In September 2015, 3-year-old Mariah and her 5-year-old brother, Jeremyah, were put into foster care with Maria Refugio Moore. Their biological mother has been charged with abuse and neglect.
However, their foster home turned out to be just as dangerous. When Mariah ingested methamphetamine the first time, she was rushed to the hospital after she began “shaking violently and acting strangely.”
She was treated and returned to the same foster home, without any investigation by the Alameda County, California, Social Services, according to ABC 7.
However, when the same incident happened again two weeks later, Mariah did not survive. She overdosed on the methamphetamine rock paramedics found in the children’s room.
Lawyer Darren Kessler said:
“Mariah again consumed methamphetamine in that foster home, leading her to die a horrible painful death in her brother’s arms.”
Kessler is now suing Alameda County and Triad Family Services on behalf of Jeremyah, who is now 7 years old. Kessler told the East Bay Times:
“They don’t have a voice, they don’t have people who will speak out on their behalf. What happens is it’s a system without accountability. The people who are in control of the kids in cases such as this are the ones responsible.”
When Jeremyah went to Moore to complain that his sister was acting strange, neither Moore nor her boyfriend sought medical attention for the girl. According to the lawsuit, Moore claimed Mariah was “acting strange” and “talking to herself.” She was shaking, sweating, and hallucinating. By the time paramedics arrived on the scene, Mariah was dead.
“They were the legal custodians of this child by law. They were the ones in charge by law of the safety of these children at that home. Part of the shocking part of this case is how they ended up both to remain there after this hospitalization two weeks earlier.”
Moore defended herself in an interview with the East Bay Times earlier this week. She said:
“I didn’t have anything to do with it. I was cleared. I was not charged with anything.”
After the death of his sister, Jeremyah was placed with a new family. Foster mom Shannon Villanueva said that the little boy has “good and bad days.” She said:
“When he can’t really take it anymore he’ll have meltdowns and he’ll cry. And he’ll cry until he loses his voice sometimes.”
She added that because death is hard for a child to comprehend, she had to explain why his “sister’s body stopped working”:
“We explained in a little bit more detail and he said, ‘I should have followed her. I should have protected her.'”