Iyanna, remained with her father so as not to interrupt her last year of elementary school, with the intention that she would join her mother and brother in Las Vegas over summer break.
Although Gonzales was able to rent a much nicer apartment for much less than she was paying in Southern California, she was not able to return to school or get a job as quickly as she had anticipated, as she had still not found anyone that she felt comfortable leaving her baby with. So she took an online creative writing course in the
Soon after daughter Iyanna’s arrival, she met a fun-loving creative woman, Kyrene Williams, who was CPR-certified and whose mother and sister both worked for the Las Vegas School District. Gonzales felt that she then had met someone who could care for her children and she could look for a job and register for classes.
The feeling was short-lived, however. Upon her return one day, later than expected because she had had some car trouble, she learned that the baby had taken a fall at the pool and bumped his head. Williams had checked him out and he appeared to be fine. Gonzales checked his pupils again and also determined by his behavior that he was fine. She understood that accidents do happen, so although it made her uneasy, she did not lay blame for the fall on Williams. But she did notice that Williams was hanging around much more than was necessary and that ever since the day of the car trouble and money wire for her expenses, had been asking her for extra money on a consistent basis.
On July 13, 2013, baby Elgin’s father, Eugene, came to visit bringing with him a car for Rhiannon and his baby. He was not as taken with Williams as Gonzales had originally been. That same weekend Williams asked Gonzales if her boyfriend could stay with her while she watched the children. Gonzales was not comfortable with that request and
decided that she would let Williams go. The entire relationship with Williams lasted about two-and-a-half weeks.
On Monday, July 15, Rhiannon let her daughter sleep late while she worked on her laptop and baby Elgin played in his walker. When Iyanna did awake, she took her baby brother out of his walker and placed him in the corner of her lofted bed, unbeknownst to Gonzales. Gonzales noticed that a mess had been left on the floor after she had repeatedly told Iyanna to clean it up the night before, so she called her daughter out of her bedroom to pick it up. There was a knock on the door. It was Brittany Williams, Kyrene’s sister, to collect Kyrene’s things. While Gonzales and Williams were at the door, Gonzales called Iyanna away from picking up the mess to go get a purse
and pillow that Williams had left in her car. Afterward, they heard a thump and Gonzales found her baby on her daughter’s bedroom floor where he had fallen from the elevated bed.
She scooped him into her arms to comfort him and Williams left. It soon became evident that he was not right — his eyes were rolling up into his head, his toes were pointing and his back was arching — he was stiffening up. They immediately called 911. While they were waiting for help to arrive, Gonzales was outside crying for someone to
Two neighbors came to her aid: Pamela Isaacs, who brought the baby inside her apartment and laid him on her couch, and Remy Samuel who had just arrived home and was met in the parking lot by his girlfriend who told him that there was a woman crying who sounded like she needed help. Kyrene and Brittany Williams also appeared in Isaacs’ apartment in response to a phone call for help from Gonzales.
The baby was conscious by the time the paramedics arrived and was rushed to Children’s Hospital Nevada where he underwent a subdural hematoma evacuation to drain the blood that had collected internally, while Child Protective Services and the Las Vegas Police Department were summoned.
Upon Neurosurgeon Jason Garber’s allegation that the baby had been abused, Gonzales immediately turned to her daughter and asked her if anyone had touched her or her brother. Before she could get an answer she was yanked away by LVMPD Neglect and Abuse Detective Monique Bulmer, who would later go on to report that she observed Gonzales “coaching her daughter on what to say.” Gonzales and her daughter were ushered out of the hospital for questioning at her apartment, although she offered to give CPS and the Las Vegas Police the keys to the apartment so that they could go investigate on their own and she and her daughter could remain at the hospital with their baby.
That was the beginning of Rhiannon Gonzalez’ nightmare and a reality check that many parents confront in Las Vegas where Family Court judges enjoy taking children away from the parent and giving them up for adoption.
Recently, last September, Nevada Supreme Court Justice Nancy Saitta formed a Blue Ribbon Committee to look into problems with the Clark County child welfare system and courts.
On October 2 of this year Las Vegas Tribune ran an article penned exclusively for the newspaper by Parker Philpot where she stated: “The pages of this newspaper and programs on RadioTribune.com have been filled for years with articles covering the Division of Child and Family Services and exposing major problems and questionable rulings
in several cases that came before the family courts. Accounts of families and children the system not only did not protect, but who instead became targets of abuse and torment or neglect, are proof that deeper investigation into the county’s system is warranted.”
That week, the Nevada Supreme Court Justice Nancy Saitta and others have gone on record vowing to look into and correct the “shortcomings” and “deficiencies” in the agency and systems overseeing children’swelfare.
Philpot quoted Justice Saitta as stating, “These children deserve better, and I get no sense of urgency on the part of the system. This committee will identify the most serious issues in the child welfare system and work with [county] officials to make sure they are corrected quickly.”
However, the Las Vegas Tribune has heard these words too many times and nothing new ever happens and the newspaper does not hang too much hope on the words of Justice Saitta despite the fact that the Las Vegas Tribune has endorsed her in many elections.
Next week: Chapter 2, CPS workers and Las Vegas Police separated mother and daughter…