Grim Details Revealed In Belitz Slaying
Prosecutors Say Boy’s Mom Got Caught Disposing Of Body
OMAHA, Neb.–Details of murder charges against Angela Manns in the death of her son, Michael Belitz, 12, were revealed during Manns’ court appearance on Thursday.
“There was a hatchet, a boning knife and goggles on the counter,” said Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine. “Circumstantial evidence tells us there was premeditation in this case.”
He said Manns got caught while she was in the middle of getting rid of her son’s body. He said that when officers found Belitz in her house, he was in a bathtub with duct tape holding his legs and wrists together. Cat litter was covering his decomposing body to help cover the smell.
Kleine said police believe Belitz had been there for up to two weeks.
“I don’t know how anybody can do that to their own children,” said Michael’s father, Lenny Belitz.
He said Manns would drink herself into fits of rage.
“She lost it and she was probably drunk or something,” he said.
A Community Mourns
As a memorial set up near the house where Belitz’s decomposing body was found on Monday continues to grow, even small children are working to pay respects. A 5-year-old named Persia placed a plush duck at the memorial.
“That’s one of her favorite stuffed animals,” said Persia’s uncle, Michael Johnson. “She said, ‘I’m going to miss it,’ but she still wanted to put it down. She just knows that something bad happened to the little boy.”
Belitz just finished sixth grade at Minne Lusa Elementary School. Grief counselors were scheduled to be at the school on Friday to help children cope.
A community candlelight vigil is also planned for 6 p.m. at the school.
How Could This Happen?
Experts said it was an improbable case in which everyone from neighbors to the child welfare system were found lacking.
“Red flags were all over the place,” said Peg Harriott of the Child Saving Institute.
State officials confirmed that Manns called a child abuse and neglect hot line.
Kleine said that Manns was afraid that something bad would happen to her or her son if she didn’t get help. He said there was no record of abuse, neglect or concern over Michael’s safety.
Harriott said the state was only one of several entities that could have spotted something wrong.
“There’s so much positive going on where systems are working closely together, specifically for domestic violence and child abuse, that it just saddens my heart to know that this family didn’t get what they needed,” Harriott said.
In Lincoln, officials with the Health and Human Services Department declined to go on camera to discuss the case. In a statement, it said, “As a result of this incident, we’ll review our processes to make sure they are working as intended to respond to concerns about a child’s safety and well-being.”
Harriott said the case should give the entire community pause.
“It’s our responsibility to figure out what happened here and how this does not happen to another child,” she said.
She said that she wasn’t sure whether the old Safe Haven Law might have helped in Manns’ situation with her son.
State Sen. Gwen Howard said she’d recently asked the new HHS director to put a priority on seniority and experience in case manager positions. She said that’s helpful in dealing with cases like Manns’.
Help Is Available
Agencies are available for any family in need of help. The Boys Town National Hotline can take calls at 800-448-3000. Families can also call the Child Saving Institute at 866-400-4CSI or Heartland Family Services at 800-523-3666.Copyright 2009 by KETV.com.
Update: Mother Denied Bond in Son’s Murder
Posted: 1:30 PM Jul 16, 2009
Last Updated: 1:30 PM Jul 16, 2009
Email Address: email@example.com
A Douglas County judge has denied bond for Angela Manns. She is charged with first degree murder in her 12-year-old son’s death.
Michael Belitz was found dead inside their home near 28th and Ida Sunday. Police made the discovery after being called to the home by neighbors due to odors. Police say they saw Manns drive by. They followed her and arrested her some distance away from the home.
The Douglas County Attorney says the body was found in the bath tub. The boy’s wrists and ankles were bound with duct tape.
Don Kleine says the boy had been dead at least two weeks. “It appeared that there were attempts to mask or hide the odor. There was quite a bit of kitty litter that was placed over the body and then bags covering the body,” Kleine said.
“There were also bags, garbage bags that were placed in five gallon buckets in that area of the bathroom and there were tools there that appear to be those that might be used at some point in time to dispose of the remains.”
Those tools, Kleine said, also included a hatchet, a knife and goggles on the bathroom counter.
At this point, Kleine says, he has no reason to believe anyone else was involved in Belitz’s death.
Those close to Belitz tell investigators he and his mother had argued in mid-June. He allegedly wanted to got to a College World Series game, but his mother refused to let him. Kleine says this is the most recent tiff his office knows about between the two, but whether it sparked the violence is unclear.
Due to the state of decomposition, the cause of death has still not been determined.
Channel 6 News has learned his older sister and possibly his mother, Angela Manns, made calls to child protective services concerning Belitz’s welfare.
Neb. agency say suspect asked about foster care
Associated Press – July 17, 2009 2:55 PM ET
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) – An Omaha woman charged in the homicide of her 12-year-old son had called a caseworker in March to ask about placing the boy in foster care.
An official with the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services on Friday confirmed the call placed by 46-year-old Angela Manns. Manns was arraigned Thursday in Douglas County Court on a first-degree murder charge in the death of 12-year-old Michael Belitz.
Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine says investigators found the boy’s body in a bathtub with his wrists and legs bound together with duct tape.
Health and Human Services says Manns left a message at the end of March asking about foster care and other options. The agency says the caseworker called back and left a message but didn’t hear back from Manns.