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Naming the Most Heinous of Crimes: Child Abuse and Murder

Published: Wednesday, April 2, 2003

Updated: Friday, December 26, 2008 15:12

A couple of weeks ago, I examined the case of Kari Engholm and her blatant neglect as a parent. She was the woman who left her 7-month-old baby Claire in the back seat of the car for nine hours. I stated that I thought we are living in a world of irresponsibility. I still hold that view.

A Hazelton teen, Chester Miller, was 18 years old, and weighed 63 pounds when he died at Santa Rosa Medical Center in Milton, Fla. The autopsy showed bruising, proof of abuse. To even try to imagine what happened to him makes me shudder. This is the kind of story that almost brings me to physical sickness.

Chester Miller's domestic situation was the portrait of tragedy waiting to happen. Chester's father, Robert Miller, left the family and moved to Florida, leaving Chester with his mother. His mother then began living with Paul Hoffman Sr. According to the Cyber Nation of Freedom website, Robert Miller stated, "I left him to live with his mother because I couldn't provide him with a family." Little did he know what that family was doing to his son.

According to speculation by many witnesses, Hoffman Sr. didn't like Chester because the young man wasn't his son. Family members have admitted he would lock Chester in his room to stand for twelve hours, and if he ever caught him moving, Hoffman would beat the boy. Chester was beaten every day.

Chester's mother, Lyda, stood back and let this happen. She even engaged in the senseless acts herself. According to reports, the "parents" wouldn't let him out of the house to see friends or attend school. They just kept him locked in his room, and beat him. Worst of all, they didn't feed him. And if they did, it was only table scraps as if he were a dog, and not their son.

This boy apparently lived a life that none of us can imagine. When he turned 18, he took a desperate trip to find his father in Florida. Reports are conflicting about what exactly happened to precipitate this trip. Most media reports have suggested that Hoffman and Chester's mother felt they "couldn't handle" Chester any longer and that he needed to find his biological father. They bought a bus ticket and basically said, "Go find him." It was a trying trip, lasting 24 hours.

Once Chester reached Florida, the boy, looking like a holocaust victim, stumbled around the community until he fell on the doorstep of Janice Goodman. Upon opening the door, the woman was taken back by the boy's frail appearance and sunken eyes. According to the Cyber Nation of Freedom website, Goodman stated, "His eyes were sunken deep into their sockets, and had dark circles around them. His skin had a sickly pale pallor to it. There were purplish bruises on his hands and arms." Goodman's brother, Charles Blanchard is quoted as saying that Chester told him he was forced by his mother and Hoffman Sr. to sign a paper stating that he wasn't starved or abused.

A perfect stranger, Goodman fed him, let him shower, and allowed him to rest. Then she called 911. According to the MSNBC website, doctors had to do emergency surgery on Chester's stomach and intestines. His condition was so bad, he went into cardiac arrest and was resuscitated. He died four days later in the Santa Rosa Medical Center, and the autopsy showed starvation and abuse to be the causes.

Luzerne County District Attorney Dave Lupas has said this is the worst case of abuse he has seen in office.

It is amazing to me that Chester's mother would allow a man into her home who beat her son. It is equally amazing that she would condone and engage in these disgusting acts. If the reports are true, this couple actually made Chester sign a paper saying that he wasn't beaten or starved.

How repulsive are these human beings? In my view, though, the mother is the worst. This is her biological child, and she not only allowed his abuse, but apparently also participated in it. Although the charges in his death are not equal-Hoffman Sr. has been charged with third degree murder and Miller has been charged with involuntary manslaughter-they equally killed this boy in my opinion.

It isn't just a case of neglect. This is gross neglect and malice. The sad part is this isn't the only case of abuse and starvation in this country. This is actually happening to others. The responsibility lies with the parents. In this case, responsibility lies with Lyda Miller. Most mothers are nurturing, loving, and know what's best for their children. To even associate with someone who beats a child is appalling. To participate in such behavior-particularly against your own flesh and blood-is staggering.

I don't know what is wrong with people. Chester suffered and died prematurely because of them. The justice system should see to it that these two never see the light of day again. It's a good thing for them the United States has the justice system it does. Under Hamurabi Code, they might be starved for a few years, and beaten daily. Under our system, there is no equal punishment for this heinous crime.

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