It’s a very disturbing story about a child’s death that shouldn’t have happened. The saddest thing of all is knowing that it was no accident –and that the responsible party may just walk away free.
The Poisoning of Andrew Burd
If your child acts as if he is hungry all the time, what should you do? Should you take him to the doctor to see if he might be ill? Perhaps, you might fix him a peanut butter sandwich and see if his hunger subsides. If you know his nutrition is being addressed and satisfied, maybe you would try to get him interested in other activities, such as learning or playing. If all of this fails, would you resort to making a swill out of a spicy Cajun seasoning mix and salt water? Would you allow your child to ingest such a concoction, knowing that he is only four years old and that the concentration of spices and large dosage of sodium chloride might upset his little stomach? Would you?
Hannah Overton claims this is what she did. She said the little boy, a foster child in her care, had an eating disorder and to satiate him, she mixed up some Zatarain’s seasoning and water and gave it to the tot to drink.
Some people, mainly those who go to her church, find this behavior perfectly acceptable and innocent. A harmless attempt at soothing the cravings of a troubled child.
But it wasn’t harmless. It was a deadly decision.
Hannah mixed a salty solution of Cajun seasoning and water and gave it to four year-old Andrew Burd to drink. Little Andrew began stumbling. He vomited. He started feeling cold. He had difficulty breathing.
So, like any caring mother, Hannah Overton loaded that little boy up as quickly as she could and took him to the hospital. No! No! No! No, she didn’t. What did she do? Did she call 911? No. She did not.
She called her husband, Larry, with whom she shared the duties of caring for her own five biological children. Larry came home. Did he load up the child and take him to the hospital? No. He did not. Did he call 911? Nope. didn’t happen. They did let their fingers do some walking, but there was no action –only talking. They called a neighbor. Then they called a friend of theirs. They called the adoption supervisor. The called up Larry’s mother. They called up an elder at their church –by all means! This is a serious matter!
Since little Andrew was cold, they decide to put the extremely ill child into the bathtub. This would make everything better. Cleanliness is next to Godliness, after all. Well, that didn’t really do much to get the little boy any relief. So, they finally decide that someone besides their close-knit circle was going to have to see about little Andrew. They put him in the car. he stopped breathing. Hannah performed CPR on the child in the backseat, as Larry drove. She used to be a nurse, after all. She knew a few things about taking care of sick children. The little one had been violently ill for a whole hour and a half. It was more than obvious by now that this was a dire situation that needed some fast action. They were headed to the emergency room of the hospital. Scratch that. No emergency room. They were just taking a trip to the urgent care clinic. OK, it does say "urgent," doesn’t it. Horseshoes and hand grenades.
Finally! The situation is out of the hands of Hannah Overton. A nurse at the clinic called an ambulance and Andrew Burd was taken, at long last, to Christus Spohn Hospital South. From there, he was transported Driscoll Children’s Hospital. Better late than never, right? Wrong.
Accidents will happen. Life’s like that, you know. But, what if this wasn’t an accident? I mean, who gives anyone an extremely salty, very spicy, sodium laden potion as treat? This was a punishment. Hannah Overton had had it up to here with the kid’s constant nagging and whining. This kid threw tantrums like nobody’s business. Hannah’s own pastor and his family had considered adopting the kid at one point. But, even a man of the cloth can take so much. To Hell with that idea. Perhaps the preacher would do better at protecting a convicted murderer than parenting a rambunctious four year-old. Andrew was always putting stuff in his mouth. He was always complaining. This whole foster kid idea was becoming an ugly matter. If this kid’s so all-fired hungry, maybe he needs to learn a lesson. The authorities believed that Hannah Overton forced Andrew Burd to drink the saline mess as punishment. An unpleasant experience to curb his unacceptable behavior. Give the kid something he doesn’t like to eat and maybe shut up his blubbering. Maybe something sour. Maybe something bitter. Maybe something hot. Maybe something salty.
Andrew Burd died the very next day, on October 3, 2006. Hannah Overton’s pastor claims that she thought Andrew had died because he choked on his own vomit. This wasn’t what the coroner found. Andrew Burd’s death was ruled a homicide.
You see, Hannah Overton was not innocent. She had to have been aware of the effects of certain compounds on a child’s body. She had been a nurse after all. The State of Texas trusted children under her care. She wasn’t ignorant. She knew better.
Andrew Burd arrived at the hospital scratched and bruised. One doctor said it looked as if he’d lost a fight with a porcupine. Andrew’s butt was red. His nose was bruised. So were his knees.
Did I tell you that the little boy soiled his bed that day? It had to be thrown out. He also threw feces at Hannah. The day he suddenly got sick. The day before he died.
Larry Overton, Andrew Burd’s would-be-Dad, was charged with capital murder along with his wife, Hannah. Larry pled no contest to a lesser charge of criminally negligent homicide. He was sentenced to five years of deferred adjudication probation and a $5,000 fine. Hannah Overton was found guilty of capital murder in September of 2007. All 12 jurors found her guilty by her failure to take action to prevent the child’s death. A fact which the evidence bears out beyond any reasonable doubt.
The Defender’s Claims
Hannah Overton has her defenders. The Usual Suspects. They claim Hannah Overton is the salt of the Earth. The powerful organizations that claim everyone else is wrong. The Church. They don’t just pray, though. They hold campaigns. They raise cold hard cash. Like the legendary mystic secret societies of myth and lore whose members are under protection in the highest of places, so do these religious organizations work. They claim "the truth will set you free," yet their members spread lies and misinformation in their efforts to protect one of their flock. Hannah Overton has her defenders. From pastors and church members, to attorneys and even doctors, the circle is there. She has people fighting for her. It’s not too late for her. Her supporters aren’t just calling each other on the phone in a half-assed manner while the subject of their concern sits helpless. No, they’re taking the action to save Hannah, even if Hannah didn’t take the action to save the child in her care. Hannah’s pastor was even there to follow her to the police station where she was to be questioned. These churches have formed a network of congregations, spreading their message and raisng their cash, across the United States. Across the world. Too bad they weren’t there for Andrew.
Many of Hannah Overton’s defenders, including her attorney, would have us believe that Andrew Burd killed himself. While "unattended," they claim, Andrew Burd acquired some salt and ingested it. Hannah Overton had nothing to do with it. The problem with this lame contention lies in the facts concerning what took place once Hannah Overton knew that boy was sick. Despite having close access to professional health care facilities and institutions, Hannah Overton tried to worm her way around any action -until at last. By then it was too late. It doesn’t really make a damn bit of difference if the kid drank the funk himself, or if Hannah forced it down his little throat. Hannah didn’t do what she was supposed to do. She didn’t get the poor child treatment in a timely manner. She hoo-hawed around and let Andrew Burd die. She must pay the price. She must face the consequences. Shouldn’t anyone?
Here’s what is really sick. Read the FAQ’s at freehannah.com. while a few of the explanations might make a bit of sense, most of the explanations are obviously contrived and incredible insults to one’s intelligence. Don’t take my word for it. Read the list of lame excuses and alibis yourself: (Click Here to Read the Nonsense.) I really didn’t want to provide another link to a site so dead set on freeing a child killer, but I think that those intelligent enough to discern the facts (and not buy into the hype) can do a little threshing on their own. The song and dance designed to convince us of her innocence is really is unbelievable. Yet, people continue to swallow it like so much pablum.
Dr. Michael Moritz, who was not called by the defense, but still wants to defend Hannah came up with his own medical opinion. "Where’s the smoking gun? There is no evidence of force. No salt on the body. No lacerations to his mouth. No salt crystals in his mouth or nose," said Moritz.
But Doc… We’re talking about a solution, not dry salt. A mixture. Why would there be salt crystals in his mouth or nose? It was in his system. That was proven. It got there somehow. It sure the heck wasn’t osmosis.
The doctor continued: "So how did she do it? Did she force this kid to drink a salt solution? He can run away. He will vomit. Is it impossible? No, but you have to be pretty devious, like mix it in something he likes very much, like a very sweet pudding."
The kid did vomit. He vomited in Hannah’s mouth. She said herself that she thought Andrew choked on that vomit and died. Devious? Which is it? He likes salty stuff or he doesn’t? Can’t you apologists get your shit straight?
Moritz goes on to say. "Salt poisoning is a very severe psychopathology on the parent’s part. And I met Hannah Overton. I spent time with her. She’s a nice, sweet normal lady. To me, accidental voluntary salt poisoning is far more plausible than that this nice lady, this religious do-gooder who took this kid in, suddenly turning into a psychopath and killing this kid."
Yep. She’s a real charmer.
I visited the Church’s website. The Calvary Chapel. I wanted to know a little bit more about these defenders of Hannah’s. I’m sure it’s a nice congregation full of nice people. But, I would like to make a few notes.
The site has a link to another Calvary Chapel congregation. the one in Costa Mesa, California. I thought this congregation would be a good example to present on how churches cover up crime when it comes to their own. This is a phenomenon that anyone that researches crime will find really apparent. Churches close ranks and protect their members –right or wrong.
In 2003, John Flores, was arrested and later convicted of having sex with a 15-year-old girl. At that time, Flores was a Costa Mesa pastor and his victim was the daughter of another pastor at the Costa Mesa church. Surprise? Only to everyone not in the know. Flores had already been fired from a Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa ministry for having sex on the church premises. In fact, he had been fired twice before he ever victimized the fifteen year-old. The church knew this. The church covered it up. They didn’t warn anyone. They employed him as a pastor knowing that he was a pervert and didn’t tell a damned soul.
Another time, a former Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa pastor named Jeff Scheller said that a 12-year-old member of the congregation asked his wife for advice in dealing with inappropriate touching by a pastor. Scheller reported the incident to the police. It turns out the pastor concerned had already been in trouble for innapropriate behavior with minors. However, Scheller’s superior denied any wrongdoing on the part of the pervert. Scheller then states the church began to cut him out of the loop. "They started to make changes without talking to me. It was obvious to me that I was being cut out," Scheller said. So, as long as you repent and keep your mouth shut, everything is hunky-dory.
Guilt by Association
There are a few other issues regarding this case that I’d like to address. Some might see Hannah Overton’s relatives as indicators of her guilt. I find this totally irrelevant. Her deeds, or lack thereof is obvious without need of climbing her family tree. None of us can help who we are related to. We don’t choose our biological family. I, myself, have a few bad seeds in my own family tree –and not all of them are distant cousins (though I can’t exclude all of them, either.) At this time, I don’t see any tangible connection between Hannah Overton’s wicked family members and the crime she has been convicted of. I see no reason to tie Hannah Overton to the burden left by her parents and grandparents. It’s not really necessary. She can do wrong very well on her own.
Hannah Overton was convicted of capital murder. We all know what capital means. However, she was sentenced to life in prison. Some might say that she wasn’t convicted of murder but of omission. I believe it’s murder "by omission." When your kid is on the train tracks and the train is coming down the line and you don’t grab him by the hand and pull him to safety, but instead do a lot of talking and everything else but– you’re guilty. That is murder. It doesn’t really matter if you put him there on the tracks or if he sat himself there. You see him there. You can look into his eyes. You are his only hope. You can save him. But, you don’t. That is murder.
Now, justice for Andrew Burd may be up to the support of people like you. Hannah Overton has her support. Andrew Burd needs yours.
Fight the Power
Hannah and her lawyers, her church cronies, and a various assortment of dim-brained bleeding hearts are fighting for her release. Hundreds of thousands of dollars have been raised for her appeal –not to mention the campaigns to improve her public image and spread disinformation.
If you want to support efforts to keep the person responsible for Andrew Burd’s death incarcerated, the information you need is below. Remember to be respectful and civilized, otherwise you will only hurt this cause.
13th Court of Appeals: Corpus Christi Site Nueces County Courthouse
901 Leopard, 10th Floor
Corpus Christi, Texas
Telephone: (361) 888-0416 or by fax at (361) 888-0794.
Be sure to check out these other posts from fellow bloggers:
Salt in the wounds: The death of Andrew Burd and the movement to free his killer