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A.J.'s Story -- Red Flags

It's important to recognize the red flags from this case so we as advocates and concerned citizens do not make the same mistake twice.

Eileen Callahan:
· Became so concerned about AJ not being in school on Thursdays – due to the fact that he was collecting aluminum cans, and then later crushing them in his driveway – that Callahan called CPS to report it. She claimed that she was “put off” and told to call Indian Pines Elementary – which she did. An employee at the school told her that they were aware of AJ’s absenteeism.
· On one occasion when she saw AJ edging the lawn with scissors, her husband went over to help him with some of the yard work. When she saw AJ the next day, his eyes were black and blue.

Ilene Soini-Schwarz:
· 3 weeks before AJ’s death, she’d asked a judge for an emergency hearing to get AJ back but the request was denied.

Patsy Logan (AJ’s sister):
· Witnessed AJ being fed only bread and water and sometimes was forced to eat bread off of the floor. If he didn’t clean the garage “good enough,” he was not allowed to eat at all.
· When he cleaned the kitty litter box, if he didn’t do it right, “his face would be put in the litter box.” He also had to clean dog feces from the backyard using his hands, but he was allowed to wear gloves.

Jamie Falk:
· Told the personnel at HRS that AJ was “always getting hit,” but since she had no proof, they told her they couldn’t do anything.

Serena Perryman:
· Witnessed Jessica Schwarz come outside and yell down the street to AJ that if he did not get down to his house on the count of five, she would make him walk down the street naked.
· Heard Jessica call him a “fucking bitch.”
· Saw bruises on him many times.

Theresa Walton:
· Was standing outside AJ’s house when Jessica came to the front door – holding a cockroach in her hand – and called AJ into the house. Jessica told AJ that she was going to make him eat it because she had found it in the kitchen cabinets near the dishes and that he didn’t do a good enough job cleaning the dishes.
· Walked into the kitchen and saw AJ standing in a corner, “chewing on something.”
· Said AJ was allowed five minutes to eat his dinner and if he didn’t finish in that time, the food was given to the dog.
· Saw AJ sitting at the dinner table with his mouth taped shut – with a sandwich and drink in front of him. His hands were behind the chair, but sxhe didn’t think they were bound.
· Over a 3 ½ year period, she claims that she’d seen AJ with tape over his mouth at least 7 or 8 times and sometimes there was writing on the tape, such as, “I’m an asshole” or “I’m an idiot.” About 2 months earlier, she’d seen him outside with silver tape – thought to be duct tape – over his mouth.

Beth Walton:
· In October, 1991, when Jessica dropped AJ off at her house, he was wearing a white T-shirt with the words “I’m a worthless piece of shit – don’t talk to me” on it. Jessica said she had written the words there because he’d violated one of her rules.
· Jessica told her not to allow AJ to talk to anyone or to watch TV while he was there.
· Later in the day, Walton put another shirt over the one he was wearing. That way, he wouldn’t have to lie if Jessica asked him if he wore it all day.
· On another occasion, Walton gave AJ a peanut butter sandwich, and after he ate, he asked her if he could “wash” her bathroom because she was nice to him.
· Sometime in 1992, when Ilene Soini-Schwarz was trying to get visitation rights, Walton claimed that Jessica had told AJ that if he told the judge he wanted to see his natural mother, she “would kill him.”

Susan Simpson:
· Jessica talked about AJ at every meeting and she called him Jeffrey Dahmer. Jessica also told her that she locked AJ in his bedroom at night because she “was afraid he was going to be standing over her bed with a knife.”
· At one of the meetings, Jessica walked in and said, “Well, I fed the bastard.”


When asked what type of rewards AJ received for good behavior, David Schwarz said that he would get toys for “extra good behavior” and “an extra helping of food at dinner for daily good behavior.”

Jessica stated that she did not believe in counseling and claimed that AJ was never helped by imipramine. Ironically, she felt that what he needed was a strong, well-structured home where he would feel safe and wanted.

“I guess Jessica just doesn’t like him. She tolerates him, and his father just doesn’t care. No one cares but Mrs. Idrissi and me.” – Dr. Zimmern

“The staff psychologist feels that Andrew is a very sick kid – almost at the end of his rope. Jessica Schwarz, a combative, rude, simplistic woman with no real love for Andrew, is the worst possible stepmother for him. Serious consideration is being given to removing him from the Schwarz home and placing him in a foster home. This home would have to be carefully selected; a warm, loving person like Mrs. Idrissi would be fine. Barbara Black of HRS will set up a meeting in the future.” – Dr. Zimmern

When AJ was administered the Rorschach (inkblot) test, he saw alligators, fire, ghosts, lion s and dead dragons with blood on them. According to the psychological evaluation report, he was also preoccupied with angels.

· The second counselor at the Center for Children in Crisis found that there was “rather severe and continuing emotional abuse” and recommended that there should be a more thorough investigation by HRS.
· It was over a month later before HRS workers met with the counselors and school personnel to discuss AJ’s case.
· Barely a month later, AJ was dead.
· Andrew Schwarz had been in protective custody for 36 months – 27 months longer than policy recommended.

“Mrs. Jessica Schwarz was quite clear that she didn’t believe in counseling and she didn’t believe in drug therapy.” – Dr. Zimmern

“On May 1, 1992, Judge Birken decreed that the natural mother and sister of Andrew Schwarz were enjoined and restrained from contacting him, either directly or indirectly; also, that no adult was to disparage any other involved adult in his presence.” – Dr. Zimmern

Patsy, who turned 13 in 1990, accused Jessica of verbal and physical abuse. She also threatened suicide, which apparently triggered the hearings that placed her in foster care.

“Due to errors in administration, Andrew did not receive a medical card until August, 1992. (Jessica) then called South County Medical Health Unit and arranged for an appointment on September 10. Her husband and two other daughters did receive their medical cards. HRS reportedly told (Jessica) that Andrew was dropped because he was too old.
“(Jessica) feels that Andrew is an extremely excitable child with a poor attention span; that he’s impulsive, has poor judgment and cannot be trusted alone. She’s upset by Andrew’s lying, sneaking about, and his refusal to talk. She feels he knows what he is doing and uses rule infractions as a way to get attention; that he’s ‘a bad boy with a grin on his face.’” – Dr. Zimmern

David Schwarz is a long distance truck driver who was rarely home.

“Andrew did say that he does not want to see or speak to his natural mother and stepsister.
“Mrs. Schwarz told me that Patsy told Andrew she hated him and that she physically abused him.” – Dr. Zimmern

“Linda Hunter, Andrew’s second grade teacher….Thought Andrew was scared to death of something or someone. He was very loving toward her and she felt he needed love in return.” – Dr. Zimmern

“Ms. J. Heinrich had been forbidden by Mrs. Schwarz from speaking to him or his sister Patsy…
“She said that when Patsy was in school there, she acted like a little mother to Andrew and was very concerned about him. Andrew seems immature to Ms. Heinrich. She also said he’s frightened, doesn’t smile, although he always says everything is fine. She feels he’s afraid to speak out.” – Dr. Zimmern

“Summary: Andrew is a depressed, anxious child with severe and long-standing parent problems. Last spring he became suicidal, withdrawn, and was unable to assess reality. He may have become close to a psychiatric breakdown. If Andrew cannot live in our world, he will withdraw into his own.” – Dr. Zimmern

“Something is wrong here. Changes must be made. Why is Andrew so cooperative in school and so rotten at home?” – Dr. Zimmern

Upon AJ’s admission to the Psychiatric Institute of Vero Beach, he was immediately placed on suicide precaution – someone looked in on him every 15 minutes – day and night.

Dr. Rahaim testified that when Andrew Schwarz’s intelligence capacity had been tested in school in March 1990, his IQ had been 101 – average. He was tested again in October 1991 and his IQ was 91 – low average. AJ was tested a third time in February, 1992 – during his stay in the psychiatric hospital – and his IQ was 86 – very low average. In less than two years, there had been a 15-point drop in AJ’s IQ.

“The most important thing in this little boy’s life was that he do his work and get it all done.” – Dr. Rahaim (AJ was not quite 9 years old at the time)

“He asked the staff if he could please not leave the hospital, that he wanted to stay there because he was allowed to do things there.” – Dr. Rahaim

“The bed-wetting appears to have started very early in 1991, a few months after Andrew arrived at the Schwarz home. It continued until the day that he was admitted into the psychiatric hospital. I think the bed-wetting was one of many, many symptoms of being abused and harmed.” – Dr. Rahaim

AJ found himself sobbing in front of other people in school and other places – “just broken-down sobbing.” He exhibited regressed behavior – fingers in the mouth, baby talk – one of the hallmarks of an abused child.

AJ became close to psychotic in the hospital when there were no visits and when visits were promised, but they did not occur.

“Overwhelming insecurity and need to be made secure and safe. Constantly needed to be hugged and touched and made to feel safe. Grabbed the staff and tried to hug them. Always wanted to be hugged and comforted. Withdrawn. Preoccupied. Passive. No spontaneity except for needing security. No spontaneous information.” – Dr. Rahaim

“You didn’t see emotion, you know, laughter and things like that. He was just zombielike.” – Dr. Rahaim

“He had no trust in anyone. He wouldn’t complain. If you asked him what was wrong, he’d tell you ‘he’ was wrong. His identity was very badly shattered. In my opinion, he felt like he was worthless – that all bad things were due to him.” (He was unable to have relationships, to personally have friends, to share stories, or to trust anyone.) “And there was a deep, overwhelming learned humiliation about the boy.” – Dr. Rahaim

Scott Cupp knew that one of the reasons it was decided at the meeting that it was all right to leave AJ in the Schwarz home was that Dottie Daniels, Barbara Black’s supervisor, had stated – in no uncertain terms – that it was her opinion that all the abuse complaints coming from the neighbors were harassment. Also, she felt it was “going to cease,” and that it was directly a result of the biological mother.

CUPP: “Haven’t you been taught that it’s one of the hallmark indicators of abuse – if the bed-wetting is not tied to a physical problem?”
(SANDRA) WARREN: “Bed-wetting may be an indicator of a physical problem or possibly abuse problem.”
CUPP: “Assuming – assuming it’s not tied to a physical problem, aren’t you taught that’s one of the hallmark indicators of stress on a child?”
WARREN: “I can’t recall if that was ever mentioned in any of my training.”


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