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
, we couldn't keep her eyes open. Richard went on to say
daughter had been seeing a Psychiatrist:
"She's got a really bad
case or RAD, she has temper tantrums, she zones out.
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
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
our arms. Her death was a tragic, tragic accident"
It wasn't a tragic accident, Jennete, it was death caused by child
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
"She still refuses to
acknowledge and take responsibility for her actions"
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
child, she tied her arms behind her back and forced water down her. The
this child is dead is completely attributed to what the defendant did
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
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.
punishment will continue whether or not she is incarcerated. Everyone
prison faces some hardship, but in this case, this is a mother of four
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
"I do not believe she
is a good mother. I believe her children are better off without
this point. She's a very dangerous person who is a threat to children"
"If Ms. Ragan is saying
that Jennete Killpack is not a good mother, she doesn't know
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
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
consequences there must also be consequences for her actions. Any and
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
of my child. I loved Cassandra very much. I understand what I did was
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
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
week. I felt that was an appropriate thing to do"
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
at least they placed some responsibility. We thought they both equally
culpability in the case, but you know we are gratified that at least
one of them is
going to held responsible for her death"
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"
thought we put a good case on and created reasonable doubt. Obviously
disagreed with that"
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
did what she was supposed to do"
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:
guideline suggested she should serve four years and ultimately the
decided to have her serve six years. The board also concluded she did
this child's death and while extremely reckless and dangerous, she was
the advice of so called experts in meting out punishment. She was no
criminal history and was a model inmate who showed great remorse"
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"
child is no less dead because someone didn't MEAN
to kill them. Killing a child
while abusing them should NO
be a crime that anyone gets out of prison for, especially early
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.