Personal Note: When I read this article for the first time I cried for Gabriel. At age 7 he decided life was no longer worth living. It brought back to me memories of my own years in foster care.
By the age of 10 I had been in foster care since the day of my birth. I had been moved into 3 different insitutions and ten foster homes by that time.
The next move was to a Juvenile Detention Center to await a new foster home. In my book I share a few expereiences from my time ther…it tells why I relate so much to Gabriel.
The passage from the book reads:
The stability of four years came to sudden end in May, 1960, when I was abruptly removed from the Monshor’s home. I was placed in the Wayne County, Michigan Youth Detention Center. My crime: at age ten I was guilty of not having a family to claim me as their son nor a place to call home.
The Detention Center was to be my home until a new foster home was found. Here I was placed amongst youth offenders who were charged with a wide assortment of crimes. My bed, to start due to overcrowding, would be a thin mattress in the open area of the block.
I am the youngest boy on the block, as well as the smallest. Though I attempted to fight as best I could I was unable to overcome the attacks of older boys. I was repeatedly sexually assaulted. ..gang raped!
One day after being assaulted and left naked in a cell, I felt my life was no longer worth living, no one wanted me and I had been used and discarded as trash, I attempted to hang myself with a belt. I was discovered before the act could be completed and placed in an isolation cell, where I would remain for two months.
Those responsible for the repeated rapes are never charged or held accountable in any manner.
In late July, another foster home was found…the eleventh in ten years.
Here is Gabriel’s sad story:
Apr 26, 2009 3:00 pm US/Eastern
7-Year-Old With Troubled Past Commits Suicide
Gabriel Myers Told Therapist He Was ‘A Bad Person… Born A Liar’
MIAMI (CBS) ―
A 7-year-old boy who allegedly hanged himself complained to his therapists that he was “a bad person,” and “born a liar,” taught to lie by his own mother, according to newly released documents.
The nearly 1,500 pages released late Friday night by state officials paint the portrait of a terribly troubled child in the foster care system — going from home to home with a repetitive sentiment: loneliness and anger. In just seven years, Gabriel Myers seems to have experienced a life no parent would want for any child, reports CBS station WFOR-TV in Miami.
Myers, who turned 7 in January, died on April 16th when police say he hanged himself using the extendable shower-head in his foster parents’ Margate home. But according to the documents obtained by the CBS, the child’s troubled life began long before.
In 2003, the 7-year-old’s mother, Candace Myers, was arrested by Hallandale Beach police on charges of cocaine possession and driving under the influence. But it wasn’t until a similar arrest last June by the same police agency that a judge ordered the child be removed from his mother’s custody. He had been found in a car with his unconscious mother, surrounded by powdered cocaine and crack cocaine.
That’s when a child in the midst of losing his innocence — and ultimately his life — is captured on paper.
“My mom taught me how to lie. She always lied to the police, to everybody,” he told a therapist after throwing scissors in school. “I lied when I was 1 year old, I lied when I was 2 years old. I was born a liar and I will always be lying,” he said in another therapy session.
“[The] devil makes me lie and do all those bad things. He is bad and he makes you do bad things,” the boy told the therapist.
In the documents, the child recalls being molested by another 12-year-old boy and being told to “pee in [the 12-year-old’s] mouth.” The records also show the child had been molesting girls and boys at school, touching them inappropriately, and threatening to kill others and himself. He repeatedly said he had no friends.
“I used to have some imaginary friends. I still have one but I haven’t been talking to him a long time,” Myers reportedly said.
Psychiatrists and therapists wrote that the young boy wasn’t suicidal or psychotic, but from time to time, had dramatic tantrums. It was during one of those tantrums that he lost his life and, according to a DCF spokesperson reached Saturday, the circumstances surrounding that tantrum could have been a violation from the start.
According to the DCF documents, when Gabriel Myers was found dead April 16th, he was left at the Margate home with 19-year-old Miguel Gould. Gould is the son of Michael and Daver Gould, Myers’ foster care parents. He was visiting from Canada, according to the DCF spokesperson.
Miguel told Margate police that he was “caring for Gabriel for the day because the boy was home sick from [school].” The child reportedly threw his bowl of soup into the trash, “so Miguel sent the child to his room,” Margate police documented. While in his room, the boy began throwing toys then told Miguel Gould that “he was going to [go] into the bathroom and kill himself.” Miguel Gould told police that he later called his stepmother to tell her what happened and couldn’t get into the bathroom for another five to ten minutes. That’s when the child was reportedly found hanged.
The problem is Miguel Gould wasn’t even supposed to be left alone with the 7-year-old, according to the DCF spokesperson. He had not been officially screened by the agency.
“Kids in Distress [one of the organizations charged with overseeing Gabriel Myers] was aware that Miguel was coming to visit. They had begun background studies on him, but he was not a part of the recently signed safety contract so he should not have been left alone with Gabriel, if that’s what happened,” said DCF Regional Spokesperson Leslie Mann.
A REPETITIVE CYCLE
The Gould foster home was Gabriel Myers’ third in less than a year. The DCF documents obtained by the I-Team show he first entered the foster care system on June 29, 2008. He was placed in a licensed home through Kids in Distress. Some days later, he was moved to the home of his aunt and uncle. He lived there for some three months until Broward Sheriff’s Office (BSO) investigators received a report alleging sexual and physical abuse.
While investigators found no signs of sexual abuse, the uncle revealed he “did try corporal punishment” and hit the child with a belt. A Broward County judge issued an emergency order and moved Gabriel Myers back to the licensed home.
However, that wasn’t the last move for Gabriel. In March, the foster parent thought Gabriel might be a threat to his baby and requested “expedited service” in removing the child from his home. Officials with Kids in Distress, ChildNet, and DCF moved Gabriel to the Gould home.
According to the documents, when Gabriel first entered the system, he had with him a prescription bottle of Adderall XR, a drug typically taken for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). The medication appeared melted. A new prescription was filled, but ultimately stopped. The DCF documents show Gabriel began seeing a psychiatrist soon after entering the system.
The psychiatrist later prescribed Lexapro, a drug for depression and anxiety, and Vyvanse for the child’s ADHD. In March, doctors took Gabriel off Lexapro, and put him on Symbyax, also for depression and possible schizophrenia.
All three of the drugs have an FDA-mandated “black box” warning — a statement on the prescription’s box which describes its possible adverse reactions, including suicidal thoughts.
DCF INVESTIGATION STALLED
Meanwhile, DCF intends to continue its investigation and Mann says an important piece of the puzzle is whether he was left alone with the 19-year-old, the DCF spokesperson said. But law enforcement won’t allow DCF to interview the Gould family to see if Miguel had any prior training to take care of Gabriel, until after Margate police finish their investigation
“Urgency is our mission and transparency is our mission. It’s difficult to answer because we don’t have all the answers. We’re thinking Gabriel was home alone with the 19-year-old but we don’t have 100 percent confirmation of that. If he was, that would have been a violation,” said Mann.
The documents show a child shuffled around, seemingly not wanted by anyone, and in the end, alone in a Margate bathroom.