VANCOUVER, WA (KPTV) - It’s a months-old, horrific case of what medical experts in Vancouver call death by starvation.
Court records show a 15-year-old Vancouver boy’s body was wasted away to a mere 61 lbs., with stunted growth, odd scars and a disability that left him unable to advocate for himself.
But a trail of investigative reports indicate there were many people in Karreon Walker-Franks’ life who witnessed the special-needs teen in poor condition and always hungry.
Court records show Vancouver Police found CPS complaints had been filed going back to at least 2017 accusing his aunt – and legal guardian – from withholding food from the teen and his brothers as punishment.
CPS services had been contacted at least three times total, before Karreon died, according to documents.
Tragically, those court documents also show that a CPS worker paid a visit to the boy’s home just six days before the teen died, but didn’t remove Karreon or his brothers from the home. The report notes that the social worker noted that Karreon, who was autistic and delayed, was non-verbal but the social worker was also told by his brothers about how they were sometimes beaten until they bled and locked in their rooms at night.
It was another aunt of the boys who tipped off CPS, leading to that home visit.
According to police, their aunt adopted the three brothers in California in 2012.
Those court documents also reveal that it was the same woman who took Karreon to the hospital back in November, where emergency staff found he was unresponsive. He was pronounced dead and his death was ruled by the hospital as pneumonia.
Funeral home workers, suspicious of the boy’s emaciated body, contacted the Clark County Medical Examiner’s Office.
From there, the investigation was launched and Karreon’s teachers were interviewed – sharing insight about the boy’s obsession with food, dirty appearance and allotment of only one diaper a day from his parents.
Record also show Karreon’s brothers told school staff at least once, about how they’d get punished for eating food.
Neighbors of the family didn’t want to go on camera but told FOX 12 they rarely saw Karreon and described the family as quiet.
One neighbor, however, said he is now haunted by one of his only interactions with the teen. He told FOX 12 that he once was playing basketball with the neighborhood kids when he noticed Karreon, who was sitting in a chair, looked emaciated and had dry, chapped lips.
When he offered water, the boy’s brother told the neighbor Karreon wasn’t allowed water because he would wet his pants. The neighbor said he gave the teen a bottle of water, anyway, watching him gulp it down.
FOX 12 asked the Washington state Department of Children, Youth and Families for an interview, inquiring why the teen and his brothers weren’t removed from the home before Karreon’s death.
The two brothers were taken from the home after Karreon died.
The department told FOX 12 they cannot comment on the case, but they did tell us the social worker who visited the home is still with their department.
So far, no charges in the case have been filed, but the boy’s aunt is under investigation.