Invisible Children

4 children by Rita and William Meserve

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.

Four children, ages 16, 13, 10, and 8, were tortured by their aunt, Rita Meserve. Their uncle, William Franklin Meserve, did nothing to stop the abuse and in some cases held the children down. The children were homeschooled.

The children came to live in the Meserves’ mobile home in 1994 after their mother died of breast cancer (their father was in prison). The children were repeatedly shot with a staple gun as punishment for failing to complete their chores or schoolwork. The Meserves claimed the children did it to themselves.

The eldest boy alerted police to the abuse in February 1999. The Meserves were found guilty of “25 counts of abuse, including four torture charges” and sentenced to life in prison.

Date: February 1999
San Bernardino, California

Documents: Date:
Couple Get Long Terms for Torturing Children 03-31-2000