Michelle Morris Kerin and her husband, Edward Lawrence Kerin, were indicted by a grand jury on 14 counts during a court hearing in California Monday. The couple, who owned Morris Small Family Home, were charged with various crimes including murder, sexual abuse, and neglect, according to the Riverside County DA’s Office.
Riverside District Attorney Mike Hestrin made the announcement Monday, saying that the “owner/operators of Morris Small Family Home in the La Cresta area” were indicted by a grand jury. The 80-year-old woman and her husband were indicted on a variety of charges, Hestrin said.
Michelle Morris Kerin was charged with murder for the April 6, 2019, death of Diane “Princess” Ramirez, who was under her care at the Morris Small Family Home. The grand jury found her guilty after evidence revealed the caregiver refused to seek help for Diane Ramirez despite a violent episode in which she vomited blood, had inconsistent vital signs and was in pain for about eight or nine hours.
The 17-year-old girl, who suffered from cerebral palsy, passed away during the incident. Edward Kerin was charged with child neglect following the young girl’s tragic death.
An investigation conducted after Diane Ramirez’s death revealed “several years of physical abuse and neglect of dependent children and adults” within the Morris Small Family Home. Among other horrid acts, the couple is accused of “sexual abuse against three dependent adults who had been placed in the home,” according to the District Attorney. Since many of the victims were non-ambulatory and required 24-hour care, they were not capable of giving legal consent.
The couple allegedly allowed and encouraged individuals in their care to perform sexual acts on each other despite the lack of consent. The investigation also revealed other evidence of residents being abused and neglected by Michelle Morris Kerin and Edward Lawrence Kerin. According to a report, “the facility was not properly staffed for 24-hour care, and medical records were not properly maintained.”
The indictment includes many charges such as “murder, child endangerment likely to cause great bodily injury or death, dependent adult endangerment likely to cause great bodily injury or death, and lewd acts on a dependent adult.” Only Michelle Morris Kerin was charged with murder, the District Attorney said.
Edward Lawrence Kerin posted bail on August 8 and is scheduled to be arraigned in mid-December. Michelle Morris Kerin remains in jail following the indictment. Her bail was set at $1 million which she hasn’t posted, according to the DA’s office.
Diane “Princess” Ramirez lived with cerebral palsy, a seizure disorder, and many other issues. She was a lively girl with a great life ahead of her, according to her family. She even took a high school quarterback to the prom in 2018, a memory her date said was “one of the best” in his life. After Ramirez’s death, Jeff Miller said that “heaven has gained another beautiful angel.”
The girl’s parents sued Riverside County for $10 million after she died. They blamed the county for putting Diane Ramirez at the Marris Small Family Home. Plaintiffs alleged that the county should have known that it “was a death sentence waiting to happen.”
The attorney, Charles Krolikowski, alleged that “there have been so many red flags over the years — so many reports that something there is wrong.” He said “the county sends social workers to go out to ‘investigate’ complaints for 15 minutes. The social workers can’t talk to the kids themselves, because most of the kids are nonverbal. So they talk to the foster parents, who say the reports are wrong and everything is fine. Then they leave.”
One red flag was detailed in a report by the Orange County Register. The report alleged that Michelle Morris Kerin encouraged one of her adopted children to marry a man during a backyard ceremony in 2014. The foster child did not have the proper intellectual capacity to consent to the union and was originally told the ceremony was a baptism.
A judge later annulled the marriage, ruling that the individual did not have the mental capacity to consent to marriage or a sexual relationship.