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Posted 24 Jul 2001   For week ended July 20, 2001
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Sent on Mormon-News: 19Jul01

By Kent Larsen

LDS Family's Adoption Hopes Dashed with Child's Murder

TROUTDALE, OREGON -- An LDS family's hopes to adopt a 20-month-old girl were shattered last week when the child's troubled biological mother murdered her in a busy park. The murder case has attracted heavy media attention in Portland, Oregon, including coverage of the child's funeral, Tuesday, at an LDS chapel in Troutdale, Oregon. Alexis Lopez was killed after the mother persuaded a Oregon state Office for Services to Children and Families to let her take a walk out of sight with the child.

Police and firefighters joined the LDS family, Alexis' foster family and her biological family at the funeral, which was delayed because an unknown caller tried to direct those attending to another LDS chapel in an apparent hoax. At the funeral, Alexis was remembered as a happy child. "Alexis didn't know she had a difficult life," said Sheila Kruger in her eulogy. "I knew her to be a happy child, who was able to get the best from whatever environment she was in. . . . When she was in our home, she certainly felt like a member of our family, as if she belonged there." Kruger, with her husband Steve, hoped to adopt Alexis. The LDS couple already adopted her 8-year-old half brother, Julian, several years ago. Steve Kruger called Alexis' death troubling, both because of her age and because it was at the hand of her mother, "Deep down we know there is no sense to be made of it," he said. "The hardest thing I've ever had to do was tell my adoptive son that his biological mother had killed his half-sister."

Also speaking at the funeral was Mike Alexander, a foster parent who had cared for Alexis for the last four months. He spoke of her sunny disposition and growing vocabulary, "She was loved deeply," he said. "She was a beautiful little person." Steve Kruger, Alexander and Alexis' father, Fernando Lopez-Perez, carried the child's small coffin from the chapel following the funeral. She was buried in a Catholic graveside service at Finley Sunset Hills Cemetery.

Meanwhile, Alexis' devastated father, Fernando Lopez-Perez, is questioning the role of the Office for Services to Children and Families in his daughters death. Lopez-Perez, who was also seeking custody of the child, can't understand how his former girlfriend got out of sight of the caseworker.

Alexis' mother, Sharon Y. Weston, lost custody of the child last October after she threatened to kill or injure herself and the girl. But news reports in Portland indicate that the caseworker, a 30-year veteran described as quiet and reliable by co-workers, allowed Weston to push her daughter around the park in a stroller and lost sight of them. Police say that he was unaware that anything had happened when they found him 30 minutes later, after the crime had been committed.

Lopez-Perez says he can't understand how the caseworker allowed his daughter out of sight, "The people who drove her to the park, why they didn't stay with them to watch?" he said. Perez hadn't been allowed to see his daughter for nearly four months and says caseworkers had told him he wasn't qualified to care for the child until he took parenting classes, because he is a single man. He was scheduled to finish the classes early next month.


Slain girl, 'loved deeply,' is mourned
Portland OR Oregonian 18Jul01 D2
By Stuart Tomlinson: The Oregonian staff

Extended Family Lays Murdered Toddler To Rest
Portland OR KPAM AM860 18Jul01 D2
By Bill Cooper: KPAM

Father Questions State Care After Child's Murder
Portland OR KOIN TV6 17Jul01 D2

Girl's slaying spurs kindness of strangers
Portland OR Oregonian 14Jul01 D2
By Stuart Tomlinson: The Oregonian staff


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