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10 Adoptions That Ended In Tragedy

by Amanda
fact checked by Jamie Frater

Although the outcome of most adoptions is positive, the sad reality is that not all adoptions have happy endings. Some adoptive parents neglect, abuse, or even kill their adopted children. There can be problems with the children, too. In cases involving older kids, there are often undisclosed psychological issues which cause the child to act aggressively or even violently, sometimes with dire consequences.

10 Anthony Bluml


Photo credit: The Wichita Eagle via YouTube

Teenage mother Kisha Schaberg placed her two sons, Anthony and Christopher, for adoption. Both boys were taken in by Roger and Melissa Bluml of Valley Center, Kansas. In fall 2013, Kisha contacted her sons on Facebook. Anthony jumped at the chance to reconcile with his biological mother.

The mother and son soon began discussing their hatred of the Blumls. Kisha felt that the Blumls were keeping her from her children while Anthony was upset that he had recently been kicked out of the house because he used drugs. Anthony also felt that his adoptive parents favored his brother, Christopher. When Anthony told his mother that he believed he would inherit the Blumls’ estate, he and Kisha hatched a plot to kill the Blumls.

On November 15, 2013, Anthony went out to dinner with his adoptive parents. Kisha and an accomplice, Andrew Ellington, were waiting at the Blumls’ home. When the Blumls pulled into the driveway, Kisha and Ellington approached the vehicle. Ellington held Roger at gunpoint while Kisha shot Melissa in the head. Then Kisha turned the gun on Roger and shot him in the head, too. Melissa died in the hospital the following day while Roger passed away five weeks later.

Mother and son pled no contest to capital murder and aggravated robbery charges. Each was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Ellington was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 25 years. Braden Smith, who provided the guns to Kisha and Ellington, was given a plea deal because he did not take part in the actual shooting. In exchange for his testimony against the other three defendants, he was sentenced to serve at least 24 years.

9 Moses Kamin


Moses Kamin had a traumatic childhood. One of three children born to a mother with substance abuse and mental health issues, Moses was frequently in the emergency room for what his mother, Rosa Smith, described as injuries from accidents.

Social services began an investigation based on allegations of abuse and neglect. During one unannounced visit, they found Moses naked and smelling of urine with curdled milk in his bottle. However, this was not considered enough to warrant the child’s removal, so Moses stayed in his mother’s care.

At age three, Moses often had to go outside to dig through garbage cans for food, sharing what he found with his two siblings. The children were finally removed from their mother’s care after Moses and his brother were found outside wearing only their diapers.

Moses was placed in foster care until age six. He was obsessed with food, often stealing and hoarding it. He was also aggressive, often hitting and kicking his foster parents. In 2002, he was adopted by Susan Poff and Robert Kamin of Oakland, California. They seemed to be the perfect couple to help the troubled little boy. Kamin was a prison psychologist, and Poff worked for the Department of Public Health where she helped homeless people.

His new parents placed Moses in therapy as soon as the adoption was finalized. He was diagnosed with attention deficit disorder, conduct disorder, and reactive attachment disorder.

In January 2012, 15-year-old Moses was suspended from school for smoking marijuana. This led to a heated argument with his mother during which Moses choked her to death. Afterward, he dragged her lifeless body to another room to hide it.

Then he waited in the dark for his father to come home. When Robert walked through the door, Moses grabbed him from behind, slipped a plastic bag over his head, and strangled him. Moses put the bodies of both parents in their vehicle, which he tried to set on fire.

Moses was arrested and tried as an adult. He pled guilty to first-degree murder and was sentenced to 25 years to life.

8 Aaron Howard


Aaron was only three months old when he was adopted by Deborah Frankel-Howard and Paul Howard. The couple later divorced, and Deborah was granted custody of Aaron. She worked for Health Canada where she wrote a popular and frequently cited study on family violence. Despite being an expert on the topic, she wasn’t able to save herself.

At age 19, Aaron still lived in the basement of his mother’s house in Ottawa, Ontario. Showing little ambition in life, he mainly spent time with his girlfriend and drinking with friends. This led to many arguments with his mother.

On the afternoon of June 6, 2007, Aaron woke up late in the day, hungover from a party the night before. His mother had gone out and left a note asking her son to clean the basement. When Deborah returned home, the two began to fight. In a fit of rage, Aaron picked up a lead pipe and savagely beat his mother to death. Then he hid her body in a cold storage room in the basement.

Friends and family became worried when days passed and they had not heard from Deborah. That worry turned into suspicion when they went to her home and Aaron gave conflicting stories on where his mother was. On June 14, Deborah’s brother filed a missing person report.

The following day, police searched her home and discovered her body. Aaron was nowhere to be found, so local RCMP issued a Canada-wide arrest warrant. He turned himself in to police on June 20. After pleading guilty to second-degree murder, he was sentenced to 11 years in prison without the possibility of parole.

7 Larry And Carri Williams

Child testifies about beatings neglect from adoptive parents

Larry and Carri Williams of Sedro-Woolley, Washington, already had seven biological children when they decided to adopt Hana and Immanuel from Ethiopia. Strict parents who believed in corporal punishment, they followed the teachings of the controversial book To Train Up A Child by Michael and Debi Pearl. The book is religious in nature and takes the biblical reference of sparing the rod quite literally. According to critics, the book advocates child abuse with recommendations for discipline that have led to the deaths of several children.

On May 12, 2011, Carri called 911 to report that 13-year-old Hana had stopped breathing. First responders found the girl’s lifeless body lying facedown in the backyard. She was covered with scratches and bruises. An autopsy determined that hypothermia was the cause of death. The little girl was also malnourished. She was 152 centimeters (5 ft) tall and weighed only 35 kilograms (80 lb).

The Williams were arrested and charged with manslaughter and homicide by abuse. They were also charged with assault of a child for alleged abuse against Immanuel.

During the Williams’ trial, their children testified that their mother forced Hana out into the cold, rainy evening as punishment. Carri told Hana to do jumping jacks and gave her brothers plastic switches with which to hit her if she stopped.

The most damning testimony came from 12-year-old Immanuel. The child, who is deaf, told the court how his parents would beat him with sticks and belts and also spray him with a hose if he wet his pants. He testified that he and his sister were given little to no food. He also described how Hana was made to use a portable toilet, bathe outside with a garden hose, and sleep in a closet.

Larry was found guilty of first-degree manslaughter and sentenced to 28 years in prison. Carri was found guilty of homicide by abuse and sentenced to 37 years in prison. Both were also found guilty of assault of a child.

6 Tucker Cipriano

Sentencing in Cipriano case

Tucker Cipriano, 19, and his friend Mitchell Young, 20, spent the evening of April 16, 2012, smoking marijuana. The two decided to break into the Cipriano family home in Farmington Hills, Michigan, to steal money, so they could purchase more drugs.

Around 2:00 AM, Robert and his wife, Rosemary, were awakened by noises and went downstairs to investigate. They found their adopted son Tucker and his friend Mitchell in their kitchen. When Robert demanded that the pair leave, Tucker took a baseball bat and began beating his father. Rosemary started screaming, begging her son to stop. Tucker handed the bat to Mitchell, telling him to keep Rosemary quiet. Mitchell then struck Rosemary with the bat.

The noise woke up Tucker’s brother and sister, 17-year-old Salvatore and eight-year-old Isabella, who went down to the kitchen to investigate. Armed with a pellet gun, Salvatore tried to fight off his brother, but he was not strong enough. Tucker viciously beat Sal with the gun and the bat. Little Isabella, looking on in horror, grabbed her softball bat and went after Tucker in a desperate attempt to save her family.

Tucker snatched the bat from Isabella and returned to attacking their mother and brother. For some unknown reason, Isabella was spared. But Tucker suddenly realized he had not seen his brother Tanner and told Mitchell they had to search the house. Tanner had hidden under a desk in one of the upstairs bedrooms and called 911.

Robert died from multiple skull fractures while both Rosemary and Salvatore were left in critical condition. Mitchell was arrested at the scene while Tucker was apprehended a few hours later at another location. Both pointed the finger at each other as being responsible for the vicious attacks. They were given life sentences without the possibility of parole.

In court, Tucker became emotional, begging for forgiveness. However, Mitchell proclaimed his innocence, giving a speech about how his lawyer and the legal system had failed him. Rosemary was able to make a full recovery, but Sal was not as lucky. As of 2014, he still required constant medical care, although he was slowly improving.

5 Renee Bowman

Renee Bowman Convicted in Freezer Bodies Case

On September 26, 2008, several residents of a Lusby, Maryland, neighborhood contacted 911 after noticing a little girl wandering the street wearing only a nightgown covered in feces and blood. The seven-year-old was taken to a hospital where an examination revealed the young girl was the victim of extreme abuse. Covered in infected sores, she had injuries to her legs, arms, and head. She told police that she had jumped out of her bedroom window to escape her mother, whom she thought was going to kill her.

Police then interviewed the girl’s mother, Renee Bowman, who confessed to beating her daughter with a shoe. The following day, the police used a warrant to search the home for signs of child abuse. What they found shocked even the most seasoned investigators.

In the basement freezer were two frozen bodies. When Bowman was confronted, she broke down and told police that the bodies belonged to her two adopted daughters, seven-year-old Jasmine and nine-year-old Minnet. An autopsy revealed that both girls had died from asphyxiation.

During Bowman’s trial, her surviving daughter testified to unspeakable abuse. The girls had been confined to a room and forced to use a bucket as a washroom. They were frequently beaten and choked. When asked by the prosecution how many times her mother choked her, the little girl said it happened so often that she could not keep track.

The prosecution alleged that Bowman adopted the girls strictly for financial reasons, receiving a total of $152,000 from the child welfare agency because the girls had special needs. She continued to receive these payments after she murdered Jasmine and Minnet.

Bowman was sentenced to two life sentences plus 75 years.

4 Drew James Weehler-Smith

Teen father charged in baby Gabriel’s death

Rachel and Heidi McFarland desperately wanted to have a baby. As a same-sex couple, they knew that adoption was one of their only options. In December 2013, their dream came true when they brought home their newborn son, Gabriel King McFarland. But their happiness would be short-lived.

Unfortunately, the McFarlands’ attorney hadn’t filed the paperwork on time to terminate the rights of Gabriel’s biological parents. As a result, Gabriel’s biological mother, Markeya Atkins, was able to reclaim her son two and a half months later. This mistake would have deadly consequences.

On the evening of April 22, 2014, Markeya went out to run errands, leaving the boy with his father, 17-year-old Drew James Weehler-Smith. Markeya called her friend Siobhan Williams and asked if she could stay with Drew and the baby until Markeya got back. When Siobhan arrived, she saw Drew driving away without the baby. Fearing Gabriel was home alone, she contacted Markeya.

When the two young women entered the apartment, they found Gabriel unresponsive in his chair. Siobhan performed CPR while Markeya called 911. Unfortunately, Gabriel was pronounced dead at the hospital from head trauma.

Weehler-Smith was charged with first-degree murder and child endangerment causing death. He was given the maximum sentence of 50 years with no chance of parole for 17 years. The McFarlands filed a lawsuit against their former attorney.

3 David And Rejeana Moss

On August 26, 2013, Ohio State Patrol responded to the scene of an accident. The two young girls inside the crashed car were charged with unauthorized use of a motor vehicle and placed on probation.

During a meeting with their probation officer, the girls, ages 11 and 13, revealed that they were being abused by their adoptive parents, David and Rejeana Moss. They stated that on the night of the accident, they picked the lock on their bedroom door and stole the car in a desperate attempt to escape. The probation officer contacted Ashtabula County Children Services Board and the Ashtabula County Sheriff’s Department. After a search warrant was issued, investigators found a house of horrors.

From 2011 to 2013, the two girls and their adopted brother, a mentally challenged adult, were held captive in the home. They were kept in their bedrooms with locks on the doors and windows boarded up. They were forced to use containers as a washroom, received little food, and were beaten so hard with a wooden paddle that dried blood was found on it. In addition, the two young girls had been sexually abused by their adoptive father, David Moss. The children were removed and placed in foster care.

Earlier this year, David and Rejeana were indicted by a grand jury on nine felony counts, including kidnapping, felonious assault, and endangering children. David was also indicted on counts of sexual battery and gross sexual imposition with a minor. They have both pled not guilty and are awaiting trial as of 2015.

2 Craig Armstrong


Craig Armstrong, a San Bernardino police officer, and his wife, Tammy, were unable to have children. In 1991, they decided to become foster parents to two little girls, 18-month-old Cameo and three-year-old Alicia, with hopes of eventually adopting them. The girls had been in their care a little over a month when Alicia went missing in a local shopping mall.

After searching for Alicia for over an hour, Craig informed mall security of her disappearance. Then he contacted his wife. Within hours, a massive search for the little girl was underway. Over the next couple of days, 300 police officers joined the search, and the FBI was called in to assist.

Detective Keith Prostler, head of the task force, started becoming suspicious of Craig after noticing some discrepancies in his story. The police also received tips that Tammy had been upset with Alicia’s recent behavior, telling people that the girl was possessed and abnormal.

Prostler decided to give the couple lie detector tests. After Craig showed strong deception, Prostler had Child Protective Services remove Cameo from the home. Prostler and several officers also conducted a search of the Armstrong home after getting a search warrant.

Investigators found one of Alicia’s jumpers with possible bloodstains on it. In addition, blood (which was later identified as Alicia’s) was found in the Armstrongs’ vehicle. About a week later, Tammy arrived home to find her husband dead in the garage. He had hanged himself with a dog leash.

The following day, police were contacted by a criminal attorney who had a video of Craig confessing to Alicia’s murder. In the video, Armstrong said he had been drinking while home alone with the girls. Around 2:00 AM, Alicia woke him up. He grabbed the little girl by the arm and dragged her upstairs. As he beat her, Alicia fell backward, hit her head, and lost consciousness.

After several moments, the little girl regained consciousness and stood up. Thinking she was fine, Craig put her to sleep in his bed. But he found her dead when he awoke the next morning. Craig severed the body, placing the parts in cardboard boxes. Then he threw the boxes over an embankment.

Craig stated that his wife had no idea what really happened to Alicia. No charges were ever filed against Tammy Armstrong.

1 Joshua Jenkins


Joshua was adopted by George and Aileen Jenkins of Las Vegas. By all accounts, his childhood with them was a happy one. Both parents doted on him and gave him everything he could ever need or want. But things changed when Joshua was in his teens. The once happy and loving little boy began to exhibit terrible mood swings, quickly going from pleasant to violent.

On several occasions, his parents had to call 911. In one particularly disturbing incident, Joshua had intended to murder his father with a crossbow and rifle, both of which his father took away from him.

On the afternoon of February 2, 1996, Joshua’s family picked him up at a private boarding school in Los Angeles, where he had been living for about a year. Then they all headed for a weekend visit with his grandparents in nearby San Diego. Sometime during the night while his family was asleep, Joshua grabbed a kitchen knife, a hammer, and an axe and savagely hacked and stabbed his parents to death. Then he killed his grandparents in the same violent manner.

Joshua hid the bodies in the master bedroom. When his 10-year-old sister, Megan, awoke the next morning, Joshua struck her in the head with the axe and killed her. He then set the condominium on fire and fled in his parents’ Mercedes.

Joshua was arrested the following morning. Due to the savagery of the murders, the district attorney tried the 15-year-old as an adult but spared him the death penalty because of his age. Joshua was sentenced to 112 years in prison.

fact checked by Jamie Frater