The Department of Children and Families worker who discovered that Rilya Wilson was missing testified Wednesday that caretaker Geralyn Graham showed no emotion when she was told the foster child could not be located.
"She said ‘Oh.’ She didn't say the word upset, but she didn't act like she was upset, no," said Dora Betancourt, who was working in DCF’s adoptions unit in April 2002.
Graham, 66, is accused of murdering Rilya, 4, who disappeared more than a decade ago. Her body has never been found. Graham, who has insisted she did not kill the girl, is on trial for first-degree murder, kidnapping and child abuse.
Betancourt said she had Rilya and her sister, Rodricka, in her caseload so she called the Graham home to check on the children. Betancourt said she was alarmed because the file contained no notes from a case worker since January 2001.
Deborah Muskelly, who had been assigned to Rilya, was prosecuted for official misconduct after DCF said she falsified documents for 18 months, indicating that she had been checking up on the foster child when she had not. Muskelly said in court Tuesday that because she had more than a hundred cases to monitor, she called Graham to check on Rilya’s well-being instead of visiting in person.
Betancourt said that she left multiple messages that went unreturned before finally speaking with Graham, who identified herself as Rilya’s grandmother, which is not true.
Betancourt said she went to the house the next day and asked to see the girl.
"I said 'Oh, hi,' and then I said 'Well where's Rilya?' And she said, 'I thought you were bringing her!'" Betancourt testified. "I said, 'What do you mean?'"
She also told jurors about how Graham told her a convoluted story about a DCF worker, who she could not identify, who took Rilya away for residential psychiatric treatment and never brought her back. There is no way that could happen without a record existing, Betancourt said.
"It didn't make sense at all,” she said.
Betancourt's boss, Monica Parado, testified there were no residential mental health treatment facilities for kids that young, anyway.
"I was still in shock that this was happening, that we had no information about a child's whereabouts," Betancourt said.
Graham’s attorneys maintain that there is no evidence that Rilya is dead, let alone that Graham killed her. So while it’s obvious to many, they say, that Graham perhaps isn’t telling the truth about what happened to Rilya, that in itself is not evidence that she murdered her.