Parents are supposed to protect their children; that’s the most basic requirement of a mother or a father. Unfortunately, some people don’t deserve the privilege of parenthood, and they do horrific things to the children entrusted to their care. One such example is sending shockwaves not just across the country, but around the world.
Four-year-old Gabby Barrett was brutally tortured and killed by her mother and boyfriend. 24-year-old Candice Diaz and 28-year-old Brad Fields had been fugitives, on the run since New Year’s Day after Gabby died. The couple was found in southern Georgia, almost 800 miles away.
The Washtenaw County Medical Examiner called Gabby’s death the “worst child death case” he had ever had, in 27 years of practicing. According to court documents, Gabby had been physically abused. “Gabrielle had burns all over her body and bruising to her entire body,” the document read. The burns were so bad that her big toe melted off, and police found melted skin in the bathtub drain.
Diaz tried to claim that Gabby had burned herself after running a too-hot bath. But the next day, she said Gabby wanted to take another bath, so she let her into the bathtub, and then went to make pancakes. She said she returned to find Gabby submerged in the water, and she called Fields for help.
Police found Gabby’s body on New Year’s Day; she was taken to the hospital, but she later succumbed to her injuries and died. Police said that the mobile home Gabby was living in had animal waste everywhere, as well as guns and drugs.
Both Diaz and Fields have been charged with felony murder, second-degree murder, first-degree child abuse and torture. But they seem to already be building their defense; according to court documents, both have “severe mental illnesses” which they did not treat.
Diaz says that she has bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety, while Fields claims to have schizoaffective disorder, social anxiety, agoraphobia and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Police had previously been to the mobile home before Gabby died, on a domestic assault call. The home was described as “filthy”, with rotting food, soiled dishes, flies throughout the home, dog urine on the floor, and dog feces in the children’s room. Yet relatives still seem to be surprised at what happened to Gabby.
Her paternal grandmother, Deborah Barrett, said she never saw the home where Gabby had been living, that Gabby had always come to her house and seemed healthy, and called her death a “nightmare”. “We wish it was a dream,” she said. “We’re not sleeping. We’re not eating.”