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Teen of Queens mom missing in abuse case

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Judith Leekin, 64, was charged with several counts of aggravated child abuse, aggravated abuse of an elderly or disabled adult, false identification and witness tampering in July for allegedly abusing her 10 adoptive children, whose ages range from 15 to 27, Port St. Lucie police said.Authorities said they were still searching for an 11th adult, Shane Graham, who is mentally handicapped and was allegedly abandoned by Leekin more than seven years ago."What is going on now is that we know that we don't know where the last child is and we fear he could be dead," said Port St. Lucie police spokesman Robert Vega in a phone interview with the TimesLedger.Before Leekin moved from Laurelton to Florida 11 years ago, she adopted the boy and his siblings from four different agencies in New York City between 1993 and 1996, the New York City Administration for Children's Services said in a statement in July. Leekin had used aliases to bypass adoption laws and received up to $180,000 a year in government subsidies before her arrest, according to ACS.She was arrested on July 18, 2007, after one of Leekin's adoptive children tipped Florida police that she was abused and abandoned. Further investigation led investigators to Leekin's expensive home where nine other children were found soiled, malnourished and tied up in the basement, police said.Vega said in an earlier interview that some of the children were so badly abused that they could not speak.According to accounts from Leekin's adoptive children, Graham, who was 11 at the time, and his siblings were living in a Florida apartment complex along with an adult babysitter around 2000. One day the boy, who had Down's syndrome, autism and sickle cell anemia, was feeling ill and was taken out of the apartment by Leekin, according to police.When she returned half an hour later, the boy was gone."She made a comment in front several of the kids and the babysitter that he died," Vega said.Police say Leekin has not cooperated with confirming the whereabouts of Shane, who was nicknamed Moo by the children because it was the only sound he could make. The search was complicated because the area around Leekin's former apartment complex is now filled with new buildings and there is a nature preserve located not too far from there, Vega said."Here is a child that would not be able to survive on his own and that is something we are concerned about," Vega said.Leekin is currently in a Florida jail pending additional charges, police said. She pleaded not guilty last summer and is being held on $4.5 million bail.Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at ipereira@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 146.

Updated 6:58 pm, October 10, 2011
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