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Mo. parents charged in son’s starvation death

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Murder charges have been filed against the parents of a 4-month-old boy who weighed barely over 5 pounds when he starved to death last year.

Prosecutors on Saturday charged 27-year-old Nicholas Candler and 30-year-old Rebecca Candler with second-degree murder and endangering the welfare of a child. Their son, Jeremiah Candler, was pronounced dead at a hospital on Nov. 18. At 5.34 pounds, he weighed less at death than he did when he was born at 5 pounds, 12 ounces.

Police say that when they asked Candler at the hospital how the baby died, Candler told them that, “He probably starved to death.”

The Kansas City Star reported on its Web site that court records released Saturday indicate the couple never took the baby for a single checkup after he was born.

Rebecca Candler told police that the boy had never been sick and that she hadn’t been concerned about his health, even though he had not been eating well.

Jeremiah’s death was considered the first homicide of the year in Kansas City because police received the medical examiner’s report on Jan. 5. It concluded that the boy died of chronic malnutrition and dehydration because of neglect.

According to court records, Nicholas Candler worked two jobs while his wife stayed home with the baby and a toddler. Candler received a voicemail from his wife at 11:50 a.m. on Nov. 18 saying the baby was not eating and she didn’t know why.

He called his wife around 1 p.m. that day and she said the baby was still not eating and wasn’t responding to her at all.

Nicholas Candler later told police that he came home and found the baby’s tongue was white and he wasn’t breathing.

After the baby’s death, the couple’s 2-year-old was removed from the home. Police say that child appeared to be in good health.

Information from: The Kansas City Star, http://www.kcstar.com

© 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

http://www.columbiatribune.com/2009/Jan/20090125News006.asp

Remembering innocents

By JONATHON BRADEN of the Tribune’s staff
Published Sunday, January 25, 2009

Inside Jefferson Junior High School, beyond the shouts and shuffling of teenagers, up three flights of stairs, Craig and Susie Adams sit quietly in Room 313.

A ceiling fan hums, and pipes inside the wall clink. She sits behind her computer tucked in the southwest corner of her classroom, and her husband sits at a student’s desk facing the classroom door.

The couple is waiting to share the story of three young relatives they loved in Scranton, Kan., who were killed Jan. 14 by their father.

News reports of the tragedy say that when Susie Adams’ sister, Amy Shirley, left for work that morning, Michael Shirley killed their three offspring – Ethan, Ashten and Jackson – before setting fire to the living room and shooting himself.

When the Adamses at Jeff Junior heard the news in Columbia, they stopped what they were doing, reminded themselves to breathe and set off to join Amy Shirley and other relatives in Kansas.

“The school took care of everything,” said Craig Adams, who teaches engineering to ninth-graders.

The Columbia couple have tried to move past the anger family members have expressed and the tears that were shed. Now they’re focusing on remembering the lives of three children. They said they want to share their memories so everyone remembers them for their personalities instead of how their lives ended.

“What’s important to us is who they were and what they did,” Craig Adams said. They were “normal, good kids.”

Fourteen-year-old Ethan was a mature, fun, young man, they said.

At age 5, Ethan complimented another uncle for his landscaping work and the nice job he had done with his yard. “I was just always in awe of him because he dealt with things so maturely,” Craig Adams said.

He told his middle school students that Ethan “is the kind of kid you’d want as a partner.”

In a letter read aloud at the children’s funeral, the Shirleys’ Scranton neighbor, Tony Roberts, described Ethan as a person who “spoke with the maturity and wisdom of someone well beyond his years. He was a hard worker and would do chores for me and not expect a dime in return.”

Ethan also helped build a shed near the track at his school, Carbondale Attendance Center. Plans are in the works to name it Ethan’s Shed.

Ashten, 11, was beautiful from the day she was born, Susie Adams said.

She loved reading. The fifth-grader had just finished “Anne of Green Gables” by Lucy Maud Montgomery, which gave her the most reading points of anyone in her middle school. Ashten accumulated as many points as most kids get by the time they’re in the eighth grade, Susie Adams said.

“She was always so sweet,” the aunt said. “She was always worried about other people.”

Roberts’ letter described Ashten as “Scranton’s little sweetheart. She gave me my first bouquet of flowers. She had picked weeds, pulled flowers up by their roots; there were clumps of grass, and some were just stems. It was the most beautiful bouquet.”

Scranton, a town of 725, has no library, but there’s talk of building one and naming it after Ashten, the town’s favorite reader.

Jackson, or Action Jackson, was ornery, Craig Adams said. “He’d always do something to mess up the picture,” he said.

Jackson always had a running joke that he would tell everyone, and he was always trying to create his next joke or gimmick. “You could tell that he was always thinking,” Craig Adams said. “He was so smart.”

“Action Jackson had quite the personality,” Roberts wrote. “He kept me entertained with his superhero costumes. You never knew which superhero you were going to encounter when you went outside.”

The Adams family is grateful for the many people who have helped them. They returned from Scranton to a clean house, and someone prepared food for them all last week. A group from Jeff Junior made the 200-mile drive to Scranton for the children’s funeral, though many of them had never met the kids.

“We appreciate all the support our community has given us,” Susie Adams said.

On Tuesday, on the Adamses’ first day back at school since Jan. 14, the couple walked into the building with their heads down.

The first to greet them was a student.

“I am very sorry for your loss,” he said.

“That one person made a tremendous difference,” Craig Adams said.

The Adamses have stopped wondering why they’ve lost their nephews and niece, and they’re ready to embrace the lives that were and appreciate the time they had with them. “I think it’s important that their lives are not determined by the end,” Susie Adams said.

“You couldn’t have asked for better neighbors,” Roberts wrote. “I will miss their antics, hearing their laughter, seeing their smiles, watching them sled down my mountain. I am sure they will be missed by many. My heart goes out to Amy and her family.”


Reach Jonathon Braden at (573) 815-1711 or jbraden@columbiatribune.com.

So many people killed by those who are supposed to love and protect them. Seriously, what is wrong with people?

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