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A nanny is accused of child abuse, then disappears.
On July 5, 1990, paramedics rushed 4-year-old Ashley Berman into a Los Angeles emergency room. She was unconscious and barely breathing. A short time later, the doctor made a shocking accusation–Ashley had been physically assaulted by her nanny.
Ashley’s mother, Sharon Berman, was in a state of disbelief:
The Bermans had met Rosa Hernandez in 1988, when she applied to be the live-in nanny for 2-year-old Ashley. According to Ashley’s father, Jeff, Rosa was highly recommended by various neighbors:
Jeff remembered how well Ashley responded to her new nanny:
The next week, Rosa Hernandez moved in with the Bermans. According to Sharon Berman, the two were immediately inseparable:
For a year, everything went well. Then, Sharon started noticing bruises on Ashley’s body:
But in February of 1990, it happened at home. Ashley needed several stitches from a deep gash on her head. According to Rosa, Ashley had been periodically blacking out and experiencing seizures. Although Jeff Berman never witnessed an episode himself, he feared his daughter had developed a serious physiological disorder:
A few months later, Jeff came home early from a walk to find that his very healthy child had once again been severely injured:
Then just nine days later, Ashley had a frightening brush with death. Sharon Berman remembered rushing Ashley to the emergency room:
Dr. Frank Gillingham remembered treating Ashley:
Dr. Gillingham decided to check into Ashley’s medical history and phoned her pediatrician:
For the Bermans, it was a shocking piece of news. Two years earlier, Dr. Gillingham had treated a 17-month-old boy who was rushed to the hospital in a state of full cardiac arrest:
That day, the toddler had been in the care of Rosa Hernandez. An autopsy revealed that the boy had a fractured skull and internal bleeding. His death was ruled a homicide. Now with Ashley fighting for her life, police believed they had a case against Hernandez. She was charged with child abuse and murder.
Ashley remained in the hospital for a week. Eventually, she made a full recovery. With the experience behind her, Ashley spoke about Rosa Hernandez:
Hernandez pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and child abuse. Despite protests from the Bermans, she was released on her own recognizance and promptly disappeared.
Maria Rosa Hernandez is from El Salvador. She is 5’4″ tall and weighs approximately 130 pounds. Hernandez speaks broken English and has what appears to be burn scars on her right upper forearm.