Trained to Death – The Death of Hana Grace-Rose Williams

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12th December 2020  •  5 min read

10-year-old Hana Grace-Rose Williams and her 7-year-old brother, Emanuel, were born in Ethiopia. In 2008, they were adopted by Carri and Larry Williams through Adoption Advocates International and brought over to Sedro-Woolley, Washington, United States. When Hana came to the United States, she had ringworm, parasites and hepatitis B. Three years later, Hana would be…


Trained to Death - The Death of Hana Grace-Rose Williams

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10-year-old Hana Grace-Rose Williams and her 7-year-old brother, Emanuel, were born in Ethiopia. In 2008, they were adopted by Carri and Larry Williams through Adoption Advocates International and brought over to Sedro-Woolley, Washington, United States.  When Hana came to the United States, she had ringworm, parasites and hepatitis B. Three years later, Hana would be dead. However, it was none of these things that killed her…

On the 12th of May, 2011, Hana was discovered naked and face down in the mud in the family’s backyard. According to Carri and Larry, Hana had become increasingly rebellious and had refused to come inside. They said that she began to throw herself on the ground and pretended that she couldn’t walk. Carri said she found Hana with mud in her mouth, not breathing. Hana’s cause of death was hypothermia.1

Following her death, the community were left wondering what had happened. How can a 13-year-old girl die of hypothermia in modern-day America? Many called for her death to be investigated with Mulumebet Retta, President of the Ethiopian Community Mutual Association, stating: “We just want the truth..”2 It was noticed during autopsy that Hana had suspicious marks across her body, including welts on the back of her legs and a lump on her head.

In August, it was announced that police in Skagit County were investigating the circumstances that led to Hana’s death. It would be discovered that Child Protective Services were contacted by law-enforcement officers and the county coroner who had come to find out that in the months leading up to Hana’s death, she had suffered significant weight loss. “They were concerned because she was outside at night when she died,” said CPS spokeswoman Sherry Hill. Furthermore, following Hana’s death, Carri and Larry became very uncooperative and forbid the seven other children living inside the home to speak with investigators in private.3

The other seven children living at the home were removed and placed into foster care while a family member informed the media that investigators had theorized that Hana had been placed outside as punishment. At the time of Hana’s death, it was only 42 degrees. A family friend would inform investigators that Carri had given her a book titled: “To Train Up A Child.” This book was written by Michael Pearl, a fundamentalist preacher who encourages parents to discipline their children with extreme corporal methods. He tells parents to use a plumbing tool to whip children, to give them cold water baths when potty training, to put them outside during cold weather and to have them miss meals. The book is extremely disturbing and essentially, tells parents they should be abusing their children to teach them.

It soon became apparent that the Williams had used this book and that Hana had been the victim of on-going abuse and neglect. “It teaches children through fear and so perpetuates criminal punishment of children,” said Chris Jamieson from CPS. Both Carri and Larry Williams were arrested and charged with homicide by abuse. They were ordered to be held on $500,000 bail each.4

In the charging papers, Skagit County Prosecutor Rich Weyrich said that the couple had engaged in a pattern of assault or torture on Hana including depriving her of food, locking her in a dark closet and beating her with a plastic tube. The couple also forced Hana to sleep in a barn, shower outside with a hose and even sit outside alone while the rest of the family celebrated Christmas. When guests came over, Hana would be allowed to sit at the table but was only fed bread. When Hana was locked in the dark closet, Carri and Larry played the Bible on tape as well as Christian music.

Over the course of two years, Hana lost almost 30 pounds. She was so emaciated that when she was forced outside on the night she died, her body was unable to retain enough heat. According to a report on her death, she had died from “a culmination of chronic starvation caused by a parent’s intentional food restriction, severe neglect, physical and emotional abuse and stunning endangerment.”

In addition to the charges relating to Hana, Carri and Larry were also charged with assault of a child in the first degree in relation to Hana’s deaf brother, Emanuel. According to investigators, Hana and her brother were treated substantially different than the couple’s six biological children, who ranged in age from 7 to 17. According to other family members, both Hana and her brother were withheld food.

Then in November, the couple were also charged with first-degree manslaughter by domestic violence. The charging documents alleged aggravating factors in the manslaughter that “the offense was part of an ongoing pattern of psychological, physical or sexual abuse of a victim or multiple victims manifested by multiple incidents over a prolonged period of time.”5

The trial of Carri and Larry Williams began in July of 2013. Emanuel was one of the first witnesses to testify. Through a sign language interpreter, Emanuel told the jury that he and his sister were repeatedly beaten and punished with a water hose. “They would beat me very hard,” he said. “It was the same for my sister. The father would use a beating stick to beat us. If we wet the bed, they would use a water hose all over us, spray our bodies. They would hit me on the bottom of my feed and around the toes as well.”6

Emanuel said he witnessed Hana’s beatings and described her as being “sad and unhappy.” He said that Larry touched his private parts but this was stricken and the jury were told to disregard it. The prosecutor said that Emanuel may have been referring to Larry checking to see if he had wet his pants as opposed to something more sinister.  According to a mental health therapist, Emanuel had post-traumatic stress disorder because of how he was treated by Carri and Larry.

His testimony was followed by graphic photographs of Hana’s body while Dr. Daniel Selove detailed Hana’s autopsy. He said that Hana weighed just 78 pounds and that her ribcage was visible. He said she was “abnormally thin” and pointed out various bruises, scrapes and other marks on Hana’s body which he said could have been caused by a switch.7

Both Carri and Larry would testify on their own behalf and both would turn on the other.

 Carri once again stuck to her original story – that she had asked Hana to come inside that night but “she began throwing herself down.” She said that Hana had bumped her head and scraped her knees and that she believed that was “acting out.” She said that she sent three of her sons outside to hit Hana for not coming inside. She said that when Hana collapsed, she put a sheet over her naked body, stating: “Modesty is important in our family.”8 Carri went on to make the startling claim that Hana probably unintentionally killed herself.

Larry told the jury that he felt “responsible” and “ashamed” of what had happened. He said that sometimes, he disagreed with Carri’s ideas for discipline and that he regretted not intervening. He said that he worked long hours at Boeing and didn’t know the full extent of what was going on at home. “I’m the dad. My daughter died. Possibly, I could have done something to stop it, but I didn’t.” He said that on the night Hana died, he wasn’t sure how long she had been outside, whether she’d eaten and whether she’d been spanked. He had been at work when Carri phoned him to say Hana had collapsed.9

After a five week trial, Carri and Larry Williams were convicted of manslaughter in the first-degree and assault in the first-degree. The jury deadlocked on one charge – they convicted Carri of homicide by abuse but did not reach the same verdict for Larry. Carri was sentenced to just under 37 years in prison while Larry was sentenced to almost 28 years in prison.

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Footnotes:

  1. The Seattle Times, 30 September, 2011 – “Murder Charges for Parents who Left Adopted Girl Outside”
  2. NBC – 5 KING, 12 August, 2011 – “Ethiopian Community Wants Answers in Girl’s Death”
  3. The Seattle Times, 2 August, 2011 – “CPS Will Investigate Death of Adopted Girl”
  4. FOX – 13 KCPQ, 30 September, 2011 – “Book Advocating Extreme Discipline May be Connected”
  5. Skagit Valley Herald, 21 November, 2012 – “Prosecutors Add Manslaughter Charge to Williams Case”
  6. Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 30 July, 2013 – “Child Testifies About Beatings”
  7. Skagit Valley Herald, 31 July, 2013 – “William Girl Was Abnormally Thin”
  8. CBS – 7 KIRO, 28 August, 2013 – “Carri Williams, Accused of Child Abuse, Took the Stand”
  9. Daily World, 28 August, 2013 – “Father Testifies About Shame, Regret”

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Laura Harris
Laura Harris
9 months ago

Thank you for telling Hana’s story and exposing the dangerous and ignorant writings of Michael Pearl. However, let’s be fair to the Amish. Michael Pearl is not Amish and his attitudes are not reflective of Amish culture. Also the term “Fundamentalist” can’t properly be applied to the Amish. The term has a particular meaning in Christendom that has nothing to do with Amish theology, culture and tradition.

Missy
Missy
4 months ago
Reply to  Laura Harris

In Ethiopia—- there is lots of voodoo, devil worship, etc. God only knows what had occurred in Hana’s life prior to living in foster care.. then, being adopted by the Williams’. Seems Hana’s behavior was not normal for her age. Self-destructive.. and it is possible that, she did accidentally kill herself. Michael Pearl’s disciplinary tactics may rub many the wrong way… but, how many times have we heard parents warn children back in the day.. “if you don’t straighten up, you will go to bed without dinner?” The Bible even says.. “spare the rod.. spoil the child.” So, what exactly,… Read more »

Romane
Romane
4 months ago
Reply to  Missy

“The ordeal disrupted the whole household”? What about the children? The children who were given a family, beaten for “severe emotional problems” (adopted children can had emotional issues. That is common sense) and then returned like they were a product? Would you be fine if your parents were to one day simply give you away without rhyme or reason? You were grounded from playing outside and from using the phone? Hana was murdered. She was beaten and froze to death because her body was too small to stay warm whilst she was outside, in the cold, naked. Is it God’s… Read more »

Katie
Katie
4 months ago
Reply to  Missy

Missy you are clearly mentally ill. It’s a generational problem I’m sure based on your parents piss poor parenting. Defending child abusers who starved a child for years & abused them both?!!! Obviously you’re a racist piece of shit to blame this on the fact they’re from Ethiopia. You’re not a follower of god’s words- you are a misguided evil person & the angels weep for your ignorance. Complicit with the abuse of children lands you in HELL. Rot in hell Missy- right where you belong

Fuck Missy
Fuck Missy
2 months ago
Reply to  Missy

I should kill you for your stupid fucking remarks, you cunt.

Anonymous
Anonymous
1 month ago
Reply to  Missy

Scripturally speaking, this is not a justification of beating and punishing a child with impunity! The goal of discipline is to guide a child not use it as an outlet to vent your rage because a child is problematic! Clearly this couple have a very skewed idea of discipline! A LOVING parent/parents take everything into consideration and DON’T resort to such cruel and concocted TACTICS and ideals. It’s NOT a battle of wills! Let’s also keep in mind just because someone professes to be godly, doesn’t absolve or shield them of WILLFUL and INTENTIONAL gross neglect/abuse. Have you forgotten the… Read more »

IRIS WEBER
IRIS WEBER
1 month ago
Reply to  Anonymous

AMEN !!!

IRIS WEBER
IRIS WEBER
1 month ago
Reply to  Missy

So…no “devil worship” in the great us of a??? You are EVIL. Torturing children is EVIL. And “spare” us the Bible quotes. Ever read the one about “leading the little ones to sin?” [hating yourself, which destroys live]. Millstone around the neck.As for racist filth like yours- Ethiopia was christian when “aryans” were still eating their firstborns. Oh wait, THEY STILL DO IT.

Leanne Harrisskitt
Leanne Harrisskitt
12 days ago
Reply to  Missy

Your fucking vile

Marcelle McDonald
Marcelle McDonald
8 months ago

Inhumane practices against adoptive children. I’m quite convinced Hana and her brother were the intended victims but poor poor Hanafelt the brunt of it. That EVIL mother and pathetic father got off lightly. They should both be on Death Row.

Jeni
Jeni
6 months ago

I think she would be happy it was her and not her brother more than likely. You find that with the older child being abused but they let them. They had the fear that it would be done to their sibling. Such a sad thing 😓

Missy
Missy
4 months ago

Thats easy for you to say. How do you know she didn’t accidentally kill herself? YOU DON’T. Funny how you call the mother and father “evil”… yet, their other 7 children grew up without being killed. Know anything about the “religious” practices in Ethiopia? Satan worship.. voodoo practice is rampant. Hana could have been satanically ritually abused as a small child. She may have been majorly demonically influenced… or even demon possessed. Think it can’t happen? If so— you’ve be wrong.

MollyT
MollyT
4 months ago
Reply to  Missy

Missy, you are either deliberately lying or you are the most ignorant person on the internet. Ethiopia is a Christian country. The church actually runs the country and controls most of the land and resources. There is no satan worship, no voodoo (you’re thinking of Haiti, I guess) Shame on you for spreading these lies. You will have to answer to God for this.

LB
LB
3 months ago
Reply to  Missy

Missy something is CLEARLY wrong with you…. you are a very disturbed person that has immensely deep rooted issues and is a true racist. The fact that you would blame the victim of her own death by the hands of those so called “Parents” is beyond me. She was a child and because of those unruly parents that adopted them & did not love or care for them at all and treated them like scum of the earth she’s dead. Of course their other 6 biological children did not die because they were white and also they were removed immediately… Read more »

Fuck Missy
Fuck Missy
2 months ago
Reply to  Missy

I’d prefer to kill you. It wouldn’t be an accident, though.

Leanne Harrisskitt
Leanne Harrisskitt
12 days ago
Reply to  Missy

Sounds to me like ure a member of their fucked family

Michael Tobin
Michael Tobin
7 days ago
Reply to  Missy

Folks like you are who make me glad I’m an atheist. Hopefully you don’t have kids of your own. If so, those poor b@stards must quite f_cked up…

SusannaVesna
SusannaVesna
7 months ago

How is a family with 6 children allowed to adopt 2 more? And how are they not investigated for extremist ideas before handling them 2 vulnerable kids?! This is so insane to me!

MacD
MacD
5 months ago

What in the hell fuck is wrong with people!? I mean damn. If everyone just considered the golden effin fuckin rule, absolutely none of this woulda happened, ever. Is that asking too much???

Missy
Missy
4 months ago
Reply to  MacD

Most people have no idea what the Golden Rule is.. nowadays.

Katie
Katie
4 months ago
Reply to  Missy

If the adoptive parents cared about the child they would’ve called the police and had her hauled off if she was really that out of control. In the end it’s the parents fault that the girl died because they allowed her to stay outside and freeze to death after starving her for years! You are an ignorant fool & The fact that you’re more concerned about defending a book that condones child abuse than you are about the murder of a little girl underscores that you are not a Christian! Burn in hell Missy

Anonymous
Anonymous
1 month ago
Reply to  Katie

Than you, well said!

Ba Barbara Kilman
Ba Barbara Kilman
7 days ago

The system is broken.
And even the great Dr Spock wasn’t a great choice for advice on how to raise a child

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