PART 1: Vyctorya's Birth Parents Charged with Murder
Vyctorya Sandoval was known as Tori to some of the people who loved her. She was found dead shortly after her 2nd birthday and now her two birth parents, Jennifer Dalhover and Joseph Sandoval, are charged with murder. In this special "True Crime Stories" we take you to their preliminary hearing. We'll also meet the Foster Family who cared for Tori before the Children's Court ordered her back to her birth parents, who had a history of abuse and neglect.
PART 2: Vyctorya's Family Speaks Out
Vyctoria's sister, Destiny Magana, testifed at the preliminary hearing. So did Vyctorya's grandmother, Virginia Magana. They know that Vyctorya would not be safe living with her birth mother, but the social workers and the court system ignored them.
PART 3: The Preliminary Hearing
Our Fox 11 Legal Analyst Robin Sax attended this preliminary hearing in Pomona. She has followed Tori's case from the beginning. She shares her thoughts on the hearing, and the upcoming murder trial. Robin also discusses what went wrong with the system.
PART 4: "Lost in the System" Information
Robin shares her final thoughts on the case. For more information on Tori's case and the many other cases like her, visit the WEBSITE dedicated to Tori and run by her former Foster Family.
"Every now and then I work with victims, survivors, advocates, or people and I see that there may actually be glimmers of hope amongst the most horrific and despicable of crimes. For 18 months, I like many others have struggled to find a silver lining in the case of Vyctorya "Tori" Sandoval, the toddler who only at the age of two years old was removed from the safety of her loving foster parents Kelli and Terry Sedgewick, ultimately died hungry, thirsty, and broken in her bio mom's care.
Tori was the adorable little girl whose story was covered by the Los Angeles Times last June when her life came to a tragic end at the age of two. Born as the NINTH child to a family riddled with a long history of alleged child abuse and domestic violence, Tori joined her siblings in foster care. (Yes, you read correctly, the MOMENT she was born she was turned straight over to foster parents). Yet, Tori was one of the few lucky ones, she was placed in the care of the Sedgewicks, a loving and devoted foster family. While there Tori thrived, was nourished with food, love, education, and care.
After an amazing eight months later, by order of the court, she was placed back in the hands of her abusive and violent biological parents, the sole purpose being to "reunify" her with her natural family. She was placed there while a letter from the foster care agency and mountains of evidence showed that reunification was NOT in Tori's best interest.
Within a short few months with her bio family—Tori was rushed to the emergency room, her body undernourished, covered in bruises and suffering from a broken rib. Later that day, she was pronounced dead. DEAD. Dead at the hands of her biological parents. A tragedy that should have never happened.
The red flags were there from the beginning. There was a disturbing and troubled family history, eight prior children from bio-mom were also in the foster care system and court records revealed significant evidence of child abuse, domestic violence, and other crimes, including testimony from relatives and eleven referrals to child protective services. There was clearly a systemic failure across the board—all the way from the courts to the California Department of Children and Family Services ("DCFS"). No doubt they all have blood on their hands, and hopefully will be held accountable for their egregious mistakes, but the real culprits here are the parents. While we can yell and scream at the system—DCFS, the judge, the courts, minor counsel we also must hold the people with blood on their hands accountable. And maybe, we finally can.
I, along with the Foster parents Kelli and Terry Sedgewick, can now breathe a long-awaited sigh of relief as this past Thursday, Tori's biological parents, prime suspects since her death, were arrested and hauled away to jail. (Justice delayed, is still justice.) Bail has been set at a million dollars for both and they are scheduled to appear in court on March 21st. Charged with murder and child endangerment, this is a case that we will all follow to insure that Tori's missed opportunity will turn into an opportunity saved for other children.
Granted it took almost a year, but the district attorney's office got it and knew that the best way to make change is to hold people accountable. This accountability may feel like justice delayed, but justice delayed is still justice.
This is another case where the people who could have done something blew it---one that I call an opportunity missed or missed opportunity. And while Tori's death could have been prevented, the arrests prove this is not just another case falling on deaf ears and gives us hope that the same initiative will be taken in similar cases.
CASE UPDATE: Following Joseph Sandoval and Jennifer Haldover's (Tori's biological parents) preliminary hearing, the court held them to answer for murder. A trial date has not been set".
WTTG FOX 5 & myfoxdc
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