Invisible Children

Viktor Alexander Matthey

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.

Viktor Matthey was only 6 years old when he died of cardiac arrest due to hypothermia after adoptive parents Robert and Brenda Matthey locked him overnight in a damp unheated pump room. Viktor was also severely beaten by his adoptive father. The Matthey’s attended a Pentacostal church and homeschooled their four biological children; beginning in September 2000 they sent their four biological children to a church school so that they could focus on their three adopted children. The Mattheys had adopted Victor and his younger twin brothers, aged 4, because they believed that God had called them to do so in an effort to alleviate an international orphan crisis. Both Robert and Brenda were sentenced to 10 years in prison for confining Viktor to a pump room, 10 years for excessive corporal punishment, and 7 years for failing to provide medical care. The sentences run concurrently. Viktor, along with his biological twin brothers, was adopted from Blagoschevensk, Amur, Russia, only 10 months before his death. The twins were later adopted by Robert’s mother, who has disavowed her son. Both Mattheys were released from jail in Fall of 2008.

Date: October 31, 2000
Location: Union Township, Hunterdon County, New Jersey

Documents: Date:
Three adopted Russian brothers adjust to new life in Raritan Twp. 2000-01-02
Hunterdon couple are charged in death of adopted Russian son 2000-11-09
Adopted Siberian Boy’s Death Is Investigated in New Jersey 2000-11-16
DYFS takes couple’s six children from relative; Mother and father charged in boy’s death 2001-02-16
The short life of Viktor Alexander Matthey 2001-10-28
Extra testimony denied for trial in boy’s death 2002-08-21
Adoptive parents go on trialJury hears divergent accounts of Russian boy’s life, death 2004-03-11
Another brother describes beatings of Viktor Matthey 2004-03-12
THE MATTHEY TRIAL: Mattheys’ character at heart of defense 2004-04-19
Worlds apart in Matthey case 2004-04-25
With hearts of sadness, Russians express satisfaction 2004-05-20
An emotional week leaves jury drained 2004-05-20
Mattheys convicted of abusing Viktor 2004-05-20
Adoptee deaths rare, experts say 12 Russian cases troubling, puzzling 2004-05-21
Jailed couple’s lawyers seek change in venue 2005-07-12
Coercive Restraint Therapies: A Dangerous Alternative Mental Health Intervention 2005-08-09
Pair admit causing adopted son’s 2000 death 2007-04-13
Mattheys sentenced to 4 years for Viktor’s death 2007-05-10
Child Maltreatment, Child Abuse Fatalities Among Internationally Adopted Children 2007-11-01
Some Americans adopt Russian children to feel superior by humiliating them 2008-06-02
Extended family: Rescued twins honor brother and meet siblings in Russia 2009-01-24
Grandmother sues so brothers will get money recovered from 7-year-old Viktor Matthey’s death 2010-03-30