Rachel Carver fled from a suspected molester in California last fall for a safe haven in Spokane that turned out to be a deathtrap.
She and her sister were removed from a dangerous home in California and were sent to Spokane in October to live with their aunt and uncle, court documents indicate.
The month before they arrived, California social workers feared 9-year-old Rachel and 10-year-old Danielle were being abused by their mother’s live-in fiance.
Following an investigation into allegations of abuse, including interviews with the children, California took the girls from their mother, Lori Beal. Beal declined Monday to discuss what had happened in California.
“I’m still in shock over this,” Beal said of Rachel’s murder. “I don’t want to say something about her life that could be misunderstood.”
But problems down in California apparently sent the girls to the Ash Street home of Jason and Rene Wickenhagen.
Police say Uncle Jason, a convicted sex offender, confessed to killing his niece last Wednesday on her last day of the third grade.
California Child Protective Services workers were worried enough about the Carver girls’ safety last year that they pulled them from their Clear Lake, Calif., home on Sept. 2, according to court documents.
Twelve days later, Beal filed a restraining order against her fiance in an effort to get her children back.
“CPS stated I needed to file a (temporary restraining order) as a way to prove to them that I can protect my children from the defendant,” Beal wrote in her request for protection. “The allegations are that (my fiance) was beating and sexually molesting them.”
Beal wrote that she and her fiance had spoken with the CPS investigator about the allegations. “At that time the investigator said the stories were different and he needed to talk to the children again.”
It is unclear whether Beal ever got her children back before Rachel and Danielle were sent in October to Spokane to live with their relatives.
A California CPS manager said the agency will not comment on the Carver case. Washington state CPS officials said the same, both citing confidentiality laws.
Dee Wilson, director of Spokane’s CPS, said he wishes his agency had known the Carver girls were back in town, especially living with a convicted sex offender.
“We would have been involved for sure - 100 hundred percent,” Wilson said. “Would we have removed Rachel from the home? … I don’t know.”
Wilson said the agency is not allowed to remove children from homes based on risk alone. Instead, he said, it needs actual complaints or evidence of abuse or neglect.
He also said the agency was not notified that Jason Wickenhagen was convicted of trying to rape a minor last summer. He said the agency doesn’t receive information about sex crimes until after the offenders are released from prison.
Wickenhagen was released into the community last summer, pending sentencing, with a list of conditions that did not prohibit him from living with children.
The reason? The girl Wickenhagen tried to rape was 16 years old, too old for the courts to consider her a child.
“It’s not a child molestation case so we couldn’t get an order for that,” said Dawn Cortez, deputy prosecutor.
Rachel’s mother, Beal, would not say whether she knew Jason Wickenhagen was a convicted sex offender when she sent Rachel to live with him.
“I will not comment on that,” Beal said. “I’m trying to get ready for my daughter’s memorial service and I will not discuss anything else.”
There will be a memorial service for Rachel at 7 p.m. today at Shadle Park High School Auditorium.
Beal said she will move back to Spokane “for good,” but wouldn’t say where her other daughter, Danielle, will live.
“I’ve heard a lot of things on television and read stuff in the paper about Rachel,” Beal said. “All of them are just a very small part of Rachel’s life.”
, DataTimes The following fields overflowed: BYLINE = Jim Lynch Staff writer Staff writer Bonnie Harris contributed to this report.
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