In today’s “damn, I wish I hadn’t read that” news…
I just read the entire massive criminal complaint document in the case of five-year-old Josias Marquez, whose remains were found in the trunk of his mother’s car in Wisconsin on March 27, and now I know a lot of things I almost wish I didn’t. As a mother and a human being, I’m disgusted, horrified, and bewildered at the apparent inhumanity of 27-year-old Sagal Abdirshid Hussein, Josias’ “mother” (and I use that term in the biological sense only).
From what I just read, if what she’s accused of is true, this woman just… stopped caring for her disabled son. She gave up on giving him medical care, attention, even food. She abandoned him in every way that mattered.
As I mentioned in my last article, Sagal faces a total of nine charges in Josias’ death, including felony chronic neglect of a child with the consequence of death, hiding the corpse of a child, neglecting a child, neglecting a child under 6 years of age, and five counts of obstructing an officer. If she is convicted of all nine counts, she could face up to 80 years and 6 months in prison.
As much as it pains me, I’m going to cover the pertinent points from the criminal complaint.
I’ll start with the account of the neighbor, A.S., who initially reported that on January 26, Josias’ 6-year-old brother, J.M., knocked on her door repeatedly throughout the morning, giving her “some items,” including a cup of hot chocolate for her to drink. (How precious is that?) At one point, he showed up with his almost-three-year-old sister, A.M., who was only wearing a sweater around her waist and a pair of shoes. When the two small children returned to the neighbor’s home at about 1:30 PM, J.M. admitted to A.S. that their mom had left the night before, and they didn’t know where she was. A.S. had noticed that Sagal’s vehicle hadn’t been parked outside her apartment since about 11:00 PM the night before. At that point, she made a report to the Brown County Sheriff’s Office.
Deputy Brooklyn VanDeHei, who responded to the neighbor’s report, recalled a similar recent incident in which J.M. had been left alone for about 30 minutes.
Sagal had apparently arrived home before law enforcement responded to the January 26 call, saying she had just run to Walgreens and Kwik Trip, leaving her kids alone for about 10 minutes. After being told that CPS would follow up with Sagal, Deputy VanDeHei went to Walgreens, showing Sagal’s photo to the employees, who confirmed they were familiar with the woman and denying she had been in the store that day. The deputy even confirmed this by watching video surveillance tapes.
When Deputy VanDeHei returned to Sagal’s home to continue questioning her, she confronted Sagal with her findings. Sagal insisted she was shopping during the time she was gone, but she extended her time away from her kids to about 40 minutes, saying she also drove past her boyfriend’s house in Green Bay. She refused to cooperate any more than that.
That’s when J.M. and A.M. were placed temporarily in the custody of Sagal’s mom, Amal Ishmael.
Sagal later told investigators that Josias’ father was a man named Miguel Marcelo, who she said lived in Escanaba, Michigan and who she said she had known since childhood in San Jose, California. She said that Josias had been with “Miguel” since the man randomly showed up and took the little boy on January 9, 2020. In March, she mentioned that she remembered the date because her older son, J.M., was home sick from school that day, which meant she called out of work.
I have to wonder if that’s the day Josias actually died and she took the day to clean up the mess she’d made, hiding his body and getting rid of all of his belongings. During a visit from investigators on March 27, Sagal told them she had no pictures of Josias, and that when “Miguel” picked him up, he took all of Josias’ personal items with him.
None of the investigators was able to confirm that Miguel Marcelo even existed.
The charging document also notes that Sagal had been receiving SSI assistance for Josias, even after he was, as we now know, dead. What we didn’t already know was that his decomposed remains were found in a duffel bag in the cargo area of her black Nissan Murano. She allegedly packed his malnourished little body into a duffel bag. What the fuck. If only she’d packed her narcissistic self into a bag as her sister suggested in this Facebook post, Josias might be alive.
I’m only mentioning her sister because Sagal herself dragged her sister into it, using a months-long visit from Suleyqa as one of several excuses to explain Josias’ sporadic school attendance over the past year.
School officials made a report in the past to CPS about concerns that Josias might at times be left alone.
One of Josias’ day care teachers described Sagal as “very non-verbal” and said she “rarely talked to me. Typically if we did communicate it would be me asking questions. I would ask if [Josias] ate, or how his night was before. Her answers were always very short and non-informative. The same would happen at pickup. I would share information with her about his day and she seemed not interested and would sometimes just leave as I was talking to her.”
The same teacher described Josias as “non-verbal. He never spoke and was in a stroller. He would babble and make noises but would not use words. He was much like an infant. He would cry when something was wrong or if he needed something. He would laugh and giggle if the kids played with him or if I read to him.
“He knew when it was time to eat. He would hear the bottle [of Pediasure] being shook and he would cry. He sometimes held his own bottle but because his stroller was so upright, I would have to tip the stroller back so he could be in a position to hold the bottle. Also he would drink the bottle very fast.”
The teacher mentioned that Sagal provided minimal nutrition for Josias, saying each of his meals consisted of a bottle of Pediasure and an applesauce packet, and that was if Sagal remembered to bring it. The teacher also said that Josias’ stroller, which investigators described as a basic umbrella stroller, did not offer him enough support and that “if he would get mad, he would hit the sides of his head on metal bars on each side of the stroller.”
Josias’ older brother, J.M., was also in the teacher’s transitional kindergarten class for a time. She said, “I did not see J much but I noticed his hair was not brushed and his clothes were tattered and dirty but he always had nice shoes. This was the same for [Josias].”
The teacher sounds like she actually cared about this poor little guy, saying, “Sagal never provided any toys or attachments on the stroller to comfort [Josias]. I sent [police] a second picture of a scarf I made for [Josias] which I attached to the stroller. He used to rub it against his face. It would calm him. I also pointed out how the back of the stroller sagged which I always thought looked so uncomfortable. I would often take him out of the stroller and place [Josias] on a mat so he could have some time out of the stroller.”
She also described how the stroller would leave red marks and indentations on the back of Josias’ legs and expressed concerns about how uncomfortable it must have been for him.
The day care also contacted CPS about their concerns, but the teacher was unsure of the outcome of the CPS inquiry.
According to police, Sagal lied as often as she could about pretty much every possible detail in the stories she gave them, rolling right into a new lie whenever she was confronted. This useless pile of skin is like an even less intelligent Casey Anthony.
Friends of Sagal who had known her for about a year, including the one who rented the home where Sagal’s vehicle was stored when it was impounded in March, told investigators they knew she had three children but that she rarely, if ever, talked about Josias, and they had never met or even seen him. One friend said that after speaking with police, she looked through Sagal’s Facebook photos, noting that her friend had “hundreds of photos” of J.M. and A.M. but none of Josias.
The friend also mentioned that Sagal met her current boyfriend, Jaylene Edwards, around the beginning of January, that he began spending the night at Sagal’s house “about a month ago,” and then moved in with her around the last week of March. She said, “I only know that he’s from Milwaukee.”
The documents also shed more light on the family situation and the relationship between Sagal Hussein and James Marquez, who has thus far been identified as Josias’ real father despite Sagal’s claims to the contrary.
James told investigators that he and Sagal met as part of the same friend group in San Jose in 2012. He said they became involved, and by early 2013, she was pregnant with their first son, J.M. Right after she got pregnant, James went to jail. He said he missed the birth of his son “by a couple days.” Once he got out of jail, they continued their relationship, and she became pregnant with Josias in early 2014.
In August or September of 2014, while pregnant, Sagal moved to Wisconsin with her mother and sister. About two weeks after Josias was born in October, he came down with meningitis, which left him severely disabled with damage in several areas of his brain. He was non-verbal, suffered seizures multiple times a day, and could not walk or crawl, as well as developing cerebral palsy. His food had to be pureed, and he usually took nutrition through a bottle, although “he could eat with a spoon later.”
James said he moved to Wisconsin the month after Josias was born to help care for the children, moving in with Sagal and working a sanitation job on the third shift so he could take care of the kids while Sagal worked.
James was arrested and extradited back to California to serve short jail sentences a few times, but when he was in Wisconsin, he said, he provided most of the children’s care, feeding them, getting them ready for school each day, and making all of their school and medical arrangements and appointments. He administered Josias’ medications and accompanied him to the hospital when he twice had to be admitted to adjust the doses for his seizure medications.
The document quotes a report James gave to investigators, saying, “In January 2019, I became fed up with Sagal and not helping care for the kids. I decided to move back to California.” He said Sagal eventually allowed him to speak with his kids again, eventually allowing J.M. and A.M. first to visit and then move in with their father. “I did ask to have [Josias] come too but Sagal never was interested in bringing him out to California.”
When James was arrested again in October of 2019, the children returned to their mother’s “care” in Wisconsin. “I have been in jail ever since,” he said in his statement.
He said that the recorded phone call between himself and Sagal on March 26 “was the first time Sagal ever said that I wasn’t [Josias’] father. The things she said didn’t make sense and I could tell she was lying.”
Regarding Sagal’s treatment of their middle child, James said, “I can’t say that I want to believe that Sagal would ever intentionally harm [Josias]. But, I could see that Sagal could stop providing care for him. Sagal never liked caring for him. She would treat the other two children so much better than [Josias]. I believe she was embarrassed that he had a disability and needed so much care. I wonder if she stopped caring for him when she found out that I may have to go to jail for 4 years.”
Investigators attended and observed the autopsy performed on Josias on April 2 at the Dane County Medical Examiner’s Office by Dr. Vincent Tranchilda. Dr. Tranchilda, who indicated that the definitive cause of death couldn’t be determined until he received results of histology and toxicology, noted several factors related to malnourishment, including:
- Wasting of the temple areas
- Sunken cheeks
- Lack of fat and muscle wasting of the neck
- Sunken areas surrounding the collarbones
- Sunken ribs
- Convexity of the abdomen
- Prominent bones protruding in the shoulders, hips, and back
- Wasting of bilateral buttocks
- Atrophy/wasting of musculature of extremities
- Knobby knees
- Lanugo hair on extremities (which is commonly seen on individuals with eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia
Josias weighed only 20 pounds at the time of his autopsy, as compared to medical visits in late 2016 and early 2017, when he weighed upwards of 33 pounds. Hell, one page of the medical records investigators reviewed, this one from 2017, indicated that Josias was clinically obese and that the family should learn feeding cues to ensure he did not overeat!
Medical records indicated the last time Josias received medical care was at a doctor appointment on October 12, 2018. He was due to receive a number of immunizations on October 18, 2018, but these were never administered. At the October visit, there were five prescription medications listed for Josias, who weighed 33.81 pounds and was described by the doctor as “thin but not emaciated.” The records show the doctor explained the importance to Sagal of follow-up care for her son, but this was the last medical care of any kind that Josias was documented to have received.
Sagal told investigators that she felt none of his medications were helping him, and she didn’t like the side effects, including excessive sedation and irritability, so after doing some research of her own and joining some Facebook groups, she discontinued his medication and treated him solely with CBD oil. I cannot even
Dr. Thomas Huffer, the family’s pediatrician, told investigators that all three children consistently missed scheduled appointments with little to no notice from the parents and no effort made to reschedule. The doctor reported that Josias missed at least 13 appointments, J.M. missed three, and A.M., the boys’ younger sister, missed seven. That’s with Dr. Huffer’s office alone. He also told police, “I am also aware of an additional 10 appointments that [Josias] missed with other medical providers besides my office.”
Josias’ neurologist, Dr. Terence Edgar, and Dr. Huffer worked together in regard to the little boy’s prescriptions, and they determined that after his last round of prescriptions was filled in March of 2019, he would have run out of medication by September of 2019. That wouldn’t have mattered anyway, since Sagal had, by her own account, decided in 2018 not to medicate her son at all.
Judging by the criminal complaint and everything else I’ve read and researched about this case, what it all boils down to is one simple thing: Sagal Hussein simply stopped caring for — and about — her second child. Josias was (allegedly) the victim of a mother who just didn’t give a shit about him. She couldn’t be bothered to take him to the doctor, to oversee his medication regimen, or even to spoon pureed food into his mouth. If she’s guilty of these crimes, she starved that helpless, vulnerable little boy, who literally couldn’t even speak for himself, to death.
This case just epitomizes tragedy. My heart hurts.
Sources: Court documents, Facebook