In August 2006, 3-year-old Marcus Fiesel went missing. His foster mum Liz Carroll claimed he’d been kidnapped. Someone knew what had happened to him, but the culprits turned out to be shockingly close to home.
When social workers placed Marcus Fiesel with foster carers Liz and David Carroll in May 2006, they hoped it would help him overcome his traumatic start in life.
Three-year-old autistic Marcus had lived with his mum in Ohio.
A lively child, he loved Bob The Builder, flowers and bubbles.
But his mum wasn’t coping.
In February 2006, Marcus fell from a second-storey window, and needed stitches.
Three months later, he was nearly hit by a car after being allowed to wander the streets.
Police visiting his home noticed bruises on his body, so he was placed with the Carrolls in Clermont County.
Housewife Liz – a former homecoming queen – and husband David had been approved as foster parents by a private organisation.
They had four children and another foster child.
It should have been a fresh start for little Marcus. But after just three months, tragedy struck…
On 15 August 2006, Liz reported him missing. Said he’d disappeared during an afternoon trip to Juilfs Park.
Horrified, hundreds of volunteers searched the 26-acre area.
Police brought sniffer dogs, but authorities stated, ‘This kid literally vanished – no evidence, no leads, nothing.’
On 22 August 2006, Liz gave a tearful press conference.
‘I need help from the public to help my son,’ she sobbed. ‘Marcus is my son. I know people think foster care is temporary, but please return him to a hospital. Waking up every morning and not having him run to me is very difficult. I am closer than his birth mother to him.’
She claimed she’d been with Marcus and three other kids when she’d fainted. That, on waking, Marcus was gone.
‘Somehow, sometime, Marcus wandered off or was taken,’ she said.
Liz appeared distraught, but something seemed off.
During the conference, she admitted David had failed a police lie-detector test about Marcus. Yet, she stuck to her story.
‘I didn’t do anything,’ she insisted.
But there were no witnesses, and sniffer dogs hadn’t detected Marcus’ scent at the park.
Soon, it became clear the Carrolls weren’t the devoted carers they appeared.
David had been charged with domestic violence shortly after Marcus had arrived.
He’d kept this from the foster agency. And the couple had split months earlier. David had moved out, apparently tired of fostering.
He’d eventually returned home, though, bringing his new girlfriend Amy Baker.
There were suggestions David, Liz and Amy had been living as a threesome.
Exactly what sort of household was this?
Eventually, a witness – thought to be Amy – led police to an abandoned chimney in a patch of woodland in Brown County, Indiana.
There, officers discovered a pile of burnt bones and hair. Forensic tests confirmed they were the remains of Marcus. Poor little soul…
Liz and David Carroll were quickly arrested.
At Liz’ trial, in February 2007, she denied a string of charges, including murder.
But witness for the prosecution Amy Baker said the couple and their kids had been invited to a family reunion in Williamstown, Kentucky. But, rather than taking Marcus with them, they’d locked him in a cupboard, bound in a blanket and duct tape, with his hands behind his back.
Then they’d left him for two days without food or water.
‘I didn’t have any intentions of hurting him,’ Liz claimed.
But the court heard how the family had returned on Sunday 6 August and found Marcus dead. Probably killed by heat, as temperatures in the cupboard had reached 41-43C.
‘They say you wouldn’t treat a dog like that, and you know what? She wouldn’t! She took the dog with her,’ the prosecutor said.
After a 10-day trial, Liz Carroll was convicted of murder and jailed for 54 years.
Later that month, David Carroll appeared in court.
In a plea bargain, he admitted murder and gross abuse of a corpse.
The court heard that he and Amy had driven Marcus’ body to the chimney in Brown County, where petrol had been poured over the body and burned. Anything that wouldn’t burn was then thrown in the Ohio River.
David Carroll was jailed for 16 years to life.
Amy Baker was granted immunity from charges in Ohio for testifying against the Carrolls. She was later charged with tampering with evidence in Kentucky, but the charge was eventually dropped.
There was public outcry over the Carrolls’ chilling deception.
For two weeks, they’d known Marcus was dead, yet continued lying. Even fabricating a story about a social worker visiting in early August, when the little boy was already dead.
The case led to changes over fostering in the region, and the agency that placed
Marcus with his murderers was closed for not carrying out proper checks.
The chimney where Marcus’ body was burnt was demolished – and replaced with a memorial to the little boy who was badly failed by people trusted with protecting him.