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Za'Naya Flores
March 15, 2010 - January 12, 2012
Find A Grave Memorial

In pictures, this precious Angel smiles as though everything was right in her world, unfortunately, it wasn't. In June of 2009, Francisco Jose Flores and Kiyanna Higgins, parents of this precious baby, got into a fight where Francisco attacked Kiyanna with a knife, this wasn't the first time he had attacked her and wouldn't be the last. By the time Kiyanna was six months pregnant with Za'Naya, Franciso was in jail waiting to go to trial for the attacks on Kiyanna. Unfortunately, Kiyanna was also in jail for a suspected attack on a family member. Kiyanna gave birth while in jail and Za'Naya was taken away by Child Protective Services and placed in a foster home, Kiyanna was found not guilty on the charge and in April of 2011, Za'Naya was returned to her mother. At that same time, Kiyanna was granted custody of three children, including Za'Naya.

Monica Lopez is Za'Naya's paternal grandmother and she said that within four months of the custody hearing, Kiyanna would no longer allow her to see the grandchildren:

"After that, she wouldn't return calls, wouldn't let me see the kids"



In January of 2012, Kiyanna called 911 to report that her daughter was having a seizure. Za'Naya was taken to the hospital, but was dead before she arrived, and it was discovered she had burn marks, bruises and scars on her body, these injuries suggested that she had been abused. Police found similar marks as well as signs of malnourishment on another child in the home, Za'Naya's older brother.

In the bedroom, Police found that there were cigarette butts on everything, including the bed. Holes in the walls had been covered with duct tape and there was very little food in the home other than some frozen meals and a few condiments. Police said that Za'Naya looked to be about one year old even though she was actually 21 months old. One of her siblings, a brother, was underweight, had multiple bruises and it would later be thought that he was suffering from brain damage due to malnutrition. 

Site creators note: Below is a little bit of what Police were able to piece together from CPS reports, though any time you see the word "redaction", that means that something has been taken out or edited. I will not be doing a spell check on this part of this page because this was exactly how it was published:

• "When (Za'Naya's brother) was brought down, he had a large bruise on his forehead. He had bruising to both ears and his temporal area. (He) was very pale. His eyes were sunken and he appeared very thin. CPS notified me that when (he) went to the rest room, he had bruising to his genital area. He told CPS that his mom punched him."

• Officer "Gustafson said that he observed bruises on Za'Naya's ears, feet and chin. He said he saw old scars on her right knee and shin, lower back, upper buttocks and under her left thigh. He said it looked like there was a bite-mark scar on the left forearm."

• Tucson Fire Department Capt. Mark Maibauer "said it was obvious the child was very emaciated and didn't appear to look like a normal 1-year-old child."

• Paramedic Bryan Tobler "stated in his experience, the child's appearance was extremely sick and the worst case he's seen."

• "There were cigarette butts everywhere, even where they found the baby in the bed. There were cigarette burns all over the carpet in the bedroom and living room. There were holes in the walls throughout the house and they were covered with duct tape and paper and others covered with a sheet."

All of this was apparent to officers on the scene, but what about Hauser? The CPS worker had been managing the case for months and months with a number of home visits. Hauser didn't respond to a phone message. Here's what we can glean from the heavily blacked-out case file:

• July 29: "All of the other children are healthy. (redaction) Zanaya is now living with her siblings. (redaction) The children play good together."

• June 3: "All of the other children are healthy. (redaction) Zanaya is now living with her siblings. (redaction) The children play good together."

Both of those case notes were created on the same day: Aug. 17.

• May 17: "Zanaya is back in her mother's care at this time. (redaction) Zanaya is walking and more mobile, as a result of being more mobile, she has shot up in height and slimmed down. ... All the other children are healthy. Zanaya is now living with her siblings. (redaction) The children play good together."

• April 23: "Zanaya is back in her mother's care at this time. (redaction) All of the other children are healthy. (redaction) Zanaya is now living with her siblings. (redaction) The children play good together."

Information found here: www.azstar.net

Kiyanna was arrested along with her sister and mother who was a paid caregiver. The trio was charged with second degree murder and felony child abuse. Monica said she never suspected abuse:

"I could not believe it. Up to this day, I still can't believe it"

Monica said that she knew that Kiyanna was jealous and possessive of Francisco and that she had a bad temper, but there were times that she also seemed overwhelmed being the mother of five children.

The Medical Examiner found that Za'Naya had died of malnutrition, weighing only 14.6 pounds and that her body had dozens of scars, bruises, cuts and scabs as well as blood behind her eyes.

Monica Lopez buried her granddaughter with the help of Holy Hope Cemetery with the funeral home paying for the cost of the funeral. Not one person from Kiyanna's side of the family attended the funeral for this little Angel. Monica has only memories and pictures of her granddaughter:

"She would entertain herself with whatever she could find. She was not a fussy baby.
She never
cried a lot"

Below is a brief summary of what happened:

NAME: Za'Naya Flores.

AGE:
22 months.

DATE OF DEATH:
Jan. 12, 2012

CITY:
Tucson.

MANNER OF DEATH:
Pronounced dead at hospital where doctors reported bruises, burns, scratches, bite marks and scars on her body. They also found evidence of malnourishment.

CAUSE OF DEATH:
Malnutrition, murder.

CPS CONTACT:
March 2010 report of birth of Za'Naya and April 2011 decision to reunite Za'Naya with her mother.

SUSPECTS:
Kiyanna Higgins (biological mother), 23; Keshawna Cynthia Higgins (aunt), 25; and Clara Huyghue, 53 (maternal grandmother).

EMPLOYMENT:
Kiyanna Higgins -- unemployed telemarketer; Keshawna Higgins -- self-employed caregiver; Huyghue -- home-care giver.

CRIMINAL HISTORY:
Kiyanna Higgins was on probation from one child-abuse felony conviction.

PROSECUTION:
All three have been indicted on two counts of child abuse, plus second-degree murder.

On July 2, 2014, Keshawna Higgins was sentenced by Superior Court Judge Deborah Bernini to only 2 1/2 years for her part in the death of Za'Naya. SHOCKINGLY, Keshawna was allowed to plea down from first degree murder, to child abuse. The reason for this was that she was not the primary caregiver. Jacob Amaur, her lawyer, asked the Judge to only consider the fact that she had not contacted anyone to get help for the children being abused in the home and that she had never hit the children herself:

"We're talking about someone punching and hitting a defenseless little kid and I don't
believe that
that's what she did"

Of course Jacob used the excuse that she lacked that ability to recognize that the children were in trouble because she has a low IQ. Keshawna will be on ten years of probation after she is released. Kiyanna and Clara have not been to court as of this date.



OBITUARY:

Za'Naya Flores

Za'Naya Flores born March 15, 2010 our precious little angel was called home by our heavenly Father on January 12, 2012.

You will be greatly missed. Love Dad, siblings, grandparents, family and friends.

Visitation will be held Thursday, January 19, 2012 at 8:30 a.m. - 11:00 a.m. with a Service at 9:30 a.m.

MARTINEZ FUNERAL CHAPELS, 2580 S. 6th Ave., Tucson, AZ 85713.

Interment to follow at Holy Hope Cemetery.

Published in the Arizona Daily Star on Jan.18, 2012

Thank you to Maria for sending me the name of this precious little Angel so she could be memorialized and honored here on my site.

UPDATE: December 3, 2014 (Thank you to Cat for this update)

In July of 2012 the Child Protective Services caseworker in charge of Za'Naya's case was fired and before he left, Donald Hauser said:

"The state has placed children and the workers in a no win situation"

Four CPS workers were being held responsible for the role they played in the death of this little Angel. One specialist retired and two other workers were being disciplined for their inaction in the case. It came out that Donald Hauser had been with CPS for at least 14 years and did what was called "phoning in" his assessment of the case. Donald never once checked on the safety of the children in the home and when they were returned to the home, Donald had not even checked to be sure they would be safe. Later, Donald falsified records to reflect things he had never done:

"You failed to address safety and risk concerns that were documented as well as
take into consideration the history of the case and past dependencies before
requesting that the case be closed"
Vernoica Bossack - CPS Overseer

Donald replied by saying:

"On multiple occasions, I asked my supervisor for recommendations on how to cover
my cases because the the Department was dangerously overloading this worker"

DES Director Clarence Carter said that Donald was just making excuses:

"The time it took to cut and paste information from one report to another is time that could
have been extended in a way to protecting the child"

While Clarence did say that he knows the caseloads are heavy, he added that there are efforts being made to lighten the loads of each case worker and assessments will be made to figure out if they need to hire more case workers:

"I don't know the answer to that question, but we're working our tails off to get the answer.
There are many of our caseworkers and our supervisors who are getting the job done
under these circumstances. Is it a crushing burden? Yes. Are people doing it and doing
it well? Yes, they are. If no one could do it them that would be, for me, a different issue"

The answer to the question, how long can people continue to work under those circumstances when they are, at times, the last and only resource out there to protect the children? What has to happen in order to prevent more cases like Za'Naya's?


Return To Za'Naya's Page
Read A Time Line Of CPS Visits
Death occurred in the state of Arizona
This page was created on July 4, 2014

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