Carole DeLeon, a 52-year-old ex-paralegal with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Spokane, has the dubious honor of being one of a select group of people who abused foster children in more than one state.
In Wyoming, back in 1987, DeLeon applied to be a foster parent, writing on the application that she loved to cook breakfasts for children of all ages. Due to the ever-problematic shortage of foster parents, her application was processed quickly and she was given a 12-year-old girl to take care of.
Shortly after the girl was placed in Carole DeLeon’s home, things started to go downhill for her. The foster child was never allowed to talk to neighbors, or go outside by herself. One incident involving the girl saying “hello” to a dog resulted in the child having to apologize to it.
A later investigation by the area sheriffs found that the foster girl spent most of her time in DeLeon’s care cowering in the basement or doing chores on DeLeon’s land like feeding chickens and milking goats.
Carole DeLeon’s Wyoming foster child gravy train came to an end when a babysitter for the girl noticed bruises and was able to get the whole story. Evidently DeLeon had hit the girl in the face a few times and was regularly depriving her of food. Once, while especially hungry, the girl ate three pieces of cheese that hadn’t been authorized by DeLeon. Once her foster mother found out, she tied the girl’s hands behind her with needlepoint yarn and forced her to sleep alone in the dark, unfinished basement.
Once the abuse had become apparent, the foster child was taken from DeLeon’s home by child services. Shortly thereafter, her two biological sons, who had been living with their father up until this point, moved in to live with their mom.
After several disturbance calls to the police and with the discovery that the two boys were bruised and bloody, those kids were removed from her home as well.
A pattern is kind of emerging with this woman, isn’t it?
Carole DeLeon moved from Wyoming to Washington, where she again applied for a foster-care license in 1996. She didn’t mention on that application that she had already had children taken from her in another state, which might have been an indicator that she might not be the best person to put kids with for any length of time.
Carole DeLeon took in about 14 foster children while she was in Washington, adopting five. One of the five was adopted in 1998 at the age of four months. His name was Tyler. He was, before he moved in, normal-sized for his age.
Tyler lived with Carole DeLeon for 7 years. During that time he had frequent hospital visits for things like deep lacerations in his hand, bruises, unexplained blood in his ear and a broken femur.
At one point Tyler’s two front teeth were knocked out.
And teachers were starting to get really concerned that he just wasn’t growing.
From the time he was nine months until he was seven, he gained a total of eight pounds.
Nobody was concerned enough to contact child services, of course, but when the mother of the child tells you that he has a medical problem involving the boy gorging himself sick and that’s why she sends him to school with a slice of bread, a few gulps of milk and a carrot stick – I guess that makes sense, huh?
Carole DeLeon made sure that teachers kept Tyler away from fluids, warning them that he would drink water from the toilet or puddles on the ground if they let him.
He was a thirsty boy.
On the night before Tyler DeLeon’s 7th birthday, he was so desperately thirsty that he pulled at the screen of his bedroom window long enough to rip a hole in it – so he could melt snow in his mouth.
The day after his birthday, Tyler DeLeon was dead. He weighed just 28 pounds, about the size of your average 2-year-old or two frozen turkeys.
Several other children in Carole DeLeon’s care were suffering abuse along the same lines. Carole had excuses for everything.
A second boy in the DeLeon home was also failing to grow at an acceptable rate. After the boy was removed from Carole DeLeon’s care, in four months he gained 18 pounds.
A third foster child removed from Carole DeLeon’s home also didn’t weigh what she should and was so dehydrated that she needed an I.V.
Carole DeLeong took a plea deal. She was given a six year prison sentence in exchange for her guilty plea, avoiding a life sentence.
At Carole Ann DeLeon’s sentencing, Superior Court Judge Al Nielson said:
I don’t remember a case, ever, that had the extremes of facts and emotions and the positions of the different parties. But there is a betrayal of the sacred obligation that all parents have to care for and provide the necessities of children. I do conclude that was recklessly disregarded.
While she was in the courtroom, over 20 people were picketing outside, walking up and down the sidewalk with signs calling for harsher punishment and a recall of Stevens County Prosecutor Tim Rasmussen – who had agreed to allow Carole DeLeon to enter Alford pleas for the mistreatment charges, meaning that she didn’t accept guilt but acknowledged that she could have been convicted at trial.
Through her attorney, Carole DeLeon has said she intends to continue a legal fight to regain custody of four children she had previously adopted.
One of her adopted sons, who is now living with another couple, wrote a letter that was read to the courtroom, describing nightmares that he had about Carole DeLeon and how he started crying when he learned that DeLeon would someday be released from prison:
I think it was not fair that Ty died and I want some justice for Ty. He never got to go fishing and he never got to play baseball. When Ty first died, I was scared Carole would kill the rest of us kids. I don’t want to be known as Carole DeLeon’s son.
Obviously, the death of Tyler affected Tyler’s biological sister, who lived in the DeLeon home and has since been placed elsewhere.
According to Patricia Markel, a court-appointed guardian for the children who were removed from DeLeon’s home, Tyler’s sister “cries for her biological brother, Tyler.” Crying as she spoke to the courtroom:
In her attempt, as a 6-year-old, to reconcile what happened to Tyler, she tells me Carole killed him. And she says Tyler is in heaven and when it rains the raindrops are his tears.