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Murder, abuse charges against California foster parents

August 10, 2021 GMT

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (AP) — A Southern California woman who ran a now-shuttered foster home for severely disabled children has been charged with murder and other felonies while her husband faces charges including lewd conduct and willful harm to a child, prosecutors said.

A Riverside County criminal grand jury returned a 14-count indictment last week against Michelle Morris, 80, and her husband, Edward Lawrence Kerin, 79, who owned the Morris Small Family Home near Murrieta. The indictment was unsealed Monday, the Orange County Register reported.

Morris, who remains in custody on $1 million bail, will be arraigned Thursday. Kerin posted bail and is scheduled to be arraigned in December.

Morris is represented by the Public Defender’s Office, which did not respond to a request for comment. Kerin did not return a phone message from the Register seeking comment.


Morris faces a second-degree murder charge for the 2019 death of foster child Diane Ramirez, who spent an agonizing night in the home, vomiting blood. Despite specific instructions to get the girl to the emergency room if that happened, Morris insisted the 17-year-old girl would be fine, according to a state report.

An investigation found years of physical abuse and neglect, along with sexual abuse against three dependent adults, the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office said.

Many of the victims could not speak or walk and required around-the-clock care, prosecutors said.