February 17th, 2008
Once again, a parent who should have never had contact with his children is charged with murder. This crime is particularly heinous in that it was absolutely predictable and preventable. This was not the first time Miguel Matias attempted to kill one or more of his children. Several years ago, he was charged with trying to set his children ablaze in a car.
Matias was found not criminally liable for that act, but he was given unsupervised visitation with his children after he was released from institutionalized care.
NEW YORK (AP) - New York City police say a father whose daughter’s burned body was found stuffed in the boiler of his apartment building killed the girl because he was upset with her for text-messaging a boy.
Police say 34-year-old Miguel Matias called 911 yesterday morning and claimed he strangled the 14-year-old the night before and dumped her body in the woods.
Police aren’t sure whether the girl was dead before she was stuffed into the boiler. The medical examiner’s office is trying to determine the cause of death.
Matias is separated from the girl’s mother but had visitation rights. The girl lived in Pennsylvania with her mother and was visiting him in New York for the weekend.
Police say the father has a history of emotional problems and was institutionalized after trying to set a car on fire with his children inside.
While some neighbors say that Matias appeared to be a quiet man, others report seeing him beat his fourteen year old child in the halls. It is not clear whether any of these witnesses called DCFS.
In any event, Anna Matias should have been protected from the man who already tried to kill her once. After surviving one terrifying experience of attempted murder by her father, she should not have been subjected to more violence at his hands. That she was not protected, and left defenseless against the rage of a father known to be dangerous and mentally ill, represents an enormous failure in our social service and justice systems, neither of which is held accountable for their decisions, even when the consequences are as disastrous — and predictable — as death.