We need your help!
If you think you can help in any way,
please send e-mail to
Or, call (716) 425-7623! (Ask for Sharon Scinta)
This is a tragic story of a young
couple that had their children torn away from them and
wrongfully imprisoned for a total of 177.5 years with no
chance of parole.
I am going to tell you a true
story of a family that has been torn apart by lies. This
is not a story of abuse, as the lie would tell. This
family has been broadcasted from Phoenix, Arizona to the United
Kingdom. Her name is Elizabeth Shannon Whittle, we call
her Shannon. Shannon finally had what she wanted out of
life, a man that loved and respected her. A man that
loved her family and a man her family accepted with open
arms. Shannon has a daughter from a previous
relationship; she became pregnant at 17 years old and gave
birth to a beautiful little girl with Down Syndrome.
Shannon had found in Tony a good man that loves her and
loves her daughter as if she was his own. They were
living in a one-bedroom apartment in Avondale, Arizona.
They found out they were going to have a set of
quadruplets. This couple was so happy, they knew right
away this was a gift from God; they wanted children together
and the quads were naturally conceived. They knew this
was going to change their lives, but they had no idea their
children would suffer from such agonizing injuries and that
they were going to be accused of harming their babies.
Their lives were about to change dramatically.
When she was pregnant, the public
was informed of her situation via the local news stations.
The people in Phoenix opened their hearts and helped this
family. Shannon gave birth to the quads in January of
1998. When the babies were born, the parents allowed the
media to come to the hospital and take pictures of the
premature quads to show all that helped this family, exactly
who they had helped. The footage that was captured would
be shown for years to come, the photos showed four small
beautiful babies lying on their backs with tubes in their
noses and IV's in their arms. Babies that were
premature and small enough to fit in an adult hand.
The babies were sent home at 3 weeks of age around
three pounds each. They all had respiratory infections
and were sent home on Apnea Monitors. Again, this family
allowed the media to follow the progress of the babies, come
into their modest home and take pictures of their growth.
Shannon was still trying to
recover from the c-section and complications she was having
from the birth. The parents had plans to move into a
4-bedroom house soon. Shannon would take extra care to
feed them, placing a pad on their cheeks to prevent formula
from running into their ears, with a fear of the babies getting
ear infections. Shannon would bathe her babies one at a
time, first she would wash an arm and quickly dry it so the
baby would not get cold, then she would carefully wash other
body parts and dry them quickly before moving to the next.
Tony and Shannon took the babies to doctor appointments,
however when it came time to circumcise they consulted their
parents and a grandparents to see if it was a decision they
should make now; they wanted to know what the Bible said about
it. They decided to cancel their doctor appointment while
they thought about it for a while.
In March 1998, the parents noticed
baby Anthony did not look right. They called the doctor and
rushed him to the hospital. He had an elevated temperature.
was suspected. The first hospital did a spinal tap and
found blood in the fluid so they flew the baby to the local
The typical signs and symptoms of Bacterial Meningitis
in newborns and infants are high fever, headache, and stiff
neck. These symptoms can develop over several hours or
they may take 1 to 2 days. Other symptoms can include
nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light, confusion, and
sleepiness. In advanced disease, bruises develop under
the skin and spread quickly. As the disease progresses,
patients of any age can have seizures. Advanced
bacterial meningitis can lead to brain damage, coma and death.
Survivors can suffer long-term complications, including
hearing loss, mental retardation, paralysis, and seizures.
The early signs for children in this age group are
persistent fever accompanied by extreme lethargy, where the
child is inordinately sleepy or excessively tired.
Further, meningitis typically follows one of the two
courses. The first is a rapid or "acute" onset,
where an otherwise healthy child is stricken with an extremely
virulent strain of meningitis which overwhelms the patient
within 24 hours or less. The second course meningitis can
take, especially in children under two, is a more gradual onset
where the child is initially stricken with an ear or UPPER
RESPIRATORY INFECTION that "goes south", with the
causative organism leaving the initial site of infection and
entering the bloodstream. As the infected blood
circulates throughout the body, the organism works its way
throughout the body; the organism works its way through the
blood-brain barrier infecting the child's cerebral spinal
fluid (SPF). Bacterial Meningitis is fatal in one in
10 cases and one in 7 survivors is left with a severe handicap,
such as deafness or brain injury. People of any age can
carry these germs for days, weeks or months without becoming ill.
The day after baby Anthony was
admitted to the hospital on suspicions of Bacterial Meningitis,
Shannon contacted her landlord and asked that they check the
pipes in her apartment to make sure he did not contract the
bacteria from there. She also took her other three babies
and her 6-year-old with Down syndrome to the soctor to make
sure it was not something airborne that any of them could have
caught. These are very concerned parents. At least
five spinal taps were performed on little Anthony while he was
hospitalized. Each could not come up with the diagnosis
of meningitis due to blood in the spinal fluid. Several
days into Anthony's hospital stay, a doctor called Shannon to
tell her that the following day they would be doing another
spinal tap on the baby. It was a female doctor never to
be heard from again and said that she was concerned because the
baby definitely had fluid surrounding his brain and referred to
it as his "sprinkler system". The doctor said
she could tell because the areas behind his ears, under his eyes
and his soft spot were bulging.
The child's granmother, Anita, went to the hospital the
next day but did not get there until after the spinal tap had
been performed. She found a nurse and asked her about
the procedure and how hard this had been on the baby.
The nurse responded "No, actually, when we placed
him in the position to insert the needle into the spine, he
sort of passed out, not feeling the pain". At that,
time Anita thought that was very odd, but the nurse did not
seem to think that it was out of the ordinary. Anita then
visited with Little Anthony, his diaper needed to be changed so
she scooted him down in his bed just an inch or so and he cried
out in definite pain. The nurse was in the room with her
and she said that his back must have been sore from the spinal
taps. That explanation made sense to Anita, only later
to find out he had broken bones and skull fractures.
Anita held him, rocked him, and he did not cry anymore.
In fact, he only cried for a second when she moved him
to change his diaper and then no more. She held him for
quite a while and he was quiet. She went to the gift
shop and purchased a bright blue balloon to tie to the bed
rail so he could look at it, she then wondered why he would
not pay attention to it. She then thought she was
just reading into things because she was upset and worried
about him. Baby Anthony was 3 months old and between
6-7 pounds. Baby Anthony sat in the children's hospital
almost ten days, then he was moved without the parent's
knowledge, to a rehab center. Anita called the rehab to
ask why her grandson was there. They told her that it
was "an insurance thing" and that they only had a
nursing staff, therefore being cheaper. Anthony then
spent a couple days in the rehab and was sent home, still very
ill. The day after he went home his head began to swell
and he did not look right. His parents rushed him back
to the hospital and doctors then put a shunt into his brain
to drain the fluid from his brain. His condition
(fluid building on his brain) went unrecognized by both the
hospital and the rehab center.
Tony and Shannon were at the
hospital with their son as he was fighting for his life, praying
God would help him and heal his body. The hospital took
x-rays of the baby and found skull fractures, broken bones and retinal
hemorrhaging. The hospital suspects abuse and calls
Child Protection Service (CPS) and the police. The police separate Shannon and
Tony while Shannon is placed in a supply closet. Shannon
repeatedly asks why the police are asking her questions while
her baby may be dying. She wanted to be with her son.
That's when she realized they were suspecting that she
harmed her son. A woman reports to a CPS worker that she
was listening and overheard the mother say "I think I
shook it to hard this time, I may have broken its back".
First, Shannon would never call her baby an "it".
At this point, the babies and the parents have been in
the media limelight for a while so I am sure the woman knew
who they were. The woman reports this right away to a
CPS agent. Now this is what the jury never knew.
This woman reported this false story to the same CPS
agent that was in her home 4 days prior trying to take her
child away based on allegations of abuse. CPS has
investigated this woman several times; she has quite the
colorful past. This information was withheld from the
jury. However, the Judge did stop her testimony and send
her out of the courtroom and the Judge told the jury he had
reason not to believe her testimony, but that was all he would
tell them. Juror Scott Craven works for the Arizona
Republic, the local newspaper. Mr. Craven commented after
the trial, "I was alone on my thoughts concerning
Shanda Sloan, who testified she'd heard Whittle say at the
hospital, 'I think I shook it too hard.' The
'it' being Anthony Jr. I thought Sloan may not
have been entirely truthful; that she'd overheard just enough
to invent the statement. Glenn Hebert the Jury Forman
believed Sloan," said Scott Craven. "'This is the only
thing we have that directly connects Elizabeth to the
injuries,' he said. 'For me, that's big.'," Scott
Craven, commenting on what he heard his jury foreman say.
Mr. Craven also commented, "I was leaning toward
finding Whittle guilty, a decision I hadn't thought I'd reach.
She seemed in agony as police testified about the night
Anthony Jr. lay near death in Phoenix Children's Hospital.
We were told that on April 5, 1998, Officers responding
to a call of child abuse separated Whittle from Perez and put
her in a supply room. She begged to see Anthony Jr. I
imagined the torture of being so near a gravely injured child
and not being allowed to be with him. We spoke of that
testimony on that first day of deliberations. We'd had
no idea where to start, wondering how we were to go about
judging two people about whom we knew only what the court
wanted us to know." Baby Anthony is now deaf and blind.
Prosecutors claim that he was shaken so hard that he is
now deaf and blind. They neglected to mention that when
a shunt over-drains, it reduces the volume of CSF (Cerebral
Spinal Fluid) within the ventricles, causing the brain to move
inward, away from the meninges. AS THE BRAIN MOVES INWARD,
BLOOD VESSELS IN THE ARACHNOID LAYER OF THE MENINGES ARE TORN,
FORMING A SUBDURAL HEMATOMA (A POCKET OF BLOOD) BETWEEN THE
ARACHNOID AND DURA LAYERS. OVER DRAINING OF THE VENTRICLES
AND SUBDURAL HEMATOMA ARE JUST ONE OF MANY POSSIBLE
COMPLICATIONS OF HAVING A SHUNT. CPS took custody of
Baby Anthony; the other three babies and the 6-year-old went
to live with their grandmother Anita. A nurse came over
daily and examined the babies. Megan, one of the
quads, did not look right to Anita, so she had the nurse examine
her. The nurse told Anita she is fine. That she was just
worried because of the baby Anthony. Anita was convinced
something was wrong with Megan; her head looked swollen, and
her skin was glistening. The nurse said she was fine.
The next day Anita brought all the babies in for x-rays
and CT's. The nurse ran out of the room with Megan in
her arms saying she needed to be rushed to the ER due to fluid
building on her brain. They put a shunt in and drained the fluid.
Megan is now the second child with a shunt and the second
with shearing. The x-rays showed many fractures. Some were
in the healing process. The parents have no answers
except that they did not, nor did anyone in their home, harm
their babies. The community was outraged at what they
had learned through the media. Rumors of what Ms. Shanda
Sloan said she overheard that night in the hospital were on
every channel and in all the papers. The public began to
convict them in their minds. Lies were quickly
snowballing in the local news. Pictures were shown on
television of the babies covered in bruises in the hospital,
tiny with tubes in their noses, and IV's in their hands.
These were pictures from their birth; this is what they
looked like when God gave them to this couple. The
births were video taped and CPS took the video when they
searched the couple's home. Now the video is nowhere
to be found. There were no pictures shown on any of
the news broadcasts after the babies were considered abused,
however the news always presented these pictures of them
right after birth and left it to the viewers to assume that
is what they looked like after the alleged abuse. The
parents were accused of abusing their precious babies.
Both denied ever harming them, they cried and always
stating they would never hurt their babies. Lead
Prosecutor Karen O'Connor was appointed Supreme Court Judge
by Gov. Jane Dee Hull before sentencing. The
prosecutor said she wasn't surprised by Whittles' courtroom
displays of disbelief." Throughout the trial, she
sobbed and claimed her innocence." Ms. O'Connor was
hesitant to paint Whittle and Perez as monsters, saying
only; "They did not live up to their responsibility as
parents." Shannon was arrested in the beginning of
October and Tony at the end of October. Cindy Silverman,
the founder of a shelter for battered women posted bail for
Shannon and allowed her to live in Cindy's home. During
that time, Anita had Erika. One day she went to school and
CPS took her without even telling Anita. So, when school
let out, Anita waited and worried not knowing what had happened
to her grandchild. She called the school and was
informed that CPS took her. The Judge had ordered
Shannon to stay away from Erika and she did. CPS felt
that the Court Order was violated and they took Erika from
school. It took 6 months for Anita to fight and get
Erika back. Shannon never had contact with Erika during
that time. CPS only has the right to remove a child in
that manner if the child is in immediate danger, which she was
Then the trial, or shall I say
media circus, began. The parents had to hear such awful
accusations that were all untrue; one-day, in court, Shannon
became so upset that she actually vomitted on herself.
Shannon's Attorneys worked two years pro-bono; their job
was to show that it could have been anyone. Many people
were around the babies. They asked the Grandmother to
testify on the stand; they asked her if it was a possibility
that Erika, the then 6-year-old, could have picked up the babies.
Anita answered yes, it is possible that she could have.
Erika wanted to hold the babies. Anita Whittle had
the understanding that the Attorney's were just trying to show
that anyone could have harmed the babies, however that line of
questioning stopped with Erika. At no time did anyone in
the family suspect or accuse Erika of harming the babies.
The line of questioning infuriated the Judge, Jury, The
Public and the Family. The media circus took the
Grandmothers response and splashed it in the paper and on the
news. The next front page of the paper was a bogus
article as if it was written by little Erika, stating my
Grandmother offered me us as a sacrifice. This was
disgusting. The parents and the Grandmother never ever
said that Erika did that to the babies. They had no
answers except that no one in their home intentionally hurt
their babies. Scott Craven commented, "We spoke first
of Erika Whittle, Whittles daughter by a previous relationship.
We needed to let go of the anger most of us harbored
toward a defense that tried to pin the injuries on a
6-year-old child with Down syndrome." "From the
stand, Anita Whittle, Whittles mother and Erika's grandmother,
suggested Erika had inflicted the injuries to the quadruplets."
That absolutely was not the case; keep in mind Anita was
not allowed in the courtroom, so she did not know where they
were going with the testimony. All she knew was that
they were going to suggest that anyone could have harmed the
babies, not to blame anyone, but to allow the jury to see that
others were around the babies. The jurors mentioned
several times how traumatic it was to see pictures of the
babies. Scott Craven said, "We passed around
photos of the children as if we were pursuing the family
album. The infants were on their backs, hooked to
various tubes and wires. They didn't seem in pain.
They almost looked comfortable." "Our only
hope was that, when this was over, we would have our lives
back. That we'd no longer be haunted by images of tiny
infants attached to machines designed to keep them alive or
perhaps ease their pain." Another reference from Mr.
Craven, "This was just one of the images that haunted
the 12 of us. We'd heard of the many fractures, examined
photos of four tiny bodies hooked to machines designed to
monitor the horrifically injured." Mr. Craven said,
"I tried to balance the justice of Whittle and Perez
being locked up against the fate of four children who couldn't
defend themselves. Our options were between
'Guilty' and 'Not Guilty.' We could not
check a box that said, 'Turn back the clock.'"
Shannon was sentenced to 172.5 years in prison with no chance
of parole. Tony received a 5-year sentence in prison for
failure to seek medical attention. The babies have been
in foster homes and now the parental rights have been severed.
Tony and Shannon had a court hearing in March 2000 to
have parental rights severed and Tony's attorney did not even
show up so he lost his rights automatically.
This man will be free in 5 years.
As far as the Court is concerned, he is not the father of
the babies. The babies were not tested specifically for
a genetic disease. Now, through research, we have found
that the babies have symptoms of
O.I. is a genetic disorder characterized by bones that
break easily - from little or no apparent cause. This
disease effects all of the bones. The skull is
particularly fragile due to undermineralization. Proper
care of O.I. can decrease the risk of additional fractures
and promote development of maximum bone density. The
babies are in medically trained foster homes so the potential
for injury there will be reduced. A person with O.I.
may sustain just a few or as many as several hundred fractures
in a lifetime. When a child has O.I., fractures may occur
during ordinary activities such as changing a diaper or
burping the baby. There may be no obvious indication that
a fracture occurred other than the child crying or refusing
to put weight on a limb. Different types of fractures
may occur, including rib fractures and spinal fractures, with
little or no apparent trauma. The child may bruise easily,
again, with little or no apparent cause. X-rays may reveal
old fractures in various stages of healing that went
undetected. This, indeed, is what happened with these
babies. Shannon's grandmother had brittle bone disease,
and there are many genetic diseases on both sides of the
family. We need a geneticist and an appeal attorney to
help this family. The foster families are about to adopt
the babies. Please help. The Leeza Show had the
grandmother, brother, Shannon's attorney and friends such as
other supporters and me come as guests of the show. We
have received a positive response from the public that saw
that show. If you think you can help in any way, please
send email to AZQuads@Justice.com
or you can call me at (716) 425-7623! - Sharon
If you think you can help in any way,
please send e-mail to
Or, call (716) 425-7623! (Ask for Sharon Scinta)
We need your help!
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