The Shameful Death of Elisa Izquierdo - Elisa Izquierdo was born on 11 February, 1989, in Woodhull Hospital, Brooklyn, New York. Her father, Gustavo, was a Cuban immigrant while her mother, Awilda, was Puerto Rican raised in Brooklyn. Throughout the pregnancy, Awilda, a drug addict, continued to abuse drugs. As a result, Elisa was born addicted to crack cocaine. Awilda carried on this drug abuse following the birth and Gustavo, worried about the safety of their daughter, filed for full custody which was granted. Gustavo was a fantastic father that doted on his precious daughter - “She was his life. He would always say she was his princess,” a family friend went on to recall. As Elisa was in preschool, an affidavit was signed which stated that Awilda had overcome her addiction, had a permanent accommodation, and was now a married woman expecting another child. On paper, she seemed to have her life together. By 1991, Awilda was granted unsupervised visitation with her daughter, Elisa. Awilda’s two eldest children informed relatives that during these visits, Awilda would brutally beat Elisa. You would think that upon hearing this information these relatives would take that information straight to authorities. They did not. Gustavo and a number of Elia’s teachers noticed that Elisa often arrived back home from these visits bearing bruising. On one occasion, Elisa even had bruising around the genitalia. It was noticed by Gustavo that Elisa had began to wet the bed and would often be sick once returning home. Gustavo went straight to the authorities to report these findings, as did one teacher. Elisa herself even confessed to the abuse to a social worker.
In 1992, Gustavo applied to have the visitation rights ceased; tragically, the courts denied this application and the visitations were allowed to continue. By 1993, Gustavo had purchased airplane tickets and had planned to move back to Cuba, taking Elisa with him. However, Gustavo and Elisa never made the flight - Gustavo was rushed to hospital with respiratory complications and died from lung cancer. The death of Gustavo was the nail in the coffin of Elisa escaping her abusive mother. Upon his death, Awilda filed for full custody of Elisa. She was initially granted temporary custody and upon hearing this terrifying news, Elsa Canizares, Gustavo’s cousin, also filed for custody. The head teacher of Elisa’s school and even Prince Michael of Greece, who had met Elisa in her school, wrote letters to the Judge, informing him of the torment Elisa had experienced at the hands of her own mother. Regardless of the mounting evidence as to why Awilda was not a suitable mother, in 1994, Awilda was granted full and permanent custody of Elisa: a decision that would prove to be fatal. Almost immediately, the abuse began. Elisa was taken out of her preschool and sent to a different one. Here she was reported as being withdrawn and uncommunicative. She was also reported to be riddled with bruises each week and appeared to have difficulty walking. Again, this clear evidence of abuse was reported but these reports were discarded due to apparently being “not reportable.” Enraged, Awilda withdrew Elisa from the school. Upon this withdrawal, Elisa was locked in her bedroom 24/7. She wasn’t even allowed out to use the bathroom. Neighbours often heard Elisa screaming and begging Awilda to stop. This was reported to the authorities but again, no action was taken. On 15 November, Awilda called her sister and told her that Elisa was “like retarded on the bed,” and that she had some sort of fluid leaking from her nose and mouth. The fluid was brain fluid. Elisa was left on the bed until the following day when Awilda invited a neighbour inside to view the body. The neighbour immediately called an ambulance but it was far too late - Elisa was dead.
Awilda confessed that she had thrown Elisa head first into a concrete wall two days before the ambulance was called. She revealed that Elisa hadn’t spoken or moved since the incident. Medical examiners were horrified at the sight of little Elisa and couldn’t even begin to imagine the torture she had endured by somebody who was supposed to be her caregiver. She had numerous injuries which included broken fingers (one finger bone was even protruding through the skin), burns and cuts over her head, face, and body, and internal injuries. An autopsy also revealed that her genitalia and rectum bore signs of trauma which included tearing. It was later reported that Awilda had often sexually assaulted Elisa with a toothbrush and a hairbrush. Awilda’s husuband, Carlos Lopez, also partook. They even forced Elisa to eat her own faeces on a number of occasions. It was shown that all of the injuries had been sustained over a period of time; she had been tortured from the moment she entered the house. The abuse surrounding this case is extremely abhorrent but even more abhorrent is the fact that it was easily preventable had the authorities responded accordingly. Awilda was sentenced to 15 years to life imprisonment. Her next parole hearing is scheduled for July 2016,