Invisible Children

4 Daughters of Kenneth Yaw and Rita Starceski

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.

kenneth yaw and rita starceski
Four girls—15-year-old twins Kelly and Colleen, Michaela (age 13), and Bridget (age 11)—were imprisoned and deprived of food by their father, Dr. Kenneth Yaw. The girls’ stepmother Rita Starceski knew about the abuse and did nothing to stop it. The girls were homeschooled.

Yaw and his first wife, Maureen, had 10 children, including one other girl (Kate, age 26) and five boys. The family originally lived in Fox Chapel, Pennsylvania, where Yaw worked as an orthopedic surgeon at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and the children attended school. After Maureen’s death in 2001 from breast cancer, Yaw married Starceski in 2003 and “withdrew the children from activities and frequently changed homes and schools…A few of the older children left home before they turned 18 and were cut off from financial support.”

In 2007, the family moved to Las Cruces, NM where the children “were schooled at home and isolated. For such infractions as failing to clean up after the family dog, the girls later told police, they were sent to the garage and allowed out only to use the bathroom.” After the three older girls stole money in 2008 with the intent to purchase clothing and enroll in public school, Yaw imprisoned them in an unfurnished trailer across town with little food from June until August.

The abuse came to light after “Dr. Yaw got into an argument with a neighbor in the trailer park Aug. 5 and called police, who discovered the girls’ living situation and arrested the doctor and his wife.” Yaw and Starceski were each charged with six counts of felony child abuse. They were also later charged with child neglect by social services lawyers in Chautauqua County, New York.

Date: August 7, 2008
Las Cruces, New Mexico


Documents: Date:
Dr. Kenneth Yaw & Rita Starceski kept the kids confined 08-12-2008
Doctor’s daughters tell of being confined to garage, mobile home 08-13-2008
Cruces surgeon indicted on child abuse charges 10-04-2008
Surgeon accused of abusing kids wants them moved 01-18-2009
Child neglect case against New Mexico couple returns to Chautauqua family court
Local Judge’s Decision Sets Family Court Precedent 02-12-2012