The director of the state Department of Human Resources has denied a request to take down the online case files of a 19-year-old man who hanged himself in September, six months after "aging out" of Hawaii’s foster care system.
Lillian Koller decided to post the foster care case files of Erwin Viado Celes at hawaii.gov/dhs after "inaccurate and incomplete" media reports following his suicide, she said.
"Our intention in sharing these records is not to cause pain or embarrassment for anyone who was close to Erwin," Koller wrote in a letter to state Rep. John Mizuno, chairman of the House Human Services Committee, who requested that Koller remove the files from the DHS website.
Mizuno held a legislative briefing last week following Celes’ suicide and met with Celes’ brothers and sisters, who were distraught that DHS posted his files, which included references to them and their parents, Mizuno said.
"It’s unfortunate that the director did not speak to Erwin’s siblings, family or friends before posting their files and refuses at this point to take those public records down," Mizuno said. "Some of the records were very disturbing and talked about drug use, abusive behavior and about some of the siblings maybe not wanting to see each other. To be completely honest, they’ve now become victims of all of this. At this point, it almost becomes unconscionable because the family has made it clear that this public display causes them great pain and suffering and serves no legitimate purpose regarding foster care."
In her letter to Mizuno, Koller wrote, "As an aside, there was only minimal viewing of the Celes foster care records on our Web site until your legislative briefing on Nov. 5. That briefing produced a one-day spike in Web activity."
After leaving foster care on his 19th birthday in March, Celes lived in a number of homes until he hanged himself at his mother’s workplace on Sept. 7.
A September autopsy report found that Celes’ "ex-girlfriend committed suicide by hanging a few weeks ago. He subsequently said he wanted to kill himself."
The autopsy found that Celes had enough methamphetamine and its "breakdown product," amphetamine, in his system to suggest that he had used methamphetamine around the time he took his life.