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Parents charged in Pa. girl’s starvation death

PHILADELPHIA — A Philadelphia couple faces murder charges in the starvation death of their disabled 3-year-old girl, a case with harrowing echoes in a city where a series of children have suffered the same slow, agonizing death.

Nathalyz Rivera weighed just 11 pounds when she died Monday. Although she had severe disabilities, she had not seen a doctor in more than a year, and was apparently not on the radar of social services.

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Carlos Rivera, 30, and his wife, Carmen Ramirez, 27, were charged Tuesday with third-degree murder. They have four other children, who were placed in protective custody. Neither parent immediately had a lawyer listed in court records, and attempts to reach relatives proved unsuccessful.

‘‘The fact you can have a child that literally starved to death in the city of Philadelphia is abysmal,’’ said Dr. Rachel P. Berger, chief of the division of child advocacy at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, who is not involved in the case.

‘‘The real question is, as a society, how did we fail this child? Who saw this child, outside of the family or even within the family?’’

Police did not disclose Nathalyz’s specific health issues, although Ramirez told police that her daughter was born blind and had Down syndrome, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. The family last had contact with the Department of Human Services in 2008, before she was born.

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