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Manchester police: Twin boys, 9, left home alone for months

DAVE SOLOMON
New Hampshire Union Leader

January 21. 2015 8:53PM

Giobari Atura 



MANCHESTER — A city man is facing child neglect charges after the authorities said he agreed to take care of twin 9-year-old boys, but left them mostly on their own for six months while their parents were in Africa.

Police said when officers walked through the apartment they could find no edible food in the refrigerator and only Ramen noodles in the cabinet. The boys managed to get themselves to school for several months, police said.

Their uncle, Giobari Atura, 543 Lincoln St., waived arraignment on Jan. 15 and is free on $500 personal recognizance. According to court documents, he agreed to care for the children while their parents were in Nigeria. Police said he would stop by the apartment every few days to drop off food, at times leaving the boys alone for several days at a time.

The case first came to the attention of law enforcement on Nov. 5, when according to an affidavit by a Manchester police detective, officers were called to an apartment at 84 Karatzas Ave. by the Division of Children, Youth and Families.

DCYF worker Mary Parah told police that DCYF was notified by Weston School that the boys had been living at the address for months while their parents were away. Parah was told by the twins that they would wake for school on their own, get ready for school, get on the bus and eat breakfast and lunch at school.

Atura arrived while police were questioning the children, according to the affidavit, and told them he was the younger brother to the father, Jerusalem Monday.

Jerusalem and his wife, Catherine, went to Nigeria in July with three of their other children, Atura stated, and the two boys were left in his care.

According to the affidavit, “Atura stated that on the days he works he can stop by to check on his nephews, but that he does not do this every day.”

Atura told police he checked on the boys three days a week, and told them to call him if they needed anything.

“It should be noted that no operable phone was located within the apartment,” the affidavit states.

After unsuccessful attempts to reach the parents in Africa, detectives took the children into protective custody and they were subsequently placed in foster care.

The affidavit includes information from interviews with the two boys, such as, “One stated that he felt lonely while staying at their own house because his mom and dad were not there and nobody was with them.”

On Nov. 21, detectives reached the parents and interviewed them by phone. The father confirmed that in July he and several family members traveled to Nigeria, leaving the twin 9-year-olds in the care and custody of their uncle, Atura.

The parents told police they had planned to return from Africa in August, but were delayed by illness and passport issues. They said they had instructed Atura to stay at the apartment, and in the event he could not, he was given the name of a family friend to notify.

The parents said they had maintained telephone contact with Atura, who assured them everything was OK.

A trial has been scheduled for April 23.

Assistant Hillsborough County Attorney Michael Valentine said the state has the option of prosecuting the case in Superior Court, under the supervision of the county attorney.

“We’re evaluating whether or not we should file the charge here and prosecute it here, as opposed to the normal course, which would be to have it pending in Manchester District Court,” Valentine said.

dsolomon@unionleader.com


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