South Florida

Her adoptive daughter died riddled with injuries. A year later, she still works as a nurse.

When Gina Emmanuel’s adoptive daughter died last November, her 7-year-old body pocked with scars and burns, the youngster’s siblings told authorities a chilling secret: Emmanuel had beaten them with belts, burned their hands on a stove, and tied them to furniture as punishment.

A registered nurse since 2006, Emmanuel has continued to practice since, records show.

Her nursing license remained active on Thursday, two days after Miami-Dade Police detectives arrested Emmanuel on three counts of aggravated child abuse, child neglect and psychological abuse. She was released on bond, with an ankle monitor.

An investigation into Emmanuel began last November when paramedics found one of her three adoptive daughters, Samayah Emmanuel, unresponsive in Emmanuel’s North Miami-Dade home. The 7-year-old girl was later pronounced dead at the hospital.

The Miami-Dade Medical Examiner’s Office said Samayah died after an untreated flu developed into pneumonia and sepsis, according to the arrest report. Emmanuel avoided seeking treatment for Samayah “in an effort to conceal the physical abuse that she was inflicting on the victims,” the report said.

Homicide investigators noticed suspicious injuries on Samayah’s body, which triggered the Department of Children and Families to open an investigation into Samayah’s death.

In the meantime, Emmanuel remained a registered nurse, whose Florida Department of Health’s license was listed as “clear” and “active” Thursday.

Sources told the Miami Herald Emmanuel’s other adoptive children — a 4-year-old boy, a 6-year-old girl and a 12-year-old girl — were removed from her custody shortly after Samayah died, and Emmanuel’s rights to the children were terminated last May. Emmanuel began fostering the four children in 2014 and adopted them in 2017, the report said.

After Samayah’s death last year, child abuse medical experts examined Emmanuel’s two other adoptive daughters, whose bodies were riddled with injuries such as “healed loop marks from beatings” and burn scars on hands and fingers, the arrest report said.

Emmanuel’s daughters told investigators that Emmanuel had “maliciously and intentionally beat them” with belts, a brush and a back scratcher, the report said.

The report describes one incident, in the summer of 2018, in which two of the girls, including Samayah, woke up in the middle of the night because they were hungry. The girls ate bread that Emmanual had bought only for her adult son, the only child in the home she had not adopted.

Emmanuel awoke and “became enraged,” the report said. She beat the girls and held their hands on the stove continuously until they were burned. She made the third girl, who had not eaten any of the bread, witness the abuse, the report said.

Emmanuel never sought medical care for the injuries, police said, and the girls’ hands were permanently disfigured.

The girls told investigators that Emmanuel would make them stand for hours at a time and tied their hands and bodies to furniture when they were no longer able to stay upright, the report said. She would also make them sleep on the floor as a punishment for wetting the bed.

“The discipline the defendant used was excessive, considering the victims’ age, size, the type of punishment inflicted and the minor reasons for the punishment,” the report said.

Emmanuel has not been charged with murder or manslaughter in Samayah’s death. The report says the girl’s untreated flu turned into pneumonia, and “eventually caused her death.” But the Miami-Dade Medical Examiner’s Office said Thursday that it still has not determined the cause or manner of Samayah’s death.

“The cause of death has not been finalized,” said Medical Examiner’s spokesman Darren Caprara. “We are still conducting more studies.”

Staff writers David Ovalle and Dan Chang contributed to this reporting.