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PostSubject: Shylae Thomas (9) R.I.P.   Fri Oct 23, 2009 8:50 am


Shylae Thomas, 9 years - Flint, Michigan
Abuse Report Made: 04/20/2009 - Located Deceased: 04/22/2009
Accused: Lorrie Thomas, 39, Shylae's adoptive mother & Aunt
Trial Date: Pending
Thomas is accused of starving the girl to death and then stuffing her body in a storage unit. Shylae weighed 33 pounds at the time of her death.

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PostSubject: Re: Shylae Thomas (9) R.I.P.   Mon Nov 30, 2009 8:40 am



Woman to Be Tried Over Girl Found Dead in Storage
Mich. woman to stand trial in death of adopted quadriplegic daughter found in storage unit
By DAVID RUNK Associated Press Writer
FLINT, Mich. October 13, 2009 (AP) The Associated Press

In this April 24, 2009 file photo, Lorrie Mae Thomas, the adoptive mother of a 9-year-old quadriplegic girl whose body was found in a Michigan storage unit, listens during a court hearing in Flint, Mich. Thomas has been ordered to stand trial on charges including second-degree murder in the death of her adopted quadriplegic daughter. Judge Tracy Collier-Nix of 68th District Court made her ruling on Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2009. Forty-year-old Lorrie Thomas of Flint will stand trial on six charges. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio, File)
(AP)A woman accused of starving her adopted quadriplegic daughter and stashing the 9-year-old's body in a storage unit must stand trial on charges including murder, a judge ruled Tuesday.

Lorrie Thomas, 40, of Flint, is scheduled to be arraigned Monday in circuit court on six charges including second-degree murder and welfare fraud after Judge Tracy Collier-Nix of 68th District Court ruled there was enough evidence to send her to trial.

Authorities believe Shylae Thomas was dead for six weeks when her body was discovered inside a 33-gallon container in a storage unit near Flint on April 22. The doctor who performed an autopsy on the 33-pound girl said the cause of death was a combination of neglect, malnourishment and dehydration.

"You don't even really need an autopsy or an expert to tell you that this 9-year-girl at 33 pounds was starved to death," Assistant Prosecutor Marcie Mabry said after the hearing.

The judge's ruling came at the end of a three-day preliminary hearing that began June 3 and continued Oct. 1. On Tuesday, Collier-Nix allowed Thomas' statement to police to be used despite objections from her lawyer that she did not fully waive her right against self-incrimination.

Prosecutors also played a recording of a phone conversation with Thomas, who was Shylae's aunt, from jail just days after her arrest in which she uses an expletive to describe police and said she had planned to retrieve Shylae's body from the storage unit and bury it.

"I did not murder her," Thomas said in the April 25 call.

After the hearing, defense lawyer Mark Clement said Thomas found Shylae dead at home and panicked — fearing that her own children would be taken from her if she reported the death. He said Thomas denies that she starved the girl and says she was feeding her.

Thomas adopted Shylae in 2003. The girl was fed through a tube in her stomach, the result of nearly suffocating in a crib as a baby.

http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory?id=8817686

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PostSubject: Re: Shylae Thomas (9) R.I.P.   Mon Nov 30, 2009 8:43 am



Lorrie M. Thomas, 39, appears in court, charged with death of Shylae Thomas
By The Flint Journal
April 24, 2009
Ryan Garza
Lorrie Thomas cries while being led away Friday after being arraigned on charges in the death of her adopted quadriplegic daughter Shylae Thomas, 9, who was found dead in a Vienna Township storage facility.


FLINT, Michigan -- Flint District Judge Tracy Collier-Nix set no bond for the adoptive mother of a 9-year-old quadriplegic girl who was found dead Wednesday in an storage unit.

"Due to the seriousness, particularly count one, which is second degree murder, the court is not going to set bond on this," Collier-Nix said during her arraignment today on charges that included second degree murder in Shaylae Thomas' death.

Lorrie M. Thomas, also Shylae's biological aunt, was charged with second-degree murder, second-degree child abuse, tampering with evidence, two counts of welfare fraud and removing a body without permission of the medical examiner.

Prosecutor David Leyton earlier today called Shylae's death one of "the worst cases we've ever seen."

Officials say Shylae had been dead for six weeks and the medical examiner ruled the cause of death as homicide from neglect, Flint police Sgt. Mitch Brown said during a court hearing this morning.

Thomas cried when she entered the courtroom today, wiping her tears on her orange jump suit.

She spoke only to answer "yeah," when asked if she understood the charges against her.

Thomas was sent back to the Genesee County Jail and she's expected back in district court Tuesday for pretrail.

Thomas' family filled the courtroom, but declined to comment after her arraingment.

Leyton said an autopsy Wednesday discovered Shylae had bed sores so severe that her bone was sticking through her skin.

Shylae, whose name also is sometimes spelled Shylea, was found early Wednesday wrapped in a garbage bag and stuffed in a plastic bin in a Vienna Township storage unit. Officials said she weighed 33 pounds when she died.

Police said a check from the state that Thomas received to care for Shylae had been cashed April 13, weeks after her death.

Shylae lived with Thomas in her East Pierson Road home with seven other children. The other children have been removed from the home and placed in emergency foster care.


Flint Journal extras

Related articles:


•12:35 p.m., April 24, 2009: Shylae Thomas considered one of 'the worst' neglect cases seen locally


•11:54 p.m., April 24, 2009: Shylae Thomas' mother to face second degree murder, other charges


•10:07 p.m., April 24, 2009: Shylae Thomas weighed 33 pounds when she died; family blames DHS


• 9:39 p.m., April 23, 2009: Prosecutor expected to decide Friday on charges in 9-year-old's death


• 12:29 p.m., April 23, 2009: Shylae Thomas' case puts adoption process in spotlight


• 9:52 p.m., April 22, 2009: Prosecutor could decide Friday on criminal charges in death of 9-year-old quadriplegic found dead in storage unit


• 11:04 a.m., April 22, 2009: Mother of 9-year-old girl who was found dead believed to be in jail


• 9:39 a.m., April 22, 2009: Body of missing 9-year-old quadriplegic girl, Shylea Thomas, is found.

http://www.mlive.com/news/flint/index.ssf/2009/04/lorrie_m_thomas_39_appears_in.html

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PostSubject: Re: Shylae Thomas (9) R.I.P.   Mon Nov 30, 2009 8:44 am


Shylae Thomas weighed 33 pounds when she died; family blames DHS
By The Flint Journal
April 24, 2009, 10:07AM

ZV Family members said they were no longer allowed to visit Shylae Thomas, who lost the use of her arms and legs as an infant after a crib mishap.FLINT, Michigan -- A 9-year-old quadriplegic Flint girl whose body was found in a storage unit this week weighed just 33 pounds when she died.

Although an autopsy found no signs of physical trauma to Shylae M. Thomas, officials said preliminary results indicate she died of chronic malnourishment and neglect.

Shylae's adoptive mother, Lorrie M. Thomas, 39, was being held in jail pending a meeting this morning to determine whether she will face criminal charges in the death.

Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton has called a noon news conference.

Family members blame social workers for not protecting the girl.


Thomas' cousin, Josette Thomas, said relatives had called the state Department of Human Services numerous times because they worried that Shylae and her 11-year-old sister were being neglected.

"I feel (DHS) failed my family," said Josette Thomas. "If they would have stepped up and did their jobs, Shylae would still be here. They would have noticed she has been gone the last six weeks."

A DHS official said she could not comment on specific cases or the family's allegations.

DHS had not filed any formal neglect charges against Lorrie Thomas regarding any of her children before the discovery of Shylae's body Wednesday, according to Genesee County court files.

Stacie Bowens, acting child welfare bureau director for Genesee County DHS, said that when an employee conducts an investigation, it is reviewed by a supervisor to ensure a child's safety.

"We have great people that care about children," Bowens said. "Our priority is to protect children and keep them safe."

The state Office of Children's Ombudsman said it also will open an investigation into Shylae's death. The agency oversees public and private agancies involved in the child welfare system and investigates allegations of abuse or neglect.

DHS called Flint police Tuesday to report that Shylae was missing after a social worker became concerned about the girl's well-being after talking Monday with Lorrie Thomas.

Thomas allegedly told a DHS worker that she was in the process of moving out of state and that she had already sent Shylae to Virginia with a friend.

Suspicions grew when DHS discovered that Shylae had been taken out of school in late January, and Thomas was unable to find a working phone number for the woman she claimed was traveling with the girl.

DHS workers also found Shylae's wheelchair in the East Pierson Road home that Thomas shared with her boyfriend and eight children, including Shylae and Thomas' 15-year-old daughter, who has two children of her own.

Early Wednesday morning, police learned that Shylae had been dead for six weeks and that her body was in a Vienna Township storage unit.

Police found the girl inside a plastic tub in one of the units, her body wrapped in a garbage bag and surrounded by mothballs.

Leyton said he is taking a cautious approach on the case.

Prosecutors spent nearly three hours discussing it Thursday afternoon before asking police to conduct more interviews and searches in the case.

Police were planning on working "around the clock" Thursday and today to gather needed information for a planned meeting on charges this morning.

Thomas has been in jail since Wednesday, and prosecutors typically have 72 hours to hold someone without charges. It was unknown whether Thomas has an attorney.

One of Leyton's questions in the case is how much Shylae should have weighed, given her quadriplegia.

Medical journals indicate the average weight for a healthy 9-year-old girl is about 63 pounds -- almost twice Shylae's weight when she was found.

Shylae attended the Marion D. Crouse school in the Genesee Intermediate School District, and officials there said the girl appeared fine when they last saw her in January, according to Leyton.

Lorrie Thomas told school officials at the time that she was moving, and she filled out forms to withdraw Shylae from classes there, said Leyton.

Shylae lost the use of her arms and legs when she was 3 months old as the result of a crib mishap that caused her head to be caught against the mattress.

Lorrie Thomas adopted Shylae after her mother -- Thomas' sister, Rachel -- decided she was unable to care for her, family members said.

But relatives said they had been worried for several years about Lorrie Thomas' ability to care for the girl.

Thomas has four children of her own, ranging from 15 to 2 years old, and was caring for a total of eight children.

Josette Thomas and Ebony Thomas, also a cousin, said Lorrie would not let people visit Shylae, and they worried that she wasn't being cared for properly.

"We didn't even know (Shylae) was missing," said Ebony Thomas, who has custody of two of Shylae's siblings. "My honest opinion was Shylae was too much for Lorrie to handle.

"For her to try and hide that baby's death ... I can't deal with it. (Shylae) didn't deserve that."

The other seven children in the home have been placed in emergency foster care until a family court hearing next month.

Shylae, whose name was spelled incorrectly in information released by authorities earlier this week, was a beautiful girl who always smiled, family members said.

"She would be so happy when we talked to her," Josette Thomas said. "In every last photo I have of her, she would be smiling."

http://www.mlive.com/news/flint/index.ssf/2009/04/shylae_thomas_weighed_33_pound.html

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PostSubject: Re: Shylae Thomas (9) R.I.P.   Mon Nov 30, 2009 8:46 am

The Death of Shylae Thomas - Could it Have Been Prevented?
Tuesday April 28, 2009
The body of 9-year-old Shylae Thomas was found in a storage unit sometime last week in Flint, Michigan; she had been deceased for six weeks. Shylae, a quadriplegic, weighed only 33 pounds. Her small body was wrapped in a plastic bag, surrounded by moth balls within a plastic tub. Lorrie M. Thomas, 39, was parenting 7 other children, including her 15-year-old daughter who has two children. Lorrie Thomas is being held without bond and has been charged with second-degree murder, second-degree child abuse, tampering with evidence, two counts of welfare fraud and removing a body without permission of the medical examiner.

The medical examiner ruled the death a homicide from severe neglect and chronic malnourishment. Lorrie Thomas, Shylae's adoptive mother and biological aunt, was receiving financial support for the care of Shylae, cashed a check from the state weeks after the child's death. She is expected back in court today for pretrial.

Does this tragedy point to the need for further scrutiny of bio family and kinship placements? Some say it means the adoption process itself needs to be revamped. Can these tragedies truly be prevented? As long as there are people on this Earth, it seems that some will choose to do evil, it's something that happens and seems to be a part of human history.

However, what can be improved is the support of family and friends. I'm not going to lay all the blame on social services. Why didn't anyone notice that this child was missing for 6 weeks? According to reports Lorrie Thomas, allegedly stopped allowing visitors to the home, why was that just accepted? How about a simple call to the police for a welfare check on the child? Lorrie Thomas also allegedly reported that the child moved to Virginia, without the family? Really? How about a call to the travel companion or to the new school?

Let's not just blame the system. As a part of the community, you are a part of the "system" too.

SOURCES:
Lorrie M. Thomas, 39, appears in court, charged with death of Shylae Thomas - MLive.com
Shylae Thomas weighed 33 pounds when she died; family blames DHS - MLive.com
Shylae Thomas' case puts adoption process in spotlight - MLive.com

http://adoption.about.com/b/2009/04/28/the-death-of-shylae-thomas-could-it-have-been-prevented.htm

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PostSubject: Re: Shylae Thomas (9) R.I.P.   Mon Nov 30, 2009 8:47 am

Shylae's family recalls fears
9-year-old quadriplegic's adoptive mother deflected all questions from worried relatives
Catherine Jun / The Detroit News
Flint -- Razetta Thomas Carroll was sure something was wrong with her little sister.

Despite her pleas, Carroll couldn't get inside the adoptive home where her 9-year-old quadriplegic sister lived. Nor could Carroll coax Shylae Thomas' adoptive mother to bring her little sister outside. And she suspected her sister was being kept long hours in bed and wasn't being properly fed.

So on April 20, Carroll placed a desperate phone call to the Michigan Department of Human Services, one that she hoped would grab someone's attention.

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"I said, 'If you don't go over there, I'm going to kill that (woman)," Carroll, 20, recalled, posing a threat to hurt Lorrie Thomas, adoptive mother and aunt to the child.

That call prompted an investigation that led authorities two days later to a grim discovery: Shylae was dead of neglect and malnutrition, her body stuffed in a bin in a public storage facility in Vienna Township that the aunt had rented.

"I knew something was wrong," Carroll said. "I had a bad feeling."

As Thomas, 40, is scheduled to appear in court today on charges including second degree murder, Carroll and other relatives say there were subtle signs that Shylae was not being properly cared for. And Carroll says this wasn't the first call she made to Child Protective Services asking someone to investigate.

Thomas' court appointed attorney, Mark Clement, did not return numerous calls for comment.

Shylae was hidden away
Several relatives say they hadn't seen Shylae in nearly a year. Carroll and several of Shylae's relatives say they were denied access to Shylae, whom others say Thomas kept hidden upstairs in a bedroom.

"She just led us to think everything was fine with Shylae," Ebony Thomas, 35, Shylae's cousin, said.

The last time Carroll saw her sister was in June, when Shylae's biological mother managed to convince Thomas to let her take Shylae out for her ninth birthday.

And that's when they noticed how thin Shylae had become.

"Her ribs dipped in on one side," said Rachel Thomas, Shylae's biological mother, who lost her parental rights in 2000.

When asked about it, Thomas explained that Shylae had a new feeding tube that limited the amount of food she could eat.

Carroll was not allowed at the house on Pierson Street, but she'd get snippets of what happened inside from some of the other seven children who lived there, including Shylae's 11-year-old sister. Thomas did not take Shylae out of the house on hot summer days, and she denied Shylae toys for Christmas, saying she wouldn't even be able to play with them. And when Shylae's 11-year-old sister noticed Shylae was missing, Thomas told her Shylae was "at the babysitter's." During the investigation into Shylae's disappearance state social workers removed all seven children from the house.

Autopsy results show Shylae was dead for six weeks before she was found.

According to the Genesee County Prosecutor's Office, Thomas cashed a $3,336 monthly adoption subsidy check on April 13. The bulk of the amount was meant to cover expenses for Shylae, who was mentally as well as physically handicapped; about $451 was meant for her 11-year-old sister.

Carroll said she had made several calls to DHS, believing she and her mother could better care for Shylae. The department denied a Freedom of Information Act request for complaints made against Thomas.

Tighter child placement laws
Shylae and her sister moved from one relative's home to the next since 2000. That year, the state terminated the mother's parental rights after Shylae suffered a broken leg that a doctor said appeared to be the result of a two-story fall.

The Thomas girls ended up first living with a cousin and then were adopted by their aunt in 2003.

But the question remains whether the girls would have been placed in Thomas' care if the laws were as strict then as they are now. The state Department of Human Services has denied access to records of Thomas' pre-adoption screening.

Though relative placements are traditionally viewed by child welfare advocates as the least disruptive to the child, the state has in recent years tightened requirements for even relatives seeking to adopt family members.

As of October 2008, relatives seeking to adopt children are required to undergo foster care licensing procedures and are subject to thorough assessments of the home, including evaluation of household income as well as the number of beds and bedrooms in the home.

But as the law is written then and now, once the state confirms an adoption, it is pretty much hands off.

"The bottom line is ... when an adoption is finalized, the state really doesn't have a reason for oversight unless there is a problem that is indicated," said Janet Snyder, executive director of the Michigan Federation for Children and Families.

cjun@detnews.com (313) 222-2019

http://detnews.com/article/20090506/METRO/905060360/Shylae-s-family-recalls-fears

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PostSubject: Re: Shylae Thomas (9) R.I.P.   Mon Nov 30, 2009 8:53 am

A tragic life: Shylae Thomas
By The Flint Journal
April 26, 2009, 8:00AM

Shylae ThomasFLINT, Michigan -- With a radio playing next to her, a small smile would cross Shylae Thomas's face as she turned her head toward the sound.

For a little girl who couldn't walk, talk or even hug, her love of music was one of the few ways the family could see the life and the spirit within Shylae.

She was a little girl with big brown eyes and chubby cheeks, her face usually framed by several small ponytails.

She was a little girl with a tragic life marked by a carousel of caregivers who tried -- and often struggled -- to give the severely mentally and physically disabled girl a good life.

Police found the Shylae, 9, dead in a Vienna Township storage unit Wednesday. Her adoptive mother and biological aunt, Lorrie M. Thomas, is being accused of second-degree murder in Shylae's death, which authorities say was caused by severe malnourishment.

"You played music and she'd turn her head," said Josette Thomas, a cousin who at one point had custody of Shylae. "She loved voices and would be so happy when we talked to her."

Shylae couldn't do a lot, but even those with low cognitive skills are aware and fully capable of feeling love and care.

"They do show signs of pain and joy," said Julie Jones, a Community Mental Health supervisor of the child and family services for development disabilities program. "So there is a smile or relaxation of bodies when they are being hugged or held."

And her family knows that -- remembering her smile when they kissed her little toes.

Born healthy, her family and friends recall how beautiful she was - a typical baby that would cry and kick her feet when she needed attention.

"She was a happy, healthy, loving baby," Josette Thomas said.

It didn't last long.

At 3-months-old, Shylae got her head caught between the mattress and bars in her crib and she couldn't breathe. The lack of oxygen caused severe brain damage.

She became unable to move much more than her head, although her foot would sometimes tap to the music. She was confined to a wheelchair and had to be fed by a tube inserted in her stomach.

"She couldn't do nothing but just look and smile every now and then," said Michael Moore, the father of one of Shylae's sisters. "I think she could probably understand, but you couldn't tell."

Eventually Shylae's biological mother, Rachel Thomas, decided she could no longer care for the girl adequately, family said. At first, Rachel's mother stepped in to help, Josette Thomas said.

Rachel Thomas' parental rights were terminated. It's uncertain if it was done voluntarily.

Whether she was forced or not, prosecutors said Rachel didn't show up to the termination hearing.

And, Josette Thomas took custody of the girl, still less than 1 year old.

Rachel Thomas' other children -- girls now 11 and 13 and a boy 17 -- were taken in by various family members.

A doctor told Josette Thomas that Shylae wouldn't live past the age of 5. Still, Josette Thomas said she shuttled Shylae back and forth to a Shriner's Hospital in Chicago for treatment -- trying to give the girl a good life.

"(Her body) was all twisted up, but they got her legs to bend," Josette said. "She was always happy when I had her."



FLINT JOURNAL EXTRAS

Related articles:


•12:35 p.m., April 24, 2009: Shylae Thomas considered one of 'the worst' neglect cases seen locally


•11:54 p.m., April 24, 2009: Shylae Thomas' mother to face second degree murder, other charges


•10:07 p.m., April 24, 2009: Shylae Thomas weighed 33 pounds when she died; family blames DHS


• 9:39 p.m., April 23, 2009: Prosecutor expected to decide Friday on charges in 9-year-old's death


• 12:29 p.m., April 23, 2009: Shylae Thomas' case puts adoption process in spotlight


• 9:52 p.m., April 22, 2009: Prosecutor could decide Friday on criminal charges in death of 9-year-old quadriplegic found dead in storage unit


• 11:04 a.m., April 22, 2009: Mother of 9-year-old girl who was found dead believed to be in jail


• 9:39 a.m., April 22, 2009: Body of missing 9-year-old quadriplegic girl, Shylea Thomas, is found



While family won't go into details on why, Josette Thomas also eventually lost custody because of personal issues.

Although there are no available court records on transferring custody of Shylae, family said the girl, then about 3, and her younger sister then went to Lorrie Thomas, Rachel's sister and Josette's cousin.

Lorrie Thomas had at least two children, with a third either just born or on the way.

For the first couple years, they remained close with the extended family. Shylae was able to see her sisters and brother often and Josette Thomas said she stopped by as often as she could.

About three years ago, family said the relationship started to change.

Lorrie Thomas' daughter, then 12, became pregnant and added a sixth child to the family. Lorrie herself had another child the following year. And, Lorrie Thomas' daughter, now 15, had another child earlier this year.

"She started separating herself from our side of the family," Josette Thomas said. "I haven't seen Shylae in a year. Lorrie wouldn't let nobody see her."

Worries mounted.

One of Shylae's sisters, who is now an adult, was so upset that she began calling the Department of Human Services to check on Shylae and the other sister in Lorrie Thomas' care, Josette Thomas said.

A cousin, Ebony Thomas, tried to get Shylae's sister to sneak upstairs and take a picture of the girl. She wanted to see what Shylae looked like -- to see if she was being treated well, to see if she was sick.

"Lorrie jumped up and said no," said Ebony Thomas, who adopted two of Shylae's siblings more than 10 years ago. "I can't even remember the last time I saw Shylae."

A social worker called police Tuesday after being unable to locate Shylae, although her wheelchair remained in the home. DHS filed its first formal complaint with the court against Lorrie Thomas last week.

On Tuesday, Josette and Ebony drove by Lorrie Thomas' East Pierson Road home. Police cars were parked out front, along with DHS vehicles.

They learned later that Shylae, whose name is sometimes spelled Shylea, had been missing for weeks.

Police said Lorrie Thomas initially told investigators that Shylae had gone to Virginia with a friend and the rest of the family would be moving there soon. Police searched the home and surrounding area before Lorrie finally told them the Shylae was dead and was in a storage unit in Vienna Township, Prosecutor David Leyton said.

Shylae's tiny 33-pound body had been wrapped in a garbage bag and shoved in a plastic bin, moth balls sprinkled on top. Police believe she had been dead for six weeks.

Ebony Thomas said she broke down when she found out Shylae was dead -- although she tried to be strong in front of her children, Shylae's biological siblings.

Shylae's 13-year-old sister, she said, is devastated.

"The last couple times (her sister) went there, Lorrie wouldn't let her see Shylae," Ebony Thomas said. "I just can't imagine what happened. Even if you went in the room and she was passed away, why didn't you get help?

"But I wonder, how long did she think she could go without us ever seeing Shylae again?"

http://www.mlive.com/news/flint/index.ssf/2009/04/a_tragic_life_shylae_thomas.html

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PostSubject: Re: Shylae Thomas (9) R.I.P.   Wed Feb 03, 2010 1:55 pm

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PostSubject: Re: Shylae Thomas (9) R.I.P.   Sun Dec 19, 2010 8:08 am

:candle:

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