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American couple charged in relation to death of adopted child Print E-mail
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Thursday, 13 July 2017 00:00

The police department informed on Wednesday July 12 that the Director of Public Prosecutions has given a directive that charges be brought against Anke Doehm and David Doehm. They are to be jointly charged with the crime of “Cruelty to a child”. Anke Doehm has been arrested and charged for that crime while David Doehm will be formally arrested and charged on Thursday July 13 when he is brought from the Belize Central Prison on a removal order.

According to the police the crime is to be tried on indictment and carries a sentence of 10 years in prison. Though charges are now forthcoming the police say that the investigation regarding the death of Faye Lin Cannon continues.

For almost an entire week, the American couple, David and Anke Doehm, have been in police custody while they are being investigated for the very questionable death of their 13 year-old adopted daughter, Faye Lin Cannon. A post-mortem says that this little girl was physically and sexually abused.

Police first learned of the death of the child on Monday, July 3, when the husband and wife first called the police to their condominium, located on Northern Ambergris Caye. They told police that their daughter woke up at around 7 o’clock that morning. She reportedly asked for a drink of water, and shortly after that, she went back to bed. Anke Doehm told police that her husband, David, went to check on her about 15 minutes later, and he noticed that she was unresponsive.

She also told the cops that Faye was supposedly mentally ill, and that she had violent episodes where she would allegedly slam herself against the wall. The mother’s account was that for the past 3 weeks, Faye locked herself in her room, and refused to eat. The mother also claimed that about a month or so ago, she was complaining of difficulty breathing.

Contrary to the mother’s statement to police, a post-mortem conducted on Faye’s body indicated that she was physically and sexually abused. Following the results of the post-mortem, investigators detained the husband and wife. Persons within the San Pedro community have strongly insisted that Faye Lin showed absolutely no signs of any mental illness that her mother reported to police.

Background checks into the family’s history reveals that they moved to Belize about 3 years ago. Faye Lin Cannon is one of 4 children that the couple adopted from different parts of China. Residents on the island claim that the children’s behavior always gave them cause for concern because they were very timid and quiet.

Faye Lin’s death became a national news story, and shortly after that, residents of San Pedro started protesting. The island is upset that an innocent child is dead, and in the aftermath, they lashed out at the Ministry of Human Development for what they perceived as a lack of effort to protect these 4 children. They complained bitterly that the Social Worker assigned to San Pedro and Caye Caulker did not do enough to protect Faye Lin’s life. They say that they complained several times to the social worker of warning signs that these 4 adopted children were being mistreated, but the social worker did not do enough to investigate their complaints.

The Ministry of Human Development, which is usually very quiet in handling sensitive cases involving children, released a statement, confirming that they did receive a report. The Ministry, however, did not have any reasonable grounds to take custody of the children.

In a press released sent on Monday, July 10, the Ministry said, “Departmental records show that in 2014, there was a report of improper supervision and inadequate parenting whereby the Cannon children were being exposed to the elements. A joint investigation was conducted along with the Police Department, where the parents, children and school officials were interviewed. The allegation was substantiated, however, there were no disclosures or indicators of any other forms of physical or sexual abuse at that time. As such, the Department created a plan with the parents for the proper supervision of the children. The plan was monitored for adherence and the case was later closed when it was deemed that the parents had been compliant. Since then, the Department’s records show no other reports being made of neglect or abuse of these children.”

In the meantime, police have been carefully examining the lives of this family to try and determine if there is enough evidence to bring criminal charges against the parents for Faye’s death. Police have confirmed that FBI agents have been providing them assistance in trying to investigate the case.

Since the family members are US nationals, the US Embassy in Belize has been contacted by the Belizean authorities, and the Ministry of Human Development has been working jointly with the Embassy to keep the children in protective custody at this time. The Human Development Ministry successfully made an application before the San Pedro Magistrate to be granted custody.

Superintendent Henry Jemmoth, the Officer Commanding to Police Coastal Executive Unit, told the press, “The children will be interviewed by a specialist to see if they can get any evidence out of them… Also because of the nature of what had happened, we are trying not to exhaust the kids, because remember they are young and we don’t want to exhaust them with this investigation… So we have to be very careful how we do it.”

Both parents were arraigned on Monday on a single charge of drug possession for a few grams of valium. Police found them in their home after an extended search was conducted. It is illegal to have these drugs without a prescription, and David Doehm accepted responsibility for the pills. He explained to the sitting magistrate that he did not know that he was breaking the law because he went to his doctor, who gave him the pills. He says that he trusted the doctor who said that his prescription from 2014 and 2015, was adequate enough for him legally use the drugs. He pleaded guilty and was fined $185 to be paid forthwith. He couldn’t and so he was sent to the Belize Central Prison.

Even though Anke Doehm was freed of the charge, she was re-detained for suspicion of another offense. Police then had 48 hours to investigate her further, and now they have come up with charges against her.

Last Updated on Thursday, 13 July 2017 12:28