Shaun Tara, 6, and his sister Delylah, 3, were fatally beaten by their aunt and her partner after the siblings’ eldest sister stole a bagel. The suspects, Tami Huntsman and Gonzalo Curiel, are facing torture and murder charges and will stand trial this year for the monstrous killings that happened on Thanksgiving Day 2015, a day meant to be joyous.
According to CBS, Huntsman was given a turkey that day, but the Tara siblings weren’t permitted to eat. The eldest sibling, then 9, stole a bagel which angered Huntsman and Curiel. Shaun and Delylah were believed to have died that day from the beatings while their sister was left heavily injured.
Huntsman and Curiel reportedly hid the two children’s bodies in plastic bins and drove them to a storage facility. The unnamed sister was found two weeks later shivering inside a locked SUV. She had multiple broken bones and was rushed to the hospital where she stayed for days. The staff said she was on the verge of dying.
The psychologist who is looking after the surviving child told the Salinas Californian that she still feels responsible for the deaths of her siblings. Huntsman is their father’s relative. They had to live with her after their mother ended her life by jumping in front of a car while their father went to prison months later. He asked Huntsman to take care of the trio because he didn’t want them to “enter the system.”
When the girl was rescued, authorities didn’t know that she had other siblings. They only found out about them when Huntsman’s mother, Joy Tara, asked “where those babies are.” Curiel was the one who admitted in court that Shaun and Delylah’s bodies could be found in a storage locker in Redding.
KSBW 8 News reported that the Tara children have long endured other forms of abuse which included starvation, exposure to cold water, and being zip-tied to bed. Months prior to the incident, a social worker from the Monterey County Child Protective Services visited the children.
She noticed the eldest sibling’s shaved head reportedly because of lice treatments as well as Shaun’s forehead bruises. The children also had bloodied legs caused by flea bites. Despite the observations, the children insisted that they felt safe.
Huntsman and Curiel were originally scheduled to attend trial on March 5, but the judge decided to split their trials. Only Huntsman’s trial will begin in March while Curiel’s will start on October 15.
Prosecutors are calling for death penalty for Huntsman. Under the court’s current guidance, Curiel would be ineligible for execution because he was 17 when the beatings took place.