Tamiyah Audain, a sickly and severely disabled preteen under the care of state child welfare authorities, endured life-ending neglect so severe that it constituted “torture,” police say.
Twelve-year-old Tamiyah was left in the care of a cousin when her mother died of the same devastating disease Tamiyah battled. The relative, Latoya Patterson, was arrested Tuesday on charges of felony murder. An indictment handed up in Broward Circuit Court says Tamiyah died as the result of aggravated child abuse. She faces life imprisonment.
“This child died of apparent deprivational abuse, or torture,” said a sworn statement written by Lauderhill Police Sgt. Atina Johnson. “The caregiver made active steps to isolate her from therapists, who would have intervened in her nutritional and general neglected state.”
Patterson, 33, was one of four women indicted in connection with Tamiyah’s death, which occurred last fall. Also charged was Jabeth Moye, a child welfare caseworker with Broward’s private foster care agency, ChildNet, which operates under contract with the Department of Children & Families. Moye, 34, who was fired by ChildNet last month, is charged with child neglect causing great bodily harm, which carries a maximum penalty of 15 years’ imprisonment.
Also indicted were two professional psychologists, Juliana Gerena, 42, and Helen Richardson, age not immediately available. The two face sentences of five years’ imprisonment on charges of failing to report suspected child abuse or neglect — charges that are filed very rarely across Florida and the United States.
Tamiyah suffered from a neurological condition called tuberous sclerosis, as well as both physical and cognitive disabilities. But a specialist from the University of Miami’s Leonard Miller School of Medicine, neurologist Michael Duchowny, told authorities that Tamiyah most likely was neglected to death. When Tamiyah succumbed on Sept. 25, 2013, she had been ravaged by several deep wounds, including at least one that exposed her bone. Such sores can lead to sepsis, a life-threatening systemic infection.
Tamiyah’s “death was likely caused by sepsis from her wounds and ulcers, the police affidavit said. “It is likely that she died from malnutrition and sepsis, as she had many open wounds and ulcers, and deep ulcers carry a high risk of introducing ...infection into the blood supply.”
“The physical neglect of the decedent and the lack of medical care further suggest that [her] death was preventable,” the statement said.
In the final months of her life, Tamiyah essentially “wasted” away, police said. At the end of 2012, Tamiyah weighed 115 pounds, and was considered somewhat overweight. But in the next few months, she weighed in at 108 pounds in March 2013, 101 pounds the next month, and 98 pounds in May of that year. Doctors did not see Tamiyah again after May, police say, and she weighed 56 pounds when her body was found the following September.
“There are characteristics of this case,” Johnson wrote, “that are described in the definition of child torture.”