How did abuse go unnoticed? KSAT answers questions about brutal child beating case


SAN ANTONIO – Since Marissa Cano, 38, was charged with starving and beating two teens in her care with a metal bat on Sunday, many have asked questions as to how the abuse could have gone on for so long without anyone taking notice.

READ THE INITIAL REPORT: Woman accused of starving 2 kids, brutally beating them with metal bat arrested

One of the teenage victims escaped Cano's far northeast side home on Saturday and ran to a Sonic for help. Someone helped the 15-year-old boy call 911.

The teen told deputies Cano abused him, his 8-year-old sister and 17-year-old brother -- often beating them with the baseball bat, starving them and locking them in a garage.

GETTING HELP: See something, say something: Resources for reporting abuse and getting help 

KSAT 12 went through questions asked in the comments of the breaking news Facebook post and attempted to answer the questions to the best of our knowledge.

BREAKING NEWS: A woman accused of starving 2 kids and brutally beating them with a metal bat was arrested today. One...

Posted by KSAT 12 & KSAT.com on Sunday, October 15, 2017

How did neighbors not notice?

One neighbor told KSAT 12 she never suspected anything. In fact, the neighbor, Lindsay Armstrong, said she was stunned to discover the abuse was going on just two homes down from hers. Armstrong said the kids were her favorite on the block because they were always out playing. The oldest of the three, Armstrong said, would even mow her lawn. 

"He would be hustling,” Anderson said. "Just because he looks so young. we're, like, 'So how old are you, and why aren't you in school? Why are you always mowing lawns?"

Read that report here>> Neighbors shocked, saddened by North Bexar County child abuse case 

How did teachers not notice?

Sheriff Javier Salazar said the kids couldn't remember the last time they had been to school. "It's pretty obvious to us at this point that these people -- this lady -- kept these young men out of school to avoid any suspicion on the part of authorities," Salazar said.

How were they out of school for so long?

It's unclear how the kids, all under the age of 18, were withheld from school for so long. Texas compulsory education laws require kids between the ages of 6 and 18 to attend school. There are, however, some exceptions to the law. Specific exemptions can be found here. Whether the kids qualified for any of the exceptions is unknown. Privacy laws prevent any information regarding their education to remain confidential.

Where were their parents?

Sheriff Salazar said the parent of the 3 kids "lived elsewhere," and often left the kids in the care of Cano. A neighbor told KSAT 12 they had never seen Cano before and that there were many people coming "in and out of the house."

Had CPS been to the home?

Child Protective Services could not comment on whether they had been to Cano's home, citing confidentiality.

Had law enforcement ever been to the home?

The Bexar County Sheriff's Office didn't immediately return a request for calls for service to the home. It's unclear whether officers had ever been called to the home.

Were they foster children?

When asked whether the kids were foster children, Sheriff Salazar said "they are just frequently in the care of the suspect. Their parent lives elsewhere and leaves them in the care of this suspect as far as we can tell."

Will anyone else be charged?

Sheriff Salazar said "I can tell you I'm fairly confident there will be other arrests made in this case." Additionally, Salazar asked those with any information to come forward. He said there are other persons of interest in the case and that BCSO "prefer they come looking for us and tell us their side of the story before we go looking for them." As of Tuesday, Cano remains the only person charged in the abuse case.