Jan. 20, 2005 - September 24,
A Grave Memorial
Born to Jacki Saunsoci, who
was only 17 at
the time, Nathaniel had severe Asthma and his mother had trouble caring
for him properly. Jacki had problems with drugs and alcohol and the
was made that she would go into rehabilitation for those problems.
she was in rehabilitation, Nathaniel was placed in foster care. Jacki's
mother would have taken him,
she was not
allowed to because she had a criminal record.
At first, Nathaniel was
placed with Robert
and Susan Goodburn though an American Indian child would normally be
with an American Indian family. Eventually, Nathaniel went to live with
his Aunt, Tiara Saunsoci, he was eventually moved again, for medical
From there he went to another foster home, which would be the last
he would live. The family he was placed with, Carlos and Tisha Vega,
not American Indian. It is said that they had 12 people living in their
home, five of their own children and five foster children, including
Nathaniel was only 20
months old when on
September 22, 2006, he was with a baby sitter before the Vega's came
and were there for a few hours before they took Nathaniel to Mercy
Center in Sioux City where he was found to have traumatic head
Nathaniel was flown to the University Of Nebraska Medical Center in
He died two days later.
Nathaniel's death was not
as a natural
causes death. That means that someone KNOWS that he was killed
no one is doing anything about it. His body showed other signs of
in the form of dog bits on his face, a broken clavicle and his broken
was still in a cast.
Ed Matney said:
"I am mystified at
of Nathaniel Saunsoci in the Vega household. The Vega
household was quite
full. A decision
to place Nathaniel, that baby, in a household
that size, is puzzling
... I hope
a situation like that can be avoided in the future"
Authorities did not arrest
anyone in connection
with his death, citing a lack of evidence as for what had happened to
In July of 2007, Nathaniel's family wanted to find out why no one had
arrested yet in connection with his death:
"I think it's a lot
as to why no one is arrested"
Olivia Saunsoci -
The family was meeting with
the Omaha Tribal
Council in Macy, Nebraska to request documents that might shed some
on why Nathaniel was placed with this particular foster family, from
Protective Services. The council agreed to request the documents,
they couldn't say for sure if they would be released to them.
Policy states that Child
will not comment on any investigation, including that of Nathaniel,
chose not to make a comment in this situation, siting that policy:
"I do not believe the
will ever have a statement"
Thane Glenn - CPS
CPS is controlled by the
which means any comment would have to go through the tribal council.
of the ongoing investigation, a secretary said the council could not
The first foster family Nathaniel had live with was upset about his
"He was a sweet
little boy, and I
wished they would have left him here"
On the day that Nathaniel
died, the other
four children who were from tribal foster care, were removed from the
What about the other five children? Who was worrying about them? Ed
said that he was worried about tribal officials asking for an adult
of their child protective agency where children are placed as foster
It had taken an extended amount of time to interview all of the people
in the household that day and it was taking longer since the removal of
the children meant they needed to be located in order to be able to
"In such a full home,
bad happens, there are a lot more people to look at"
Ed Matney, a Dakota County
that he was concerned that people were not coming forward with
that was crucial to the investigation. With the proper amount of
he would be able to get a grand jury to seek and indictment and which
force the Vega's to tell what happened to Nathaniel. He also said that
charges didn't seem very likely without information.
A memorial fund was created
by a family
friend to help pay expense related to his funeral and to help the
who was suffering from financial difficulties. When he asked what he
do to help, if there was anything he could bring them, the Saunsoci
asked for apples and then for grapes, then they said Nathaniel didn't
a head stone:
"Not only do
they don't have a headstone or anything. They wouldn't have
asked if I wouldn't have
them. It's a different kind of poverty. Unless you've been
down there, it's
difficult to understand"
to the family of
can be made in person or by mail to Central Bank in Sioux City, 522
St., P.O. Box 776, 51101. Amy Chace, vice president and branch manager
of Central Bank, is overseeing the donations. The bank can be contacted
At the time friends were
helping the family,
Dakota County Officials would continue to investigate Nathaniel's death:
"Children are the
people in our society, and it's important for everybody to know
that this sort of thing
appropriately. It is difficult to say how long the investigation could
take. These sorts of things take a long time to get all the materials
We want to make sure we have everything in place. The autopsy report
take anywhere from a week up to a month to get t
he full report in"
Ed said that he had plans
to talk with
family members while the investigation took place:
"I think that the
of this child, they need time to get through the process and to
grieve. I wish them well
that process. It's obviously an extremely difficult process"
Evan Saunsoci, Nathaniel's
said he has heard a lot of negative comments about American Indians
the death of his grandson. Some of that feedback was on the Sioux city
Journal web site. He is upset about how closed minded people can be. He
also said that he knows Nathaniel was sent here for a reason:
"As soon as they hear
the word 'reservation',
they think the worst. It's not like that. Maybe that
reason is to show that
are being mistreated"
The Saunsoci family has
stated that they
had wanted Nathaniel to remain on the reservation, with them.
Nathaniel was buried in the
Cemetery in Macy, Nebraska. Black smoke rose into the air as the as his
tiny, white coffin arrived at the cemetery where he would be buried on
top of the grave of his paternal Grandfather, Nathan Mitchell Sr, while
two grandfathers and one great grandfather kept watch over the flames
"Even the fire itself
life. Without that fire, we wouldn't be able to live"
At 10:30 a.m., Nathaniel
buried with more
than 100 people around his grave. Adrian Saunsoci is considered a
to Nathaniel, he is the brother of Olivia Saunsoci, said:
"Because he wasn't
raised with his
father's family, in this sense, we are giving him back.
His grandfather will
hold him in
Family members were crying
as they shoveled
earth over the grave of Nathaniel. Two red, heart shaped balloons that
said "I love you" were released into the air. Children carried flowers
and toys to his grave. Family and friends circled the grave:
"The circle is one of
symbols of Native life. Nathaniel is in the middle. Nobody
told them where to go.
It just happens"
Sarah Dick, Nathaniel's
cried, with her hands over her face. She had never even met Nathaniel
to him having been moved from home to home and the fact that she is
and not able to get around easily. Sarah said the hardest part of what
had happened was not knowing what really DID happen:
"I just imagine
he was crying, or whether he was knocked out and didn't hurt.
It's like a puzzle, and
of it is missing. I need to find that missing piece"
Jacki Saunsoci was calm
ceremony. In her hands she had a scrapbook full of pictures of
"He was very sweet.
He was really
smart. He was very lovable. He meant everything to me. He was
my first baby, and
Jacki says that she knows
"I don't want to
grieve too much
because his soul's not going to rest if I continue to grieve"
Only when she spoke of who
had hurt her
son, did Jacki's voice begin to tremble:
"I hope that whoever
did it to him
gets arrested and locked in prison or executed. They just can't get
with this. It's not right"
Nathaniel's cousins shared
about times they had been able to spend with him. They had taught him
language when he was a baby. Nathaniel brought his hands together when
he wanted more of something. He would place his hands over his mouth
he was hungry and he put one hand over his heart to say love.
Josephine Saul said that
chocolate chip cookies and often had chocolate on his face. When she
of him and that memory, she smiled:
"We all loved
him so much"
Today is June 12,
2014 and while searching for updates in Nathaniel's story, I found the
In August of 2009 it was reported that Tisha Vega, who was 34 years old
at the time and Carlos Vega, who was 42 at the time, were arrested an
charge with attempting to kill a man who was a neighbor of Tisha. Tisha
was already facing charges for the death of Nathaniel which at first
was felony manslaughter and was later reduced to a plea of no contest
since she was able to plea.
On July 29, the couple were arrested and being held on $750,000. bond
for attempted murder, aiding and abetting an assault and assault by
strangulation. Miguel Garcia told Police that the two had come into his
home at about 2:00 a.m. on July 25th and attacked him. Miguel had an
epidural hematoma and a cracked skull that were both described as life
Later that month, Tisha was sentenced to an INSULTING TO NATHANIEL'S MEMORY two
years in prison and
$2,000. in fines.
I am unable to find any information about Carlos being sentenced.
Death Occurred in the state of Nebraska
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