Funeral held for Tulsa baby who died from abuse

Wednesday, July 21st 2004, 10:23 am
By: News On 6

A victim of child abuse was laid to rest Wednesday morning.

2 month old Rosa Jefferson-Whiten's funeral was Wednesday. She died last week. Tulsa Police say she had a fractured skull, broken ribs and a ruptured intestine.

Police officers, social workers and nurses who worked the case, were so touched by the baby, they arranged for her to have a graveside service Wednesday. News on 6 crime reporter Lori Fullbright says even total strangers poured out their love.

Baby Rosa might not have lived long on this earth, but her life was something that touched all of these people in a most profound way. Tulsa Police chaplain Danny Lynchard: "She will dance and sing with the heavenlies and the pain and suffering will be no more."

Some of Rosa's distant relatives from out of state came to say good-bye. Many others who attended were assigned to work Rosa's case as a routine part of their jobs, but they say the abuse investigation touched them in a way that was anything but routine. Tulsa child crisis Sgt Whitney Allen: "This baby touched everybody's heart that came in contact with her. She was so tiny and had such a hard life, both new and old fractures. She touched our hearts."

Detectives arrested Rosa's parents, who left the little one alone to die and nobody wanted to see her buried that way. Even people who never knew her. Pat Butterworth: "I have a great grandchild that I keep. She's three years old and I just couldn't imagine anyone abusing a child and I just felt I had to come."

As horrible as little Rosa's death is, it's certainly not an isolated incident. Oklahoma had nearly 37,000 children confirmed abused or neglected last year, more than 1,200 of those were in Tulsa County. 27 of those children died because of that abuse or neglect.

Rosa's relatives say they are overwhelmed by the community's support. Cousin Charles Whiten: "Tulsa is a great place to live and we are so thankful and want to also thank Floral Haven."

The hope is that Little Rosa will know she was cared for in death, if not in life. Of course, something like this can't be done without the generosity of many people, the police, social workers and medical workers who made all the arrangements, Floral Haven for donating the burial site and facilities and the Fraternal Order of Police for paying for Rosa's headstone.

Perhaps, most of all, the citizens and businesses that sent flowers to a child they never knew. They brought load after load of flowers to her gravesite Wednesday, many of them signed, simply, anonymous.