Press one of the expand buttons to see the full text of an article. Later press collapse to revert to the original form. The buttons below expand or collapse all articles.
Kill Mom and Dad
February 2, 2012 permalink
A California teenager has killed both of his adoptive parents, Susan Poff and Robert Kamin. The enclosed article is a hagiography of the adopters. Both spent their lives helping the poor, she as a physician assistant in a clinic, he as a clinical psychologist for inmates in the San Francisco County Jail system.
But the boy expressed with his actions that the parents were not saints. Since the inside of many American prisons resembles Abu Ghraib, the jail psychologist may have created a similar environment at home. Toward the end, the article says the boy argued with the parents over the amount of time he spent at Occupy Oakland.
Oakland couple Susan Poff, Robert Kamin mourned
Friends and relatives said Susan Poff and Robert Kamin of Oakland were the perfect pair to adopt a foster child.
They had dedicated their careers to helping others escape poverty, she as a physician assistant in a city-run clinic in the Tenderloin and he as a clinical psychologist for inmates in the San Francisco County Jail system.
But now, less than a decade after they adopted, their 15-year-old son stands accused of strangling both Poff, 50, and Kamin, 55, then hiding their bodies in the back of the family's PT Cruiser.
Police were called to the family's home on Athol Avenue on Friday by a co-worker who was concerned when Kamin did not show up for work.
According to an Oakland police source familiar with the case, the co-worker first called the son, who said his parents were out for a walk. Police arrived at the home Friday, spoke with the son, and didn't find anything unusual. When the co-worker called the boy a second time later in the day, the son said he was in the bathroom and couldn't pass the phone to his parents. Suspicious, the co-worker called police again.
Officers returned that night and noticed charring on the car, parked in front of the house, as if someone had tried to set fire to it. Then they looked inside the automobile.
Initially the son, whose name is being withheld because of his age, denied any involvement, but later told officers what had happened, authorities said. He was arrested on suspicion of murder Saturday and is being held at the Alameda County Juvenile Justice Center in San Leandro.
Co-workers said Poff and Kamin were having some arguments with their son, some of it having to do with him spending too much time in the Occupy Oakland encampment, but nothing that sounded beyond the scope of typical teenage rebelliousness.
"I never heard her express any fear about her kid, ever," said Joshua Bamberger, medical director of the San Francisco Department of Public Health's Housing and Urban Health Clinic, where Poff worked.
Advocates for the poor
The news hit hard in both San Francisco and Alameda public health communities, where Poff and Kamin spent decades as passionate advocates for the poor, as well as mentors to their younger colleagues.
Staff members gathered Saturday at Bamberger's house to console one another, and on Sunday more left flowers at a growing memorial in front of the couple's home near Lake Merritt. They had recently moved to the Athol Avenue home from another section of Oakland and were in the middle of a renovation. The bottom floor was gutted and held up by supports, and the kitchen was newly constructed.
"Susan was the sweetest woman at the clinic, even when she was running around like crazy serving the homeless in the Tenderloin, she'd take time out for you when you had a question," said nurse manager Mike Arrajj of San Francisco, who stopped by the Oakland home to leave candles and flowers.
At the Housing and Urban Health Clinic, Poff saw patients and prescribed medicines. She also screened homeless applicants looking for permanent housing in one of the health department's 1,500 Direct Access to Housing units.
"All the cops, and all the people at S.F. General knew to call her to help get someone into the system," Bamberger said.
Her career began after graduating from UC Berkeley, when she went to El Salvador to volunteer in a health clinic. She took a job working at a low-income health clinic in New England before returning to San Francisco to work in the Haight-Ashbury Free Clinic. There she provided free health care and mentored hundreds of medical students and nurse practitioners.
Met through friends
Poff and Kamin, a graduate of Stanford University, met through mutual friends. Kamin's interest in mental health came from his family, said his brother Bruce Kamin of Oakland, who worked for nearly two decades as a psychiatric social worker for Alameda County. Their father is a psychiatrist. Kamin said the family's interest in mental health stems in part from wanting to help their oldest brother, who has a mental disability.
"This whole thing is unbelievable, but at the same time I have to believe it," Bruce Kamin said.
"Bob was my brother and my best friend. I feel shock now, and soon I'll feel the sorrow. Then anger could possibly come up later," he said.
The couple adopted because they were unable to have a child of their own, and because they wanted to help a child who'd had a rough start, Kamin said. They enrolled their son in a charter school in Oakland and drove him to karate lessons, where he advanced to the level of black belt, Kamin said.
But the boy's infatuation with violent video games was starting to give his uncle pause.
"Bob's strength was dealing with people in jail, who are in terrible situations and very demanding. It's too bad that his own son couldn't benefit from that."
E-mail Meredith May at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article appeared on page C - 1 of the San Francisco Chronicle
Source: San Francisco Chronicle