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February 16, 2006 permalink
The first story below of a boy murdered by his adoptive parents is not so unusual, but the second is. The adoptive family contains the boy's only legal relatives but none of them want to be reminded of the shameful events leading to his death. The natural mother, the one genuinely bereaved, is not a legal relative, cannot claim the body, and is not even entitled to notification of her son's death. Ontario's proposed changes to the Child and Family Services Act provide that a protection order ends with the death of a child. That looks like a good idea.
Ricky Holland's Adoptive Parents Charged with his Murder
Mason, Ingham County - Murder charges in the death of 7 year old Ricky Holland... his adoptive parents are accused of the crime.
After months of searches and investigation, police found the boy's body in rural Ingham County on January 27, 2006, after Tim Holland pointed the way. He and his wife Lisa are now both charged with his murder.
Tim and Lisa Holland were to appear in court Tuesday to face obstruction of justice charges relating to their son's disappearance and death. Instead, prosecutors upped the charges.
Judge Thomas Boyd heard the evidence against Tim and Lisa Holland in a closed courtroom, and agreed to charge both with open murder.
Lisa Holland's attorney, Michael Nichols, says the charges are not a surprise, but he hopes prosecutors are not rushing to judgment. He says, “You know, it took seven months to find out the fate of Ricky Holland, and five days to decide to charge both of his parents with open murder."
Tim Holland is also charged with open murder. His attorney, Frank Reynolds says, “He's devastated with the entire situation. If you had an opportunity to see him in there today, you could see from his expression how he's reacting to this." Now, the work begins to build their defense. Reynolds says, “We had probably a thousand pages given to us late yesterday. And there's a great deal more that's out there that we haven't seen yet."
Although investigators previously said the two pointed the finger at each other, Ingham County Prosecutor Stuart Dunnings III says if the case proceeds against both adoptive parents, Tim and Lisa Holland could be tried together. He says, "I would anticipate, if they were tried together, that we would have two juries. One jury to consider his case and one jury to consider her case."
For now, both Tim and Lisa Holland are being held without bond.
The judge did give two orders today to keep the facts of the case private, to avoid tainting the potential jury pool. Evidence presented Tuesday will not be made public. Also, the lawyers and investigators were told not to talk about the details of the case.
Holding funeral for Ricky complicated by court case
Seven months ago, hundreds of volunteers searched for Ricky Holland, on foot, by helicopter, even underwater.
Today the body of the slain 7-year-old lies unclaimed in a Michigan State University forensics laboratory, and strangers have stepped forward offering to pay for the funeral of the child whose adoptive parents are charged in his death.
Ingham County Medical Examiner Dean Sienko said Monday that he can't release the body, which was found Jan. 27 in a rural Ingham County ditch, until legal issues are worked out. But his office was swamped with offers from strangers anxious to provide the child with a dignified end.
The issue is determining who in the family gets the remains," Sienko said. "Typically we contact the next of kin, (but) this is complicated.
"Since he was adopted, his biological parents have no rights to his body.
"So now we have to work through the adopted families, and we will proceed in the normal line of succession. It's my responsibility to determine the next of kin."
Sienko said no family members have requested the remains. To do so, they would need to file a petition with the state Department of Human Services. If nobody claims the body, it would be up to Human Services to provide a burial or cremation.
Meanwhile, several people also called The Detroit News with offers to provide final rites for Ricky.
One church pastor wrote to say he would provide the services, and others called willing to start fundraising drives to support a memorial or scholarship fund in Ricky's memory.
Ray St. Clair of Brighton was among those moved by the story of the hungry and abused little boy.
"We've got to put a park bench up for this kid or something," he said. "This hit me in the heart."
You can reach Karen Bouffard at (734) 462-2206 or firstname.lastname@example.org.