Death of 5-year-old girl linked to child abuse
The stepmother of 5-year-old Kate Arianne Chu Flores was accused of maltreating the little girl, physically and emotionally, until the little girl fell ill and died, after two weeks of hospital confinement.
The deat h certificate said the grade 1 pupil from Alang Alang, Mandaue City died last July 27 of “sepsis and post-traumatic stress disorder secondary to child abuse.”
Kate was previously left in the care of her stepmother, Abigael Catindijan, by the child’s father whose job as a long-haul truck driver from Cebu to Manila left him away from home for long periods at a time.
At the vigil wake of his daughter, Arthur Flores, 31, said he never thought his live-in partner, Abigael, whom he met in November 2009, would maltreat the little girl.
“They were very close at first. I never thought this would happen,” he told Cebu Daily News in Cebuano.
Arthur said he thought his girlfriend, now eight months pregnant with his third child, would care for his two children who were borne of different mothers.
However, neighbors in Alang-Alang, the girl’s grandmother and the two younger children, openly talked about how Kate suffered at home.
Abigael would allegedly refuse to feed her, giving only rice and water for meals, or would hit her in anger.
Senior Insp. Elmer Fernandez said police are looking for the woman, who is a native of Tabuelan town in north Cebu. She disappeared from their rented apartment while the child was in the hospital.
Arthur came home July 18 and rushed Kate to the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center after he noticed his daughter had difficulty breathing.
The couple had a fight. The stepmother denied allegations that she mauled Kate. When Arthur came home, the woman was gone.
The little girl had tests for CT-scan, x-ray and multi-resonance imaging. Findings were negative.
Arthur said doctors told him they didn’t find anything wrong with Kate and advised him to take her home.
At that point, he said, the child got worse and later died.
The death certificate signed by Dr. Rhea Denopol identified “sepsis” and “post-traumatic stress disorder” secondary to “child abuse” as a cause .
Sepsis is a potentially life-threatening complication of an infection.
It wasn’t the first time Kate was identified as a victim of abuse.
Last July 15, the girl’s grandmother, Myrna, who lives nearby took Kate to the police station.
Myrna, 54, said she worried that the little girl had lost weight and looked miserable. The girl also had bruises on her skin. The grandmother told police the child was a victim of abuse.
When the girl was asked questions, Kate would turn hysterical, recalled the grandmother.
She said Kate would point to her head, eyes and mouth saying that she was in pain.
“We had to restrain her hands because she would poke at these parts often,” Myrna said.
Police Officer Diana Magbanua said they endorsed Kate for medical and psychological examination at the VSMMC’s Pink Room.
She recalled that the child kept laughing and crying while talking about her stepmother.
Test results will remain confidential pending the filing of charges of physical injury with homicide and child abuse next week.
Police said they already took affidavits of five witnesses, including the victim’s teacher.
Kate will be buried on Tuesday at the Mandaue public cemetery.
She would have turned 6 years old on Oct. 26. With Correspondent Norman V. Mendoza
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