Today’s awful story brings us back to Meridian, Idaho, the home of Dawson McKinney, another child whose tragic story I have recently covered.
Today’s story also features a child who suffered longer and more painfully than some of the other kids I’ve covered as a result of months of starvation, neglect, and abuse. Starvation is one of the most brutal, flat-out evil forms of neglect, abuse, or torture — take your pick — that anyone could ever inflict on another human being, let alone a child, whose developing body and brain requires adequate nutrition to grow. I researched and described what happens to the body during starvation in my podcast episode about Eduardo Posso, and I will forever be haunted by what I learned. Too many kids on this blog suffered this horrific torment — Zaiden Javonovich and his brother, baby Tai; Eduardo Posso; Raylee Browning; Zymere Perkins; Ame Deal; Josias Marquez; Treyanna Summerville; Lauren McConniel; Autumn Hallow; not to mention Zya Singleton, Thomas Valva, Anastasia McAlister, and Alex Hurley, to varying degrees.
Today, I’m adding Emrik Osuna to that grim, tragic list.
On the evening of Tuesday, September 1, 2020, police discovered nine-year-old Emrik Osuna unresponsive at his family’s home in the Rushmore Apartments, located in the 1000 block of West Broadway Aveue in Meridian, Idaho. According to a news release by the Meridian Police Department, Emrik, who was not breathing and had no pulse, showed signs of extreme abuse. He was severely malnourished, dehydrated, covered in bruises, and had vomit leaking from his mouth.
First responders performed CPR on Emrik but were unable to revive him. He was rushed to St. Luke’s Regional Medical Center in Boise, which is the hospital where baby Dawson McKinney also took his last breath. Hours after arriving in the pediatric intensive care unit, at about 1:30 AM on Wednesday, September 2, Emrik was pronounced dead. His cause and manner of death are still officially pending.
Emrik’s stepmother, 27-year-old Monique Osuna, and his father, 29-year-old Erik Osuna-Gutierrez, were arrested the same day. They appeared in court via video conference on the afternoon of Thursday, September 3.
When the COVID-19 pandemic began in March and schools closed as a result, Emrik’s stepmother, 27-year-old Monique Osuna, began working from home. Emrik, the target of Monique’s abuse, was unable to escape her wrath.
Ada County prosecutor Tamara Kelly said, “Due to COVID, she’s been working from home, and since he was not in school, she essentially had access to him all day long.”
Prosecutors say Emrik suffered horrific torture for months at the hands of his stepmother and father. Monique allegedly admitted to striking her stepson with various household items, including a belt, a dog leash, a back scratcher, a wooden spoon, and a frying pan, as well as kicking him in the groin. She switched from the belt to the dog leash, Kelly said, “because it was heavier than the belt.”
Kelly said, “In combination with this physical abuse, this defendant admitted to what is essentially torture of [Emrik] by locking him in a small closet at night to sleep, withholding food, making him do physical strenuous punishments while she was working.”
Like many of the other children I mentioned above for whom starvation was a contributing factor in their deaths, and he had been forced to perform grueling physical exercises for extended periods as a punishment, only allowed to stop when Monique took a break from work. Reportedly, these exercises included jumping jacks and wall sits, which we’ve seen in other cases such as those of Alex Hurley and Zymere Perkins. Is there a handbook these child abusing slimebags get somewhere? Maybe Child Abuse for Dummies?
Neighbors reportedly told police they heard shouting from the Osuna’s unit. The Department of Health and Welfare would not comment on whether anyone had reported possible abuse of Emrik or any other child in the Osuna home.
Tamara Kelly told Judge Kira Dale, “The little boy had bruises all over his body, specifically on his buttocks, groin, legs, and torso. Some of the bruises were extremely large and essentially covered the back of his body.”
Emrik’s wicked stepmother, Monique Desiree Osuna, who clearly never missed a meal and whose other children are reportedly in good physical condition, was arrested on Wednesday and booked into the Ada County Jail. She has been charged with first-degree murder.
“Those children are witnesses,” Tamara Kelly told Judge Dale, “and by the nature of the abuse, are in danger if she has access to those children.”
Monique’s husband, Emrik’s father, Erik Osuna, is accused of knowing about the abuse and failing to intervene. Erik told police that Emrik was given nothing but water and rice for weeks prior to the boy’s death. Tamara Kelly said, “He admitted he did nothing to save his son.”
Evidently, Erik texted Monique on September 1 at about 5:00 PM, saying they should bring Emrik to the hospital. “I know you are scared,” he reportedly texted Monique. “I am too.” However, no action was taken for over four hours until they ultimately called 911 at 9:39 PM PM to report Emrik was not breathing. Erik has been charged with felony injury to a child, felony infliction of great bodily injury, and concealment of evidence, a misdemeanor.
That last charge came about, prosecutors say, because after dialing 911, Erik took down nanny cameras that had been installed inside the apartment and gave them to an unnamed woman to dispose of. Police have recovered the cameras.
Tamara Kelly told the judge that Erik should be considered a flight risk because he is in the US illegally, is not employed, and has few, if any, ties to Idaho. Judge Dale set bond for both Monique and Erik at $2 million each.
Erik is also being held at the Ada County Jail; he will be unable to bond out due to a federal immigration hold.
The couple’s three other children, aged nine years, four years, and four months, were taken into protective custody by Idaho’s Department of Health and Welfare. A no-contact order was issued for all three of their surviving children. Their grandmother told KTVB that the family will try to get custody of the kids.
Both Erik and Monique are scheduled for preliminary hearings at 8:30 AM on September 17, again before Judge Dale. The Ada County public defender’s office has been assigned to their cases, but it appears Monique has also retained attorney Christian Collins. Erik’s public defender is Randall Barnum.
A vigil honoring Emrik was held on the evening of Friday, September 4 in the parking lot of the Community Council of Idaho building in Caldwell. Attendees at the vigil included Joel and Samantha Hager, whose son was best friends with Emrik. Samantha remembered Emrik as a boy who loved getting a sugar rush before running around their house engaging in Nerf gun wars. He always asked if he could stay longer at their house, both Joel and Samantha recalled.
A group of women from Emrik’s school also attended the vigil, holding each other in a tearful circle. Also among the attendees were the police officers who responded to the apartment on September 1 to assist Emrik.
Emrik lived in California for most of his life. His father was in and out of the picture for the first few years of Emrik’s life. In January of 2012, Emrik’s mother, Sacil Sigaly Lucero, wrote on Facebook: “I hAtE fAtHeRs dAt cAlL dEmSeLvEs dAd wEn dEy R n0t eVeN iN dA kIdS LiFe oR sUpPoRt dEm!!a FatHeR iS a fAtHeR wEn hE iS tHeRe t0 LoVe dEm..ii c0nSiDeR MySeLf a mOtHeR/fAtHeR)ii LoVe mY s0n s0o mUcH(eMrIk..”
(Every one of her posts was written that way. Why. Just why.)
Then, in December of 2017, Emrik was removed from his mother’s custody, separated from his siblings, and placed into foster care, because — get this: then-26-year-old Sacil was arrested and accused of intentionally causing injuries to her 13-month-old twins, a boy and a girl, by torturing them. Prosecutors in that case said the abuse was severe, “resulting in multiple bone fractures and bleeding in the brain.”
Sacil, who was pregnant with her fifth child at the time, was charged with assault on a child with force likely to produce great bodily injury resulting in paralysis, two counts of torture, and child abuse. This came about after she slammed the baby girl’s head into a metal bed frame until the baby was unresponsive, at which point she asked a friend to take her and her daughter to the hospital, where she told staff her daughter fell in the bathroom. Absolutely not buying that bullshit, staff at UCI Medical Center contacted Santa Ana police, who performed a welfare check on the other children in the home and discovered that the baby’s twin brother had suffered injuries consistent with abuse, including skull and rib fractures. The two older children, including Emrik, appeared unharmed, although relatives claim he, too, was abused by his mother.
The baby girl underwent surgery but was left partially paralyzed. Sacil remains in the Women’s Central Jail facility in Santa Ana.
The twins were placed into the custody of their biological father, but Emrik was placed into foster care. Emrik lived with his aunt, Marie Osuna, in her Orange County home for a while. “He was just like one of our own,” Marie told KTVB 7. “He loved us. He would call me ‘mom.’ He was just a good kid; he was happy. I just don’t understand what happened.”
Both Emrik’s maternal grandmother and a family friend were willing to take Emrik in, but, as usual, CPS and the family court system pushed for reunification with his biological father. Despite Erik not being present for most of his son’s life and living in a different state, he was deemed a priority for reunification and ultimately awarded custody. After Emrik moved to Idaho to live with his father and stepmother in April of 2018 at the age of six, Marie, who called Emrik her “Little Tub-Tub,” said, “we trusted both of them to take care of him. And it’s not like our family wasn’t more than willing to help. They could have reached out to us; they could have said something, you know, if they were frustrated with him.”
She added, “Why would they starve him like that? It’s just food. What did he do to deserve to be starved or even to be hit, like a dog? He just needed love. He just needed love, that’s it, and to feel safe.”
Through tears, she said, “We’re sorry that he had to go through that pain… we will always love him.”
The investigation into Emrik’s death is ongoing. His body has not yet been released by the Ada County Coroner’s Office.
Emrik’s uncle, Francisco Tirado, created a GoFundMe campaign to raise funds to bring Emrik’s body to California for burial. There is a second campaign also claiming to be raising money to return Emrik to California, created by Antoinette Edwards, who is reportedly a friend of Emrik’s mother, Sacil.
Emrik, who should have turned ten next month, has been described as a funny, loving, incredibly smart child whose smile and personality could light up a room. Relatives say he loved grilled cheese sandwiches, putting things together, Transformers, and ninjas.
Rest in peace, sweet boy; at the very least, he is no longer suffering.
Click here for my ongoing coverage of Emrik’s case.
Sources: KTVB 7, Idaho Press, The Daily Mail, Fox News, Facebook, The U.S. Sun, People, GoFundMe, Idaho iCourt Portal, ABC7