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Sunday, November 6, 2022

The Kayleigh Slusher Murder Case

     In 2014, three-year-old Kayleigh Slusher lived with her mother Sara Krueger, 23 and Krueger's 26-year-old boyfriend, Ryan Scott Warner. The couple and the toddler resided in Unit 7 at the Royal Garden apartment complex in Napa, California.

     Over the past five years Ryan Warner had been in and out of bay area jails for a variety of crimes including assault and possession of drugs. When his former girlfriend Ashley Owens refused to abort their child Warner sent her a series of threatening text messages that read: "I hope the kid dies," "I will scalp you," and "I will bust out your teeth with a pipe." Warner was obviously a violent man who didn't like children or women.

     Since June 2012 Napa police officers had been called to the Krueger apartment more than a dozen times on reports of domestic disturbance, theft, vandalism and unwanted persons. By any standard Unit 7 at the Royal Garden complex was a dangerous place to raise a child and relatives and neighbors knew this. The only people who seemed oblivious to the situation were the police and the child welfare authorities. Unfortunately these were the only people with the power to protect Kayleigh Slusher.

     On January 27, 2014 a neighbor called the Napa police and requested a welfare check at Unit 7. According to the caller, Kayleigh Krueger and her boyfriend were using drugs and not feeding the little girl. They were also making a commotion and fighting with each other. Police officers visited the apartment that day and didn't find drugs or evidence of narcotics use. The officers also observed Kayleigh who seemed okay. The officers did not notify child protective services. They left things as they found them.

     A Krueger relative, worried about the little girl, called the authorities two days later. On January 29 police officers returned to the apartment, examined the girl and left. This would be the last day of Kayleigh Kreyger's short life.

     At 11:50 AM on Saturday, February 1, 2014, a police dispatcher in the bay area city of Richmond received an anonymous call from a man who had "something to get off his chest" about Sara Kreuger and her boyfriend. According to the tipster, a guy named Brian or Ryan had done something bad to Krueger's daughter.

     That day two police officers arrived at Unit 7, knocked on the door and didn't get a response. A neighbor informed the officers that the day before, January 31, 2014, a man and woman, presumably the occupants of the unit, left the apartment. The little girl was not with them. Using a key they had acquired from the apartment complex manager the officers entered the dwelling.

     In one of the bedrooms the officers found Kayleigh in bed covered in blankets up to her neck. Next to her body lay a doll. She was dead, and cold to the touch. She also had bruises around her eyes and blood in her nostrils. (A forensic pathologist would determine the cause of death to be "multiple blunt impact injuries to the head, torso and extremities." The pathologist also found evidence of prior child abuse and neglect. Manner of death: Homicide.)

     The following day police officers arrested Sara Krueger and Ryan Warner at a BART station in El Cerrito, California. According to the murdered girl's mother, she found Kayleigh dead when she returned to the apartment on the afternoon of January 30, 2014. Krueger said she placed the body into a plastic bag and stored it for awhile in a freezer before tucking the little corpse into the bed.

     Sara Krueger and Ryan Warner were booked into the Napa County Jail on charges of murder and felony assault of a child causing death. If convicted as charged they faced up to 25 years to life in prison.

     On February 25, 2014, at the murder suspects' arraignment before Napa Superior Court Judge Mark Boessenecker, the couple pleaded not guilty. The judge denied both suspects bail.

     In May 2017, separate juries found Ryan Warner and Sara Krueger guilty of first-degree murder. Napa County Judge Francisca P. Tisher, in July 2017, sentenced both defendants to life in prison without parole.


  1. What wasn't mentioned here was the fact that the article titled, Judge denies discussion of Kayleigh homicide, on February 05, 2014 the Napa County Superior Court judge told a Napa County attorney representing Child Welfare Services no information on the case could be disclosed to the media in response to a petition filed with the court to release information in Kayleigh's CPS file.

    Linda Canan, Child Welfare Services director, said her agency had wanted to talk to the public. “We, in Child Welfare Services, want to be open and transparent with the community. We did nothing wrong,” she said Wednesday. “I really want to reassure the community that they have a good quality Child Welfare program.”

    They can't talk to the public and inform them about anything in that case file except with family members. They want to breach confidentiality in order to protect their so called reputation. Why is it that you can look up some court records with cases involving children such as, guardianship's, child support, visitation orders, and modification orders. However if it's a CPS case, these can't be pulled up. You have to go into the city clerks office and show an ID in order to get copies of your court records, which they charge you 50 cents per page. They both involve minors but only CPS cases are not open to the public. Why is that? They claim they want to be transparent with the community. Then why are parents told by their attorney that they are not allowed to even show their court papers to their own mother because they are confidential? And why is the public defender, Colleen Clark, for almost all mom's with CPS cases that can't afford an attorney a stakeholder for CPS and even participated in their Self Improvement Plan (SIP) Report? CPS is clearly out of line here for even making such a request to the court. I'm guessing they really don't want anyone to come poking around in their files because if they did, they might have more questions to answer up to.

  2. At video mark 4:56/6:34, Mr. Lieberstein was questioned by reporters in front of the courthouse about whether or not they were going to seek the death penalty in this case. Napa's District Attorney is explaining how they need special allegations in order to be able to seek the death penalty.
    He stated the following: "If there were evidence of sexual assault based on forensic evidence would that be a special circumstance, the answer is yes that would be a special circumstance."
    Video Link: https://youtu.be/AgXtA5-zt5Q

    Krueger and Warner are charged with murder with a special allegation of inflicting torture and assault on a child causing death. However, Gary Lieberstein told Napa County Superior Court that they are not going to seek the death penalty in this case.
    Lieberstein did not explain in court why prosecution was not seeking the death penalty. Napa courts have imposed a gag order on all the attorneys and investigators involved in the case, forbidding them to discuss the matter publicly outside of court.
    NapaValley Register: Prosecutor: No death penalty in Slusher case

  3. Can anyone explain to me why this case has dragged on so long? The event occurred in 2014, it's not announced the defendants will stand trial until November 2016, and I have yet to see a trial date set. What am I missing please? Thank you.

  4. Our system is broken Marine Mom.

  5. Ha. A lot if times these child killers walk around for years before before going to trial.
    The Welfare departments always try and exonerate themselves from anywrong doing

  6. They just finished picking of the jury, the trial is scheduled to begin May 1st

  7. They are monsters. This crime against this child is horrendous. If justice does not come in this life, I hope they both burn in hell.

  8. I happened across this blog & wanted to update you on the outcome of the trial. Makes me sick to think about how much that sweet baby girl suffered.

  9. Lawsuit says Napa police and county social workers contributed to Kayleigh Slusher’s death: http://napavalleyregister.com/news/local/lawsuit-says-napa-police-and-county-social-workers-contributed-to/article_e074a504-f2e0-5895-a257-3a7000319e99.html

    The article at the link above in the Napa Valley Register stated the following:

    "The suit alleges that four officers with the Napa Police Department and two social workers with Napa County Child Welfare Services were notified of possible drug use, unsafe living conditions and child abuse in Kayleigh’s home before she died yet did not address or investigate the reports adequately, ultimately allowing for Kayleigh’s death."

    "Police were dispatched to Kayleigh’s home on Jan. 23 following a request from Robin Slusher, Kayleigh’s paternal grandmother, for a welfare check. Slusher told police that Kayleigh was in physical danger, that she may be suffering abuse, that there was drug use going on in the home and that the man living in the home, later identified as Ryan Warner, HAD A WARRANT out for HIS ARREST and MIGHT BE ARMED, according to the suit."

    "Officer GARRETT WADE, who the suit says was dispatched to serve the warrant and perform a WELFARE CHECK, decided to CLEAR the call BEFORE GOING to the home AFTER DETERMINING that “the environment in which Kayleigh lived was NOT SAFE FOR HIM OR HIS PARTNER,” according to the lawsuit. Wade DID NOT investigate or report the suspected child abuse despite being LEGALLY MANDATED do so, the suit alleges."

    "Officers Robert Chambers and Garrett Smith were called to the residence for a domestic violence disturbance on Jan. 27, 2014. By this time, “Kayleigh was obviously suffering from severe child abuse and neglect.” She was emaciated with dehydrated sunken cheeks and bruising around her eyes, according to the suit."

    "The social workers should have been alerted by the fact that Kayleigh had been a dependency client of welfare services previously, Haddad said in an interview."

    "Robin Slusher contacted the police again on Jan. 29. Officer Wade was dispatched to the call along with Officer Dominic DeGuilio. While there, the officers could not see bruises on Kayleigh’s body since she was clothed nor did they attempt to speak with Kayleigh, according to the suit. They did witness Kayleigh vomit, the suit alleges, a symptom caused by the infectious peritonitis and necrotic small intestine that was killing her."

    "After the visit, Wade called Robin Slusher back, allegedly telling her that everything in the home was normal and promising her that he would “keep an eye on the apartment.”


    Officer Garrett Wade decided to clear the call before going to the home after determining that “the environment in which Kayleigh lived was not safe for him or his partner, but it was safe for a 3 year old child?

    What legal authority does Wade have to make the decision to clear a call and not check on the welfare and safety of an innocent 3 year old little girl? Wade failed this child because he didn't do his job properly despite being legally mandated to do so?

    He was more concerned about his partner's and his own safety than he was of Kayleigh's safety. What about the oath that he took to protect and serve? I guess that only applies when the safety of him and his co-workers isn't in jeopardy.