Father of abused girl found dead in jail

October 25, 2009 3:17:46 PM PDT
Police and prison officials confirmed Sunday morning that the father of 10-year-old Charleeni Ferreira, Domingo Ferreira, hanged himself in prison sometime overnight.

Police continue to investigate the situation, however so far they believe 53-year-old Ferreira hanged himself with bed sheets around 3:00am. He was found in his cell hanging from the top bunk at 3:10am.

Correctional Officers on their routine tour saw Ferreira lying on his bunk with torn sheeting tied to the upper bunk. CPR was administered but Ferreira could not be resuscitated.

He was admitted Friday to the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility and was in intake housing, in quarantine. As part of normal procedure for high profile cases, Ferreira was referred to the prison's mental health services for evaluation and was not judged to be suicidal.

Late last week the Philadelphia District Attorney approved murder charges in the death of Charleeni who, investigators said, was horribly abused.

Those charges were announced as police investigate the death of Charleeni Ferreira of the 4700 block of C Street.

On Thursday, police said the girl's stepmother, Margarita Garabito, 43, and the girl's father, Domingo Ferreira, 53, would be charged. They were arraigned on Friday and held without bail pending a prelminary hearing on October 28th.

The girl died on Wednesday.

The medical examiner found a 7-inch cut on her head that was filled with gauze and was covered up by a hair weave. Authorities say the girl also had a broken arm and pelvis.

The M.E. also told police it was the worst case of abuse he had ever seen.

Investigators say the girl died from pneumonia and other infections after blunt-force trauma to her ribs caused a collapsed lung.

A police source says the Department of Human Services had been to Ferreira's home before in 2006 and 2007. In a statement released Thursday afternoon, DHS commissioner Anne Marie Ambrose said:

"I am deeply saddened by the tragic death of 10 year old Charleeni Ferreira. Unfortunately state confidentiality laws prohibit us from disclosing any case related information to the public. However as the facts of this case become known to DHS, we will have lots of work to do in looking at the recent events that could have led to or have prevented this tragedy. DHS is fully cooperating with police and the district attorney's office as they investigate this case."

The family told police Charleeni woke up on Wednesday and told her stepmom she felt sick, and that she hit her head the night before.

Then, at around 10:30 a.m., the stepmom said she found the girl unresponsive on the bathroom floor.

Medics rushed the girl to St. Christopher's Hospital where she was pronounced dead.

After an autopsy, police say the girl had been abused for years.

Authorities said she also had suffered injuries indicating that she had been sexually abused, but neither parent has been charged with a sex crime. The investigation is continuing.

On Thursday night neighbors held a prayer vigil, bringing candles, teddy bears and balloons for the girl.

Charleeni's classmates were there, and they told Action News she would confide in them about the abuse she was suffering at home.

"She said her stepmom pulled her hair, abused her, did so many mean things to her,' said Cheyenne Roundtree.

Another classmate said Charleeni confided in her that she was being raped by her stepbrother.

"Her brother took her upstairs one time, 'You better come upstairs cause I need to talk to you,' and raped her upstairs in her room," said Joceyln Martinez.

Both girls said Charleeni begged them not to tell anyone.

Officials at Feltonville Intermediate School, where Charleeni had a good attendance record, also reported no evidence of abuse.


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