8A Kansas citizen, Linda Baranski, 64, made a horrifying discovery when she went to shop at her local WalMart.  What she witnessed was two young children, a 5 year old boy and 7 year old girl, sitting outside an SUV in the parking lot, their hands tied behind them, their feet tied up, and blindfolded with duct tape with a man standing next to them.  When the man made eye contact with Linda, he made an angry motion for her to leave, luckily she didn’t bow to the threat.  She quickly called 911 and when police arrived they approached the man, Adolfo Gomez, the children’s father, which caused Adolfo to respond violently, trying to fight the police.  He began loudly making religious statements and praying.  Law enforcement subdued Adolfo by tasering him three times and placed him under arrest.

Adolfo Gomez Being Taken Into Custody

Adolfo Gomez Being Taken Into Custody

The windows of the SUV had been covered in clothing and cardboard, preventing anyone from looking inside.  When the police finally entered the vehicle, they found cases of bottled water and ramen noodles all over the SUV, a container with soiled diapers, spoiled food and bottles and a cooler full of urine. Then things got much worse, they found 3 other children between the ages of 12 and 15 hiding in the SUV.  The children were terrified, and had locked themselves inside the back of the truck.  It took authorities more than an hour to coax the children out of the SUV.  The two younger children were untied and ambulances were called to the scene to assess the children’s physical needs.  All five of the children were found to be in fairly good health and were placed in the care of CPS.

Adolfo and Deborah Gomez

Adolfo and Deborah Gomez

Inside the WalMart, authorities located Deborah Gomez, the children’s mother, and placed her under arrest as well.  The Gomezes are each charged with two counts of felony child abuse and five counts of aggravated child endangerment.  Adolfo also has the additional charge of obstruction for resisting arrest.  The two were being held each on a $50,000.00 bond.  The couple were told they could have no contact with their children, or each other.

Authorities say the family was on their way to Arizona, where their oldest son attends college, en route from their home in Northlake, Illinois.  According to some reports, the couples landlord in Illinois said he was surprised by the allegations against the family, stating they were a “good catholic family” with well behaved children.  Other reports have the landlord stating the EXACT opposite, saying he found padlocks on the bedroom doors in the Gomez apartment, and could often hear the father yelling and the children crying.  He further states that the two oldest boys would receive food from local churches and were responsible for cooking all of the meals for the family, often making comments to the landlord that they couldn’t wait until they got older and could leave.

Steven Quayle

Steven Quayle

When investigators began questioning the couple, they were shocked at what they were told.  It turns out that the reason the couple bound and gagged the children, was to guard them from demons.  As Detective Randy Glidewell questioned Aldofo, the man stated that he had been listening to online preacher, Steve Quayle, who was predicting the end of the world and that a “darkness had come over the house” in Illinois.  He stated “The world was coming to an end, and that’s why we left.”  Quayle is known to be a conspiracy theorist.  The family sold most of their possessions and with that, left Illinois.  Aldofo also claimed to have not slept in 9 days, and he was particularly concerned about one of his younger children.  He described the child as “acting like he was possessed.”, and was fearful that the little boy may hurt the other children.  When Adolfo was questioned as to whether he may be under the influence of any drugs or alcohol, he told them that he had not taken any acid in 30 days (REALLY??) and he was not drinking, as his wife told him she would leave him if he did.  Does anybody else see a pattern here?  Adolfo’s lawyer, Skip Griffy, said during a hearing that blindfolding and binding the younger children was part of the family’s religious beliefs and that it was not done frequently or as a punishment, rather only done as a way to protect the children from demons.  He stated “Their actions were taken out of their religious beliefs, that these children were possessed.”  Griffy also pointed out that the children had not sustained any injuries.  Maybe physically they did not, but I can’t imagine the psychological damage that has been done to these children.  Blaming your actions on religion is not an excuse for ANYONE to run around doing as they please.  Religion does not give anyone the right to compromise another’s life in ANY way.

Now, Angela Keck, Deborah Gomez’s lawyer, took an all together different approach in an attempt to explain her clients actions.  She distanced her client from Adolfo, stating that Deborah had no control over her husband.  She claimed that “Deborah was trying her best to protect herself and her children when Adolfo was having a kind of religious experience.”  She also points out, like Griffy, that the children were not in danger and unharmed.

SUV The Children Were Found Beside And In

SUV The Children Were Found Beside And In

Officer Hayden Fowler had interviewed some of the children and said that one of the older children had told him that the family believed there were “demons” in their home and outside their SUV in the parking lot, hence the reason for the window coverings which were believed to keep the demons out.  Again, I refuse to disillusion myself into believing that because the children were in decent health physically, that nothing was wrong.  And again, I can only imagine the psychological effects that the children are forced to endure.  As the interviews of the children went on, the severity of the entire situation only continued to increase.  The 7 year old girl told police that she was hitting her siblings and asked to be tied up and blindfolded.  The five year old boy had a soiled diaper and no shoes when officers found him.  He told officers that he wasn’t supposed to take his bindings off, as his dad told him not to.  The 12 year old girl, told law enforcement that her two youngest siblings were occasionally tied up with their faces and eyes covered with duct tape to “keep demons out”.  She went on the explain that her family was going to exorcise the demons in the parking lot, but did not say how they planned on doing so.

Kansas WalMart

Kansas WalMart

Prosecution stated that the “danger to these children was real.”  She further stated “These types of bindings and blindfolds come into play when you’re talking about … prisoners of war.”  She points out that Deborah was involved in the abuse and when she was presented with an opportunity to ask for help, she instead went shopping for duct tape, two tarps and a baseball bat, pointing out that the situation was very much so a team effort on the Gomez’s parts.

The Gomezes past history is one filled with turmoil.  The family moved often, usually after being evicted from one place to the next. In October of 1998, Deborah was placed on court supervision after she pled guilty to misdemeanor endangering the life of a child.  She admitted to leaving 2 of her sons, aged 2 and 3 at the time, home alone for 8 hours in March of 1998.  Adolfo was realeased from prison in 1984 after serving part of a three year sentence for burglary and theft.  In 2007, he pled guilty to driving drunk, over three times.  He was sentenced to 12 days in the DuPage County Jail in early 2012, after failing to pay fines and comply with other court orders.

Deborah Gomez pled no contest to three misdemeanor counts of child endangerment, after agreeing to testify in Adolfo’s trial, she in exchange was sentenced to one year probation.  Deborah says she hopes to work towards regaining custody of her five children, and if she gets permission from probation officials, she plans to move to Arizona to be near relatives.

Adolfo Gomez also pled no contest to two counts of felony child abuse and three misdemeanor counts of child endangerment.  Adolfo was supposedly to be sentenced to 30 months in prison, however his sentencing hearing has been delayed at the request of his attorney.  Griffy stated that he would like a mental evaluation done on his client, which could land Adolfo in Larned State Hospital.  In July 2013, Adolfo Gomez was officially sentenced to 30 months in prison.  In addition to the 30 months, he was also ordered to serve 24 months of post-release supervision after his prison term ends.

Both of the Gomezes stated that they pled no contest because they wanted to prevent the children from testifying, and did want to put them through anymore than they have already been through.

I truly hope that while these 5 children are in state care, they are provided with the counseling they need to help them work through what was happening in their home life in the months prior to their parents’ arrest.  I can’t imagine that it will be an easy process for these kids to begin understanding that the nightmare is over, that their reality is no longer controlled by a mentally unstable father, and a crackpot online preacher.  One can only hope that they will become empowered to be confident in controlling their own destiny, and taking the steps THEY want to take, to decide what their future holds.




~ by LTWH on March 17, 2013.

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