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Tucson burn victim, age 5, had long history of neglect

Tucson burn victim, age 5, had long history of neglect

A Tucson girl who is in critical condition after being submerged in scalding water, allegedly by her adoptive mother, had endured neglect long before she was adopted.

The child’s adoptive mother, Samantha Osteraas, 28, was arrested Jan. 5 on suspicion of child abuse after the girl was severely burned in a bathtub Dec. 29. The mother might have waited up to six hours to seek medical treatment for the 5-year-old, court records show.

The child remains in intensive care with third-degree burns over 80 percent of her body.

The Arizona Department of Child Safety released a brief account of the girl’s history late Thursday. Previous reports of abuse and neglect, which are not always a public record, are released when a child dies or nearly dies as a result of maltreatment.

  • In December 2012, two reports were received alleging neglect to the girl, who was a year old at that time. It is unclear if the allegations were made about her biological parents. That case, which was later found to be unsubstantiated by DCS, was still open when the next report was received.
  • On April 2, 2013, a report was received alleging neglect to the child by her biological parents. The girl was removed from the home and DCS filed a dependency petition, which would make her a ward of the state. The allegations were substantiated.
  • On Jan. 7, 2015, a report was received alleging neglect to the child by an unnamed caregiver. The investigation resulted in the removal of the child from that caregiver, and the allegations in that case were substantiated.
  • On May 15, 2015, a report was received alleging physical abuse to the child by a caregiver. An investigation followed and the child was determined to be safe in the home and the allegation was unsubstantiated.
  • On Nov. 23, 2015, a report was received alleging past sexual abuse to the child by her biological father and physical abuse by her biological mother. The allegations in that report were unsubstantiated.

The child was adopted last summer by Samantha and Justin Osteraas, law enforcement records and accounts on social media show.

At about 8 p.m. Dec. 29, sheriff’s deputies and paramedics with Rural Metro Fire Department arrived at the Osteraas’ home, in the 2900 block of West Sun Ranch Trail, near North Shannon Road and West Lambert Lane, for reports of a burned child, the search warrant return says.

Osteraas told 911 dispatchers she didn’t realize she was bathing her daughter in hot water. When authorities arrived, they noticed significant burns on the girl’s body from her upper-chest down, the document says.

Deputies also noted bruises to the child’s neck and left arm, and saw blood and signs of trauma on her upper lip. Hours after the incident, it was reported that she was in respiratory and organ failure.

Osteraas, who has been charged with two counts of child abuse, is in the Pima County jail; bond has been set at $25,000.

Contact reporter Patty Machelor at or 806-7754. On Twitter: @pattymachstar

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