Child's injuries turned out to be related to rare genetic disorder and not abusePhoto: Police Officers William and Tiffany O'Shell, both seen in their police uniforms, were accused of abusing their only child, Alyssa, who turned out to have a rare genetic disorder that caused her injures. Before she was diagnosed, William killed Tiffany, then himself.
The family of a couple whose lives tragically ended in a murder-suicide after they were mistakenly accused of child abuse is finally sharing their story.
Almost four years after finding their daughter and son-in-law dead in their own home, Jackie and Paul Cuin spoke to the Denver Post, which obtained medical, social services and police investigations records relevant to their case. (LINK)
In 2008, Alyssa O'Shell was taken from her parents, Dave and Tiffany, when she was just three months old. Doctors had found 11 broken bones in the infant's legs, prompting suspicions of abuse. Shocked, Dave and Tiffany were helpless as child protective services gave their only baby to a foster mother.
Insisting they were innocent, Alyssa's parents countered the allegations, researching the Internet for other explanations. Maybe she had brittle bone disease, they suggested. But doctors said the little girl's broken bones were "highly suggestive of nonaccidential trauma," according to a hospital report, and would have come from violently twisting her legs.
In the two weeks that followed, Dave and Tiffany, both police officers in Henderson, Colo., met with lawyers and searched for ways to prove their innocence and bring Alyssa back to their family.
Dave, after admitting he'd once playfully picked Alyssa up by her legs to kiss her stomach, was especially scrutinized, and began to think he would be arrested for felony child abuse. As each day passed, he grew more despondent. Tiffany had begun to wonder if divorcing her husband was the only way to keep her baby.
Tiffany's parents, Jackie and Paul Cuin, were also being investigated, as they often watched Alyssa while Dave and Tiffany were at work.
On June 30, 2008, Tiffany and Dave were each to meet with their respective lawyers and a criminal investigator. The last appointment was at 1 p.m. Jackie grew worried when she never heard from her daughter, who had agreed to call throughout the day with updates. At 3 p.m., she called Jackie. No answer.
At 5 p.m., she drove to the couple's home, where she saw both cars in the garage and the dog on the porch. Scared to go inside the house, she instead drove home and returned with her husband, Paul, who agreed to go inside.
"I had already dialed 911 when I heard him scream," Tiffany recalled to the Denver Post.
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