A leader at one of the country’s biggest churches has been arrested and charged with murder after the brutal death of her adopted daughter. And she isn’t alone — her whole family is facing charges.
On August 30, San Diego County Sheriff’s Department deputies responded to a call of a child in distress and found an 11-year-old girl covered in bruises and suffering from “severe levels of malnourishment,” according to a spokesperson speaking to The San Diego Union-Tribune. Little Arabella McCormack was rushed to the hospital, but it was too late — she soon died of her injuries. Her death was attributed to child abuse and neglect.
Arabella’s foster father, Brian McCormack arrived at the scene — and shockingly killed himself right there, in the presence of law enforcement. After further investigation, police arrested her foster mother, Leticia McCormack. The McCormacks started fostering Arabella and her two sisters back in 2017 then adopted them outright two years later. At that time the girls were taken out of school and homeschooled. We imagine it was harder for anyone to see the signs of abuse when they weren’t in public. Exactly what kind of abuse the child suffered has not been revealed, but the horrific charges tell a lot of the story.
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49-year-old Leticia and her father, Stanley Tom, 75, were booked on Monday and charged with one count of murder each. Along with Leticia’s mother, Adella Tom, 70, they were also charged three counts of torture, and three counts of child abuse — all felonies.
Three counts. Three little girls. This family was allegedly abusing all these children, and it sounds like the other two girls’ lives were in danger, too. Just unimaginable. The unnamed sisters are 6 and 7 years old. They’ve both been removed to the care of another foster family.
In addition to being a foster mother, Leticia was also an ordained elder at the Rock Church, a megachurch in San Diego founded in 2000 by NFL star Miles McPherson, who serves as senior pastor.
Leticia’s leadership role, a volunteer position, is being revoked by the church. They released a statement to NBC San Diego saying:
“The Rock no longer has any official relationship with Leticia. Her ordination at Rock Church was previously suspended and is in the process of being revoked.”
We bet. We also have to wonder if her standing in “The Rock” helped her finalize her adoption of those three little girls. The statement continued:
“We continue to grieve for Arabella and her sisters. We are so sorry that their family and friends are experiencing this unimaginable loss and pain. We send our deepest condolences to all that are grieving at this time. Our hearts go out to each of them. The legal process will run its course and we hope justice for Arabella and her sisters will be served. We are praying that God’s love and grace will bring comfort and healing.”
Speaking of the legal process, the entire family have pleaded not guilty. They’re all facing two life sentences if found guilty — with Leticia and her father facing an additional 25 years to life.
The girls’ biological mother, Torriana Florey, attended the family’s arraignment hearing on Wednesday. She explained to the Union-Tribune that she lost custody of her daughters to Child Protective Services over a “domestic violence dispute” with the father. She also said she plans on trying to null the adoption and get her kids back.
If you have sincere cause to suspect child abuse, call the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child or 1-800-422-4453, or go to www.childhelp.org.
[Image via San Diego County Sheriff’s Department.]