Couple accused of starving son granted visits

Victor and Olaifa Ramos

June 28, 2012 2:48:14 PM PDT
The Montgomery County couple accused of starving their young son have been granted supervised visits with the child.

That decision came as Victor and Olaifa Ramos of East Fourth Street in Bridgeport were ordered to stand trial on Thursday.

The couple is accused of nearly starving their 6-year-old son to death. That child is now in protective custody.

Authorities say the investigation began about three months ago when the child was brought to Children's Hospital of Philadelphia near death.

According to investigators, doctors at CHOP called it "one of the worst cases of malnutrition" they've ever seen.

Samantha Cauffman, the assistant D.A. handling the case, says by the time authorities got involved the youngster was in the advanced stages of starvation.

"His skin was flaking off, he had a swollen belly. He was only 29 pounds," she said.

The affidavit of probable cause, referring to comments made by the doctors at CHOP, reads in part, "Staff members reported that the victim was one of the worst cases they had seen, likening his condition to starving children in Third World countries. The victim appeared to be 3 years old even though he was, in fact, 6 years old."

Court documents also reveal that doctors released the boy to his parents after a hospital stay of more than a month.

The parents were given a medical/safety plan, investigators said, but they allegedly "continued to negotiate and battle any form of medical treatment for their son."

The boy was brought back to the hospital on May 11th and May 18th. On May 31st the boy was released to his parents with a feeding tube.

The boy has since been placed in protective custody, investigators said.

The boy's parents were arrested but have been released on their own recognizance.

Action News went to the Ramos' apartment on East 4th Street on Wednesday, but no one answered the door. We spoke with neighbors, who said they are horrified.

Speaking in Spanish, Elba Ramos told Action News, "I'm surprised because how is it possible that a parent doesn't feed their child? It's a basic instinct to feed and love your children. This is horrible."

Meantime, Cauffman said these kinds of cases that make it difficult to separate the professional from the personal.

"A crime has been committed. But I take a step back from my role as a prosecutor and in my role as a parent those pictures can bring tears to the eyes," she said.

Cauffman was referring to medical photos that Action News obtained but decided not to publish because they are so graphic and disturbing.

The couple faces a list of charges including aggravated assault and endangering the welfare of a child.