At the tender age of 11, Hana arrived in Washington, hoping to find a family that would love her. She had had a rough start in life in Ethiopia; her mother disappeared and her father died, and she was placed in an orphanage, according to KUOW. Hana and Immanuel were adopted together and placed in the Williams family because Immanuel is deaf and the mother, Carri Williams was able to teach him sign language. However, time would reveal that they were not fully welcomed into the family.
From the start, Carri Williams told a group of friends that she was angry that Hana was not as young as she expected. One of her friends received the book To Train Up a Child by Michael and Debi Pearl from Carri. She said that Carri carried a plastic rod with her that she used to discipline the children. One of the children said initially the instrument was a small glue stick, until they received a bigger one from their grandma.
According to the affidavit, Hana “didn’t speak very good English when she first arrived in their family. She was allowed to sleep in the girl’s bedroom for the first few months, however that quickly changed.” (pg. 13)
From that point on, Hana and Immanuel would not receive the same treatment as the other six children in the family and were punished for things such as not standing where they were told to stand.
Hana had come to the Williams’ family with ringworm, cold sores, parasites, and Hepatitis B, states the Seattle Times. Although the family was aware of her condition prior to adoption, she was closely monitored when she used the bathroom and was not allowed to touch anything before washing her hands. If she did, she was considered “rebellious,” and was punished. Carri Williams also daily monitored Hana’s menstrual cycles.
According the affidavit, a friend of the family said that Carri locked up the food and only gave the children small portions. If Hana and Immanuel were caught “stealing” food, food was withheld for the day or days afterward.
Hana was first forced to sleep out to the barn, but when she was caught breaking into the house to get food, she was moved back inside and made to sleep in a bathroom. After she developed a yeast infection from the moisture in the bathroom, she was moved to a closet, which had a lock and a light switch on the outside. She was put in the closet during the day and night. The parents played Bible tapes and Christian music while she was in there.
Immanuel, who is deaf, was made to sleep in a locked shower room as well. Because the light was turned off, he would sometimes pee on the floor, and he would get punished for that. According to the affidavit, “He was forced to bathe, at times, with the outside garden hose because he wets and poops his pants. This would occur in the middle of the night at times, after Larry returns home from work at midnight. lt has also been determined that the Williams will sometime wash him down with his underwear on and then with his clothes off.” (pg. 9) For his punishment, he would be switched or belted on his feet, head and hands. Immanuel also had permanent scarring and marks that were similar to Hana’s. According to the affidavit, he also said his back hurt and that Larry had hit him with a belt.
Immanuel would also get punished for not signing correctly, for getting wrong answers in his schoolwork, and for not answering when the parents would try to get his attention, which they would do by pounding their feet on the concrete floor.
The biological children wouldn’t receive the same punishments, according to an 11 year-old brother. Hana and Immanuel “were punished by having to eat cold food outside regardless of the weather and made to sleep in the closet and shower room. No blankets or bedding were provided to them because they were being punished. Neither one were allowed to celebrate their birthdays because they didn’t deserve it. Holidays were spent without them participating.” (Affidavit pg. 9). Immanuel had to take cold showers inside and outside, but Hana was only allowed cold showers outside.
“when the other children are being punished, then maybe they would have to go without a snack or sweet treat, but their meals were warm and they always ate at the family table together. They receive warm showers and warm food while Hana and Immanuel didn’t. He and his siblings slept in their rooms in their beds, Immanuel and Hana didn’t up until the time of the death of Hana. The two adopted children slept in the closet or shower room for much of the time especially over the last year. (The brother) said that he didn’t see Hana very much and didn’t hear her either. He heard when she or Immanuel were getting switched because they cried, but after awhile Hana wouldn’t cry anymore.”
According to another sister, also 11, Hana
“lived in the closet for disobeying. She was made to sit outside to eat cold table scraps with some frozen vegetables on top. She said her mother cut Hana’s hair because she was angry and Hana needing punishing. (Another child said the offense was cutting the grass too short). (The sister) remembers how much Hana loved to braid her hair and was very sad when she got her hair cut off. Hana was not allowed to share or celebrate holidays with the family due to her behavior. The older boys and Carri Williams spanked Hana several times a day. Hana was made to clean herself outside and was only allowed to use the bathroom outside when her mom took her there.
There were times that Hana and Immanuel would miss up to two meals a day if they were being punished and locked up in a room. Hana was said to be locked up all the time. She has not participated fully in school or family meals for approximately a year. The other children said that she and Immanuel were clearly rebellious and punished regularly. Immanuel had not received a hot meal for months because the rules are that you need to obey for thirty days to receive a hot shower or hot meal and he has never been able to complete that task. Other chores included boot camp, extensive exercising, moving of a rock pile from one pile to another, moving wood and beatings. The older children would assist Carri and Larry Williams in switching Hana and Immanuel. These switching’s would be five to ten usually, but no more than forty at one time. Hana was not allowed to speak unless given permission by Larry and Carri Williams.
Hana was made to wash her hands outside as well as shower naked outside using only the garden hose. Neither child was given hot water to bathe or wash with. Neither child was given a warm meal the day of Hana’s death. Hana was made to say she was sorry everyday, and then spanked with the switch daily.
When they were outside being disciplined, they were not allowed to have jackets and sometimes shoes were taken unless it was snowing out. The cold was a form of discipline used.
The children were asked if they liked Hana. They said no, but they loved her because she was their sister. The children said that nobody in the family liked Hana and they didn’t see or talk to her much anyway because she was always in the closet.
The children indicated no, when they were asked if Carri Williams liked Hana. When asked how they knew that, the children indicated that their mother has said it many times that she didn’t like her and didn’t want to see her grumpy face but loved her because God made her and she was her daughter.”
Hana Grace-Rose Williams, 13, died on May 12, 2011 in her adoptive parents’ backyard. She was found naked and face down with mud in her mouth in 42 degree weather. According to one of her brothers, she had been forced to be outside for most of the day; she even had to eat her meals outside, despite the weather being cold and rainy. Carri reported that Hana refused to come inside. One of the boys took away her shoes and socks, and when three others were sent to bring her back in, Hana began removing her clothes. The children checked on her every 15-20 minutes, reporting back to the mother. At one point, they said she was “pretending to be cold and not able to walk” (Affidavit pg. 11) Her mother later found her, covered her with a sheet, and with a couple of her boys, dragged her into the house. Carri called Larry, who told her to call 911. During that call, Carri said that Hana had not been breathing for ten minutes. She was declared dead at 1:30 am.
According to the affidavit,:“At the time of her death her weight was down to 78 pounds which was a loss of almost 30 pounds.. The doctor, after reviewing the history found the flailing or thrashing and being clumsy followed by a taking off of clothes and becoming unresponsive are well known symptoms of advancing hypothermia..” (pg. 3) “The doctor concluded that Hana died from a culmination of chronic starvation caused by a parent’s intentional food restriction, severe neglect, physical and emotional abuse and stunning endangerment.” (pg.3)
This is a tragic case. Hana was adopted from Ethiopia into a so-called “Christian” home, and instead of being loved, accepted, and cared for, she was neglected, abused, and eventually murdered. The influence of the Pearls appears to be prevalent in the Williams’s treatment of Hana and Immanuel. If you know someone who follows the teachings of To Train Up a Child, share this or the following links with them. You may end up saving a life.
** Update: Hana and Immanuel were not biological siblings. This post has been changed to reflect that. Thanks, Dani, for pointing that out!