Friday, March 16, 2007

Summer Lytle dies from child abuse - murderous stepmom has MySpace profile

Girl endured 'torture'
4-year-old's mother located; medical inquiry in abuse case to continue
Jody Lawrence-turner And Amy Cannata
Staff writers
March 14, 2007

Summer Lytle was killed by "homicidal violence," Spokane County's medical examiner said Tuesday.

Dr. Sally Aiken said she will continue to examine the body of the 4-year-old girl to pinpoint the exact cause of her death Saturday.

In other developments Tuesday:

•Summer's mother was finally located, so she can be informed of her daughter's death. The woman's identity has not been released, but police said she lives in Poulsbo, in Western Washington.

•The Washington Department of Social and Health Services released a statement saying that despite the agency's previous contact with Summer's father and stepmother, abuse was not apparent to workers.

..> "What is very unfortunate about this case is that we did not receive any referrals alleging the severe abuse outlined in the court documents released yesterday," said Martin Butkovich, Spokane regional administrator for children's services. "It appears that the family did its best to hide the abuse from people who might have seen something and reported it to us."

•A veteran Spokane police detective compared the apparent abuse endured by the girl at the hands of her father and stepmother to that of a prisoner of war.

"Shock treatments, sleep deprivation, use of water as torture, beatings … there is no other way to describe it but torture," Spokane police Sgt. Joe Peterson said Tuesday. "This is the worst case of just systematic abuse."

Summer was pronounced dead late Saturday in the emergency room at Deaconess Medical Center.

Charged with homicide by abuse are Jonathan D. Lytle, 28, and 32-year-old Adriana L. Lytle. Each is in the Spokane County Jail on a $500,000 bond.

Investigators said the girl was found not breathing in a bathtub, where her father and stepmother had left her for several hours. The couple tried to revive her, they said in a court document, using their hands and feet to perform CPR. Jonathan Lytle took Summer to the hospital after resuscitation failed.

The case is the 12th child death involving abuse that Spokane police have investigated since 2000.

"In all the cases, you feel horrible," Peterson said. "The nightmare of what the children must go through not physically, but mentally, is something that I can't even conceive of."

According to court records, Summer's death ended a regimen of abuse that included a dog's shock collar, burns to her face, a bite mark and extensive bruising. Torn-out clumps of the girl's red hair were found in the apartment and in a nearby trash bin.

"There's no justice that could ever be done," Peterson said.

After the birth of Summer's stepbrother – Adriana and Jonathan Lytle's son Jon – about eight months ago, the DSHS Children's Administration provided parenting help to the Lytles through the First Steps program, officials said. Workers discontinued contact with the family in October.

"The Spokane family was not brought to our attention again until Sunday when Summer was pronounced dead at Deaconess Medical Center," said DSHS spokeswoman Kathy Spears. "The case will be reviewed and that information – when completed – will be publicly available."

Adriana Lytle seems to present a mixed public face on a MySpace page apparently maintained by her and last updated a day before Summer's death.

A woman calling herself angeleyes0921 confesses to illegal behavior, including drug use and shoplifting. Pictures of angeleyes0921 on the site are of the woman seen in court on Monday.

Although there are a few portraits of baby Jon Lytle, no individual pictures of Summer are posted.

Two group shots posted in December, however, show a small, red-headed girl with an impish smile. In one, Summer poses with her father and baby brother. In the other, captioned "Merry Christmas from the Lytle Family," all four pose with Santa as Adriana holds onto Summer's hand.

According to the probable cause affidavit for her arrest, Adriana Lytle called Summer a "pig" in interviews with Spokane police. A year earlier she wrote on her MySpace page that Summer "is the sweetest little girl."

In a March 9 blog entry, angeleyes0921 writes about her happiness at her one-year anniversary. "Time flies when you are having fun."

A day later, Summer was dead.

Here is the stepMONSTER's profile:

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