- The little Queens girl whose broken body was
discovered in a trash heap apparently lived as she died - in filth and
- The shocking conditions of 8-year-old Stephanie
Ramos' foster home were revealed yesterday at the Manhattan
arraignment of Renee Johnson, who told cops she dumped the body on the
upper East Side in a panic Tuesday after the girl died of natural
- Blind, brain-damaged and unable to walk because of
cerebral palsy, 28-pound Stephanie lived in "the most despicable,
horrible situation a human being could imagine," Assistant District
Attorney Joan Illuzi-Orbon said.
- Johnson, who was paid $3,800 a month to take care of
Stephanie and two other foster kids, kept the outside of her
Springfield Gardens home immaculate. Inside, it was a hellhole,
- Detectives found "used hypos, hundreds of bags of
clothing covered with fecal matter and vomit, clumps of hair matted
with bugs and maggots," the prosecutor said.
- "The temperature in the house was over 100 degrees,"
she added. "The children's beds were so cluttered there was barely
enough room for their upper bodies."
- Johnson eventually told cops that Stephanie had been
sick for three or four days before she died at her home in Queens,
- "Instead of getting her a doctor, she ... let her
linger and die," the prosecutor said.
- Johnson, 50, showed little emotion as she was
charged with improper disposal of a dead human body and falsely
reporting an incident, and was ordered held on $50,000 bail.
- Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said Johnson
could face charges of endangering the welfare of Stephanie and the two
other children in her care.
- Defense attorney Murray Singer said Johnson, a
retired nurse, was a qualified caregiver and not a monster. "She did
not intentionally hurt these children," he said.
- Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said the coroner
has not pinpointed the cause of Stephanie's death, but said she had a
fractured skull and possibly a broken hip.
- "But it appears at this time those injuries took
place after the death and as a result of where the child was found" -
in a Bronx garbage transfer station, he said.
- Monthly monitoring
- The horrible circumstances of Stephanie's death
raised questions about whether the Administration for Children's
Services left the girl in the hands of an incompetent foster
- Agency spokeswoman MacLean Guthrie said Johnson's
home was certified by the Association to Benefit Children - a city
contractor - just last month as "satisfactory and appropriate." She
said association caseworkers made monthly visits.
- Illuzi-Orbon said that the girl was already dead
when Johnson got into a cab Tuesday afternoon. "Johnson made idle
chitchat while she held the body of a girl," Illuzi-Orbon said.
- Johnson originally told cops she brought the three
children to a child care center on E. 91st St. and left Stephanie on a
couch on the second floor while she ran out to do errands.
- When Johnson returned, she "accused the child-care
workers of having misplaced Stephanie or taking her somewhere else,"
- But Johnson later told cops what really
- "She stuffed Stephanie into [a trash bag] and then
threw her on the curb like garbage," the prosecutor said.
- With JoAnn Wasserman
- All contents © 2003 Daily News, L.P.