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Zavala Paper

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1. Give a timeline of the major events in Nicolas Zavala's life.

- 1991, Nicolas Zavala is born.

- In 1997, Cindy Molina, Nicolas's mother, was raising her four children;

Francisco, 11, Santiago, 9, Nicole, 8, and Nicolas, 6.

- January, 1998, Nicolas, age 7, enters the Illinois Department of Children and

Family Services (DCFS) after a judge orders all four children into protective custody and placed into separate foster homes.

- In 1999, Nicolas rebels and says that he doe not want to return to his foster


- Nicolas is moved to a second foster family in Braidwood, IL, then shifted once again to a third couple in Coal City, IL. He runs away four days after placement.

- Nicolas is placed with Annabelle and John Jones in Joliet, IL. At this point Nicolas states that he does not want to be adopted and still wants to be returned to his mother.

- In 2001, Nicolas still living at the Joneses home, seems to be settling into his foster family and is doing well in school. He even talks about having the Joneses adopting him.

- In August, 2001, Molina petitions the courts to regain custody of her children. A

compromise is reached and two of her children, Nicole and Francisco, are returned to her. Nicolas is very upset by this news and no longer talks about the Jones family adopting him.

- Also in August, 2001, Molina approaches her lawyer with the idea of having her mother, Margaret Williams, adopt Nicholas and have him live with her along with Molina's 19-year old half-brother, Miguel Campos. This plan is initially approved by all authorities in the case.

- In February, 2002, a Will County juvenile judge allows Nicolas to move to Oxford, IN where his grandmother lives. The move is allowed before the interstate compact has been finalized.

- Williams fails to attend mandatory parental training classes and Indiana Interstate Compact Offices writes letter to Illinois counterpart advising that compact has collapsed and that Williams has been denied placement. No acknowledgment of this letter is ever received.

- February through July, 2002, begins attending school as well as becoming a regular attendee at Sunday school and church services.

- June, 28, 2002, the last day of summer school, according to his teachers, Nicolas appears sulky and does not seem happy to go.

- Four weeks later, Williams visits Oxford Elementary to ask school officials to fill out paperwork so she can take him to a psychiatrist. Williams claims he has been cutting his clothes with scissors, soiling his pants and has even set a small fire in his room. An appointment is made for August 8, 2002, which Nicolas never makes.

- August 4, 2002, Williams claims she dropped Nicolas off at the Oxford Public Library so he could meet up with two friends for a week-long camping trip.

- August 13, 2002, Williams reports Nicholas missing. On the same day police enter his name into National Crime Information Center Database and the Indiana Missing Children Database.

- August 14, 2002, DCFS is notified of Nicolas's disappearance.

- October, 2002, Nicolas's name is entered into the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children database. The reason for the delay is that he was initially classified as a runaway.

- October 10, 2002, Benton County Sheriffs officials call Indiana State Police for help.

- Molina passes polygraph test which erases suspicion that she has taken her son.

- Early April, 2003, Benton County woods, ditches, fields are searched by


- April 18, 2003, Dave Geswein finds the charred bones of Nicolas Zavala in field he is plowing.

- May 1, 2003, a memorial service is held for Nicolas at Oxford Church of Christ.

2. Specify all the people or entities who were responsible for Nicolas Zavala's quality

of life. Give the percentage of responsibility that each person or entity holds and why.

At different points in his life, all the people who came into contact with Nicolas

were equally responsible for the quality of his life. As he was moved from home to home, whether it was his mother's, a foster family's or his grandmother's home, each shared the the responsibility along with DCFS. As an overseeing agency, DCFS should have investigated and evaluated and done their homework regarding Nicolas's placements and how happy he was where he was already placed versus how happy he would have been at a home like his grandmother's.

3. Who is responsible for Nicolas Zavala's death and why? If you believe the

responsibility is shared, give the percentage each person or entity holds.

Ultimately, I believe that DCFS is responsible for Nicolas's death. They should have investigated Nicholas's case and followed the guidelines and laws already in place. Had these rules been followed he would most likely not have been the victim here.

4. If you were given authority to make decisions regarding Nicolas Zavala, what would

you have done differently? What do you think should have been done for Nicholas

throughout his life?

I believe DCFS should have done sufficient investigation and follow-up with Nicolas. If they had they would have found out exactly what Nicolas wanted and what would have been the best situation for him.

5. If you were to speculate, what do you think happened to Nicolas? What caused his


I believe that Nicolas was murdered by either his grandmother, Margaret

Williams, or by his uncle, Miguel Campos. I think his grandmother's inconsistent statements and the fact that neither



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