Based on preliminary DNA test results, no one is expected to be charged with sexual assault or rape in the case of Charlenni Ferreira, the 10-year-old girl who authorities say died in October from years of abuse by her father and stepmother.
"The DNA portion of this case is not promising at all," Police Homicide Lt. Philip Riehl said this week.
Riehl said there was a "lack of identifiable DNA evidence" linking any of the men with whom Charlenni lived in their Feltonville home, referring to her father and two stepbrothers.
"Without an identifiable DNA sample linking one of those three or someone else, I don't know how we will proceed with any charges," Riehl said.
Riehl, however, stressed that the DNA results were not final.
Asked if it was possible that Charlenni's stepmother, Margarita Garabito, sexually abused her or if an object was used to penetrate the girl, Riehl would only say that that determination would have to be made by the Medical Examiner's Office.
Jeff Moran, spokesman for the M.E.'s Office, said yesterday that his office will not comment on those questions.
Charlenni, a fifth-grader at Feltonville Intermediate School, was found unconscious in her home on C Street near Loudon about 8:30 a.m. Oct. 21. She was rushed to St. Christopher's Hospital for Children, where she was pronounced dead later that morning.
Authorities charged her father, Domingo "Anibal" Ferreira, 53, and Garabito, 42, with murder, endangering the welfare of a child, conspiracy and related offenses.
Homicide Capt. James Clark said the day after Charlenni's death that she had been sexually assaulted, but did not elaborate. He said her two stepbrothers, ages 16 and 19, had been questioned and released.
Four days after the girl's death, her father hanged himself in his jail cell at the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility.
Riehl on Thursday said there was not "a significant sample" of DNA linking anyone to the sexual assault. But he added that the Medical Examiner's Office "has concluded there was penetration" involved.
"But who is the question," he said.
After Charlenni's death, police noted that doctors from St. Christopher's and the M.E.'s Office found "several old and new injuries" on the girl, including severe head trauma; bruising to her back, leg and torso; a recent fractured hip; fractured ribs; and injuries to her vaginal and anal areas.
Police said Charlenni died of a lung infection caused by her untreated fractured ribs. One lung had collapsed.
Garabito faces a preliminary hearing on the murder and related charges Jan. 12.
Assistant District Attorney James Berardinelli said yesterday he has not yet seen DNA test results in relation to the alleged sexual abuse of Charlenni, and thus, could not say whether anyone will be charged with sexual assault.
He said at Garabito's preliminary hearing that he expects a medical examiner and the police detective who took her statement to testify.
According to a police source, Garabito admitted in her statement to police to beating Charlenni. She also admitted to giving Charlenni a gash on top of her head, contending that injury was four or five months old, and to stuffing the gash with gauze, then trying to hide it with a hair weave, the source has said.
In her interview, Garabito denied sexually assaulting Charlenni, even asking police how they dared insinuate she did such a thing, the source said.