That beautiful boy with the sweet smile and the mop of dark hair is Eduardo Posso, who was born on November 28, 2006 and tragically died on May 24, 2019. He never had the opportunity to grow into a young man, to go on his first date, to learn to drive or attend prom or graduate high school or get his first job, all because his father and stepmother treated him worse than a dog and callously ended his young life after only 12 short years.
I wish I wasn’t writing this. Researching this post has made my chest hurt and, more than once, brought tears to my eyes. But it can’t remain unwritten. Eduardo deserves to be remembered and to have his story told. He deserved a lot more than that, but since he’s no longer on this planet, all we can do is share his story and hope that somehow, its retelling can help another child avoid the same fate.
Since May 20, 2019, Eduardo, along with his nine-year-old sister and his two brothers (aged five and two), resided in the Economy Inn in Bloomington, Indiana with his father, 32-year-old Luis Posso, and his stepmother, 25-year-old Dayana Medina Flores. (Her name is spelled “Dayan” in some articles.) Dayana and Luis worked for a Florida-based advance advertising business that was contracted by a traveling circus; their job was to hand out advertisements. That’s right, folks; these two stellar human beings pulled their kids out of school indefinitely to travel with the circus. I cannot even.
For its part, Cirque Italia, the company that produces the traveling circus these two ass clowns were hired to promote, gave a statement distancing itself from their shitshow. The statement said that Luis and Dayana had no direct connection with the circus itself and that the company “feels terribly about the tragedy that has occurred” and will give “what limited information they have to assist in this investigation,” according to a spokesperson for the company.
And what, exactly, was the tragedy that occurred? Well, let’s get into that.
According to the wicked stepmother herself, on May 23rd, Eduardo became sick and incoherent and was too weak to feed himself. The next morning, she said, she found him unconscious and cold to the touch, and she and Luis took him to IU Health Bloomington Hospital. Eduardo wasn’t breathing when they arrived, and he was pronounced dead less than 15 minutes later.
At the time of his death, Eduardo weighed 50 to 55 pounds with zero percent body fat. Take a moment to picture that.
Hospital staff, thank God, noted “signs of extreme abuse” on the boy’s severely emaciated body, including bruising, lacerations, and ulcers, according to court records. Their suspicions were reported to police, who immediately launched an investigation that unearthed a story almost too horrific to be believed.
During his last days on earth, Eduardo was restrained in the motel room’s bathtub with wrist and ankle chains and a shock collar designed for a dog. There was also a webcam attached to a towel bar, allowing Luis and Dayana to monitor Eduardo remotely while they were out distributing flyers for the circus. Yes, really.
The couple’s three other children, who are now in the custody of child protective services, all seemed healthy and well nourished, authorities said. The evil couple told police that Eduardo “acted up the most” and was therefore singled out for the abuse. This phenomenon, sadly, is not uncommon and is referred to as scapegoating or the Cinderella effect. According to Daphne Young, Chief Communications Officer at Childhelp, “it’s hard to tell what turns on the switch, but once it’s on, it seems that child becomes the scapegoat for all the anxieties in the family.” A very famous example of scapegoating is the story of 16-year-old Sylvia Likens, whose death by abuse and torture at the hands of her caregiver’s family has been the subject of books, TV shows, and Hollywood films.
The probable cause affidavit for Luis and Dayana indicates that investigators who searched the motel room where Eduardo met his tragic end found chains, cords, padlocks, restraint cuffs, and an electric shock dog collar. While searching the stepmother’s cell phone, they found several items of interest, including a text in Spanish reading, “Eduardo was almost out of the chains.” There was also a video on the phone showing Eduardo lying restrained in the bathtub while Dayana and another child entered the bathroom and ignored Eduardo. A selfie of Luis with his restrained son in the background was also discovered.
The possible fairy tale villain known as Dayana first denied knowing anything about the abuse but finally admitted to police that Luis beat Eduardo with a belt, a shoe, and his hands, and that he had restrained Eduardo more than ten times with cords and chains. She added that Luis had used the dog collar to shock the boy, and that instead of bringing Eduardo with them when they went out to hand out circus advertisements, they kept him in the bathroom and watched him over the webcam through an app on one of their cell phones.
Luis admitted to spanking his son with a belt but denied withholding food from him and did not give an explanation for Eduardo’s other injuries. According to the probable cause affidavit, Dayana told police the family moved out of Florida following “repeated involvements” with the Florida Department of Children and Families.
On tips from Eduardo’s mother, his grandmother, his school, and anonymous tipsters, investigators from the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office visited the family five times in approximately 18 months, but each time, they were unable to substantiate the accusations of abuse.
Interesting. According to an article by 10-Investigates, on one incident report from March 2017, a tip came in from the school the children attended, alleging the parents were hitting the kids daily and that the children were living in horrific conditions. That report also mentioned that Eduardo got no help with his school work. Investigators interviewed Eduardo and his sister, who claimed that when they got in trouble, Dayana would hit them on their arms with a belt. Dayana denied the accusation, and the investigation was closed.
On September 5, 2017, Eduardo’s grandma, Delores, reported to police that her grandson was being abused by his stepmother. She asked Eduardo about a blue bruise next to his eye, and Eduardo told her Dayana hit him on the head several times after finding out he hadn’t finished his homework. Later that day, when a deputy interviewed Eduardo, Luis, Dayana, and Eduardo’s sister, he was told Eduardo hit his face on the trampoline while attempting a flip. The case was closed, and the claims were determined to be unfounded because “no crime occurred.”
In November 2017, another investigation was opened when it was reported that Eduardo was burned during an incident with his father. Eduardo told police he didn’t know how he got the mark on his arm, but he admitted his stepmother was mean to him and at times hit him with a broom. Both parents denied these claims, and the case was again closed.
The next report came in February 2018, alleging Dayana yanked Eduardo’s sister to the ground by her hair after telling her she couldn’t use the bathroom. The case was also closed after investigators found the house was clean and the children appeared healthy, happy, and safe.
Another report came on November 1, 2018, this time stating that Dayana hit Eduardo in the face and left a bruise. This time, the case was closed when investigators concluded that Eduardo obtained the bruises during juggling practice; it was noted in the report that the family performed in the circus.
Eduardo was last seen by investigators at the Sheriff’s office on December 3, 2018, when he was interviewed by a detective and a child protection investigator and denied he was being abused. “He was healthy and seemingly happy,” Sheriff’s office spokesman Randy Warren said. However, two days later, Luis and Dayana withdrew Eduardo and his siblings from Myakka City Elementary School. Shortly thereafter, the family moved out of town.
The Sheriff’s office has reviewed all five of their investigations since Eduardo’s death. Sheriff Rick Wells is satisfied with how the investigations were handled, according to Randy Warren. “It’s very evident that what happened to Eduardo had happened to him during the last couple weeks or months, but we didn’t see any signs of that when we did investigations.”
Ahem… excuse me, but… I call shenanigans. SHENANIGANS! This is another in an endless procession of cases in which child abuse is repeatedly reported, the claims are dismissed by investigators, the cycle is repeated ad nauseum, and a kid ends up dead. It’s bullshit, is what it is.
The Bradenton Herald interviewed a former neighbor, Karen Graham, who lived next door to the family’s apartment in Myakka City. She told the newspaper that she and her husband heard Luis yelling at his wife and children in Spanish late at night, and that Eduardo always seemed terrified. They watched as the 12-year-old boy was forced to move his father’s heavy circus equipment off the porch every day so he could sweep it. “Eduardo was a fantastic juggler,” she said. “He had a smile that would brighten a room. He was such a good kid. He would stand in the driveway and juggle for hours and hours and hours, trying to impress his dad. It was never good enough. He was just heartbroken.”
“I knew that they were mean to him, but I never in a million years thought they could starve that boy to death,” Karen told the Herald before breaking down in tears.
She described seeing Eduardo picking up garbage outside the apartment one day after animals had strewn it about. “I didn’t think about it at the time, but as we were driving by, he seemed to be taking extra care of some things, and I think he was wiping them off so he could eat them.” Through sobs, she continued, “It didn’t make sense at the time.”
Karen and her husband often saw Eduardo wearing shoes that were held together by tape. She asked for his shoe size and if she could buy him a new pair, and the next day, he had a brand new pair of shoes. “I know his parents were listening or he said something,” she said.
Karen’s husband managed to have a private conversation with Eduardo before the family moved away, encouraging him to work hard in school and telling him he could become anything he wanted and get out of his current situation. “I would do anything for that to have turned out different,” Karen said. “I just loved him and so did my husband.”
“He would smile at us because he knew he had a friend next door, but he just never trusted me enough to talk to me,” Karen lamented. “I wish he would have. ”
Eduardo’s mother, Aurea Esmerelda Garcia, had no idea her son was no longer living in Florida. She had seen her ex-husband, Luis, at court in Florida twice since their divorce in 2016, and she was paying child support to an address in Florida.
Aurea knew Luis was rough with the kids; it was part of the reason for their divorce. She did not know he was capable of hurting Eduardo as badly as he did. “It never crossed my mind that he was going to do something horrible that he did,” Aurea told CNN. How can you do that to your son? You don’t do that, starve him to death, chain him up, beat him. How can you think anyone would do that, especially to his own blood?”
After their divorce, Aurea said, Luis picked up the kids one day and never brought them back. She said she subsequently missed a custody hearing, resulting in Luis being awarded full custody. The last time she saw Eduardo was during Thanksgiving in 2017. “That week my son spoke a little bit,” she told CNN. “He was afraid of talking.” She described Eduardo during that visit as skinny but said he explained that was because he had been eating cereal for dinner after his school raised concerns about his weight.
Aurea told WXIN that because of the custody arrangement, she had been unable to see or talk to Eduardo often, and that she had tried to raise concerns about how he was being treated. “I want to kiss him, however he is, and tell him I’m sorry. I did everything I could, but nothing worked.”
While talking to CNN, Aurea told the news station that when police showed up at her door last week, she thought they may be there to speak with her about getting her kids back from Luis. “I thought my son finally spoke out and someone will know and they will help him,” she said. Little did she know the police were there to tell her that her precious baby boy was dead. “When he told me that, I just went crazy. I started screaming. My husband was holding me down.”
While heartbroken over the death of her son, Aurea hopes her loss may inspire others to speak out against child abuse. “If you see a child, no matter where, if you don’t know them, if you see they’re being mistreated, talk,” she said. “Don’t be afraid; you could be saving a kid from the hands that are hurting them.”
Aurea has started a GoFundMe campaign to help pay for Eduardo’s funeral expenses and to fight for custody of his older sister. You can donate to the cause here.
A forensic pathologist classified Eduardo’s death as a homicide; the cause was complications from starvation and malnourishment with the absence of medical care. Luis Posso and Dayana Medina Flores have been arrested and charged with murder, negligence, criminal confinement, and battery to a minor.
I just want to add here that after Eduardo’s death, when his siblings were interviewed by police, his five-year-old brother told them Eduardo was “bad and not part of the family.” What kind of mind-fuckery was going on in that house? Can you imagine how much trauma all of these children have endured? Just the fact that the other kids didn’t bat an eye at their emaciated brother being restrained in a motel bathtub while they walked in and out of the room, brushing their teeth, using the toilet, or whatever, speaks volumes about their states of mind. I hope they receive intensive therapy, the sooner the better.
Family and friends by the dozens gathered at the Myakka Family Worship Center on the evening of June 2 to remember Eduardo. Pastor Lynn Howell said, “If Eduardo lived for any reason, he lived for this: to bring awareness to a system that is broken.”
According to loved ones, Eduardo was a talented chef who loved to cook scrambled eggs. From his obituary: “Eduardo was born in Arcadia, Florida on November 28, 2006. He had a beautiful and contagious smile, and he was very loving and sweet. Eduardo enjoyed playing video games, fishing, dogs, horses, playing the drums, motorcycles, and playing like any other kid. His favorite thing was jumping on the trampoline. Eduardo loved shoes, and enjoyed going with his uncle to the shoe shop. Eduardo loved playing with his cousins, was very helpful, and had the warmest hugs. He will be greatly missed.”
It has taken me days to finish this post, and all I can say is that I’m numb. Life isn’t fair for most of us, but no one knew that better than this innocent twelve-year-old boy who was failed in the most heinous of ways by the people who should have protected him from harm.
Hug your babies, everyone.
Click here for more of my coverage on Eduardo’s case.