Making the media rounds and a story that I am sure you have already heard about is one about the death of a 16-year old Georgia girl who, at the time of her death, weighed a shocking 43 pounds. No, she wasn’t anorexic, as one might suspect, but rather evidence is pointing to the fact that she was starved to death. The question is who is responsible for Markea Blakely-Berry’s death?
Ebony Berry is a 38-year old mother of three Moving from Michigan to Georgia in 2008, family members allege that back in Michigan, Ebony had been abusive to all three of her kids from 1999 thru 2004. Judging from the close attention that Michigan’s Child Protective Services (MCPS) paid to the family, Ebony’s family had reason to be concerned. Cooperating with Georgia CPS in this case, MCPS says it launched more than a half dozen investigations against Ebony Berry – all but one was closed. Ebony didn’t stick around for the outcome of the one that remains open.
The last time Markea’s grandparents saw her alive was in 2008. Her grandparents have admitted to anyone who will listen that they knew Markea was being abused and neglected. The teenager’s grandmother, Cheryl Goree, recently said to a reporter, “She [Ebony] hated her. She punished her daughter. She didn't have to kill my grandbaby like that.”
Markea’s father, Mark Blakely, added this, "She ran [from Michigan] to do wrong. Nobody helped, nobody tried to stop her. The system knew that she wasn't wrapped all the way tight."
The Doctor’s Story
Reports are conflicting. Ebony Berry claims she was following the medical advice of Dr. Andrew Chung, a cardiologist whose practice is in the same small town that Ebony and her family moved to from Michigan. Dr. Chung says he didn’t know Ebony, however, he later admitted that they were friends and that he did visit Ebony in prison, where she is being held without bond. Dr. Chung is not a world-renowned cardiologist who was treating Markea for a heart condition. Instead he has developed quite a following for advocating what he calls being “wonderfully hungry,” a regimen that when done correctly requires people to eat two pounds of food daily.
I checked out his Facebook page. He is quite enigmatic with 5257 “friends” hanging on every single word of his. Looking at the photos of food that Dr. Chung posts on his Facebook page, I do have to ask myself why a cardiologist is promoting potato chips, a bunch of bread, a piece of chocolate, some cookies and a few pieces of broccoli as heart healthy?
Investigators are playing “connect the dots” to determine whether Ebony was a patient of his or merely a devoted follower of what is being described by many as his cult.
Child Protective Services
Like Michigan’s child protective services, Georgia’s was well acquainted with the Berry family. In August 2010, then 14-year old Markea allegedly ran away from home. An Amber Alert was issued and the teenager was found at Wal-Mart. Many claim she was stealing food because she was hungry. An investigation was launched. Taking nearly three months to visit the family’s home, the caseworker observed an obviously malnourished teenager who was “underdeveloped” with “ribs showing” concluded that the child was kept in an isolated room and not being fed. She recommended Ebony schedule medical appointments for all of her children. Prior to closing the case in December 2010, just a month after opening it, Georgia CPS obtained everything Michigan CPS had on Ebony. Clearly incredibly concerned by what would seem to most people as abuse and neglect, Georgia CPS did nothing.
On June 15, 2012 Markea was found dead in her home. She was severely malnourished. While everyone is pointing fingers at one another, I ask you this: who speaks for this girl? Nobody wants to take responsibility for her death and yet, one thing is clear: a young girl is dead and numerous adults did nothing to save her.
Until next time,
Peace, love and vitamin C!
Jennifer Pretty began her career as the director of artist development for a well-known Canadian music label. Branching out on her own, she then started her own PR business “Pretty Media Management” planning and hosting various charity, entertainment and fashion events. As a dance and fitness class enthusiast Jennifer is a firm believer in the benefits of a healthy, active lifestyle. She also loves to cook, travel, spend time with family and friends and most importantly living life to the fullest!