I can't imagine what it must
feel like to be a grandparent concerned for the welfare of a grandchild
and do all you can do to protect that grandchild and have no one listen
to you. Bruce and Francisca Anderson know that feeling better than they
would like to. Bruce and Francisca ahd made several attempts to get
help for their granddaughter, Sarvia, by calling the Alberta Children
And Youth Services Ministry and letting them know that they had serious
concerns about the safety of their granddaughter being neglected and
possibly being abused. Elizabeth was their son, Reinier Jimenez's,
daughter, he shared custody with her mother who was also named Sarvia
Velasquez. Bruce and Francisca took Elizabeth on trips to the mountains
and were elated to have her in their lives.
In March of 2009, they could tell that something was not right with
Elizabeth who was usually a very happy child. Elizabeth didn't like to
be touched any more and was edgy all the time, she also had bad diaper
rashes that showed she was not being changed enough. Then Elizabeth
suffered a broken leg and sadly, while she was just learning to stand
up and talk, Elizabeth suffered a second broken leg, less than a week
later. In fact, Elizabeth had suffered at least four broken bones while
living with her mother and her mother's boyfriend.
On March 15, Bruce called CYS to report what they were sure was abuse
and the next day, Francisca called them with an update:
"She had two broken
legs, so why didn't remove her"
A family friend even called Crime Stoppers who said they would pass on
the information, Alaida Rubio said that she could tell Francisca was
frantic and fearful for Elizabeth's safety. Bruce and Francisca were
to spend a lot of time with her since their son had her part of the
time. These loving grandparents say that if their concerns had been
looked at in a serious way, their granddaughter would be alive.
the morning of May 2, 2010, Paramedics were called the home of
Elizabeth's mother. Elizabeth was only 14 months old when she was
taken to the hospital where an autopsy was at first inconclusive though
a later autopsy, done in December, showed that she had died of asphyxia
and her death was not accidental. Sarvia and her boyfriend were
questioned and neither could be ruled out as a suspect in her death.
Reports said that three other children living in the home at the time,
were taken into CYS protective custody.
CYS Minister, Yvonne Fritz, said that while she couldn't go in to
details, her department was doing an internal review of the case:
"We did receive a call
from the child's grandparents in mid March and we were
It was reported that a case filed was started and Police and child
welfare officials were sharing information as well as concerns, related
to the case. Bruce was told that the case would be a high priority:
"We were told it was
being treated as an emergency. It was acknowledged"
Bruce said they never heard another word from any officials and by the
time they did, Elizabeth was already dead.
"This is our worst
nightmare come true, but we're not totally surprised with the outcome
but we were hoping that it would come out that, you know, she had
Death Syndrome or a brain aneurysm something with natural causes. But
the autopsy took, the worse it was looking"
"She was my little princess. I can't explain the pain in my heart. I
will do whatever I can
help find this monster"
grandparents were hopeful that at least now that the CYS was involved,
answers might be found:
"We know that it's
going somewhere, that it's not just, she's gone. Let's just hope
justice is served"
By May of 2011,
no charges had been filed and Reinier was upset and wanting answers
saying that when he thinks about what his daughter must have gone
through in the weeks before she died, it hurts him. Reinier also wanted
to know why nothing was done to protect his daughter when complaints
had been made, he felt like any action taken had not been enough:
"It's hard. I thought
it was an accident. Some babies, they die, in my mind, I wasn't
I want them to find out who did this to my daughter. She's a baby, why
would someone do
to a baby? Sometimes I don't want to think about it, poor little baby"
Reinier said that he had met Sarvia at a New Years Eve party after
which they spent six or seven months living together before an ex
boyfriends managed to break them up. Sarvia was pregnant by the time
they broke up and he moved out. Reinier was happy that he was going to
be a father, however, it was hard on him when Sarvia did all she could
to make sure he didn't see her very often, he just wanted to be a part
of her life. Sarvia had physical custody and she was the one who
decided if Reinier and his parents got to spend time with Elizabeth:
"I paid child support,
it was hard to even get a hold of Sarvia. I tried to be in her life but
mom wouldn't let me see her, only when she wanted. There was a lot of
house. My mom called child welfare and nothing was done"
August of 2011, it came out that concerns had been voiced when
Elizabeth had gone to ACH several times over a 61 day period. Two weeks
passed before an assessment with a Pediatric Child Abuse specialist
could be done and it took another two weeks to confirm that Elizabeth
was being abused:
"There wasn't any one
specific breakdown. It was a series of gaps and delays
Gayla Rogers - Social
A joint meeting too place between a case worker, the Police and health
officials, oddly, no one was taking notes though a Pediatric reported
was handed out. Police starting urging that Elizabeth be taken out of
the home, but it never happened:
"I think timeliness in
access to care is something we're going to examine a little bit deeper"
Dr Francois Belanger -
"We have learned that
the way we speak and the way Child And family Services speaks and
Services, there's maybe a difference in how we speak or how we express
concerns. Perhaps we
could have been more clear in expressing our concerns"
Police Chief - Rick
As of today's date, June 25, 2014, I am
unable to find any information about anyone being held accountable for
the death of this precious, little Angel.
To Elizabeth's Story
A Timeline Of Elizabeth's Life