A 27-year-old mother of five allegedly abandoned her children to party with a boyfriend using government checks meant to help with their care while her severely disabled 3-year-old daughter starved to death in a filthy bug-infested home they shared with their father in Philadelphia, Pa.
The mother, Carmen Ramirez, began skipping out on the children, ages 3 through 9, and their father, Carlos Rivera, 30, last summer because she decided that she wanted to start having fun, according to a report in The Philadelphia Enquirer. Among her children was 3-year-old Nathalyz Rivera, who suffered from a genetic condition that left her partially blind and unable to walk or talk.
In court on Tuesday, prosecutor Gwenn Cujdik charged that not only did the mother walk out on the children, but the father repeatedly left disabled Nathalyz in the care of her young siblings while he did odd jobs.
Nathalyz was reportedly just days away from turning 4, when Ramirez took her dead body to Einstein Hospital on Sept. 9. She was only 11 pounds, about the weight of an infant of 3 months and her bones were visible through her skin, according to the report.
Rivera has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of the Nathalyz while Ramirez, who told police that she had been busy at night clubs and casinos instead of parenting, was charged with third-degree murder.
Ramirez was also slapped with three counts of felony theft as a Secret Service investigation further revealed that months before her daughter died, she was financing her partying habit with the $2,130 she received every month from the government for Nathalyz and two other older children.
"The money was provided by the government for the care of the children," said Cujdik. "But there is clear evidence that these children were not cared for in any sense of the word."
Nathalyz spent her final days on a dirty mattress on the floor in a home that had a foot deep layer of garbage lining the floor, according to Cujdik. The furniture in the home was also broken, there were bugs all over and holes dotted the floor and ceiling. The only food in the home was a half-carton of milk.
Rivera was not charged with the theft of the children's government checks because there was no evidence he received any of the money.
Both Rivera and Ramirez are currently being held without bail. They were expected to face preliminary hearing where a doctor and medical examiner were scheduled to testify on the toddler's death. The parents also received additional assault charges on Tuesday related to their surviving children who were discovered malnourished and covered with lice and bug bites. One of them was reportedly so anemic, she would have died in nine months had authorities not intervened when they did.