A couple was indicted on Wednesday after an investigation revealed they physically and sexually abused residents of a Murrieta home care facility.
RIVERSIDE, Calif. (CBSLA) – A grand jury indicted a La Cresta couple that owns and runs a home care business near Murrieta on counts of murder, child endangerment, and indecent conduct on a dependent adult on Monday.
(Photo courtesy of the District Attorney’s Office of Riverside County)
Michelle Louise Morris Kerin, 80, and her husband, Edward Lawrence “Larry” Kerin, 79, were charged with child endangerment, dependent adult endangerment likely to cause severe physical harm or death, and indecent conduct on a dependent adult, among other counts. Michelle Morris Kerin is also charged with murder in the indictment.
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The indictment comes from an investigation into the murder of Diane “Princess” Ramirez, a 17-year-old resident of Kerin’s facility, the Morris Small Family Home in the La Cresta region of unincorporated Riverside County, near Murrieta, on April 6, 2019.
Cerebral palsy was a problem for the 17-year-old.
“She was a warrior for me. Diane’s mother, Angel Cadena, stated, “I always called her that.”
Her daughter died a day after her final visit and just before she was supposed to return her from foster care.
“She was a brilliant young lady. Cadena said that she was able to converse via a speaking gadget that was never permitted to be charged.
Cadena’s daughter was put in the Murrieta facility by the state in 2018, after she was evicted from her house, the power was turned off, and someone complained that her daughter’s medical equipment were not properly charged.
Cadena said, “They stole her from me because they claimed they were going to protect her.” “However, where is my daughter right now?” She isn’t here with me. She’s six feet under the surface.”
According to the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office, the inquiry revealed years of physical abuse and neglect of dependent children and adults, as well as sexual abuse against three dependent people who had been put in the home. Many of the victims were non-ambulatory and unable to communicate, requiring round-the-clock care.
Michelle Morris Kerin, according to prosecutors, refused to seek assistance for Diane despite the fact that she had vomited blood numerous times, had erratic vital signs, and had been in agony for up to nine hours. Before Diane died, Edward Kerin was charged with child negligence.
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According to the District Attorney’s Office, several of the adult dependent residents had the mental ability to provide consent but had participated in sexual acts enabled and encouraged by the Kerins. The institution was also found to be understaffed for 24-hour care and to have improperly kept medical records.
“These individuals lacked empathy. Cadena said, “They had no heart.”
Diane’s mother claims that she did have a lot of money. Cadena claimed the foster system paid the couple $7,000 a month to care for her daughter and that when her daughter died, the pair had approximately ten other individuals in the facility.
Several complaints had been made against the Morris Small Family Home before the 17-year-old died in their care, including accusations of clients receiving red marks from employees and a youngster being duct tied to a wheelchair.
The allegations could not be verified in almost all of the investigations since many of the customers were nonverbal.
Cadena worries how many more individuals in the house might have been molested if her daughter hadn’t died.
“There are a lot of kids in the system,” she added, “but something has to change, particularly when it comes to special needs kids.”
On August 5, the Kerins were apprehended. Edward Kerin has been released after posting $35,000 bond and is due in court on December 17.
Michelle Morris Kerin is being detained in jail on a $1 million bond and is due in court on Thursday.
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DA Investigator Tom Rogers may be reached at [email protected] for anybody with information on the case or who may have been a victim.