Parents, grandma charged in Vermilion starved children case

Erie County deputies have arrested the parents and grandmother of an 18-month-old Vermilion boy who died from malnutrition in November.
Sandusky Register Staff
Jan 7, 2013


Adrienne Bartholomew, 35, and James Brothers, 33, were both charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter, five counts of endangering children and five counts of patient endangerment. They have been booked into the Erie County jail, each on $280,000 bond.

Following the death of the youngest child, 18-month-old Isaac Brothers-Bartholomew, five of the couple's other children were hospitalized with malnutrition. Deputies said Isaac's weight at the time of death was only about 12 pounds, half of what a typical 18-month-old should weigh.

Deborah Nelson, 62, the children's grandmother and a home healthcare provider for the family, was also charged with three counts of involuntary manslaughter, five counts of endangering children and five counts of patient endangerment. She is held at the Erie County jail on $320,000 bond.

Bartholomew, Brothers, and Nelson were all arrested at about 5 p.m. Monday at Nelson's home in the 1000 block of Sanford St. in Vermilion.

Officials investigating the case said the children in the family suffered a variety of complicated medical issues. The family was previously known to Erie County Job and Family services, but the agency did not have an open file on the family at the time of the child's death. Records show the agency received at least three calls raising concerns about the family, but agency officials said the calls did not warrant an investigation.

Evidence regarding the baby's death and malnourished children was presented to an Erie County grand jury, which returned indictments against Bartholomew, Brothers and Nelson last week.

The indictment was secret until the charges were served Monday afternoon.

See past stories on this case HERE.

Pick up a copy of Tuesday's Register for more on this developing story and for an update on the children involved.




That's it?! What a joke


The powers that be need to go after their own. There is a reason why those in Erie County Job and Family services are not held accountable. They would spill the beans on the higher ups. The powers that be don't want to open up a can of worms that would expose all involved.


you mean corruption in erie county? i seem to remember a certain disbarred attorney who tried to tell a story about the corruption in erie county.(and cuyahoga & ottawa counties). everybody tried to say she was just crazy. put her in prison for eight years. kinda funny some of the cuyahoga county goons went down for corruption..


yeah, weird huh? Maybe they should look back into her case?


Thank God!!! Too bad those babies had to suffer for as long as they did.

There you go again

I would love to know what the 3 calls were about that "did not warrant an investigation.". Three phone calls alone should alarm someone that something may be wrong (or worth checking out). Do you think someone may have no done their job?!?! Just wondering.......


Sure would be interesting to know more about those 3 phone calls. Obviously, there were things going on that should have been investigated. Maybe someone needs to at least look into the criteria established for responding to a phone call from someone who is concerned, not to mention 3 such calls.


None of them look malnourished! A trio of trash. As far as three phone calls goes... isn't the point of an alert system to do just that? I can understand them being leery to check into every single allegation (time constraints), but three? Someone failed at their job and should be held accountable. Who exactly logged these reports? Did they take it upon themselves to just say "Oh, well that doesn't sound serious enough"?

ECJFS needs to get their collective heads out of their asses and start doing their job. A child is dead and five others suffered because someone didn't want to do the job they're paid to do.

To whom it may concern: You/You all should be ashamed of yourselves. You have blood on your hands (again) and now what do we do? We, as a community, mourn the loss of a child because of your inaction. We, as a community, must now make sure this trio of trash is sheltered, clothed, kept relatively safe and properly fed for the remainder of their incarceration. All of those things are necessities you couldn't be bothered to ensure those children received. Do us all a favor and remove yourself from your position, you don't deserve it.


This again reminds me of the incident with little Owen Barker. Owens grandparents turned in their daughter to the Children Services and nothing happened. I think they should start to investigate Children Services and see what is going on there, if after 3 phone calls to that dept and nothing happened.


We have to do better for the children of Erie County.

God Of Thunder



Not me, because I was wondering the same thing.


no answers, but wondering the same thing????? what's up with that?

The Answer Person

Isn't it a shame that gay marriage is ruining families...just sayin'

thinkagain's picture

Homosexual marriage is a symptom of the deeper problem of moral relativism. The Thug in the White House being its chief proponent.

The Answer Person

I pity you people who have no respect for our Commander In Chief who was elected PROPERLY, unlike your most recent p-RESIDENT of the White House. Once again you are just angry that there is a black man in the White House.


what has gay marriage to do with any of this????


@the answer person, this has nothing to do with gay marriage. Take that nonsense somewhere else!

God Of Thunder

no doubt...religious fanatic

The Answer Person

Nope, it is called IRONY/HUMOR. Try it some time.


it isn't at all funny or ironic

"Family Services. Administrators at the county agency initially said they received no complaints about the family, but they later changed their story and said they had, in fact, received three phone calls from people concerned about the Brothers-Bartholomew family in recent years."
"Erie County Job and Family Services employees never acted on previous tips from people who suspected something was amiss in the Brothers-Bartholomew household."
"The two phone calls — as well as a third from someone else — were not enough to launch an investigation, Erie County Job and Family Services administrators said."
"Erie County Job and Family Services director Karen Balconi Ghezzi has refused to discuss the case, other than confirming her agency assumed ownership of a case transferred here from Cuyahoga County, when the family moved to Vermilion Township.

In the Cuyahoga County case, the family was ordered to provide certain medical care to the children, Oliver said.

It's entirely unclear why social workers at Erie County Job and Family Services did not keep the family's case open after 2009. Balconi Ghezzi said those records are private."
"According to Erie County DJFS officials, the parents were initially involved with the county after they were referred by Cuyahoga County. But following a home visit in 2008, a Juvenile Court Judge ruled in 2009 that help was no longer needed."

Do Ohio judges practice medicine without a license by ruling that help was no longer needed?


dont know if judges practice medicine in ohio but they do just about anything else they want to, regardless of the law.


Want any more proof that this type of whatever -they -are should not be allowed to reproduce?

Heh, big surprise ...not.


Erie county justice , hold the parents to a higher standerd , but let the children services skate by and nothing happens to them .what a crook of bull .


gay marriage is ruining families? doubt that. many gays make excellent parents. also has nothing to do with this. this is a 'family' with some disturbing problems that somehow slipped through the cracks of family services. that should be investigated as well, but probably won't.


A lack of caring by family and family services. I am appalled.


Children's Services does know how dissatisfied the public-private citizens and health professionals-are with their inactions. I have personally told them numerous times how disappointed I was with their decision-making process with reported cases. I have learned, if the parents dodge DCFS, the department drops the case. I understand these so-called social workers don't get paid a lot of money-but that is no reason to permit child abuse/neglect. Mandated reporters will be held accountable for not reporting-yet, nobody is held accountable for not following up. This grandmother was the so-called "healthcare provider" who was her supervising NURSE? Who was the physician who ordered home health? Who did this grandmother work for-what agency?? I would LOVE for the SR to look into that!


These are ALL excellent points and I hope the SR DOES look into that....what agency DID good old grandma work for? how could she be a supervising nurse if she didn't have any credentials OR an agency for whom she worked?

Unless I have forgotten or gotten it wrong, cockynurse, doesn't that all have to be provided to FS and to SSI or ADC in order to received benefits? And doesn't the physician have to order a POC and the nurse an LOC for home health care? Or do they not do that anymore to receive benefits?


Amen Cockynurse ..... sounds to me like the charges are an attempt to pacify the people.

@ everyone ....The laws governing child protective services need to be looked at and seriously revised. There are people working there who do NOT care about the children's best interest (not all, but some), there are people there who care only about the parents (parents vote, kids don't). I've been screaming this for how long now? 4 plus years. And I've asked the question "how many children will die before people realize?" No one would listen then ... well, children are dying now .... can something be done now?

he said she said

The more charges the higher the bail.
All of them need to be left in clothes they have to mess in, in a small room about the size of a crib, with no food until they are down to what? about 80 pounds? Give em a taste of their own medicine then put them in jail wearing clothes that state 'I am a baby killer'. Time to wave buh-bye and say good luck.....

Concerned For A...

This is absolutely sickening. You go into one of these government offices and there are posters and crap hanging all over about protect the children, blah, blah, blah. Court houses too. I called children services on my ex when our son was about 11 years old because he was smoking pot and getting piss drunk in front of our child. Leaving and locking him out of the house, he would show up at my house 10 to 11 pm at night, mom, I can't find dad again. They didn't do a dang thing. Except to tell me that it didn't warrant an investigation, and it wasn't good enough reason for me to take my son out of there! I tried everything, and now my son is 19 yrs old and has problems with alcoholism because his father let him go out and party all the time. It wasn't until my child was almost 18 that I was finally able to pull him out of the home. It's really sad and disgusting that so much death and damage has to be endured by our children. They will just wait for someone to die, instead of doing their jobs!