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Brandon Thomas Williams
July 12, 2001 - March 22, 2007
Find A Grave Memorial

Diane Marsh and Melvin Williams married and had a child, they named him Brandon. Brandon was born with Autism and took medication for that. Diane had two children from a previous marriage. In March of 2005, Diane called police to report that her husband had hit her son and tried to choke him, leaving marks on his neck. Diane filed for divorce from Melvin asking for full custody of Brandon due to her husbands abusive past with her teenage son.

Diane Marsh had been visited by CPS even before this incident and they visited her several times after that. In August of 2006, CPS was called, by Diane, because one of her teenage sons had grabbed and injured Brandon. At that time, her two teenage sons were removed from her home, however, they left Brandon with her.

Shortly after that incident, in either late September or early October, the Amphi officials contacted CPS to make them aware that Brandon, who was as special needs child at Helen Keeling Elementary school, had missed eight days in a row, of school. Brandon's attendance at school had never been consistent and he had transferred more than once. Brandon had ben to Marion Donaldson and Lulu Walker schools before he started at Helen Keeling. When Brandon didn't return to school and his records had not been requested for transfer, school
officials called CPS:

"We didn't know where he was"
Todd Jaeger the district's attorney and associate superintendent 

On March 22, 2007, Brandon Thomas Williams complained of having symptoms related to the flu. His mother, Diane L. Marsh, decided to treat his symptoms with nighttime Tylenol tablets. At around 7:00 p.m., Diane gave Brandon 12 of the Tylenol PM tablets. Several hours later when she returned to his room and found him unresponsive, she called the ambulance. At 11:40 p.m. the ambulance arrived and medics found that Brandon's body temperature had dropped below 80. The medics took Brandon to the Northwest Medical Center where he was pronounced dead. 

The medics who took Brandon to the hospital had noticed that there were marks on his wrists and ankles which looked to be the same kind of marks a person would get from rope burns. On the bottoms of his feet and on his toes they saw blisters, cracks and bleeding. Sheriff's homicide detectives were notified since the medics suspected child abuse. 

Diane admitted that in order to keep Brandon calm, she would give him four to five sleep aid pills, twice a day. Among the ways she used to control him, she would tie him up and at times would put his feet in scalding hot water or hit him with a wire hanger when he would do anything she considered to be, acting out.
 

Brandon's Biological father, Melvin Williams told officials that his son was Autistic and that he didn't like or approve of the way his mother had controlled him.

"I could've taken him in, all she had to do was call and 
say she needed help and I would've done it. He was 
hyper he had tantrums, but he was just 5. Jesus Christ, 
she didn't need to do that." 

Melvin said that Brandon was a very active child, always running around, talking a lot and that he was supposed to be in school, in kindergarten. Brandon loved to watch the Disney Channel and he would watch anything that was on though his favorite was "Lilo & Stitch". Melvin said that Brandon loved to go to the park, he loved to  swim and he loved playing on the swings.

Melvin had last seen Brandon in September for an overnight visit. His
visits, up to that point, had been every other weekend, however, since that last visit, he had not been able to get in touch with Diane. During the last visit, there had been no signs that Brandon had been abused.


"I didn't think she would ever do this. Brandon didn't deserve it, no one does. He was 

a wonderful little boy who never had a chance to grow up." 

Records show that CPS tried to contact Diane in October of 2006 and were not able to find her. A CPS worker contacted the police on October 16th and asked for an officer to go to the home with her, there was no answer when they knocked on the door. The next day, they returned to the house and as the CPS worker tried to call police
to meet her at the home, she saw Diane driving away.

Over the next few months, CPS would make several attempts to make contact with Diane, including visiting her bank, they would all prove unsuccessful:

"In the fall of 2006, over the course of several months, there were repeated attempts to locate
Mrs. Marsh and Brandon. These included numerous attempts to locate them at their home

It included several contacts in his school to find out if his records had been transferred." 
Liz Barker CPS worker

On March 15, a week before Brandon died, Diane's father filed a missing persons report on her. Her father said that the last time he had contact with Diane was in October when she had called him to ask for money and claiming that Witchcraft was being performed in her house.

A friend, Jeff Pankow, told police that when he last saw Diane she was cowering and didn't seem to be able to answer questions on her own. Jeff said that another woman was answering questions for her. That woman turned out to be a homeless woman who had been living with Diane, her name was Flower Thompson. Jeff also said that
Thompson seemed to control Diane and that he had talked to Flower and their conversations were about Witchcraft, seances and strange ceremonies practiced in the house.

Deputy Lillian George went to Diane's house and learned that it had caught on fire and workers were there doing the remodeling. The workers told her that she could find Diane at a North Side apartment. The officer also spoke to a neighbor who said that it seemed odd to him that Brandon had not been going to school.

At the apartment, the officer knocked several times and when the door finally opened, it was Flower who answered. Brandon was just inside the apartment:

"His feet and legs were heavily bandaged,"

When she asked what happened to Brandon, Flower said that he had fallen into the gravel and was cut by some cactus plants. Lillian said she would write it in her report, and she did. Lillian George said in her report that during the interview at Diane's house, Flower Tompson kept trying to answer for her and when she asked to speak to Diane alone, she asked if she was being held against her will and was told no. Lillian filed her report:

"Ms. Marsh appeared to be well rested, well fed 
and not in any type of duress," 

The report would not make it to CPS in time to save Brandon's life. Lillian George was not aware of the involvement of CPS in the life of Diane and Brandon so the report was not transcribed until the day after Brandon died:

"She didn't see any signs of exigent circumstances,"
Dawn Barkman Pima County Sheriff's Department

Dawn Barkman said that procedure was followed in this case since it was a missing persons case. Lillian George had done the missing persons investigation and was in the process of sending her report to CPS. Although she had seen Brandon with bandaged feet, she had no reason not to believe the explanation she was given when she asked what had happened to him. The report shows no indication that Jillian had interviewed Brandon at all. 

The next visit that would be made by police would be on March 22 when they were called to the apartment because Brandon was not breathing. 

Flower Tompson who was 27 and Mark Lee Moss who was 47, were the two homeless people who lived with Diane. Both of these people said they KNEW what was going on with Brandon and didn't call the police because they didn't want to be kicked out onto the street. 

Flower told police that she had, at times, helped Diane to tie Brandon up to control him. She also said that she had seen Diane whip him. Mark Lee Moss had previously been convicted of sex crimes in the state of California. Flower went to the hospital and Mark stayed at the apartment. When questioned, he was asked about injuries that had been seen in Brandon's anal area. Mark said he didn't know anything about it and he would never do anything like that.

Chief Rick Kastigar says that something that is extremely troubling in this case is that the other adults did not try to stop the abuse:

"One not only knew what was going on, but participated in the abuse by her own admission, 
and another individual was complicit in this and didn't report it to anyone,"

The investigators in this case say that it's very disturbing and the case hits close to home:

"Especially when you're a dad or a mom. It was probably very, very painful for this young boy. 
It saddens all of us."

Diane Marsh and Flower Tompson were charged with first degree murder as well as four counts of child abuse. Mark Moss was arrested and charged with failing to report child abuse.

The jury found Diane Marsh guilty of four counts of child abuse and one count of negligent homicide for Brandon's death. They could not agree on who had actually been the one to kill Brandon, but, they still held her accountable for his suffering:

"I think as a mother you relate to the child and the only thing a little boy wants is to be happy and 
when your mom can't even keep you out of burning water, you feel for him," 
Melissa Reichard Juror

A member of Diane's church, Glenda Jackson, showed up to court in a wheelchair to show Diane support during her sentencing she made the following comments:

"She's a good woman. She got involved with the wrong people. She needs therapy, not prison."

Diane Marsh was sentenced to a VERY short ten years in prison for all that she allowed her son to go through. How sickening is it that a person can torture their child, cause him to die and then spend ONLY ten years in prison for it?

"You may be a good person to fellow church members, but you were a horrible person to Brandon. 
You are responsible for his homicide. His blood is on your hands,"
Judge Hector Campoy - Pima County Superior Court.

Flower Tompson made a deal with prosecutors and she will also be spending only ten years in prison. She will have to serve at LEAST 85% of her time. Mark Moss was never charged for his failure to help Brandon by reporting what he saw.

Brandon's grandmother, Mae West, made a poster of pictures of him and brought it to court with her. Melvin and Mae were both upset that the people who killed Brandon didn't get life in prison:

"God knows who did it. They still got their day set with the Lord. God will have a talk with them. 
God is looking down on them right now. They're gonna suffer. Lord ain't let you do something 
like that"


Melvin said that Diane called him to apologize for what she had done:

"She said 'I'm sorry. She said she couldn't give me the details" 

Melvin Williams had filed two lawsuits over the death of his son. For $3 million dollars, he filed against Pima County, the Sheriff and one deputy, for wrongful death and for $4 million dollars he filed against Child Protective Services, three CPS employees and the state.

Melvin's claim was filed in August claiming that at least three CPS employees had failed to help Brandon by locating him and taking temporary custody of him. The claim also says that Deputy Lillian R. George failed to contact CPS on March 15 to report the condition of Brandon and failed to stay with him until CPS could arrive and assess the situation. According to Melvin, Sheriff Clarence Dupnik and the county failed to provide adequate training for these kinds of situations. A response was needed within 60 to either deny the claims or settle the claim. If no response was made, the lawsuit would proceed.

Death occurred in the state of Arizona

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