Schala Alexandria Vera
August 25, 2006 - August 31 2009
Find A Grave Memorial
Life for Schala became a nightmare starting in June of 2009 when her mother allowed Dauntorian Sanders to begin hitting her with a belt. The beating escalated over the months until finally, Schala's little body could not take any more. On the day she died, Schala's mother, Susan Witbracht gave her a bath because she said she wasn't feeling very good. It didn't matter how she felt in the eyes of Dauntorian, he began beating Schala with a belt and Susan did nothing to protect her.

At some point, Schala put her head between her knees and Dauntorian began to beat her on the back with a belt, using the end with the buckle and when she had been slammed in the head with a door repeatedly. Schala ran into the bathroom and hid between the toilet and the vanity. Schala died there, she all alone.

Dauntorian took a break and went to the store to buy some cigarettes before coming home to find Schala propped against the vanity, she was naked with her legs stretched out in front of her and her mouth and eyes were open. Dauntorian called 911 and told Police that his child wasn't breathing. When Police arrived it was too late for Schala, she was already dead. Schala was taken to the hospital where it was found that she was, wet, covered in bruises and marks that were identical to the stitching of a leather belt that was found in the bathroom. Schala had raised her hands to protect herself against this man who beat her for one reason, she didn't listen to him, she had defensive bruises on the backs of her hands. and her body was purple and blue.

Dauntorian Sanders, who was 23 years old and Susan Witbracht, who was 26 years old were arrested and charged with Murder. Those who were touched by her story, Detectives, Doctors, Paramedics, Nurses and Social Workers took action and came together during a statewide campaign to make sure what happened to Schala would be known and hopefully help to save another child:

"I cried for two weeks, every day. I cried when I was taking care of her and cried myself to sleep
that night.
It was the hardest death I've had, eve, in 11 years. I don't know when or if it will ever go
away. All I could think
was, somebody has failed"
Kepra Jack - Nurse

"You get the job done. You can't be emotional about it. You can be emotional later"
Detective Gary Fuller - Lead Investigator

Dauntorian's mother was interviewed by phone and had this to say:

"If, you know if that actually happened, I don't think he meant to do it. You know I don't think he
was out to harm Schala. I think, you know,  maybe at the time he was disciplining her for whatever
reason and it just got to far"
Debra Ellens


Sorry, Debra, but you're a FOOL. Beating a child is NOT the way to discipline them. Got too far? He KILLED her, left bruises and belt imprints ALL over her tiny body. Your son is a monster of the most unimaginable kind. It is NEVER okay to use any object to strike a child, NEVER! Debra went on to say that Dauntorian and Susan had both served in the military in Iraq and when her son came home, he had changed:

"He had a sparkle, a gleam in his eyes and when he came back, it was as if, you know, they, his
light was turned off"

Dauntorian was questioned and he admitted to hitting Schala with a belt and that he had been hitting her since June, though he said this time he was out of control and hitting her harder than he normally did. Susan said that she had also hit her daughter in the past, though she had not participated in the beating that day and she didn't do anything to stop it other than ask him to stop.  An autopsy found that Schala had died from blunt force trauma. Court papers stated that Susan told Police she adored Dauntorian even AFTER she was told the results of the autopsy. Dauntorian said that he wished someone had called the Police on him and Susan before this, because they Schala would be alive. Actually, if YOU had been the adult you were SUPPOSED to be, if you had been capable of having ANY compassion for others, if there was even an OUNCE of human in you, Schala would still be alive.

In September of 2014, Dauntorian Sanders, who was by then 28 years old, was sentenced to death for his conviction of first degree murder and was given 19 1/2 years for the two counts of child abuse:

"Schala deserved to be love and cared for by those charged with her safekeeping. Instead
they perpetuated acts of horrific abuse that ended Schala's life far too soon. The jury's verdict
of death is a just punishment for a brutal crime our society can never countenance"
Attorney - Bill Montgomery

It comes as no shock that Susan's lawyers tried to defend her by saying the had been abused as a child, sexually, verbally and emotionally, having been born to teen aged parents she was lacking in positive role models and suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and alienation:

"Ms. Witbracht is charged with first degree murder based on the theory that she failed to
protect her daughter from being beaten by Dauntorian Sanders"
Robert Storrs and Robyn Greenberg Varcoe - Defense Lawyers

As of today, I am unable to find any information about Susan having gone to court.

After Schala's death the Child Abuse Prevention And Awareness Coalition was formed. This was a multi disciplinary effort to raise awareness and help to prevent child abuse deaths in Arizona. More than 56 agencies are involved in this coalition.

Schala's body was cremated and sent to her father, who lived in New York.



Thank you Shanon and Tia for sending me this story.

Death occurred in the state of Arizona
This page was created on September 12, 2014

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