Washington teen’s death ruled homicide due to starvation and neglect

VANCOUVER, Wash. (AP) — A teenager in Vancouver, Washington died of starvation and neglect, according to the county medical examiner.

Vancouver police have been investigating the circumstances since Karreon R. Franks, 15, died at a local hospital in late November, The Columbian reported. No arrests or criminal accusations have been made in the case.

The Clark County Medical Examiner’s Office on Monday confirmed his death has been ruled a homicide. The boy’s death was announced by the medical examiner in February, but at that time the manner and cause of death had not been determined.

A state worker visited the home of Felicia Adams, 52, and Jesse Franks, 56, the day after receiving the report to check on Karreon Walker-Franks, 15, and his two younger brothers, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported Wednesday.

Adams’ sister Letricia Brown told child welfare authorities that Adams had withheld food from the children for years and that the teen previously collapsed from malnourishment.

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Authorities said the boy remained in the care of the family even after one of his brothers allegedly told the visiting state worker that on the same day of the home visit he saw their mother hit the teen with a cane because he had vomited.

Washington Department of Children, Youth and Families spokesperson Nancy Gutierrez declined to comment on what action, if any, the agency took after the home visit, citing privacy regulations.

The teen died within a week, weighing about 65 pounds (30 kilograms). An affidavit said he was autistic, developmentally disabled, incontinent, nonverbal and partially blind.

Adams took the teen to the hospital on Nov. 27 where he was pronounced dead because of pneumonia. However, a funeral home notified police because of concerns with his appearance.

The Clark County medical examiner’s office ruled Karreon’s death a homicide, KOIN-TV reported. An autopsy revealed he had abnormal bone and hair growth and lesions most likely caused by starvation.

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Adams adopted the boy and his two younger brothers in 2012. She is their aunt and adopted mother.

Adams could not be reached for comment, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported. The boys’ biological mother, Carlisa Washington, also could not be reached, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported.

Attempts by The Associated Press to reach them were unsuccessful Thursday. A message was left at a phone number believed to be associated with Adams.

Court records claim Adams, also known as Felicia Adams-Franks, routinely refused to feed the boy, ordered his teachers not to give him food and refused meeting with educators about his sporadic class attendance, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported.

Karreon Walker-Franks attended Mountain View High School, where one of his teachers, Sayra Bann, told investigators that the boy was “very food motivated” and ate until he vomited and “would eat the vomit.”

She also said the teen was incontinent and that his parents insisted that he have only one diaper a day.

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Amanda Toma, his homeroom teacher at Mountain View, last saw the boy in person in March 2020 when he appeared to be in good health. Toma said she last saw him in a virtual meeting on Nov. 20, about a week before he died. She said she “noticed his cheekbones were sticking out.”

It is unclear if any of the teachers reported their concerns about the teen’s welfare to authorities.

Vancouver Police Department spokeswoman Kim Kapp said no arrests have been made in the case. Kapp said the teen’s siblings, now 13 and 15, were removed from the home after Karreon Walker-Frank’s death.

Court documents said Adams received $4,300 a month from the government to care for the three children. She also received a salary working for the health care nonprofit CareOregon.

According to the court document, Vancouver Police Department Detective Zachary Ripp revealed that the parents spent hundreds of hours and tens of thousands of dollars at ilani Casino Resort since 2017. Ripp also said he discovered surveillance footage that showed the couple visited the casino three hours after their adopted son’s death.

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