Michelle Fontanez (around age 6 or 7 years)
“Think how terrified that little girl must have been,” Fontanez said. “So many years with no one to tell who would protect her, and then when she finally tells people who could help her, they didn’t.”
(A quote from one of Michelle’s relatives, Michelle’s aunt and Migdalia’s sister, Carmen Fontanez of Madison, Wis.) From The News-Press.
**UPDATE 4.25.09 Michelle’s stepfather/killer/abuser was about to go on trial and suddenly took a plea deal for raping and suffocating Michelle in 2006. Alberto Fernandez escaped the death penalty and will spend the rest of his life behind bars for violating and killing Michelle. Michelle’s mother -who some say was aware of the abuse, of her child was never even charged in the case. **
Michelle’s Aunt Renea commented to the News-Press:
“So many people failed Michelle,” she said. “The state of Florida could have prevented all this from happening, if people did their jobs. Yes, they may have lost their jobs but in the long run, we lost a lot more.
“They can get other jobs. We can’t have Michelle back.”
(Protected to Death???)
Michelle Fontanez was a child with a beautiful smile, a bright child who liked school and being with her friends. But her behavior had started to change and 13-year-old Michelle hardly smiled at all anymore. She had started cutting herself on her arms and became more and more withdrawn and depressed. The source of her unhappiness was her cruel stepfather Alberto Hernandez.
One day Michelle got up the couraged to tell her counselors a secret she had been keeping: that her stepfather had raped her twice and had been molesting her since she was a Kindergartner. She was afraid of him being in their home. This disclosure of abuse was recorded in notes and on DCF video.
She told them that she had tried to tell her mother about Hernandez’s molestation and rapes, but when she did her mother Migdalia, simply called her a liar.
On February 9th 2006 a DCF investigator by the name of Erica Cesare was to look into the abuse complaints from Michelle. However, this case worker would later claim that Michelle’s complaints were “not her problem” according to child protection team notes. Instead of removing Michelle to foster care-Cesare decided to send Michelle home to her mother. By February 23rd-Michelle was dead. She fought for her life for 3 agonizing days before dying from injuries she sustained from her stepfather’s beating. She was supposed to be protected from her abuser-yet she is killed.
It is important to add that after Hernandez was ordered out of the family home and away from his stepdaughter-he moved…BUT ONLY DOWN THE STREET! And DCF never contested this at all. Because of their “protection” of Michelle-her stepfather entered the home where he found her all alone and proceeded to beat and rape this child savagely.
When she was found by her “mother” Migdalia, she was bruised, bleeding from the mouth, and hardly breathing.
The fingerpointing started and heads started to roll at DCF, but none so deserving as that Erica Cesare uncaring,half-ass social worker. I want to tell her that it is not MY problem she’s standing in the unemployment line along with all the others who ALLOWED this to happen to this girl.