Couple charged in what police called "worst case of child abuse"

Published: May. 7, 2018 at 11:10 AM CDT
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A couple has been charged in what Green Bay investigators have called possibly the "worst case of child abuse" they've seen.

Juan Maravilla, 31, and Sarah L. Kairys, 30, are charged with counts related to the death of Kairys's 15-month-old child last May.

"The trauma that led to this little girl's death, it's very disturbing," says Lt. Rick Belanger, Green Bay Police Department.

Autopsy results on the girl came back on April 14, 2018. The medical examiner found that the baby died of blunt force injuries to the head and torso. There were multiple injuries in stages of healing on the body, including bite marks and fractured ribs.

"The severity, distribution and focally repetitive patterns of these injuries are consistent with non-accidental trauma," the report found.

A criminal complaint obtained by Action 2 News states on May 25, 2017, police were called to a Green Bay hospital after Maravilla and Kairys arrived there with a dead child.

The child was covered in bruises.

"I could see that the child was covered in bruises all over its body, varying size and color," a police officer said in the criminal complaint.

Officers questioned Maravilla and Kairys. The complaint states they often changed their stories. "Juan and Sarah were both very vague with their explanations, and their recollection of time was also quite a bit off as they would changes times after consulting with one another."

Kairys told police that her child fell down stairs at her town home on Western Ave. where she lived with her five children.

Juan Maravilla said he was unable to live at the home with Kairys because he is a registered sex offender and it would violate his parole. He initially said he wasn't there when the baby, who was not his child, fell down the stairs. Kairys said the child's bruises were not there before the fall.

Maravilla later told a different story and admitted to being in the town house when the baby fell down the steps. He told investigators that he had seen Kairys be rough with the child, but denied that he ever abused the victim.

On May 31, police again questioned Kairys. She changed her story again, telling police that Maravilla told her to tell them that the bruises were from the fall.

Kairys went on to say that she had noticed the girl was "getting more bruises lately." She said Maravilla told her the bruises were from falls. Kairys told police that in the week prior to the child's death, she noticed the bruises were getting darker and the child was "crying a little more."

She also saw bruises around the child's eyes "getting darker."

On the night of the child's death, Sarah said she was watching movies on the couch with Juan when he went upstairs to put the victim to sleep. She later saw the child crying on the floor at the bottom of the stairs.

Kairys now told detectives that she believed Maravilla did have something to do with the child's death.

Detectives questioned Maravilla on June 1. He claimed that the fall down the stairs was an accident. When questioned about the additional bruises on the child, he said, "I smacked her up because I got mad, I just got mad and accidentally hit her." He demonstrated hitting the child on the face.

As questioning continued, he became upset and yelled out, "I didn't mean for this s---, I didn't want her [the baby] to go [die]."

Lt. Belanger says, "There's some things I think as parents, you know, kids get injury, they get hurt, there's an accident, this is clearly not an accident."

Maravilla was in jail when a cooperating informant told police they were watching the news about the baby's death and Maravilla told the CI that a week before the baby died, he had kicked the baby in the head. He also said that he knew the child was dead when Kairys woke him up the next morning.

"We appreciate in this case someone who was a cell mate with him, came forward and brought us some info that ... no 15-month old should die like this," Belanger says.

In June, Action 2 News spoke with police about the severity of the case. Capt. Kevin Warych said, "In speaking with investigators, we believe this is possibly the worst case of child abuse that we've ever seen."

Charges were filed May 4, 2018.

"It's terrible for us to feel, it took almost a year to get to a point of a charging decision, but it's, there's so much medical stuff that goes on that we have to rely upon because we're not doctors," Belanger says.

Maravilla is charged with 1st Degree Reckless Homicide and Physical Abuse of a Child Causing Death.

Kairys is charged with Child Neglect Resulting in Death and Failure to Prevent Bodily Harm to a Child.

Maravilla is currently in Green Bay Correctional Institution on a separate charge and was scheduled to be released on May 15.