The King County Medical Examiner’s Office has determined that a Renton man and his two teenage daughters, who were found dead in their apartment in December, died from starvation, according to Kent police.
The bodies of 33-year-old Manuel Gil and his daughters, Adriana Gil, 17, and Mariel Gil, 16, were discovered Dec. 11 by their landlord. At the time, Renton police said it appeared the girls died around Dec. 5 and their father died around Dec. 10. Autopsies failed to determine how the three died and additional laboratory examinations were conducted.
Due to the timing of the deaths, Manuel Gil’s death was ruled a suicide, according to Renton police Detective Robert Onishi. With no way to determine what the two girls’ state of mind and intent was, the manner of their death was ruled undetermined by the medical examiner, he wrote in the news release.
Betsy Alvarado, the girls’ mother, on Tuesday said she has not fully processed the undetermined nature of her children’s death, and is not sure she can.
Getting through the past months without answers was hard, said Alvarado, who ended a relationship with Gil around 2007.
Despite her custody of the girls, they lived with the father. Alvarado said, she didn’t have the financial means to take him to court to have her parenting plan that allowed him just time with their daughters every other weekend enforced.
Alvarado said she believes Gil’s extreme religious beliefs led to her daughters’ growing distance from her, and is certain that if he was still alive there would be no question about what caused the girls’ deaths.
“He was their parent. It was his responsibility to keep them safe,” she said.
The update from the medical examiner’s office doesn’t offer tangible answers for a family still grieving, Alvarado said, expressing anguish over this being as far as the case goes. She and Ron Anderson, the girls’ stepfather, aren’t satisfied with the ruling and hope to get it reviewed further.
There are discrepancies and officials took the “lazy way out of the case,” she said.
The medical examiner’s finding was that all three were emaciated and there wasn’t any food in the apartment, where police also found written materials about fasting, Onishi wrote in a Thursday news release.
“With no competing pathological or toxicological causes found, the cause of death for all three has been ruled as protein and calorie deprivation (aka: starvation),” the news release says.
Alvarado keeps thinking back to several instances officials failed her daughters, she said. Calls were made to Child Protective Services over concerns regarding the girls’ safety and well-being, she said.
They had grown distant and had lost a lot of weight rapidly, Alvarado said. Their father convinced them to cut ties with everyone and the outside world as he was believed to have followed an extremist sect of the Black Hebrew Israelite faith categorized as a hate group by the Anti-Defamation League.
“I couldn’t get anybody to help me get my teenage daughters from [him] and it shouldn’t be like that,” Alvarado said Tuesday. “I know it can get sticky with parents going back and forth, but it’s that or what happened to my girls.”
Alvarado called police for a welfare check on Dec. 10. Police checked the apartment from outside, but did not go in and had no information at the time that would’ve allowed them to force their way in, police previously said.
Manuel’s estimated time of death was that same day and while he could’ve already been dead when police were outside, it’s not certain, Alvarado said.
“I always will have to live with thinking that maybe he could have been held accountable for what he did,” she said.