lee was turned away from her, the girl begged “please, please help me” to a worker there. Lee was sentenced to life in prison.

Braeden Gardner

Age: 5

Died: June 17, 2009

The case: The boy was whipped, burned, beaten and tortured to death by his mother’s unemployed live-in boyfriend, Eduardo Zamora Jr. Zamora was convicted and sentenced this year to 32 years to life in prison. Braeden’s mother, Amber Ingram, was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to 15 years to life.

Lilly Manning

Age: 15

Child status: Escaped torture and abuse Oct. 31, 2007.

The case: The teenager escaped from a locked closet in south Sacramento after suffering months of torture and abuse, including burnings and beatings with a hammer, 2-by-4 and steel-toed boot. Her great-aunt, also named Lillian Manning, was sentenced in July to consecutive life terms. The woman’s husband, Joseph Horvath, was convicted in 2009 and also sentenced to multiple life terms.

Christopher Cejas

Age: 12

Died: Aug. 21, 2002

The case: The boy, who had more than 74 wounds, was starved, beaten and tortured to death in his father’s and stepmother’s apartment on Watt Avenue. The dad, Andrew Anthony Cejas, a registered sex offender, was convicted in April 2006 of first-degree murder and sentenced to 75 years to life under the “three strikes” law. Stepmother Kathryn Potter received a term of 15 years to life.

Rebecca Meza

Age: 2

Died: April 28, 1997

The case: Punished for soiling her pants, the little girl was held under ice-cube-filled bath water until she lost consciousness and later died. Police said the five children in the apartment lived like prisoners. One slept in a closet, another in a bathtub. The mother’s drug-using, live-in boyfriend, Joseph Carlos Engle, was sentenced in January 2000 to 35 years to life in prison. The girl’s drug-addicted mother, Tracy Elizabeth Kaufman, was sentenced to 72 years in prison.

Adrian Conway

Age: 3

Died: Jan. 26, 1996

The case: The boy was beaten, burned, bound, tortured and starved to death by his angry, drug-abusing mother in a case that shocked the community and forced Sacramento County Child Protective Services to radically change its policies. The mother, Tammy Holycross, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and torture and was sentenced to 23 years, four months in prison.

‘Kyle Doe’

Age: 16

Child’s status: Escaped torture and abuse Dec. 1, 2008.

The case: The teenager escaped from a couple’s home in Tracy and ran into a health club, emaciated and bleeding and chained at the ankle. He described how he had been shackled, beaten, burned and held captive for a year. Four adults were sent to prison on numerous felony charges, including torture. They are Michael Schumacher, his wife, Kelly Lau, friend Caren Ramirez and the couple’s neighbor, Anthony Vincent Walters. Sacramento CPS paid out $4 million earlier this year to settle a lawsuit in the case that alleged workers ignored warning signs.

Unidentified girl

Age: 7

Child’s status: Survived torture by father, who was arrested in October 2003.

The case: David Trujillo Lopez had temporary custody of his 7-year-old daughter when he was accused of abusing, beating and torturing the girl, yanking her off the ground so violently that her scalp ripped away from her skull. The girl testified he would force her to kneel on a plastic chair mat with the “pokey side up.” Lopez hanged himself in the Sacramento County jail two days after being convicted in April 2005.

Marjie Lundstrom: 916-321-1055, @MarjieLundstrom

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