Megachurch Leader, Grandparents Charged in Murder, Torture of Adopted Daughter

11-year-old Arabella McCormack’s adoptive mother and grandparents are all behind bars and facing charges in connection with the child’s death.

Leticia McCormack, a 49-year-old leader of Rock Church in San Diego, and her father Stanley Tom, 75, were both booked into San Diego Central Jail this week on murder charges, three counts of torture and three counts of willful and cruelty to a child following Arabella’s death in August. Adella Tom, the child’s 70-year-old grandmother and Leticia’s mother, also faces three counts of torture and willful and cruelty to a child.

Per the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department, deputies previously contacted Arabella’s adoptive father, Brian, who “committed suicide in their presence” after making contact with him in August. According to The San Diego Union-Tribune, he shot and killed himself in his pickup truck on August 30, after arriving home to find detectives processing the scene. Brian reportedly worked as a U.S. Customs and Border Protection agent

According to The Times of San Diego, the three pleaded not guilty in court on Wednesday. They’re due back in court later this month and remain in custody without bail.

The investigation into Arabella’s death began after authorities responded to a call of a child in distress around 2am on August 30. “During the investigation, detectives suspected signs of possible child abuse,” said SDCSD in a press release, which added that Arabella’s health “declined and she died” at a hospital. A police spokesperson told The San Diego Union-Tribune the child showed “severe levels of malnourishment” and signs of bruising.

In addition to Arabella, the McCormacks also adopted her six and seven-year-old sisters in 2017. They’re both currently living with a foster family.

The biological mother of all three girls spoke with NBC San Diego following the McCormacks’ arrest, saying she felt she was “finally getting some justice for my daughter.” Of Letitia, she added, “I hope that she gets the death penalty. She gave my daughter the death penalty. Why why shouldn’t she get the death penalty?”

In a statement to NBC San Diego, Rock Church also reacted to the arrest of Leticia and her parents, while distancing themselves from the suspects and showing support for Arabella and her sisters.

“We continue to grieve for Arabella and her sisters. We are so sorry that their family and friends are experiencing this unimaginable loss and pain. We send our deepest condolences to all that are grieving at this time. Our hearts go out to each of them,” said the organization.

“The legal process will run its course and we hope justice for Arabella and her sisters will be served. We are praying that God’s love and grace will bring comfort and healing,” it continued. “The Rock no longer has any official relationship with Leticia. Her ordination at Rock Church was previously suspended and is in the process of being revoked.”

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