Wednesday, June 16, 2021
June 16, 2021

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Couple in starvation case to appear in court Tuesday in California

By , Columbian Assistant Metro Editor

The adoptive parents of a 15-year-old Vancouver boy who died from starvation and neglect in November are due in court Tuesday afternoon in Stockton, Calif.

Both Felicia Adams-Franks, 52, and Jesse Franks, 56, were booked into jail Friday morning in San Joaquin County, Calif., by the Stockton Police Department.

They are being held without bail on out-of-state fugitive from justice warrants issued by Clark County. They are scheduled to appear in San Joaquin County Superior Court at the Stockton Courthouse to address their extradition from California, according to jail booking logs.

The couple are facing domestic violence charges of second-degree murder and homicide by abuse in Karreon Franks’ death.

Arrest warrants were issued May 28, but their whereabouts were unknown at the time. They were subsequently located in Stockton.

California is one of many states that has adopted the Uniform Criminal Extradition Act, which governs the procedures and protocols for extradition from the state. The couple can voluntarily choose to return to Washington to face the charges or fight extradition.

Adams-Franks, also known as Felicia Adams, legally adopted Karreon and his two younger brothers in June 2012 in California; she is their maternal aunt, court records show.

Karreon reportedly had a rare genetic disorder that affected his development and severe autism, to the point he was nearly nonverbal. He was also legally blind and used a cane to get around, according to court records.

The Vancouver Police Department had been investigating the circumstances of Karreon’s death since early December.

On Nov. 27, the couple took Karreon to PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center in Vancouver, where he was pronounced dead 14 minutes later. Bilateral pneumonia was listed as his cause of death at the time, according to a search warrant affidavit.

But when the boy’s body was transferred to a Vancouver funeral home, staff reported “concerns with Karreon’s appearance,” the search warrant affidavit says. The Clark County Medical Examiner’s Office then responded and conducted an autopsy.

Adams-Franks told the medical examiner’s office that Karreon’s brothers were giving him a bath on the morning of Nov. 27 when she heard them yelling for him to get into the bathtub. She went to assist, she said. That’s when Karreon became unresponsive in the bathtub, a probable cause affidavit states.

The autopsy report, which authorities received May 14, found Karreon weighed 61 pounds and showed abnormal bone and hair growth, as well as lesions, likely caused by starvation, court records state. When he was last seen by his physician in 2019, he weighed 115 pounds, the affidavit says.

A PeaceHealth Southwest emergency room nurse had contacted Child Protective Services. She noted Karreon was frail and emaciated, weighing 70 pounds. Child Protective Services workers and law enforcement responded to the family’s residence the next day and took Karreon’s brothers into protective custody, according to the affidavit.

That was the second time CPS responded to the residence in about a week. Adams-Franks’ sister, Leticia Brown, contacted the agency Nov. 20 after she discovered that for years her sister had been withholding food from the boys as punishment, according to court records.