EVERETT, Wash. — Betsy Alvarado’s home is full of photos of her kids, and those photos are all she has to remember 17-year-old Adriana Gil and 16-year-old Mariel Gil.
In December 2021, the two sisters and their father Manuel Gil were found dead inside a Renton apartment. Seven months later, the King County Medical Examiner ruled the cause of death for all three was starvation. The manner of death for the girls is still undetermined.
“It made me very angry because to me there's no undetermined,” said Alvarado, the girls’ mother.
According to the medical examiner, all three were emaciated and there wasn't food in the home. Investigators found written materials about fasting. Their father's death was ruled a suicide.
“His death was considerably after the girls’, somewhere between five to 10 days. The idea, I think behind ruling his death a suicide is he would have known what was going to happen if he continued to not eat,” said Renton Police Detective Robert Onishi.
According to the medical examiner, the cause of death for the girls is undetermined because there isn't a way to determine the girls’ state of mind and intent
“Their state of mind was fear. That was their state of mind. Do what daddy is saying we have to do to not burn in hell,” said Alvarado.
“It makes it seem like they had the decision of whether they were going to eat or not, or take their own life. They were children,” said Ron Anderson, the girls’ step-dad.
Alvarado believes Manuel Gil's extreme religious beliefs lead the girls to cut themselves off from the world. She said Gil followed a sect of the Black Hebrew Israelite faith which has been categorized as a hate group, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.
“He sat in the house with them for 5 days afterward. He didn't call for help. So what's undetermined? He did this to them,” said Alvarado.
Renton police said the ruling wasn't what they wanted either.
“It doesn’t answer anything for the family. It is not an outcome that we are satisfied with, unfortunately, it is what we have at the present,” said Onishi.
Alvarado said she called Child Protective Services to report concerns regarding the girls' well-being and never heard back. KING 5 reached out to CPS for a comment but as of Friday night, have not heard back.
Alvarado wants the case to stay open. Renton police said they need people with knowledge of the two girls and their father to come forward.
“We'd be looking for somebody who had something very, very personal, very, very intimate in terms of communication with the people who were actually directly involved in this,” said Onishi.
For Alvarado, she wants answers and justice for her daughters.