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Rat Chewed 4-Month-Old To Death; Parents Arraigned

August 31, 1993

FULLERTON, Calif. (AP) _ The parents of an infant who bled to death after he was gnawed by the homeless family’s pet rat were charged with involuntary manslaughter.

The rat, which lived with the family in their station wagon, bit 4-month- old Steven James Giguere Jr. some 60 times on the hand and wrist, Anaheim police Lt. Vince Howard said Monday.

Early Thursday, police found Steven Giguere holding his son in an Anaheim phone booth. The baby was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Orange County health officials said the rat apparently hadn’t eaten for two days. An autopsy found traces of the baby’s skin and blood in the animal’s stomach.

Giguere, 27, and Kathyleen Elaine Giguere, 30, were arraigned Monday in Municipal Court but entered no pleas and were held Tuesday in lieu of $100,000 bail, each. They face up to six years in prison if convicted. Their case was continued to Sept. 7.

Their daughter, Karissa Giguere, 3, was placed in a children’s home.

People who knew the family said the rat, apparently adopted from a motel where they had stayed, had bitten all of them in the past.

When not staying in Anaheim motels, the family lived in their car parked by a business called Camping World.

In recent months Steven Giguere has been a fixture at a local intersection holding a sign: ″homeless - will work for food.″ He often held the baby as his daughter stood nearby.

The baby’s grandparents, Dennis and Dianne Giguere, said they frequently took the children for long weekends to clean them up.

County child-abuse investigators had received five reports of neglect by the parents but never took the children. Gene Howard, director of the Department of Children’s Services, said nothing was done because the children didn’t seem to be in imminent danger.

Dianne Giguere, stepmother of Steven Giguere, said she called the agency about the family 48 hours before the baby died. She said she told authorities she was a relative and where the family could be found.

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