Year after foster care death, family has more questions than answers

Year after foster care death, family has more questions than answers
Updated: Jul. 10, 2018 at 4:33 PM HST
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BIG ISLAND (HawaiiNewsNow) - It's been nearly a year since 3-year-old Fabian Garcia died in the care of a Big Island foster home.

A Hawaii County medical examiner ruled the cause of death was blunt force trauma to the head. But exactly how that trauma happened remains a mystery.

"It's just miserable — what happened," said Garcia's mother, Sherri Garett.

On Tuesday, Garett was finally able to speak publicly about her son's death. A gag order initiated by state Department of Human Services has prevented the toddler's parents from talking.

But recently, the state Supreme Court ruled that order was unconstitutional.

Garett remembers little Fabian as always wearing a smile. He was caring and a quick learner, she said.

"Life seemed to excite him. It was awesome," She said. "In turn, he made us the happiest we had every been."

But that changed in 2016.

The family's attorney says the state placed Fabian and his two siblings into foster care based on a parent's positive drug test and the fact that the family was renting a home that was in foreclosure.

It wasn't long before Garett says she saw signs of mistreatment.

"Black eyes, lumps on their forehead, missing fingernails, bite marks, bruises, deep scratches on my son's genitals," Garett said.

During their last visit, she recalls Fabian screaming and trying to hide when it was time to say goodbye.

After his death emergency room staff diagrammed his injuries because they too suspected abuse.

July 26 will mark one year since Fabian's death, but the toddler's autopsy report has yet to be released.

Garett says not having those answers has made it impossible to move forward and she worries the lack of forensic insight could compromise the investigation into her son's death.

"I would have died for him. There's no way that he would've died before me if he was still with me," Garett said.

She says she's determined to get to the bottom of her son's death and keep his memory alive.

"He was here. He was awesome and he deserves justice," she said.

About a month after Fabian's death, the state Department of Human Services returned the boy's two siblings to Garett.

HNN reached out to the agency and asked about its investigation into the boy's death. A spokesperson said they are unable to share any information.

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