Rachel Carver was born into violence, and killed by it.
Most of her nine years were spent in homes run by volatile, deranged men.
Her father molested her and her sister.
Her uncle tried to rape a teenager last summer. Now, he is charged with beating his niece to death.
Rachel, a freckled third-grader with an irresistible smile, never had much of a chance. And people knew it.
State child welfare officials knew the child was in serious danger before she was 3 months old.
Her early years are chronicled in gut-tightening domestic violence complaints, divorce records and sexual abuse investigations filed in Spokane County Superior Court.
Rachel’s mother, who now goes by her maiden name, Lori Beal, repeatedly asked the court to protect her and her two girls from her husband, Scott Carver, during the mid-1980s while they lived in north Spokane.
Scott Carver, plagued with mental illness, spent a year in jail for molesting Rachel’s sister, Danielle, according to state Child Protective Services’ records. He was later found to be abusing Rachel, court documents say.
CPS workers took Rachel and Danielle from their parents at least once, in 1986, for fear of neglect or abuse, court records show.
The Carvers divorced in 1989. The girls stayed with the mother and lived in California where she worked as a medical technician.
In 1994, Rachel and Danielle were sent back to Spokane to live with the Wickenhagens - Aunt Rene and Uncle Jason. It was another unsafe house.
Earlier this week, police characterized the Wickenhagens as the girls’ legal guardians. But, with Jason Wickenhagen’s recent sex felony conviction, he could never have become a legal guardian in the state of Washington.
Rachel Johanna Carver was only 2 months old when her fragile existence first alarmed child welfare authorities.
On June 13, 1986, her father fought with her mother, then took infant Rachel for a reckless car ride. She bounced around the vehicle while he tried to run over his wife and Aunt Rene, according to two court complaints, including one by Rachel’s grandparents, Wayne and Judy Beal.
“Scott Carver attempted to run our daughters Rene and Lori over with the car. Also, he had their 2-month-old baby Rachel in the car, and she was hurt and had to be taken to emergency hospital.”
Lori Beal’s account of the incident also noted her husband tried to force himself on her sexually twice a week for the prior four months.
Scott Carver filed his own account with the courts, accusing his wife of sparking the clash. “Lori hit me over the head with a piece of a 2-by-4 wood from our child’s bed, and then hit me on the side of the head, and resulted in inner ear bleeding.”
CPS reviewed the 1986 case, then gave Rachel and Danielle to their grandparents.
The children apparently soon returned to their parents. Records also show Carver later violated a court order restricting his contact with his children.
In March 1988, Carver abused Danielle, who was 3 years old at the time. He was sentenced to a year in jail for “communication with a minor for immoral purposes.”
When the Carvers divorced in 1989, Scott Carver was forbidden from having any contact with Rachel, according to divorce records. The documents say Carver was a threat to the little girl.
“The conduct in question was sexual abuse of a child. This conduct requires that Rachel will reside with her mother at all times,” the records say.
Scott Carver wasn’t allowed to call Rachel, go to her school or have access to her education or medical records.
On April 12, 1990, he violated the conditions of his court sentence for “indecent liberties” by having contact with his daughters.
In an interview Friday night, Carver’s ex-wife said she was upset by his public expressions of grief over Rachel’s death, given his past abuse of her.
“I feel like in a way he’s trying to say he’s the perfect father,” she said.
Carver, who lives in Yakima, said this week he didn’t know until earlier this month that Rachel and Danielle were in Spokane. The girls moved in with the Wickenhagens last October.
Just three months prior to their arrival, the girls’ Uncle Jason offered a ride to a teenage girl walking near Lewis and Clark High School. Wickenhagen took her to an alley between Maple and Walnut. When she resisted his attempts to rape her, he put a gun barrel to her left cheek before letting her go.
Wickenhagen was scheduled to be sentenced for “indecent liberties” on May 31. The hearing was delayed. He was still free Wednesday morning to walk Rachel to Ridgeview Elementary for her last day of class before her summer vacation.
The 16-year-old victim said Friday that she’s angry that her coming forward didn’t prevent Rachel’s death.
“They should have done something to him before this happened,” she said. “It took a murder for them to do anything.”
The girl said Wickenhagen was very friendly, and even bought her a pack of cigarettes. But suddenly he became violent.
Wickenhagen let her go after she pretended to be pregnant.
“He said he was going to kill me,” she said. “It’s really scary thinking I could have died instead of this 9-year-old girl.”
Dee Wilson, director of Child Protective Services in Spokane, researched the Carvers’ case history Friday.
He said he could not discuss the agency’s files without approval from Rachel’s mother.
Wilson also said CPS may get involved in determining where Rachel’s sister, Danielle, should live.
The last court entry regarding Rachel’s life was filed earlier this year on March 3. It was a case Rene Wickenhagen brought against Rachel’s mother. Aunt Rene wanted the court to order Rachel’s mother to pay child support for taking care of her two girls.
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