Invisible Children

Valerie Smelser

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.

At age 12, Valerie Smelser was beaten to death by her mother and her mother’s boyfriend. Her emaciated body was dumped in a ditch. Valerie’s mother claimed a religious exemption from public schooling and kept the girl home. She requested an application for homeschooling but never returned it. Child abuse tips were lodged against the family on numerous occasions, but each time they moved without leaving a forwarding address.

Date: January 22, 1995
Location: Clarke County, Virginia

Documents: Date:
Child’s Death Puts Religious Exemption into Spotlight 1995-02-27
“Preventable” Death Brings Call for Child Abuse Law Reform 1995-03-18