Couple charged for starving daughter to death


This undated photo provided by the David House Agency shows Matthew, right, and Grace Huang, left, with two of their adopted children, Gloria, center left, and one of their two sons.  The couple has been jailed in Qatar on a charge of murder with intent and is accused of starving Gloria, 8, to death, according to a coalition of legal and public relations groups that are working on the case from the U.S. and trying to draw publicity to what they claim is are unjust arrests. (AP Photo/David House Agency)

Matthew, right, and Grace Huang, left, with two of their adopted children, Gloria, center left, and one of their two sons.

A married couple from Los Angeles have been jailed in the Middle East on a charge of murder with intent and are being accused of starving their 8-year-old daughter to death, according to a coalition of groups that are working on the case from the U.S. and trying to draw publicity to what they say are unjust arrests.

Matthew and Grace Huang were arrested in Doha, Qatar, shortly after their daughter, Gloria, died Jan. 15, Alex Simpson, associate director of the nonprofit California Innocence Project said Monday. The Huangs adopted the child from Ghana at age 4.

The couple’s two other children, also adopted from Africa, have been banned from leaving the country and are being cared for by their grandmother, who is living with them there.

The Qatar Embassy did not return a call or email seeking comment.

No one from the Qatar courts, police or prosecutor’s office could be reached for comment Tuesday. Nathaniel Tek, a U.S. Embassy spokesman in Qatar, declined to comment.

The Huangs moved to Qatar in 2012 so Matthew Huang could work as an engineer on two major infrastructure projects associated with improvements for the 2022 World Cup, according to a narrative of the case posted on the family’s website, http://www.freemattandgrace.com .

Their daughter, who was severely malnourished in early childhood, would periodically refuse food for several days and then binge eat or get food from bizarre sources, such as garbage cans or from strangers – a behavior her parents traced to her impoverished upbringing and were trying to address.

She would also try to leave the house at night in search of food and pick through the medicine cabinet on late-night binges, according to a report prepared in the U.S. by Janice Ophoven, a pediatric forensic pathologist who reviewed the case for the family.

Gloria, who was slight for her age, also had been treated for an intestinal parasite, and recent blood tests had showed severely low levels of a certain type of white blood cell that could have been a sign of an underlying bone marrow condition, as well as a vitamin D deficiency.

When Gloria died, she was in an anorexic episode and had not eaten in as many as four days, Ophoven wrote in her report.

A Qatari doctor who conducted Gloria’s autopsy found that the child’s hips, ribs and spine protruded and concluded the cause of death was dehydration and wasting disease.

AP

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