Since 1996, when the U.S. began adopting from Russia, 16 Russian children have died at the hand of their U.S. adoptive parents. Here are some quick facts on these chilling cases.
February 9, 1996 - David Polreis, Jr:
age 2, of Greeley, Colorado was beaten to death. Over 90% of David's body was covered in cuts, which his adoptive mother, Renee Polreis, claimed was due to the boys severe RAD. Renee stated that David would hit himself with a wooden spoon. Husband, David Polreis, Sr. was out of town at time of attack and was not implicated. Rene Polreis was convicted of child abuse resulting in death and sentenced to 18 years in prison. David was adopted 6 months before his death.
November 25, 1998 - Logan Higginbotham:
age 3, of Shelburne, Vermont died of massive head injuries. Adoptive mother Laura Higginbotham, stated that Logan fell and hit her head on the floor of an upstairs bedroom. It took 3 years for the medical examiner to determine whether the case was accidental or homicide. In 2004, Laura Higginbotham pled no contest to a charge of involuntary manslaughter and was sentenced to 1 year in prison. Logan was in US 7 months before her death.
October 31, 2000 - Viktor Matthey:
age 6, of Hunterdon County, New Jersey died of cardiac arrest due to hyperthermia after adoptive parents Robert and Brenda Matthey locked him overnight in a damp unheated pump room. Viktor was also severely beaten by his adoptive father. Both parents are sentenced to 10 years for confining Viktor to a pump room, 10 years for excessive corporal punishment
and 7 years for failing to provide medical care. The sentences run concurrently. Viktor was in the US 10 months before his death.
November 30, 2001 - Luke Evans:
age 1.5 of Lowell, Indiana died of massive head injuries, shaken baby syndrome, and poor nutrition. Adoptive mother, Natalie Fabian Evans, stated that she couldn't wake Luke one morning and so placed him in a tub of water to "stimulate him" where she says he may have bumped his head on the tub. The authorities took a year to investigate the case. Evans is scheduled to stand trial for murder in October 2005. Luke was in the US 6 months before his death.
December 14, 2001 - Jacob Lindorff:
age 5, of Gloucester Twp, New Jersey died of blunt force trauma to head. Also suffered from 2nd degree burns on feet, hemorrhaging in 1 eye; bruises, and seizures. Adoptive mother Heather Lindorff, was found guilty of 2nd degree endangering, aggravated assault and sentenced to 6 years. Adoptive father, James, sentenced to 4 years probation and 400 hours of community service for child abuse. Adoptive mother claimed that the injuries were accidents. Jacob was in the US 6 weeks before his death.
August 15, 2002 - Zachary Higier:
age 2, of Braintree, Massachusetts, died of severe head trauma. Adoptive mother Natalia Higier, stated that he had fallen out of his crib or hit his head on the floor. She later admitted to tossing him into the air and he hit his head on the coffee table. Zachary sustained a bilateral skull fracture, strokes, brain swelling, and detached retinas. Natalia pled guilty to involuntary manslaughter and was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in jail with 18 months balance of sentence suspended for 4 years.
October 23, 2002 - Maria Bennett:
age 2, of Lancaster, Ohio, died from shaken baby syndrome. Adoptive mother Susan Jane Bennett, said that she had tripped while carrying Maria and had dropped her. Medical evidence proved otherwise. Susan Bennett pled no contest to 1 count of reckless homicide and was sentenced to 3 years in prison. Maria was adopted 9 months before her death.
August 11, 2003 - Jessica Albina Hagmann:
age 2, died from smothering. Adoptive mother, Patrice Hagmann claimed that she accidentally killed Jessica while trying to stop her from having a tantrum. Patrice was sentenced to probation and to 2 suspended 5 year terms.
October 16, 2003 - Liam Thompson:
age 3, of Columbus, Ohio, died from scalding and neglect. His adoptive father, Gary, placed him in a tub of 140 degree water. He received 2nd and 3rd degree burns. His LPN adoptive mother, Amy, neglected treatment for 2 days, then treated him with Tylenol and Vaseline. She took Liam to the hospital only after he went into respiratory failure. Amy was sentence to 15 years for child endangering and involuntary manslaughter. Gary received 15-life for murder. Liam was adopted 5 months prior.
Russian Child Murder Cases Continued on Page 2.