A Southern California couple who ran a foster home for severely disabled children and adults is now being charged with multiple felonies, including murder and sexual abuse.
The owners and operators of Morris Small Family Home near Murrieta, 80-year-old Michelle Kerin and 79-year-old Edward Lawrence "Larry" Kerin, have been indicted by a grand jury on 14 counts, according to the Riverside County District Attorney's office.
The charges involving several victims include child endangerment likely to cause great bodily injury or death, dependent adult endangerment and lewd acts on a dependent adult.
Michelle is also being charged with the murder of 17-year-old Diane "Princess" Ramirez, who was living at the facility. A joint investigation involving several agencies was launched following her death in 2019.
"That investigation uncovered what is alleged to be several years of physical abuse and neglect of dependent children and adults, along with sexual abuse against three dependent adults who had been placed in the home," prosecutors said in a news release.
Many of the victims were non-ambulatory and unable to speak, prosecutors added.
The murder charge was filed against Michelle based on evidence that she "refused to seek help for Diane even though she vomited blood several times, had inconsistent vital signs, and had been in pain for an estimated eight or nine hours." Edward is charged with child neglect of her before she died.
The investigation also revealed that numerous residents had been previously abused and neglected, the facility was not properly staffed for 24-hour care as required for many of the residents, and medical records were not property maintained.
Michelle is scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday, while her husband will be arraigned in December.