A sad case

Tony wall at Stuff reports:

At her parents’ house at least, it’s as if has been erased from history. A hand-written sign on the door of her old bedroom says simply: “spare room”.

“We burnt everything of Rachal’s, from the smallest to the greatest,” says her father, Stephen Cleaver, a self-styled prophet who claims to hear the word of God.

“We do not discard her, but we have to walk the path of the Lord. If we are moping over the dead, we are going backwards, we have to look ahead.”

There’s a sign on the gate of the ramshackle farm property Cleaver and his wife, Carla, rent near Kaiwaka that says “Get your own toilet”.

They say that Christ will soon return in a blaze of fire and God’s angels will kill everyone who hasn’t made it to their place – but you have to take care of your own body waste.

“The war will start right here,” Stephen Cleaver says.

The couple says the Government is spying on them and that Prime Minister John Key himself buzzed their house in a helicopter.

And they say it was Key and American president Barack Obama who were behind Rachal’s death.

When I first starting reading this article, I wondered why the mad beliefs of these parents were being given prominence. But sadly as you read on, you realise they may have played a role in the death of Rachal.

Rachal, 20, died in Whangarei Hospital on June 10 after suffering a severe asthma attack at home. She was eight-and-a-half months pregnant. Her baby was delivered by caesarean section while she was in a coma, but he died in Starship the following day. He was named Robert. …

Rachal was in the care of the Dingwall Trust, a care and protection facility in Papatoetoe, South Auckland, from nine until she turned 17.

The trust’s director, Tracie Shipton, says staff had serious concerns about what would happen to Rachal if she returned home. It was also feared she wouldn’t get the medical treatment she needed for her asthma and eczema.

Shipton says Rachal’s death was “highly preventable. Asthma is a manageable disease.”

There would have been a reason she was in care, but once she was 17 she could choose where to live.

On the day of her asthma attack, Cleaver says, Rachal was outside filming aircraft that were flying low over the house.

He claims they were Government planes, and they dropped poison.

Oh dear.

He says every three hours Rachal was being “stabbed” with what he was told were steroids. He believes otherwise.

“I think they were giving her a paralysing injection to kill her. I voiced many times that she was murdered.”

The parents obviously need psychiatric help, but it may be too late.

An autopsy was carried out, and the bodies of Rachal and her baby were released to the Dingwall Trust, where a funeral service was held on Wednesday. The parents didn’t attend.

Shipton says it was a beautiful service. Staff were devastated by Rachal’s death. 

“She was a beautiful young girl with lots of potential. What I’m most stressed about is it was a highly preventable death of a pretty awesome kid.”

Rachal was returned to a situation where her safety could never be guaranteed, Shipton says.

When Rachal turned 17, she immediately returned to her parents in Northland. There was nothing Dingwall could do, even though they believed she was not mature enough to make a sensible decision.

Sadly you can only protect people so much.

Shipton has wider concerns about the law.

The trust has been campaigning for a change to extend custodial responsibility and ongoing care provision for vulnerable young people into their 20s. An expert government panel is considering the changes and Shipton says it should be a priority.

“Some young people are leaving care to return to highly dysfunctional families that are just as unsafe as they were when the children were removed from their parents care, the only difference is the child’s age.” 

I sympathise but unless the person is mentally incompetent, it is hard to justify them not being able to make their own decisions once they are 18.

People who saw Rachal before her death say she was completely different to the vibrant, happy girl she’d been at Dingwall. She quoted scripture at people and questioned their morality.

Facebook gives a clue to her mindset. She talks about brussels sprouts being “evil and demonic” and writes “the reason why I stand in the sun every day is because I don’t want you to see how many tears I shear”.

All that’s left on her bedroom wall is a small scrap of paper with some writing – something about helicopters flying low over her house last December. By the end, she well and truly shared her parents’ paranoia.

Actually those brussels sprouts can be pretty evil!

So sad to read of a young life that died, and was probably preventable.

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