On December 18, 2014, a child’s life ended tragically. Five year old Kenneth White of Berne, NY was strangled and beaten to death by his 19 year old cousin with whom he resided. His cousin then dumped Kenneth’s body over a guard rail and covered it with snow. Kenneth was referred to by his community and school as a bubbly five year old who had a “smile that lit up his school” and loved Spiderman. Mental health issues were stated by his cousin’s mother to be the reason for the murder. Her daughter often watched Kenneth and his two sisters, and her mom stated she was always great with the children, but could have “episodes” if she did not take her medication.
Kenneth’s biological parents did not have custody of him. He was living with his aunt, his 19 year old cousin that murdered him, his twin sister and his four year old little sister. After Kenneth’s death, his biological father filed for custody of his two sisters. He went to court was denied custody because he had two more children at home in which child protective services intervened per his request. He also had not made an effort to see his two daughters or Kenneth in over eight months and yet he only lives 50 miles away from them. The judge denied future custody of the girls to the aunt they lived with, in light of an abuse petition from the Albany County Department of Children, Youth and Families. The petition brings to light untreated mental issues for which she has not gone to counseling for in at least one year. Her mental status makes her ability to care for children questionable, and puts children in harm’s way, according to the judge. Kenneth’s aunt is facing neglect charges because of her untreated mental status. Due to the custody denial, Kenneth’s two sisters were placed into foster care (timesunion.com, 2014).
The reason I am writing about this horrific tragedy is because Kenneth and his sisters never had a stable family environment. The sisters are now in foster care and will eventually have a chance at a forever family. Kenneth will never have that chance. He was murdered by his own cousin, for no reason at just five years old. He had just started kindergarten at Berne Knox Westerlo Elementary School. He had his whole life ahead of him. The tragedy of this story is enormous.
From the facts I have gathered, Kenneth’s father himself was arrested in 2010 for endangering the welfare of his children. He had not been with his children in the same residence in at least two years. I have been following this story, or rather this tragedy, and I am distraught that three innocent angels all under the age of six have endured conditions and horrific events no one should ever have to live through. According to Kenneth’s aunt, Kenneth slept in a chair in the room where his cousin slept. His younger sister slept on the floor, because there was no other room in the trailer. I am saddened for Kenneth and his sisters, because adoption and/or foster families could have been an option from birth. Instead of having their children raised in the unstable and unsafe environment they were, those children could have been given the gift of foster families and maybe in the future, adoption. All three would have had a future at a forever family. At least two of the children still have that chance. My heart breaks for these children, but I am hopeful that maybe in light of this horrible event, extra diligence will be taken when needed to ensure children taken away from care and custody are placed in a stable, loving environment.
Source: Times Union 2014
Source: TWC News