Invisible Children

4 Children of Vanessa and Ray Jackson

Content note: Case narratives include descriptions of severe violence inflicted on children, including abuse and neglect, sexual violence, torture, and murder, as well as mentions of suicide and domestic violence. They also include photos of victims and perpetrators of violence.


Vanessa and Ray Jackson systematically starved their four adopted sons, beat them with brooms, rulers, sticks, shoes, and belt buckles, and choked them. When they were found, Bruce, 19, weighed 45 pounds; Keith, 14, weighed 41 pounds; Tyrone, 10, weighed 28 pounds; and Michael, 9, weighed 23 pounds. Vanessa kept the kitchen locked up and the boys were so hungry they sometimes gnawed on wood paneling. Several other adopted and foster children were not mistreated. The abuse came to light when a neighbor saw the oldest Jackson boy, severely malnourished, rummaging in garbage cans. The couple homeschooled all of the children and lived in New Jersey. Vanessa plead guilty and Ray died before conviction.

Date: October 2003
Location: Collinswood, New Jersey

Documents: Date:
NJ Pair Accused Of Starving Kids 2003-10-26
DYFS fails 4 starving children 2003-10-26
Amid Images of Love and Starvation, A More Nuanced Picture Emerges 2003-11-02
House Committee on Ways and Means TO EXAMINE RECENT FAILURE TO PROTECT CHILD SAFETY 2003-11-03
Pastor’s Testimony Before the House Subcommittee on Income Security and Family Support 2003-11-06
Prosecutor Says Medical Data Point to 4 Boys’ Starvation 2003-11-07
Starved At Home? 2003-11-13
Starving children got medical care before adoptions 2003-11-13
No more excuses (Editorial) 2003-12-01
No Holiday Visit for Couple Accused of Starving Sons 2003-12-23
Man accused of starving adopted sons dies 2004-01-12
New Jersey Failed Basic Checks As Boys Starved, a Report Finds 2004-02-13
Hell House Revisited 2004-11-15
Father charged in starvation case dies [includes a timeline] 2004-12-01
State to probe starvation allegations 2005-01-02
Four boys to share $12.5M settlement in starvation case 2005-10-01
Guilty Plea in Camden Child Starvation Case 2005-11-11
Mother accused of starving adopted son 2006-02-09
95 Pounds Heavier, Angry Son Faces Mother Who Starved Him 2006-02-11
Woman in 2003 child-abuse case to go free today 2010-02-24
Starved Kids Thrive 6 Years after Abuse 2010-03-02
Nonprofit to probe adoptive brothers’ claims 2010-04-08
Assembly panel approves bill regulating home-schooling of foster children despite outcry 2012-05-15