The birth mother of a California girl who died in the care of her adoptive family says she will never give up justice after filing a $10 million wrongful death claim against San Diego county.
As CrimeOnline previously reported, Deputy District Attorney Meredith Pro said in December 2022 Leticia McCormack, 49, was the “ringleader” of the torture that resulted in 11-year-old Aarabella McCormack’s death.
Pro added that the defendant’s husband, Brian McCormack, and her parents, Stanley Tom, 75, and Adella Tom, 70, also participated in the torture that resulted in the child’s death.
NBC 7 reports that the child’s birth mother, filed a lawsuit against the county, claiming that Child Welfare Services failed to intervene and save Aarabella.
“She was the most open, loving, affectionate little girl,” Aarabella’s biological mother, Torriana Florey, told NBC 7. “And then she got with the McCormacks and it’s like her soul died. And it hurts — very much so.”
On August 30, 2022, San Diego police responded to a home amid reports of a distressed child. Aarabella was then transported to the hospital but died.
In addition to Aarabella, Leticia, and Brian also fostered and adopted the girl’s two sisters, ages 6 and 7. They are also accused of torturing and abusing them.
The couple and the adoptive grandparents not only starved the girls, but they stopped them from using the bathroom and beat them with sticks and paddles, prosecutors previously said.
Aarabella had 15 bone fractures in various stages of healing. She also had various lacerations and “her bones protruded from her skin,” according to prosecutors, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports.
Florey alleges that social services didn’t properly vet the family before the adoption and then didn’t investigate properly when they received child abuse claims. She also alleges that they failed to ensure Aarabella received proper medical care.
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“The county needs to be held responsible for the death of my daughter,” Florey said. “I’m not going to let it go. And I’m not going to stand down for my daughter. My daughter is going to have a voice.”
Aarabella and her two sisters moved in with the family in 2017 and were formally adopted a couple of years later. Prosecutors said the slain girl did not receive medical care in the four years leading up to her death.
Brian — a Border Patrol agent — arrived at the home as police were processing the home on the day Aarabella died. He fatally shot himself in his pickup truck as deputies made contact, according to reports.
Leticia and Stanley are charged with murder, child abuse, and torture. Adella is charged with child abuse and torture. The trio pleaded not guilty.
Leticia was an ordained elder and ministry leadership program coordinator at Rock Church. However, church officials said they paused her elder status after Aarabella’s death.
“I blamed myself for probably the first month and a half,” Florey added. “And I still blame myself for this much of it. But the county failed. I know I did everything I could, I know I was the best mother to those kids, and I know I still am by fighting.
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[Featured image: Aarabella McCormick/San Diego County Sheriff’s Department]
Additional reporting by Jacquelyn Gray
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