Cassandra Taine Killpack
November 29, 1997 - June 10, 2002
Find A Grave Memorial

A 911 call was made about a little girl who was in trouble. Richard Killpack told the dispatcher that his daughter had a lot of emotional struggles, that she had temper tantrums and that on that day, she had thrown a tantrum and they had to give her a lot of water. Richard said that at one point his daughter had thrown up some of the water and then he said "she was just not there", we couldn't keep her eyes open. Richard went on to say that his daughter had been seeing a Psychiatrist:

"She's got a really bad case or RAD, she has temper tantrums, she zones out.
But this is the worst I've ever seen it"

Richard said that about an hour before he had called, Cassandra had thrown herself off of a bar stool in their home and had hit her head:

"She was drinking water and we told her to get down"

Richard said that about 20 minutes before he called 911, Cassandra had been complaining of a headache. Cassandra was sent to time out where she told her parents that she couldn't keep her legs still, she was told to go use the bathroom and then go to bed.

First responders found Cassandra Killpack unconscious with pink foam coming out of her mouth and a distended stomach. The Medical Examiner decided that Cassandra had died from water intoxication, that means she drank so much water that it caused the sodium levels in her body to drop and the result was swelling in her brain, causing her death.

Sherry Ragan who was the Chief of the Criminal Division of the Utah County Attorney's Office said that cuts and bruises were found in Cassandra's mouth which was an indication that she had been forced to drink the water that ended up killing her. Sherry said that what Richard and Jennete Killpack gave explanations of what happened, that didn't match the evidence that was found at autopsy.

Later, Richard and Jennete admitted that Cassandra had been being punished for sneaking drinks of Kool Aid from a siblings cup. Cassandra was under the care of therapists from the Cascade Center For Family Growth and her parents had been told they needed to set down rules which included making Cassandra ask for anything she wanted, such as food or drinks, this was supposed to help her realize that her parents loved her. Larry Van Bloem, the director at the Center said that he had not told Richard and Jennete to force water on their daughter and he'd never heard of doing such a thing and they had used this form of punishment without contacting the Center first.

There was no evidence to charge anyone at the Center with any crimes other than a later charge of practicing Psychotherapy without a license by Keith Reber who was the intake Therapist in Cassandra's case. Keith had said that he was operating under a Pastor's License while waiting for his Marriage and Family Therapy license application to go through. Keigh had lied, that application had been denied since a license he had in the state of Oregon was under investigation because it was said that his clinical beliefs were a danger to the public.

Richard and Jennete were on the Today Show where they said that Cassandra was told to drink three eight ounce glasses of water because she had been sneaky and lied when she took a drink without asking for permission first. As punishment, Cassandra was made to sitt on a barstool, her hands were tied behind her back and her seven year old sister helped her parents force her to drink a large amount of water. After she had drank about 12 ounces, Cassandra threw a fit and was forced to exercises and go to time out:

"She starts to complain her head was dizzy. I asked her to come over to me and she passed
out in our arms. Her death was a tragic, tragic accident"
Jennete Killpack

It wasn't a tragic accident, Jennete, it was death caused by child abuse.

Richard, who was 34 years old and Jennete, who was 26 years old were charged with child abuse homicide and felony child abuse. Of course the Defense Lawyer said that the couple didn't know that Cassandra's sodium levels had become dangerously low due to exercises she had done earlier in the day at the Center. The Killpack's had adopted Cassandra and she had a hard time adjusting to them, it was said she had been sexually and physically abused in her other home and that it caused her to reject bonding with her new family.  Richard and Jennete were not sent to jail because they were not considered a flight risk, however, their two other children, both daughters, were removed from their home.

Sentences for child abuse homicide can be up to 15 years in prison, felony child abuse is up to five years and the Prosecution had considered changing the charge to murder which would carry a sentence of life in prison, but that change was never made.

In January of 2006, Jennete Killpack was in court, sitting with her eyes closed and her head bowed as a Judge was criticizing her for not taking responsibility for her part in the death of Cassandra. Jennete had been found guilty of child abuse related homicide only three months prior:

"She still refuses to acknowledge and take responsibility for her actions"
Judge Claudia Laycock

The Judge felt the same way as Sherry Ragan who thought that Jennete was not accepting her role in the death of Cassandra:

"This defendant, from the moment the girls death happened, has been trying to
justify her actions. This defendant was completely out of control. She bit this
child, she tied her arms behind her back and forced water down her. The reason
this child is dead is completely attributed to what the defendant did to her"

Sherry said that the sentence sent a message letting people know that if you kill a child, you will go to prison for it. I guess Sherry is happy with the sentence that really doesn't mean justice for Cassandra. I guess Sherry might just believe that if someone goes to prison for killing a child, others will be hesitant to kill a child for fear of going to prison. Sherry is very naive, children are STILL dying to this very day, from child abuse and people are still getting ridiculously short sentences for what they do.

Jennete's Lawyer, Mike Esplin, had asked the judge for probation or a lenient sentence which would allow Jennete to be home with her four children who ranged in age from 5 1/2 months to ten years old, Mike asked that Jennete be allowed to serve her time on weekends:

"Incarceration is not required to punish Mrs. Killpack. She punishes herself every day.
That punishment will continue whether or not she is incarcerated. Everyone who goes
to prison faces some hardship, but in this case, this is a mother of four children"

I guess Mike forgot that she is a mother of FIVE children, does the one she KILLED not count anymore? I doubt she even thinks about that child, she won't even admit what she did. Sherry Ragan thought the idea of Jennete being allowed to stay home was "ridiculous":

"I do not believe she is a good mother. I believe her children are better off without
her at this point. She's a very dangerous person who is a threat to children"

Mike said:

"If Ms. Ragan is saying that Jennete Killpack is not a good mother, she doesn't know
what a good mother is"

Well Mike, she's at least smart enough to know that good mothers do NOT kill their children, then make up lies about how it happened, then deny doing it.

Judge Laycock said that it was clear that Jennete had become entangled in a power struggle with a her child:

"Just as Killpack told the jury she felt the responsibility to teach Cassandra that there
are consequences there must also be consequences for her actions. Any and all
attempts I have made to find the defendant's story truthful have failed"

Jennete spoke on her own behalf:

"I'm not asking mercy for me. Anything you to me pales in comparison to the
loss of my child. I loved Cassandra very much. I understand what I did was wrong.
I ask that you not punish my children"

Jennete was 30 years old when she was sentenced to the ridiculous sentence of only one to 15 years in prison and she would start her sentence on January 13, 2006, three and a half years after he daughter had been killed by her actions.

Mike Esplin planned to file an appeal:

"There are many issues that have been raised in the course of these proceedings
that need to be addressed"


Jennete was giving a week before she had to go to prison due to Richard's mother having passed away:

"I think it was an appropriate sentence and I also agree with the Judge allowing her
that week. I felt that was an appropriate thing to do"
Sherry Ragan

In that October of 2005, the Killpack's were on trial. While Jennete was found guilty, Richard was found not guilty:

"It's sad because it certainly doesn't bring back the child that was lost. But we feel
gratified at least they placed some responsibility. We thought they both equally had
culpability in the case, but you know we are gratified that at least one of them is
going to held responsible for her death"

Sherry Ragan - Prosecutor

Defense Lawyers insisted that Richard and Jennete were only trying to help Cassandra with problems she had from being abused before she was adopted by them:

"I honestly believe she was a very devoted mother and that's my belief"
Shelden Carter

"We thought we put a good case on and created reasonable doubt. Obviously the
jury disagreed with that"
Mike Esplin

Sadly, in January of 2012, Jennete was given parole and left prison:

"She didn't have any write ups in her time here. She pretty much followed the rules
and did what she was supposed to do"
Prison Spokesperson - Steven Gehrke

Jennete had gone before the Parole Board in 2011 and a spokesperson for the Parole Board said they had a hard time deciding what to do:

"Her sentencing guideline suggested she should serve four years and ultimately the
board decided to have her serve six years. The board also concluded she did not
intend this child's death and while extremely reckless and dangerous, she was
following the advice of so called experts in meting out punishment. She was no
prior criminal history and was a model inmate who showed great remorse"
Jim Hatch

I guess Jim and the others didn't pay close attention to the fact that the Cascade Center For Family Growth had denied telling her or any other client, at any time, to use this form of punishment and Jennete had not mentioned it to anyone there. I am so SICK of hearing the excuse "She/he didn't MEAN to kill the child". The child is no less dead because someone didn't MEAN to kill them. Killing a child while abusing them should NOT be a crime that anyone gets out of prison for, especially early released.

Jim told about Jennete's other children who had missed her and suffered for her being gone and how they had not suffered any harm while remaining in her custody for the three years after Cassandra died. WHAT ON EARTH IS HE TALKING ABOUT? She was in prison for that time, it would have been impossible for her to abuse those children in that time. So what we have is ANOTHER parent who kills a child and then walks away with a slap on the wrist. It's the same old story time after time, children don't seem to mean much to those in "power" in the legal system.





Thank you again to Nicole for sharing this form of child abuse with me and allowing me to add Cassandra to the site.

This page was created on December 5, 2014
Death occurred in the state of Utah

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