Sunday, June 22, 2008


On June 20 Kimberly Emelyantsev, 33, pled guilty to a lowered charge of 2nd degree felony child abuse homicide in the death of her newly adopted Russian son, 14- month old Kolya. Emelyantsev initially told police Kolya fell off a chair, but later admitted that she'd dropped him on the floor--several times--causing his death by blunt force trauma to the head. (skull fracture).

Tooele (Utah) Deputy County Attorney Gary Searle said the amended charges were part of a plea bargain.

“It wasn’t an accident, but the intent to kill the child wasn’t there either.” He promised that details of the case will come out during the sentencing hearing scheduled for August 15.

Charges of child abuse against Emelyantsev and her Russian national husband Fyodor in connection with their 4-year old adopted son Luka were dropped after authorities and the county attorney's office were unable to find enough evidence to prosecute. Fydor, held on bond since his arrest in April, will be released. Luka, and Kimberley's biological children may be returned to the couple later. Luka, like Kolya, has Down Syndrome.

Bailiff Frank Scharmann directs Kimberly Emelyantsev into 3rd District Court Friday. Emelyantsev pled guilty to second-degree felony child abuse homicide in the death of her 14-month-old adopted son.
-- photography / Troy Boman--Tooele Transcript Bulletin

UPDATE: The June 23 edition of the Salt Lake City Tribune published a similar report but with the following addition:

"The woman dropped the child on March 6 "out of pure frustration," Searle said, who added that the child was "fussy," and "a lot of things were gon on in home involving the child and the family."

Friday, June 20, 2008


(Originally published June 3, 2008)

Today's Pravda (June 2, 2008) has an update on the case of murdered Russian adoptee, Viktor Matthey, born Viktor Sergievich Tulimov and adopted from the Amur Region of Siberia. As you may recall, in 2000, 7-year old Viktor, who had been in the US for 10 months, died of cardiac arrest due to hypothermia after adoptive parents Robert and Brenda Matthey, whose history of child abuse was revealed during their trial, locked him overnight in a damp unheated pump room. He also suffered over 40 cuts, scrapes, bruises and untreated fractures. Robert Matthey admitted beating Viktor with an aluminum baseball bat, a belt, 2 whips, and his open hand.

Though there is not much new information in the article, we learn that Viktor's paternal adoptive grandmother, Phyllis Matthey-Johnson, who testified against her son and daughter-in law in court, has finally been allowed to adopt Viktor's twin brothers Volodya and Zhenya, now 12, first adopted by Mattheys. A Catholic, Matthey-Johnson, according to the article, denounced her born again Pentecostal son saying she "could not understand people who combine faith with whips." The article says that the Matthey's four biological sons (some now adults) were put under the guardianship of the family's Pentecostal pastor, KM Szicrek.

No word if anybody checked up on them. According to Pravda, the four children "hate" their grandmother. There is no indication in other articles, however, that this is the case, especially since the older ones testified to the abusive treatment Viktor and his brothers underwent at the hands of the Mattheys.

For more information on Viktor and other murdered Russian adoptees go to Forever Family, Forever Dead linked above under Vitya's name. Of special interest is The Short Life of Viktor Matthey linked under his segment in that blog. Also check the sidebar to the right under "dead Russian adoptees" for comments on other Russian cases.

Nikto ne zabyt - Nichto ne zabyto

Thursday, June 19, 2008


(Originally published April 19, 2008)

Recently Peggy Sue Hilt was featured in the WE documentary Women Behind Bars. Hilt was convicted of 2nd degree murder in the beating death of her Forever Russian Adoptee, Nina, born Viktoria Bazhenova. Vika was 2 1/2 years old when she died on July 2, 2005. She was adopted from a Siberian orphanage about 6 months earlier. We do not know who conducted the home study, but Vika was placed with the Hilts by Adoptions International in Dallas, Tx. owned by adoption attorney Jody Hall. The agency refers to adoption as "the best experience of your life."

After Viktoria's murder, the couple's older Forever Adoptee, Nataliya Oksana, (born Olga, last name unknown) adopted from Ukraine through an independent adoption handled by Cathy Harris, was placed in protective custody with an adoptive aunt. Last we heard, Hilt's husband Christopher, who was not implicated in the murder, was divorcing his wife and seeking permanent custody of Nataliya. Peggy Sue Hilt was sentenced to 35 years in prison (with 10 years suspended and another 5 years of post-release probation). Her projected release date is 2022.

The following is taken from the WE website. It is an account by First Sergeant John Buttner, Sup. of the Crimes Against Children Unit of the Wake Forest Police Department. WARNING: graphic testimony follows:

As we carefully entered Nina's [victim] bedroom there were noticeable small fluid stains on the floor in the middle of the room. Along with the stains were numerous strands of hair. More than should ever be in one small area. Upon looking into the bed there was a considerable amount of what appeared to be blood stains on the pillow. For the first time I truly realized just how severe the assault was on the victim who wasn't even 3 years old yet. For a brief moment, I was caught up with images in my mind of what went on there just a few days before. I then had to clear my mind from the troubling images and focus again on what we were there for. We even found blood in the other daughter's bed on a pillow where Nina was placed by Peggy when she wouldn't go to sleep in her bed.

According to Prosecutor Paul Ebert as reported in the Raleigh News-Observer

This child had numerous bruises and at least one laceration and internal injury... It took a long time to kill this child.

This is the woman who murdered Viktoria
Bazhenova aka Nina Hilt. Before and After:

And another Before and After picture. The Hilts look like they're auditioning for a community theatre production of Grease. (Thanks to E Case for the "glamor shot" heads up.) The Hilt Family webpage is here.

According to defense attorney, William Stephens. Peggy Sue Hilt is a closet alcoholic who started drinking when she was 12 but never sought help for her problems.

Yet she passed two home studies and was seen fit by the adoption industry to adopt other people's children.

Updated 22 April 2008, 11:37 AM.

Nikto ne zabyt - Nichto ne zabyto


(Originally published April 18, 2008)

Yesterday Samual and Donna Merryman were sentenced to 22 years each in the death of their Forever Russian Adoptee Dennis. Dennis, born Dennis Yuritsky was adopted in 2000 from an orphanage in Perm. The adoption agency is not known. Dennis, 8, died on January 22, 2005 of cardiac arrest brought on by starvation. The Merrymans claimed that Dennis's condition was caused by cystic fibrosis. The couple are self-described born again Christians. They were home schoolers and also taught Sunday School.

Since it will go away soon, I'm including today's Baltimore Sun article on the sentencing hearing at the bottom of this entry.

Notable excerpts from the article (if you can stomach it):

(1) "All you need to do is look at the autopsy photos of Dennis," Harford County Circuit Judge Emory A. Plitt said. "It has a striking resemblance to the bodies from the German concentration camps."

(2) Two older siblings described how Dennis spent nights in an unheated room, strapped to a crib without a mattress to cushion him. His hands were tied behind his back with an elastic band, and bells were attached to his body so his parents could hear him when he moved, the siblings testified.

They said Dennis was fed a puree of yogurt and asparagus as punishment for misbehaving.

(3) "The heinousness goes further," Adkins-Tobin said. "They involved other children in it. Not only did they require them to take part in the abuse [by tying up their brother], but they made them play a role in the cover-up. Dennis, by dying, saved the rest of the children."

(4) Their former pastor, the Rev. John A. Dekker, said, "They're not criminals. They tried to do certain things for Dennis and it backfired. The judge had no sympathy."

With all due respect Rev Dekker and the Merryman's deep faithed neighbors (and I have never said this on the Daily Bastardette ever), Fuck You! Why, should the judge or any of us have sympathy for your friends the Merrymans? They starved and tortured a little boy.The killed an 8-year old child. They involved their other children in the torture, murder, and cover-up. If they aren't criminals what are they?

I don't like giving Forever Family killers recognition and hesitate to post pictures of them. But I also think it's important to see the faces of those who kill defenseless children, so I'm posting their pictures here. We can only hope they get a very special welcome from their nice new less deeply faithed neighbors in the slammer.

Dennis Merryman and his Forever Family:

Franklin Baptist Church: They're not criminals. They tried to do certain things for Dennis and it backfired:

I have updated Forever Family, Forever Dead to reflect the sentencing.

Nikto ne zabyt - Nichto ne zabyto

BALTIMORE SUN, April 17, 2008

Prison For Child's Death
22 years for couple; son, 8, starved

By Madison Park | Sun Reporter
April 18, 2008

For parts of three days, friends and neighbors came to court to describe Samuel and Donna Merryman as giving and loving parents. Most said they could hardly believe that the Harford County couple could be responsible for the death of an 8-year-old son.

But yesterday, prosecutors said that two of the couple's other children provided a look inside the family home in Whiteford -- where, they said, their brother was bound, strapped to a crib and deprived of solid food.

And then a judge sentenced the parents to 22 years in prison each. They had, the judge said, starved young Dennis Gene Merryman to death.

"All you need to do is look at the autopsy photos of Dennis," Harford County Circuit Judge Emory A. Plitt said. "It has a striking resemblance to the bodies from the German concentration camps."

Dennis died in January 2005. Photos taken the day he died showed an emaciated 37-pound body.

Two older siblings described how Dennis spent nights in an unheated room, strapped to a crib without a mattress to cushion him. His hands were tied behind his back with an elastic band, and bells were attached to his body so his parents could hear him when he moved, the siblings testified.

They said Dennis was fed a puree of yogurt and asparagus as punishment for misbehaving.

In a stumbling voice, Donna Merryman, 45, gave a statement before she was sentenced, accepting responsibility for the death of the boy that the couple had adopted from Russia in 2000. She said she and her husband discovered that the boy had what they called frightening behavioral issues.

"It's not the children's fault," she said. "We bit off more than we could handle, which is our fault -- not Dennis'."

The Merrymans adopted four siblings from Russia and brought them to their Harford County farm. The children, along with the Merrymans' three biological children, are now in foster care.

"In hindsight, we were the problem, not Dennis," Donna Merryman said. "We accept responsibility and ask forgiveness from our God and our children."

When the judge handed down the sentence for the couple, Donna and Samuel Merryman, 40, were not emotional, although others in the courtroom started weeping. Instead, the Merrymans conferred with their defense attorneys and then were led away in handcuffs.

During the three-day sentencing hearing, friends and neighbors packed the court, often hugging the Merrymans and speaking of their deep faith. In response to the characterizations, Harford County Assistant State's Attorney Diane Adkins-Tobin displayed an autopsy photograph of a skeletal child. Dennis' jawbones and cheekbones jutted from his face, and his ribs protruded from his frail body.

Adkins-Tobin repeatedly asked the character witnesses how anyone could describe parents who so knowingly abused their child as kind and loving.

"The heinousness goes further," Adkins-Tobin said. "They involved other children in it. Not only did they require them to take part in the abuse [by tying up their brother], but they made them play a role in the cover-up. Dennis, by dying, saved the rest of the children."

One of the Merrymans' attorneys, Andrew Alperstein, said grief and the destruction of their family had already punished them.

"Any objective person can see Dennis was in bad physical shape," Alperstein said. "The Merrymans did not set out to kill this child."

Craig Kadish, another defense attorney, said the couple has not yet decided whether to appeal the sentencing. They had pleaded guilty to first-degree child abuse resulting in death, and had charges of second-degree murder and four counts of child abuse dropped.

Prosecutors had asked the judge for the maximum 30-year sentence. But Plitt handed down 22 years, with credit given for the last three years that the Merrymans have been under house arrest.

"I have no sympathy for them at all," said Adkins-Tobin. "They had no sympathy for Dennis. They were cruel and inhuman."

The family's supporters sobbed and formed a prayer circle inside the courtroom after the Merrymans were taken away.

Their former pastor, the Rev. John A. Dekker, said, "They're not criminals. They tried to do certain things for Dennis and it backfired. The judge had no sympathy."

Before announcing his sentence, Plitt read a statement from one of the Merrymans' daughters.

"Children are not made to be abused. My parents ruined and shamed so many lives. ... Dennis deserved to live, not die."

Updated 22 April 2008 12:40 pm
Video captures takn from WJZ-TV


(Originally published April 10, 2008)

A little over 2 1/2 years ago I wrote Forever Family, Forever Dead, about the 12 Russian adoptees murdered by their forever families in the US. Since then the entry has received thousands of hits including those from the US Senate, House, federal courts, and the media.
Tragically, we have a 13th death to add to the list: Nicoli Emelyantsev,14 months old. Kolya died on March 7 of a fractured skull caused by blunt force trauma. Kolya had Down Syndrome.

Kolya had been voluntarily relinquished by his parents in hope of a better life in the US. His mother visited him weekly until his departure to the US and had wanted to stay in contact with his new family. Kolya's adoptive mother, Kimberly Emelyantsev has been charged with 1st degree felony murder and is being held on $500,000 cash bond. His adoptive father, Fyodor Emelyantsev, a Russian citizen, is under investigation for child abuse and neglect after doctors determined another son, Luka, 4, adopted from Russia in December 2007, was suffering from malnutrition and dehydration. Luka also has Down Syndrome. Emelyantsev also has a 10-year old daughter with Down Syndrome and is trained in handling disabled persons. He works as an RN in a Tooele, Utah-area nursing home.

Kolya was adopted in February 11. (scroll down) He didn't even last a month.

I have added Kolya to Forever Family Forever Dead and updated several other cases. The wrist smacking that forever family killers generally get is alarming.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


(Originally posted February 15, 2008)


Jamie Marsh has just blown the door off the whole JCICS/NCFA/FOA outhouse with his new blog Focus on Adoption: A Rogues Gallery. If you're looking for a handy guide to adoption corruption that even boggles my mind, this is it. The war is on!

There are a few new names here for me, so I know many of you won't be familiar with all the players either. But don't let that hold you back. There is much to read, re-read and re-re-read , digest, and read some more (including plenty of links and documentation): mendacity, incestuous agency and personnel relationships, RICO, corruption, lies. It's better than Days of Our Lives. If ever there is reason to gut Adoption American Style, this is it. After reading Rogues Gallery you'll never have to wonder again why they want records sealed.

Mr. DiFilipo, Mr Atwood and the gang at Focus on Adoption are gonna wake up Friday morning with Headache Number 2008. And no amount of Excedrin will blot it out.

I wonder how they'll to spin it.


(Originally published February 14, 2008)

According to Masha Allen's last counsel of record, James Marsh, ChildPromise, formerly known as Reaching Out Thru International Adoption (ROTIA), the agency most responsible for placing Masha with pedophile predator Matthew Mancuso has gone out of business. No reason given. (ChildLaw, Cambria County Casualty. Also see Marsh's related blog, Children for Sale--Guatemala Pedo-Paradise)

As Marsh reminds us, none but Mancuso have been brought to justice, legally or morally--or even received a slap on the snout, for their parts in Masha's tragedy.

Jeannene Smith, coordinator of Masha's adoption at ROTIA, which was not licensed to operate in New Jersey at the time of the adoption, has walked away clean as the Virgin Mary, despite attempting to "mislead" the FBI and the US Congress about her role in the placement and lying to New Jersey officials and destroying documents during that state's investigation. So brazen is Smith, now treasurer of the self-created international adoption lobby, Focus on Adoption, that last October she waltzed right in to the Adoption Ethics and Accountability Conference Future of Guatemalan Adoptions panel Q&A to advocate "concurrent planning" (local/domestic and international placement) without worrying about "cultural barriers," to get children "released as quickly as possible." Translation: keep the product moving north. Smith, who is insane, sociopathic, or wears Dick Cheney-size balls, didn't miss a beat, even when booed heartily by Elizabeth Case.

Apparently, Smith, who is not a licensed social worker, felt she was in safe territory at the ethics conference since her old friend and current director of the Joint Council for International Children's Services, Tom De Filipo, sat on the Guatemalan concerns panel. Smith, formerly served as treasurer of JCICS. She was also a member of the JCICS Cambodian Caucus and served on its Hague and Ethics Committees. (Smith bio) How someone with no known background in social work and child welfare, whose only claim to adoption expertise is being an adopter, reached these heights is indeed a ponderous question. It reflects the Do It Yourself world of Adoption American Style where anyone with a little bit of finangling, a larcenous heart, and an inflated ego can hang up a shingle and declare themselves an "adoption professional."

Certainly Jeannene Smith is not the only guilty actor in Masha's case. But she's a good place to start. Pennsylvania and New Jersey officials vowed to bring justice to Masha, but for them it's out sight, out of mind. Masha's opportunity for legal redress fades more each day Under New Jersey law, Smith, the unlicensed baby broker can be sent to jail for 5-10 years and fined $150,000 for operating there without state approval. Of course, the day that happens is the day cows fly over Trenton. Or when adoption is stripped of its child saving sanctification and the rot exposed.

Should Masha have to wait that long?

You can hear Smith's ethics conference Q&A session on CD (order here). For reports on Smith, especially her one-woman conference show read David Kruchkow's account on Adoption Agency Check List (including his highly informative Sidebar: Why Jeannene Smith should be banned from having anything to do with adoption and children, about 3/4 down the page), Jennifer Hemsley's comments on Great Wall of China Nightmare (CHEW), and of course, Marsh's ChildLaw blog. These resources as well as Fleas Biting and Beware of BBAS which also report on corrupt international adoption practices are all linked on Bastardette's Blog Roll.

If you can stomach it, read the transcript of the September 27, 2006 Congressional hearing at which pimpette Smith attempted, unsuccessfully, to "distance" herself from the whole mess. I intended to post some quotes from it, but, so much adoptabullshit, so little bandwidth. Here is a sample though (page 49):

MR. FERGUSON:... Ms Smith, let me ask you a simple question first. This is an easy yes or no. Were you and your agency the adoption agency responsible for the adoption of Masha? Yes or no? It is real easy.

MS SMITH: I think we all were.

MR. FERGUSON: That is a remarkable answer. I think that would probably catch a lot of people by surprise. I think perhaps some of us in this room were more responsible than others. Is the answer to that--legally, were you the responsible adoption agency for this adoption? Did you place her with Mr. Mancuso?

MS SMITH: I think we had a role in it, yes. I don't know who, ultimately.


(Originally published December 6, 2007)

I have been aware for some time now that only part of Masha Allen's story has been made public. The tip of the iceberg as they like to say. Today, more of that iceberg surfaced with revelations, Child Exploitation Cracks in the Floor, written by Masha’s 's advocate James Marsh and published in his ChildLaw blog.

Masha's story, of course, is not an isolated incident. It is emblematic of the systemic rot that permeates the international and domestic adoption industry. Masha and innumerable victims of child trafficking via adoption are the product of an official government and trade conspiracy of silence, greed, and self-promotion and protection fancied up in terms of “privacy,” “confidentiality,” and “child’s best interest,” to cover their own a$$e$. (Where have we heard that before?)

Like the Catholic Church, these government and private agencies and their individuals protect their businesses, cover-up the misdeeds of their colleagues, and do nothing to prevent further abuse outside of an occasional tongue clucking or finger wagging. Mostly, they attempt to shut up the victim. When the victim refuses to obey, she (or her advocates) are accused of harming the institution of adoption, so fragile, that without secrets and fiduciary non-accountability, it will crumble like the twin towers. (Maybe they ARE on to something!)

The industry's response to Masha, inflated by a pap fear frenzy, fanned by the industry itself, that their own bundles of Russian joy would be held up due to Masha's unfortunate appearance on Primetime two years ago was predictable.

This is taken from my November 29, 2005 blog,
Masha Speaks:

"....adoption agencies and industrialists, with or without the support of NCFA, circulated a "save the orphans" plea on Internet adoption lists and forums panicking paps and adopters to "bombard" ABC with notes of disgust and rage over Masha's "negative adoption story." Here is part of the whine taken from the A Helping Hand Adoption Agency (link no longer good)

Negative Adoption Show to air on Primetime, ABC- Orphans need your help:

November 14, 2005

....We understand that this is going to be very negative - equating international adoption with human trafficking. The National Council for Adoption has insisted that they be interviewed to show the positive side of international adoption.

We would like to see ABC news bombarded with emails from the adoption community letting them know the detrimental effect a one sided story can have not just on Russian adoptions but all international adoptions; thousands of families and children may be harmed by an unbalanced story. We will be very grateful for your support, as will all the children, around the world, who await their forever families....

Former NCFA board member Richard Van Deelan, director of Michigan's Adoption Associates (again edited for space) wrote on his agency page:

As most people in the world of adoption know, right now is an important time for international adoption in Russia. So now could not be a worse time for the U.S. media to portray international adoption in a negative light. ABC news Primetime is scheduled to air a story on November 17 highlighting an adopted Russian girl who was involved in a United States pornography scandal. The tone of this story is very negative and any misleading information about international adoption could cause problems with future adoptions. The crime this little girl was forced to endure is deplorable, but it must be known that the vast majority of adoptions are completed by loving, caring families. This story could cast a very bad light on international adoption and all the good that has been done for thousands of children worldwide...

Since then, the adoptacrats have tossed Masha into the dustbin of history. An unfortunate "anomaly" in the otherwise happyland of international adoption.

What they couldn't shut up, they ignored. From today's Child Exploitation Cracks in the Floor:

Certainly not the National Council for Adoption which has powerful con$tituencie$ to protect. Immediately after last year's Congressional hearing on Masha Allen's international adoption, I asked the representatives of NCFA who were present to issue a statement in support of Masha and other victims like her. Not surprisingly, over a year later, NCFA has failed to utter one word on this topic.

Then there is the Joint Council on International Children’s Services which was also well-represented at the Congressional hearing. When I filed a formal complaint against the international adoption agency that arranged Masha's adoption, JCICS allowed Reaching Out Thru International Adoption to quickly and quietly resign instead of facing investigation. ROTIA recently changed their name to ChildPromise, Inc. and rejoined JCICS less then six months after my complaint was dismissed. So much for peer oversight.

Jeannene Smith, who Committee Chairman Ed Whitfiled said played a "central role in Mancuso’s adoption of Masha," continues her work in the international adoption field as treasurer of the reform group Focus on Adoption. She continued working at ROTIA even after the Congressional panel called for her to be jailed, brazenly attending the Ethica / Evan B Donaldson Ethics and Accountability conference in October where she was booed once by one person, but otherwise allowed to enjoy the regalement unmolested.

Smith's Congressman, Mike Ferguson, summed up Masha's - and many other child victim's - life best when he intoned that "what is even more frightening, however, is the number of times that her situation was overlooked. . . . No one called to speak to her, no one made sure she was getting along with her new father, no one seemed to really care if she was being taken care of at all."

When will somebody start to take care of Masha?

When will the adoption industry and its friends in high places be held accountable?

Masha's story will continue.

There are many links to Masha’s story on ChildLaw.

Also see my own work:

Masha Speaks: The Adoption Industry Bunkers In: Disney World Girl and the Shame of Complicity - November 29, 2005.

It's All About Me: A PAP Response to Masha - December 14, 2005

Masha Update - January 17, 2006

Masha Testifies Before Congress: "No one from any of the adoption agencies ever came to check on me." - May 10, 2006

Go to Baby Love Child for more commentary on Masha.


(Originally published May 10, 2006)

Last week Masha Allen testified before the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations about her abuse at the hands of the US adoption industry and her adoptive father Matthew Mancuso. Her submitted testimony is below.

To read more about Masha and her case go to Bastardette's Masha postings here ,here, and here. These blogs also contain numerous links for further research.

Testimony submitted by
Masha Allen
to the
House Energy and Commerce Committee
Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations
Oversight Hearing on Child Pornography on the Internet
May 3, 2006
Washington, DC

My name is Masha Allen. I am 13 years old and live near Atlanta, Georgia with my mother, Faith Allen. When I was five years old Matthew Mancuso, a Pittsburgh businessman who was a pedophile, adopted me. I was rescued almost three years ago when the FBI raided his home in a child pornography sting. After I was rescued I learned that during the five years I lived with Matthew he took hundreds of pornographic pictures of me and traded them over the Internet. Thank you for conducting this hearing. Also, thank you for letting me have Nancy Grace here. Nancy is really special to my family and me. She has been an advocate for me and lots of other kids. The Internet is everywhere in my story. You need to do something about it right away.

I was born on August 25, 1992 in Novochakhtinsk, Russia. For the first three years of my life I lived at home with my mother and siblings. My mother was an alcoholic. When I was three years old she tried to kill me. She stabbed me in the neck and I almost died. The government took me away from her and I went to live in an orphanage near my family’s home in Russia.

Living in the orphanage was scary and dangerous. There was constant noise and the older children abused the younger ones. I was afraid all the time. I kept all of my belongings under my pillow because I was afraid they would be stolen. After living in the orphanage for two years I found out that I was going to be adopted.

Matthew visited the orphanage a couple of times. He seemed nice. He gave me presents. I asked him if he was married and if I would have a mother but he said no. He adopted me in Russia in July 1998. After that we left Russia and traveled to his house outside of Pittsburgh. The abuse started the night I got there.

Matthew didn’t have a bedroom for me. He made me sleep in his bed from the very beginning. He molested me all the time. He made me dress up in adult’s clothes and even pretended to marry me. Sometimes he kept me chained in the basement. Because he didn’t want me to grow up, he only let me eat a little bit of food – plain pasta, raw vegetables, no meat. Five years after I went to live with him I had only gained a little bit of weight. When I was rescued I was 10 years old but I only wore a size 6X.

Matthew let me go to school and sometimes play with friends. But he told me if I ever told anyone what was happening that something bad would happen to me. Even though I was the size of a five year old when I was ten, no one at my school ever said anything to anyone. No one from the adoption agency ever came to check on me to make sure I was OK. I never told anyone about the abuse because I was afraid and I thought no one cared.

A lot of people ask me how any could let a pedophile adopt a little girl. I didn’t know very much about my adoption until my lawyer investigated everything. Now I know there were three adoption agencies involved in my adoption by Matthew. The first was Families Thru International Adoption in Indiana. I think Matthew found them on the Internet. He went to an office they had in New Jersey. The state of New Jersey found out that they were operating without a license and closed them down. The same people who worked for that agency just started a new agency in the same office in New Jersey that they called Reaching Out Thru International Adoption.

The two agencies are fighting over who was really responsible for Matthew adopting me. But the name of Families Thru International Adoption is on the home study, the immigration paperwork and the Russian government documents. I think Matthew also paid Families Thru International Adoption. Reaching Out Thru International Adoption was really just the same agency and the same people with a different name. A third agency did Matthew’s home study to adopt me. They were in Pittsburgh and were called the Family Health Council. But they just changed their name too, to Adagio Health.

I found out after I was safe that none of these agencies asked Matthew many questions. They never really checked him out. They showed him pictures of me, probably on the Internet, before he had a home study to adopt me. In some of the pictures they showed him of me from the orphanage I was naked. He told them he was divorced and had a daughter that he wasn’t close to. I found out later that the reason his daughter didn’t talk to him is that he molested her too. While I lived with Matthew no one from any of the adoption agencies ever came to check on me even though the Russian government requires it. Since my story came out we found out that two other kids – a boy from Romania and a girl from Russia – were adopted by pedophiles too. Just so you’ll know, fourteen other Russian kids have actually been murdered by their adoptive parents in America. I’m sure there are other kids in trouble. But no one seems to care about any of this. When I told my story in public for the first time all the adoption agencies, not just Matthew’s tried to cover up my story.

I lived with Matthew for five years. The whole time he starved and molested me. The whole time he took a lot of pictures of me. I didn’t know until later that he was putting my pictures on the Internet to trade and maybe sell to other pedophiles. I was rescued when the FBI discovered that Matthew had a lot of child pornography on his computer. They came to raid his house. They didn’t know I would be there.

When the FBI arrested Matthew I was taken to the hospital, examined and then put in foster care. My foster mother was Faith Allen. She understood what I was going through because she was sexually abused when she was little. She was a foster child in Georgia when she was growing up. As soon as I went to live with her I felt safe. She adopted me on May 14, 2004.

Matthew was prosecuted by the US Attorney’s office in Pittsburgh and on September 25, 2003 he was convicted on child pornography charges for all the pictures he had on his computer. He was only sentenced to fifteen years in prison for that. I was afraid he would get out of jail too soon. He was convicted again in Pennsylvania state court on August 23, 2005 of eleven criminal acts for some of the things he did to me. He was sentenced last November to 35 years in prison. I was really upset that he didn’t receive a harder sentence. I was even more upset that he was sent to a hospital in Massachusetts so he could be rehabilitated. A person like Matthew can never be rehabilitated. Plus in this hospital prison he has free health care, free mental health services and he can read magazines, play ping-pong and have hobbies. No one cared about rehabilitating me. I just lost my Medicaid and my mom has to work double hard to pay for the things I need while Matthew lays around the hospital playing games.

I was really mad that Matthew didn’t get harder sentences and that he went to an easy prison. But I got much more upset when I found out about the pictures of me that he put on the Internet. I had no idea he had done that. When I found out about it I asked our lawyer to get them back. He told me we couldn’t do that. Then I found out that they would be there forever. That’s when I got mad and decided to go public with my story.

Usually, when a kid is hurt and the abuser goes to prison, the abuse is over. But because Matthew put my pictures on the Internet the abuse is still going on. Anyone can see them. People are still downloading them – we get notices from the FBI every time someone is arrested for it. I want every single one of them to go to jail and really be punished. But that’s a problem too.

I found out last summer that if someone downloads a song off the Internet the penalty is three times worse than if someone downs child pornography. I couldn’t believe it! How can this be? That’s when I decided that we had to change the laws about downloading child porn. Senator Kerry and Senator Isakson and Congressman Gingery and Congressman Tierney introduced bills in Congress that make the penalty the same as downloading songs. That was a few months ago. There hasn’t been a vote on it. I want every single member of Congress to sponsor these bills and I want the Congress to pass them right away.

There are a lot of cases of people who downloaded my pictures and I want every single one of them to be punished as much as possible. There might be more pictures of me on the Internet than any other real child. The police told my lawyer that a lot of child pornographers – more than half even – have my picture on their computers. And there are a lot of other kids like me too. The people who are doing this should be afraid. We know who they are. A lot of the people downloading these pictures are professionals. They are doctors and teachers and ministers. We’re going to put THEIR pictures on the Internet and tell people what they are doing. People stopped downloading songs when they found out they could be sued. We’re going to sue these guys too – every single one we find out about. I want to tell them, “You’re not doing this in secret anymore. Everyone can find out who you are!”

I’m more upset about the pictures on the Internet than I am about what Matthew did to me physically. A lot of people are surprised that I wanted to go public with my story. But I’ve been on the Internet since I was five years old. Going on a television show wasn’t going to hurt me. I did it because I didn’t think anyone was doing enough about the things that happened to me and to a lot of other kids. Talking to John Quinones and Nancy Grace has helped me. They were my champions. I feel in charge of my story because of them. I know they will help me to help other kids like me. People need to know about this stuff. The adults who let this happen have just tried to cover it up.

You have to do something about the Internet. Matthew found the adoption agency on the Internet. They let him look at my pictures from Russia on the Internet even though they didn’t really know anything about him. Other kids have been adopted by pedophiles the same way. Matthew put my pictures on the Internet after he got me. People are still downloading them even though he has been in prison for two years. We don’t even know whether he still makes money for them even though he’s in jail. Even now that I’m safe the Internet is still a dangerous place for me to go. The police detective who found Matthew’s house for the FBI said I should never go to chat rooms even for fun things because they almost always have predators.

Ten years ago I was a scared little girl in a Russian orphanage. For five years I was held hostage by a monster. But in the last two years a lot of amazing things have happened. John Quinones and Nancy listened to me and told my story to the whole world. I called my Congressman, Dr. Gingery, who didn’t even know me. He introduced a bill in Congress right away to help me and other kids like me. Because of all these things, I believe I can do something for other kids so they don’t have to go through what I did.

Some people say we can’t control what’s on the Internet but that’s ridiculous. If we can put a man on the moon, we can make the Internet safe for kids. That’s just common sense. I’m going to work hard to protect other kids and make sure people who hurt them are punished. I hope you will help me. You can start by passing Masha’s Law right away! That would be a good start!

Witness contact information:

James Marsh, Esquire
Marsh, Menken and Weingarden, PLLC
81 Main Street
Suite 305
White Plains, NY 10606


(Originally published January 17, 2006)

On Tuesday, January 17, 2006, Masha will tell her story live on Oprah at 4 PM EST.

On Wednesday, January 18, 2006, her attorney, James R. Marsh, Esq., and advisor, Maureen Flatley, will appear on Nancy Grace on CNN Headline News at 8 PM EST.

On Thursday, January 19, 2006 ABC Primetime will air an update on Masha's story at 10 PM EST.

On Friday, January 20, 2006, the Oxygen network will air Oprah After the Show.

Learn more about Masha's story at 7 PM EST. For further details contact Marsh & Gaughran LLP at or visit Masha's Story

Old news but still relevant:
December 13, 2005

Today Masha named internationally known child welfare expert Thomas D. Morton, MSW as her envoy to Russia on adoption issues.

Mr. Morton has worked in the field of child welfare for more than thirty years and currently serves as the Executive Director of the Child Welfare Institute, a non-governmental organization dedicated to the improvement of outcomes for children entering the child welfare system in the United States. Prior to his current position he served on the faculties of four American Universities. Since 1994, Mr. Morton has worked collaboratively with Orphanage 19 in Moscow to expand the use of foster family care in Russia and to develop domestic solutions for children in need of alternative families. Following one week after her ground breaking appearance on ABC Primetime, Masha wants the Russian government and people to know that safe and legitimate international adoption must remain an option for the hundreds of thousands of children living in orphanages throughout the former Soviet Union.

Mr. Morton is traveling to Russia next week on a fact-finding mission to gauge Russian concerns about international adoption. He will be carrying a list of preliminary recommendations and a letter from Masha to President Vladimir Putin, the Ministry of Education and Science o fRussia, the State Duma of the Russian Federation and the Ombudsman for Human Rights of the Russian Federation. Mr. Morton will be issuing a report upon his return to the United States in late December

All media and other inquiries relating to this story should be directedto Marsh & Gaughran LLP.

Toll Free

Westchester Financial Center
50 Main Street - Tenth Floor
White Plains, New York

Lawyers Professional Building
61 Smith Avenue
Mount Kisco, New York

Marsh & Gaughran LLP
Masha's Story


(Originally published November 29, 2005)

Holy Who's Your Daddy! Should we be surprised that the National Council for Adoption--or at least its member agencies and adoptocrat friends in high places--have spearheaded a campaign to censor the scheduled December 1 ABC Primetime feature on the Russian adoptee known as "Disney World Girl" who was grossly sexually abused by her "forever father"?

In case you don't remember, in 1998 "Disney World Girl" also identified as "Mea," or "Masha" was adopted from a Russian orphanage at age 5 by wealthy Pittsburgh pedophile Matthew Mancuso for the sole purpose of sexually abusing her and selling pictures on the Internet of his nightly rape rendevous. Mancuso is currently serving a 15 1/2 year federal term for a 2003 conviction of trafficking obscene material on the Internet. On November 14 he was sentenced in Allegheny County Common Pleas court to another to 35-70 years state time on 11 counts: rape of a child, aggravated indecent assault, unlawful contact with a minor, unlawful restraint, incest, corruption of a minor, child endangering, and 2 charges each of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse with a child and indecent assault of a child under age 13.

From the beginining, Masha and her new adoptive mother, identified only as "Faith" refused to roll over. They did the unspeakable: broke out of the politically correct warm and fuzzy adoption cocoon, courageously telling Masha's story to the press and public. They not only demanded justice for Masha (which is perfectly acceptable even in Bizarro AdoptionLand) but to drop the dime on the "adoption professionals" who delivered the girl, directly into Mancuso's hands. Bad adoptee. Bad mom!

Back in 2002 when Masha's story broke, not surprisingly, there was barely a peep out of NCFA and its cronies. Not that anybody thought all this was fine and dandy, of course, but as usual, the industry chose to remain silent after a few perfunctorily sympathetic squawks and hand wrings. The only reference I found to Masha on a search of NCFA's webpage last night is a CNN International's Insights transcript of an interview dated June 8, 2005 with NCFA CEO and president Tom Atwood around the time of the Pavlis case. Atwood, is also quoted in the November 18, 2005 Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reminding us that no matter how horrible this case is, over 49,000 Russian children have been adopted by American families "and this is the only instance like this that we're aware of." (my emphasis). Apparently the Beltway air has fuzzied Mr. Atwood's memory. He forgot to mention the numerous cases of reported physical and sexual abuse against Russian adoptees in the US and the 12 Russian adoptees murdered by their forever parents. (NOTE: The Trib-Post is owned by radical rightwing financier Richard Mellon Scaife whose Scaife Family Foundation handed out $104,000 (free registration/sign-in required for access) in grants to NCFA between (no purpose stated). The foundation is acknowledged for its financial support in NCFA's 2000 coffeetable propaganda centerpiece, NCFA Factbook 3.

It's another story, of course, now that things are getting tight with the Russian Duma which will decide very soon on whether to maintain Russia-US adoption trade or at least restrict it. Bad publicity over Russia-US adoptions needs to be contained and controlled. After all, last year alone, US adopters shelled out $67 million for Russian child acquisition. Sorry, Masha! As I've said hundred times, in AdoptionLand both money AND bullshit talk while we walk. Better to muzzle a 13-year old girl speaking truth to the adoption industry than break the honeypot.

I guess the lobbyists, money grubbers, special interesters, and adoption agents think that Masha should just be grateful Mancuso didn't beat her to death with a wooden spoon, crack her head on the edge of the bath tub, or starve her. Oops my bad! He did starve her! (more about that in a minute).

In 1998 Matthew Mancuso, now 47, a divorced and retired engineer, with a poor relationship with his adult daughter and ex-wife (who reportedly were never interviewed, or even contacted during Mancuso's home study and adoption process), adopted Masha from a Russian orphanage after seeing her in an adoption agency video. She had been placed in the orphanage a year earlier after her alcoholic mother stabbed her in the back of the head (some reports say neck). The first night Daddy and Daughter were safe and secure and alone in their nice suburban Pittsburgh home Daddy told Masha he loved her, then made her sleep naked with him in his bed. For the next four years he raped her nightly in that same bed--except when he took her on yearly trips to Orlando where he raped her Disney World hotel beds.

The monster took pictures of the rapes and sold them on the internet.

The monster forced her to shower with him.

The monster, at the onset of Masha's puberty, to keep her body from developing, and thus remain attractive to him and his pervert Internet friends, starved her. In 2002 when she came to live with Faith, Masha suffered from calcium deficiency because she wasn't allowed milk or other dairy products. She ate plain spaghetti and raw vegetables. She weighed 52 pounds.

The monster did other things so bad that the press could not report them.

Masha never stopped believing that the nightmare would end.

Masha knew that she would never forget what the monster did to her and that someday everyone would know.

Masha probably never suspected, however, that once she escaped from the monster's clutches that she would be re-vicimized by the industry who put her in his clutches to start with.

A couple weeks ago, despite not knowing the intent of Primetime much less the content of the show which was still in production, adoption agencies and industrialists, with or without the support of NCFA, circulated a "save the orphans" plea on Internet adoption lists and forums panicking paps and adopters to "bombard" ABC with notes of disgust and rage over Masha's "negative adoption story." Here is part of the whine taken from the A Helping Hand Adoption Agency site (cut here for space--go to link and scroll down the page for entire message) but duplicated throughout the the 'net:

Negative Adoption Show to air on Primetime, ABC- Orphans need your help:

November 14, 2005

....We understand that this is going to be very negative - equating international adoption with human trafficking. The National Council for Adoption has insisted that they be interviewed to show the positive side of international adoption.

We would like to see ABC news bombarded with emails from the adoption community letting them know the detrimental effect a one sided story can have not just on Russian adoptions but all international adoptions; thousands of families and children may be harmed by an unbalanced story. We will be very grateful for your support, as will all the children, around the world, who await their forever families....

Former NCFA board member Richard Van Deelan, director of Michigan's Adoption Associates (again edited for space) wrote on his agency page:

As most people in the world of adoption know, right now is an important time for international adoption in Russia. So now could not be a worse time for the U.S. media to portray international adoption in a negative light. ABC news Primetime is scheduled to air a story on November 17 highlighting an adopted Russian girl who was involved in a United States pornography scandal. The tone of this story is very negative and any misleading information about international adoption could cause problems with future adoptions. The crime this little girl was forced to endure is deplorable, but it must be known that the vast majority of adoptions are completed by loving, caring families. This story could cast a very bad light on international adoption and all the good that has been done for thousands of children worldwide....

And let's not forget the Russian adoption forums (FRUA, for example, but not limited to it) where, with a few admirable exceptions, any criticism of Russia-US adoption is met with hands-flung-up flop sweat, horror, vilification, insults, deep denial, and quirky paranoia. Posters who know nothing about Masha's case, many desperate for "a child of my own" accept what agencies and their PR flacks feed them, have dismissed posts from adoption reform insiders who actually do know something about it. Some have even personalized the show; complaining the broadcast will insult their Russian-born adopted children--strip them of their dignity-- though they never explain how. Not surprisingly they have implied that the program will reflect poorly on them--and (God forbid!) their agencies. Of course, the forces of greed (adoptive mother Faith's greed to be specific) and network sensationialism have forced Masha into the limelight.. If these well-intentioned know-it-alls bothered to take a few moments to visit their best 'net friend Google they'd know that Masha, an extremely bright, articulate, and aware young woman, has always been vocal about her experience and Mancuso's prosecution--and went to the media herself to get her story into the public consciouosness to hopefully protect other potential victims from the monster's friends and from adoption agency incompetence.

No one says that Russian child welfare, adoption and court authorities do not share the blame for this adoption atrocity. The corrupt lackadaisical Russian system itself must be held to the fire. But that's not the point. This mess was created in the US by co-mingled and incestuous adoption "services" and "professionals" who make millions of dollars a year off the misery and need of others. The attempt on the US side to censor Masha's story and the adoption industry's attempt to cover up the story, however, is the point.

David Conti, reporter for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review names names. This is how the adoption came down.

It started with what's called a "home study," which was completed in 1997 by Nancy Simpronio, then director of the Pittsburgh-based Family Adoption Center.

Mancuso hired the center to do the study, which is required by state law for all adoptions. After interviewing him, seeing his home, checking his tax returns, medical condition and criminal background -- he had no previous arrests -- Simpronio recommended Mancuso be approved.

"Mr. Mancuso is very capable, willing and well-prepared to provide a stable and loving home," she wrote in the home study.

Simpronio left her job several years ago and could not be reached for comment. Rick Baird, the president of Adagio Health, which took over the Family Adoption Center, called Mancuso a "monster" who "figured out how to beat the system." "Everything was done according to state guidelines," Baird said. "He did not exhibit any symptoms of this behavior before."

The adoption was coordinated by a New Jersey woman, Jeannene Smith, who at the time was working with the Indiana-based Families Thru International Adoption.

Keith Wallace, the executive director of that group, said he fired Smith before the adoption was completed in 1998. She in turn formed a group called Reaching Out Thru International Adoption, which Wallace said handled the adoption and was supposed to check on the girl.

Debbie Spivack, the executive director of Smith's group, did not return a call for comment. Smith could not be reached.

You may not know these names, but they are important names. This crew of "adoption professionals" are not amateurs. They are not freelancers. They are not shysters. They are not the corner Mom & Pop Adoption Store.

While there is much more known and much more to say about these "experts," below are documented facts taken from their own sources.

The Family Adoption Center now operated by Adagio Health, had been licensed in Pennsylvania since January 1983. Former director Nancy Simpronio who performed Mancuso's home study has placed at least 200 infants during her professional tenure.

Jeannene Smith who coordinated the adoption out of New Jersey for Families Thru International Adoption, is the treasurer of the international adoption advocacy organization Focus on Adoption. According to her biography published on the Focus page (no date), she is the founder and CEO of Reaching Out Thru International Adoption, "a non-profit humanitarian aid and child placement organization." It states that she has provided testimony and position statements to Congressional leaders and the media on various aspects of international adoption--as well as child trafficking. Smith is a well-known and respected member of the The Joint Council on International Children Services (JCICS), the largest and oldest affiliation of licensed non-profit adoption organizations in the world. Smith, according to the Focus page (no date), is the chair of its Cambodian Caucus, and serves on the JCICS Hague Committee and Ethics Committee. She also served on the the JCICS Hague Regulations Committee and the Advisory Council on Intercountry Adoption (ACIA) Hague committee. In other words, Jeanneane Smith is a serious player in US international adoption trade, practice, and policy. As noted by Conti, she was fired by Family Adoption Center before Masha's adoption was completed, but I have been unable so far to learn the reason for that firing.

Debbie Spivack, Reaching Out's executive director, is the chair of the JCICS Azerbaijan Caucus and the co-chair of the Government Affairs Committee. She was also a member of ACIA and the JCICS Hague Regulations Committee.

Not surprisingly Families Thru International Adoption and Reaching Out Thru International Adoption are accredited members of JCICS.

Is it any wonder that the adoption industry is bunkering in? If this is the "best and brightest" the US international adoption trade has to offer--the professional experts who refused to secure Masha's health, welfare, safety, and happiness as they were professionally and morally mandated to do--then what can we expect from the less lights?

Responsible and honest adoption professionals should welcome such an examination as Masha, Faith, and Primetime offer, but instead, they gather their wagons to protect the holy--and lucrative--institution of adoption against the truth to power courage of a 13-year old girl.

The Cowards of Adoption should be called out, publicly shamed and ridiculed for their attempt to censor the free flow of information (should we be surprised?) and to silence Masha and her mother. We hope that those in the trade who abhor strong-arm attempts to keep the public in ignorance about Masha and other corrupt cases will speak out with us. Or will the US adoption industry show itself as corrupt and as the Catholic Bishops who denied, ignored, abused, bribed, and silenced those thousands who were harmed and sometimes destroyed while under their "protection"?

Send your support of Masha and Primetime Masha who has shown more courage than most of the adoption deform community could muster in 25 years at

Masha is a true Heroine of Adoption!

Primetime Discussion Forum

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


Originally published August 3, 2005

Nobody is forgotten. Nothing is forgotten.
Nikto ne zabyt - Nichto ne zabyto
....Olga Bergolts

Since 1996 more than 15 children adopted from Russia by USians have died at the hands of their Forever Parents.

"Experts" like to say that these kinds of deaths are "rare," yet no other national or ethnic cohort of children placed internationally with US parents have sustained such abuse. The Daily Bastardette will discuss the Russian situation in other posts, but for now, here are the stories of these children who have found their Forever Homes not with loving adoptive parents but in the grave.

DAVID POLREIS, JR,  born Konstantin Shlepkin, age 2, Greeley, Colorado. Died February 9, 1996; beaten and cut over 90% of his body. Adoptive mother Renee Polreis, 42, claimed David beat himself to death with a wooden spoon due to RAD. Husband, David Polreis, Sr. , a vice president of Con-Agra, was out of town at the time of the attack and was not implicated. Renee Polreis was convicted of child abuse resulting in death and sentenced to 18 years in prison. In 2000 her sentence was reduced; she was paroled in 2005 and remains on intensive supervised parole.

David was adopted from Tula; in US 6 months. Home Study: unknown. Adoption Agency: Rainbow House International, Belen, New Mexico. Second adoption for Polreis; first was bi-racial boy.

SELECTED RESOURCES:Denver Westword, October 10, 1996, "Terrible Two"
Denver Westword March 27, 1997, "Psychological War"
Denver Westword, May 22, 1997, "Little Boy Lost"
(cannot link directly. Google for articles)

LOGAN HIGGINBOTHAM , born Ana Puchtnaya, age 3, Shelburne, Vermont. Died November 25, 1998 of massive head injuries. Adoptive mother Laura Higginbotham, 33, claimed Logan fell and hit her head on the floor of an upstairs bedroom. The medical examiner was unable to determine if death was an accident or homicide. Three years later police reopened the case with other medical experts and concluded that Logan's head had been intentionally slammed into a wall. In 2004, Laura Higginbotham pled no contest to a charge of involuntary manslaughter and was sentenced to 1 year in prison. She will remain on parole until her older daughter, Layne also adopted from Russia is 18, According to an unsuccessful lawsuit filed in 2002 to force the state to pay for expert testimony, the combined annual income of Higginbaum and her husband was $72,984 (she grossed $5,264/mo with monthly expenses of $6.725) Higginbotham divorced and remarried. She remains in Shelburne with her new husband, adopted daughter and an infant daughter, presumably biological.

Logan was  born in Smolens , Amur region. Adopted from Smolensk; in US 7 months. Home Study: unknown. Adoption Agency: European Adoption Consultants, Strongsville, Ohio.

VIKTOR MATTHEY, born Viktor Sergeivich Tulimov age 6, Hunterdon County, New Jersey. Died October 31, 2000 of cardiac arrest due to hypothermia after adoptive parents Robert and Brenda Matthey locked him overnight in a damp unheated pump room; also suffered over 40 cuts, scrapes, bruises and untreated fractures. Robert Matthey admitted beating Viktor with an aluminum baseball bat, a belt, 2 whips, and his open hand. Jury acquitted the couple on evidence tampering charges; deadlocked on manslaughter charges, but convicted them of lesser abuse charges. Both sentenced concurrently to 10 years in prison for confining Viktor to the pump room, 10 years for inflicting excessive corporal punishment and 7 years for failing to provide medical care. The Mattheys have 4 biological sons. Viktor was adopted with his younger twin brothers, now in the process of being adopted by Robert Matthey's mother who testified against the couple at their trial. Robert Matthey was a $25,000/yr auto mechanic; his wife was a stay-at-home mom and home schooler.
The couplewere scheduled for retrial on manslaughter charges, though I haven't seen further news on that. They were both parolled in November 2008.

Viktor was  born in Busse Chobodnesky,  Amur Region; 
adopted from Amur Region, Siberia; in US 10 months. Home Study and Post-Adoption Follow-up: Hawthorne, New Jersey Bethany Christian Services, social worker: Lori Phelan. Adoption Agency: Adoption Alliance, Denver, Colorado.

SELECTED RESOURCES:Newark Star-Ledger, October 28, 2001, "The Short Life of Viktor Alexander Matthey"
Newark Star Ledger, May 10, 2007, "Mattheys sentenced to 4 years for Viktor's death"
Viktor's Hope

LUKE EVANS,  born Sergei  Nakonechniy, age 1.5, Lowell, Indiana. Died November 30, 2001 of massive head injuries, shaken baby syndrome, and poor nutrition. He may have been developmentally delayed.Adoptive mother Natalie Fabian Evans, 33, claimed she couldn't wake Luke in the morning, and took him to the bathtub where she planned to place him in water to "stimulate him." Says he "may" have bumped his head on the tub. Local prosecutors took over a year to file charges because they wanted to be sure about the medical evidence. On June 30, 2006 Fabian Evans was found not guilty of murder, battery and neglect of a dependent after a doctor for the defense convinced a jury that Luke could have had "bleeding in his brain for days prior to the day" he was found unresponsive in his crib. Luke was adopted with an unrelated boy from his orphanage who was living at the time of Luke's death, with a relative of Natalie Evans.' Her husband Steven was not charged. In 2003 Natalie filed for divorce which wasn't granted until June 2006.

Luke was Adopted from Inozemtsevo; in US 6 months. Home Study: unknown. Adoption Agency: Small World International/Charity, New York City.

Selected Resources:
NW Times, June 30, 1996 Natalie Evans Testifies in Her Murder Trial

JACOB LINDORFF, (birth name unknown) age 5, Gloucester Twp., New Jersey. Died December 14, 2001 of blunt force trauma to head. Also suffered from 2nd degree burns on feet, hemorrhaging in 1 eye; bruises, and seizures. Adoptive mother Heather Lindorff, 36, was found guilty of 2nd degree endangering, aggravated assault and sentenced to 6 years. She claimed the injuries were accidents and begged judge not to separate her from her family. Adoptive father, James, 54, sentenced to 4 years probation and 400 hours of community service for child abuse. Couple also adopted 3 bio-sisters from Russia, Jacob was one of a fraternal twins; placed with the Lindorffs only 18 months after the sisters arrived. The remaining children were placed with Heather Lindorff's mother, Mildred Culllinan. In May 2004, Heather Lindorff was released on appeal bond and ordered not to visit children without supervision. That same month DYFS learned that children were back living with Lindorffs. Medical examinations found four children were malnourished, abused, and neglected. Heather Lindorff is serving out her sentence and will be released no later than June 2010. In September 2007, James Lindorff and Mildred Cullinan were charged in a murder-for-hire plot to kill a witness. On August 7, 2008, after a negotiated plea, he was found guilty of conspiracy to commit murder. Mildren Cullinan pled quilty to 90 days in jail after pleading down to hindering an investigation.

Jacob was adopted from Pskov Oblast; in US 6 weeks. Home Study: unknown. Adoption Agency: Open Door, Thomasville, Georgia.

SELECTED, April 2, 2004, "Heather Lindorff Gets 6 Years"
Philadelphia Inquirer, June 1, 2006, "Revocation of Bail Sought in Death of Adopted 5-Year Old (paid archives), September 1, 2007, "2 Charged in Murder or Hire Plot"

(birth name unknown) age 2 years, 7 months, Prince William County, Virginia. Died August 11, 2003 of mechanical asphyxia due to compression against an adult: lack of blood and oxygen. Adoptive mother Patrice Lynn Hagmann, 35, claimed Jessica was prone to tantrums that lasted as long as three hours and beat her head in crib. Autopsy indicated Jessica weighed only 27 pounds when she died . She was covered with bruises including five 'purplish' bruises near her right eye, seven on her forehead, two on her scalp, and one each on both cheeks; also a healing lesion on one palm and bruises on her upper body, leg back one on her abdominal area. Hagmann’s defense argued that she used “holding therapy” to “calm.” Jessica. The book, Help for the Helpless Child.* was seized from home by police. Adoptive father Glenn Hagmann not implicated in death. The couple had a biological son, 3, who at the time of the trial was living with Patrice’s mother. In December 2003 Hagmann took an Alford plea (pleading no contest, without acknowledging guilt). Prosecutors recommended 14 years in prison, In January 2004 the court sentenced her to five years for each charge, suspended dependent on five years probation.
Jessica was adopted from Moscow. Time in US: 8 months. Home Study: unknown. Adoption Agency: unknown,. (NOTE: agency representative was present in courtroom for sentencing but neither agency nor rep was identified by press).

*I have not found this title, but did find Help for the Hopeless Child: A Guide for Families with Special Discussion for Addressing and Treating the Post-Institutionalized Child) by Ron Federici, which I believe is the correct title.

SELECTED RESOURCES:Manassas Journal Messenger, January 21, 2004, County Mother to be Sentenced in Death of Child

 born Nikita Khoryakov, age 2, Braintree, Massachusetts. Died August 15, 2002 of severe trauma to the head. Adoptive mother Natalia Higier, 47 claimed he fell out of his crib or hit his head on the kitchen floor, but doctors said injuries were consistent with falling out of a 3-story building. Jacob had a bilateral skull fracture, a massive stroke on the right side of his brain, a smaller stroke on left side, brain swelling and detached retinas. Later Higier said she was tossing him in the air when he hit his head on the coffee table. Husband not charged; couple now divorced. Higier pled guilty to involuntary manslaughter and was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in jail, with 18 months balance of sentence suspended for 4 years; also required to attend anger management classes. The Higiers had a history of domestic violence and restraining orders against each other.

Zachary was adopted from Orenburg Region. Time in US: unknown. Home Study: Adoption Resource Associates, Cambridge, Massachusetts; social worker: Laura Nemeyer. Adoption Agency: Frank Adoption Center, Raleigh, North Carolina.

SELECTED RESOURCES:Quincy Patriot-Ledger,
August 16, 2003, "Mom called Unconcerned About Son"
August 31, 2004, "Mom Sentenced in Adopted Son's Death"
(cannot link directly. Google for articles)

MARIA ANASTASIA BENNETT, (birth name unknown) age 2, (right) Lancaster, Ohio. Died October 23, 2002 of Shaken Baby Syndrome. She died at Columbus Children's Hospital four days after her adoptive mother Susan Jane Bennett, 41 claimed that she tripped while carrying Maria from the bathroom to a bedroom, dropping her backwards causing her head to hit floor. Medical evidence indicated fatal head wounds and eye injuries could not be caused by such a drop. Bennett pled no contest to 1 count of reckless homicide. She originally faced 8 years in prison. Prosecutors recommended 4 years, but said they would not oppose probation after 2 years served. Bennett was sentenced to 3 years. Bennett, adopted another child, Sarah, a year earlier from the same orphanage. At last report, Sarah is in the custody of Bennett's relatives. Bennett, a single mother, was a software programmer for an insurance company and had no prior record.

Maria was born  in Ussurisk, Primorski Krai and in adopted from Ussurisk near Vladivostok in US for 9 months. Home Study: unknown. Adoption Agency: Focus on Children, Wellsville, Utah.

Selected Resources:Lancaster Eagle-Gazette,
November 8, 2003, "Mom Sentenced in Child's Death (not online)

LIAM DMITRY THOMPSON, (born Dmitry Sergeyevich Ishlankulov, age 3, Galloway, Ohio. Died October 16, 2003 at Columbus Doctors Hospital West of scalding and neglect. Five days earlier, adoptive father, Gary Allen Thompson, put Liam in a bathtub of 140 degree water causing 2nd and 3rd degree burns; skin peeled off legs. Instead of seeking treatment Thompson put him on a crib mattress in an unheated basement. Adoptive mother, LPN Amy Lyna Thompson, whose diary revealed she didn't like Liam or his adopted sister, failed to notice the seriousness of burns for 2 days, then treated him with Tylenol and Vaseline. Liam was taken to the hospital only when he went into respitory failure. Autopsy revealed severe burns on both legs, right arm, back, and buttocks; bruises on neck, right side of upper lip, right eye, both cheeks and forehead. The official cause of death is listed as "thermal injuries."Amy Thompson pled guilty to child endangering and involuntary manslaughter and was sentenced to 14 years in prison and is still incarcerated. Gary Thompson pled guilty to murder and was sentenced to 15-life. Amy Thompson's daughter from her previous marriage was last reported in foster care; the Thompsons' biological son lives with relatives; and the daughter they adopted with Liam, has been adopted by a local couple.

Liam was adopted from Blagoveshchensk; in US 5 months. Home Study: unknown. Facilator: AMREX Adoption Agency: Tree of Life, Portland, Oregon. (Tree of Life also placed a 5-year old Romanian orphan with William Peckenpaugh who was later convicted of 33 charges including 9 counts of sodomy and 3 counts of sexual abuse against the boy)
Selected Resources:
Columbus Dispatch,
December 3, 2003, "Father Pleads Guilty to Burning, Killing Son

ALEX PAVLIS, born Alex Geikoage 6, Schaumburg, Illinois. Died December 19, 2003 of severe beating. Adoptive mother Irma Pavlis admitted to punching Alex hard in the stomach and slapping him. She said he was mentally unstable and suicidal; defense lawyer argued his behavior which included banging his head in walls and urinating and defecating through the house were caused by Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, which the Pavlis' were unaware of when they adopted Alex. Husband Dino Pavlis was not charged. Irma Pavlis sentenced to 12 years for involuntary manslaughter, paroled out of state in March 2008. Alex was adopted with his younger sister last reported in foster care.

lex was adopted from Yeysk, Krasnadar Region; in US 6 weeks. Home Study: Mt. Vernon, Illinois Baptist Children's Home and Family Services. Adoption Agency: independent adoption.

Chicago, April 14, 2005, "Pavlis Trial: Defendant's Video Statement Shown" (cannot link directly. Google for articles)
ABC News,
May 17, 2005, "Boy's Death May Halt US Adoptions"

DENNIS GENE MERRYMAN, born Denis Uritsky, age 8            , Harford County, Maryland. Died January 22, 2005 of cardiac arrest brought on by starvation; weighed 37 pounds, 2 pounds less than when doctors examined him in October 2000. Medical examiner could find no underlying conditions and ruled death a homicide. Adoptive father Samuel Merryman, 37, and adoptive mother Donna Merryman, 42, arrested on August 3, 2005 and charged with manslaughter, 1st degree child abuse resulting in death, and reckless endangerment. Samuel Merryman's parents posted a property bond of $50,000 for each. Merryman's mother, Olivia, claims that despite cororner's findings, Dennis suffered from cystic fibrosis, digestive problems and "may have had other problems." Samuel and Donna Merryman are born again Christians, Sunday School teachers, and home schoolers. They have 2 biological children, and Donna Merryman has a daughter from a previous marriage. On February 25, 2008 the couple pled guilty to 1st degree child abuse resulting in death; 4 child abuses charges relating to two of their daughters were dropped in the plea bargain agreement. When asked by the judge if they were pleading guilty because they were guilty, the answered "yes." The Merrymans have been under house arrest and have supervised visits with other children. On April 17, 2008 they were each sentenced to 22 years in prison and are currently incarcerated.

Dennis was adopted from Ochery in the Perm Region with 1 older biological brother and 2 older biological sisters, all with medical problems discovered after adoptions; in the US nearly 5 years.  (Another sources says he was from Pskov Region.)
Home Study: unknown. Adoption Agency: Adoptions Forever (closed)

Baltimore Sun,
February 26, 2008, "Harford Couple Plead Guilty"
Baltimore Sun,
April 18, 2008, "Prison for child's death"

NINA HILT, born Viktoria Bazhenova, age 2.5, Wake Forest, North Carolina. Died July 2, 2005 on visit to Manassas, Virginia from blows to the abdominal area. Adoptive mother, Peggy Sue Hilt, 33, told investigators she was "enraged and angered" at Nina, shook her, dropped her on floor, kicked her in the stomach, then picked her up, put her in bed and continued to strike her with a closed right fist on her back and stomach. Nina's sister adopted from Ukraine in an independent adoption through Cathy Harris, Nataliya Oksana, was put into protective custody and later placed in the custody of an aunt. Peggy Sue Hilt was held without bond in Prince William County, Virginia until trial; husband Christopher Hilt was not charged. a Functional alcoholic, Hilt had worked as a dental assistant; her husband was a computer consultant. On May 25, 2006, Hilt was sentenced to 35 years in prison with 10 years suspended; will serve 21-22 years due to time served awaiting trial. Christopher Hilt plans to divorce his wife and is expected to regain custody of Nataliya. In April 2008 Peggy Sue Hilt was featured in the WE-TV documentary Women Behind Bars.Nina was adopted from Siberia; in US 1.5 years (approx) 

Nina was adopted from Irkutsk Orphange #1 ("Sunshine") through Kikutsk Regional Center for Psychological, Medical, and Social Care for Children.  Home Study: A Loving Family, Alexandra, Virginia (no longer operating). Post Placement Report (2005): A Child's Hope, Raleigh, North Carolina. Adoption Agency: Adoptions International, Dallas, Texas owned by adoption lawyer Jody Hall.

Charlotte News & Observer,
July 14, 2005, "Slain Girl was Second Couple Adopted" (cannot link directly. Google for article)
July 28, 2005, Community Gather to Remember Russian Child Allegedly Beaten By Adoptive Mother (cannot link directly. Google for article)
Washington Post,
ay 26, "Mother Sentenced to 25 Years" (cannot link directly. Google for article)
Peggy Sue Hilt's Blog (and links to Hilt segment)
Hilt Family webpage

ISSAC JONATHAN DYKSTRA, born Ilya Karginstev age 21 months, Iowa City, Died August 14, 2005 , the day after he was hospitalized for injuries reportedly incurred from an accidental fall a few days earlier. On August 7, 2008, after a nearly 3-year investigation, adoptive father, Brian Dykstra, 31, was charged with 2nd degree murder. He plead Not Guilty on October 2 and is currently free on $15,000 bond. Adoptive mother, Dr. Lisa Dykstra, now an Assistant Professor of Spanish at Clemson University is not implicated and wasn’t charged.
On August 13, 2005, Brian Dykstra called 911 saying Isaac was having a 'little seizure" and difficulty breathing from what "might be related to a head injury" Isaac was recovering from club foot surgery and Dykstra claimed the baby had fallen a few days earlier after the cast was removed, but had shown no signs of injury. According to police, Isaac had massive brain swelling, severe bleeding inside the skull, and retinal swelling in both eyes. He also had severe bruising on his torso and legs. The description is consistent with shaken baby syndrome, not a fall on the floor.

Isaac was adopted from Krasnoyarsk. In US: 3 months. Home Study: unknown. Adoption Agency: unknown

Dykstra is scheduled for a pre-trial hearing on April 29 and the trial set to start on May 10, 2010. As of May 5, the trial was postponed indefinitely at the request of the prosecution and defense, due to the complexity of the case.
Selected Resources:
Iowa City Police News Release, August 8, 2008: Former IC Man Charged for Death of Adopted Child
Iowa City Press-Citizen, October 3, 2008: Witnesses Listed in Infant Death Trial

NICOLI (KOLYA) EMELYANTSEV, (birth name unknown) age 14 months, Tooele, Utah. Died March 7, 2008 from a "significant skull fracture" caused by blunt force trauma. Adoptive mother, Kimberly Emelyantsev 33, charged with murder. Called 911 saying Kolya was barely breathing after fall from a chair. Adoptive father, Fyodor Emelylantsev, 31, a Russian citizen, under investigation for suspicion of child abuse by malnutrition involving 4-year old, Luka, adopted from Russia in December. Kolya had Down Syndrome as does Luka and F. Emelylantsev's biological 10-year old daughter. F. Emelylantsev reportedly holds an MA in genetics, is trained to work with the disabled and is an RN working at a local nursing home. Kolya's parents voluntarily relinquished their rights, visited him in an orphanage weekly and wanted regular updates on him from adoptive family. On June 6, K. Emelylantsev, pled guilty to a lowered charge of 2nd degree felony child abuse homicide. She admitted to dropping Kolya on the floor "more than once." The county prosecutor says that no intent to kill the baby could be shown. Abuse charges against the couple in Luka's case were dismissed due to lack of evidence. On October 10, 2008 K. Emelylantsev's was sentenced to up to 15 years in prison. During her post-conviction psychiatric evaluation she admitted grabbing Kolya by an arm and leg and repeatedly slamming him in the floor. According to defense attorney, Kimberley suffered from a ""depressive disorder" after the adoption, and her husband Fyodor refused to participate in "an extraordinary familial situation." She says she never wanted to adopt Kolya, but was afraid to say no to Fyodor and afraid of what the neighbors would think if she didn't go through with the adoption plan. K. Emelyantse is a parlegal and wanted to attend law school.

Kolya was adopted from the Moscow Orphanage #25; in US less than 1 month. Home Study: unknown. Adoption Agency: About a Child, DesMoines, Iowa (Russian press reports adoption was independent).


March 14, 2008, Dead, Another StarvingTruveo, "
US Baby Death Puts Russian Adoption in Doubt"
Salt Lake City Tribune, October 11, 2008, "Mother Must Serve Up to 15 Years for Death of Adopted Son"

CHASE HARRISON, born Dmitry Yakolev, age 21 months, Purcellville, Virgina. Died July 8, 2008 in Herndon, Virginia after adoptive father Miles Harrison, 49, left him in SUV for "several hours," in 91 degree heat. Temperature inside anywhere between 131-172,. Harrison was supposed to take the boy to daycare, but "forgot" about him and left him in the car all day while he was at work. Chase was found after a co-worker reported seeing something in SUV (windows are tinted). Harrison is the managing relocation director at Project Solutions Group. He collapsed at the scene and was hospitalized. He has been charged with manslaughter and faces up to 10 years in prison. Wife Carol, 45 questioned, but not implicated. According to the July 12 edition of the Russian language paper Gazetta, attempts to place Dima in Russia were unsuccessful because he had "a series of serious diseases."

Chase was adopted from the Pechora City Children's Home, Psov area; in the US 3 months.
Adoption Connections, Falls Church, Virginia. Social Worker:
Christine Hessinger. Adoption Agency: European Adoption Consultants, Strongsville, Ohio. EAC also placed Logan Higginbotham. (see above) According to RBC News and Gazetta (Russian language papers) the Russian Education and Science Ministry's adoption commission has banned EAC from working in the Russian Federation for failure to inform Russian authorities immediately of Chase's death, a breach of Russian law. The July 14 edition of The Moscow Times reported that it was only under investigated.

Washington Post,
July 10, 2008, "VA Toddler Dies After Father Leaves him SUV"
Fairfax Times,
July 10, 2008, "Father Charged After Son Dies in Unattended Car in Herndon"
July 11, 2008, "Russia Bans 3 Adoption Agencies Following Baby's Death in US"
RBC News,
uly 11, 20008, "Россия запретит усыновление международным организациям"
uly 12 2009, "Россия отсекла усыновителей"
Moscow Times,
July 14, 2008, "Two Agencies Barred After Boy's Death"
Fairfax Times,
July 22, 2008, "Purcellville Toddler Remembered"
Washington Post,
July 23, 2008, "Father Indicted in Toddler's Death in Hot SUV"

Nathaniel Michael Craver born Ivan Skorobogatov) age 7, Dillsburg/Carroll Township, Pennsylvania. Died August 25, 2009 at Penn State Hershey Medical Center after being taken off life support. The autopsy revealed Vanya suffered 80 external injuries, including 20 to the head. Old injuries, including fractures to his forehead and old blood beneath his scalp were found. The coroner also found evidence of malnourishment and "severe failure to thrive." Adopters Michael and Nanette Craver say that Vanya caused injuries to himself.

On August 19, the Cravers claim Vanya fell and hit his head on a wood stove in their home, but seemed OK. Next day he was found unresponsive in his urine soaked bed and taken to the ER. Michael Craver's mother told investigators that on Memorial Day 2009 she was shocked to see Vanya's eyes swollen shut and was told by her son that the boy rubbed and scratched his eyes and wouldn't leave them alone. She also reported that Vanya would shake when he thought he would get in trouble over something. An adoptive aunt reported that in August 2009 Nathaniel's eyes were swollen shut and the left side of his face was swollen. There are no records of medical treatment for any of the injuries Vanya supposedly suffered at his own hand.

On February 26, 2010, Michael J. Craver, 45 and Nanette L. (Korkuch) Craver, 54 were arrested and charged with criminal homicide, conspiracy, and child endangerment. They are currently held in the York County Prison without bond. Authorities said they made no connection between the death and Vanya's Russian adoptee status and were surprised when Russia TV crews showed up at his office. No trial date has been set. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for April 29, 2010.

Additional information: Sometime in 2008 , the Cravers briefly lost physical custody of Vanya and his twin sister Elizabeth (now in care) while York County Children and Youth Services investigated alleged negligence and poor conditions in the home. (no details) The children were returned and pulled out of public school to be home schooled. (Another report says they were already being home schooled).

In 2003, Vanya and his twin sister Dasha (now known as Elizabeth) were adopted from Dom Rebyonka #9 in Troiotsk, Chelyabinsk region. In US 6 years (approx). Home Study: unknown. Adoption Agency: Lutheran Social Services of the South, Austin, Texas. (accredited in Russia 2001-5/20/2005. Never re-accredited and closed Russian program).
Post-Placement: unknown.

Selected resources:Harrisburg Patriot-News, February 27, 2010. "York County parents charged in death of their son, 7"
York Dispatch, March 4, 2010. "Prosecutor: Local boy's death sparks international attention"
York Dispatch, March 5, 2010. "Carroll Twp. couple charged in child's death"

Other Russian adoptees have survived brutal treatment from their Forever Parents. Though no one has yet completely documented the number of cases, here is one survivor:KELSEY HYRE, age 2, Akron Ohio. Permanently paralyzed September 26, 2002. Spine severed after her adoptive father Gerald Hyre slammed her on the floor. Adoptive mother, Bonnie Hyre, who was at work at the time, took her to hospital when she came home. Ms. Hyre had previously suspected her husband of abusing both Kelsey and her adoptive brother Nathan, 3, and taken photos of other injuries, discussed suspicions with co-workers, but after husband's arrested she destroyed pictures and did nothing. Gerald Hyre sentenced to 16 years for felonious assault and child abuse. Bonnie Hyre sentenced to 2 years for permitting child abuse and evidence tampering and is now out of jail. Kelsey has been adopted by another couple and is reportedly responding well. Nathan was placed with Bonnie Hyre's mother, but Bonnie Hyre now has custody.

Kelsey and Nathan were probably adopted from Blagoveshchensk. Home Study: A Child is Waiting, Akron, Ohio (Also see my Stephpanie Bennett blogs for ACW other activities). Adoption Agency: Building Blocks Adoption Services, Medina, Ohio.

Nikto ne zabyt - Nichto ne zabyto


Thanks Dan and Elizabeth Case for their assistance in preparing this piece. For more information on Russian adoptions and abuse in the US please go to their website Beware of an Experiment in Literary Investigation

Thanks, also to Niels Hoogveen from Pound Pup Legacy, especially for information on the Jessica Albina Hagmann case.


James Marsh's ChildLaw blog

"Adoptee Deaths are Rare, Experts Say," Chicago Tribune, May 26, 2004 (now in paid archives but found here.

Also see my blogs on Masha Allen


If readers have more information about these cases please post them
in the "comments" section.

(updated November 27, 2013)

Bookmark and Share