Controversial book part of adopted girl's murder investigation

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by ERIC WILKINSON / KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on September 30, 2011 at 5:50 PM

Updated Friday, Sep 30 at 6:02 PM

SEDRO WOOLLEY, Wash. -- Behind a locked gate and down a long, winding driveway, far from the eyes of the outside world, prosecutors say a girl who came to Sedro-Woolley from Ethiopia to find loving parents was met with horrible abuse.

Hana Williams, 13, never adapted to life with her strict, adoptive parents.

Court documents say she was considered "rebellious" and was forced to sleep in a dark locked closet, eat table scraps, bathe outside with a hose and was routinely beaten with a plastic rod. Her parents, Larry and Carri Williams, allegedly witheld food for days at a time. At the time of her death last May, the teen weighed just 78 pounds.

"It's the worst case I've ever investigated," said Dr. Francis Chalmers, a pediatrician who examined the case for prosecutors.

The night she died, Hana was found by her siblings naked, outside, face down in a mud puddle. It was 42 degrees.

"I think she was severely abused and ultimately tortured," said Dr. Chalmers.

Many in the small Skagit County city are wondering how anyone could be so cruel to a child.

Little is known about the Williams family, except that they were strict homeschooling Christians who rarely left their five-acre property.

But they got at least part of their parenting advice from a controversial book entitled "To Train Up A Child." It was written by a Tennessee preacher who advocates the infliction of pain and witholding of food as forms of punishment. An adopted California girl was beaten to death by her parents who read the same book. DSHS officials said they plan to take a closer look at it.

"From what I am aware of, I would describe it as encouraging abuse," said DSHS Area Administrator Patty Turner.

Carri and Larry Williams were each charged with killiing their daughter, and an additional assault charge for allegedly abusing a little boy they had adopted from Ethiopia. The couple's six biological children have been placed in protective custody. Prosecutors said they did not recieve the same kind of treatment as the two adopted children.

Because it was an adoption though an international agency, DSHS had no involvement in the case whatsoever. Officials said there were no reports of abuse or other red flags involving the parents prior to Hana's death. 

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