AJ, DD, and Steven Murray

Victims of Attachment Therapy
Anchorage, Alaska
AJ and DD rescued at ages 9 and 10 when
Steven was killed at age 10 in 1999

Note: The following account has been prepared from press reports, personal interviews, trial transcripts, and other public records.

In 1996, boys identified as “AJ” and “DD” were placed in the Anchorage home of licensed foster parents Melissa and Douglas Falgoust.  The boys, approximately 6 and 7 years old respectively, would claim they were terribly abused by the Falgousts.

Both boys did well in school, but AJ’s second grade teacher learned he was afraid of Melissa. The boy told her that Melissa fed him baby food and made him crawl around the house on his bleeding knees.  AJ's teacher alerted child protective services, but the boys were left with the Falgousts.

DD claims Melissa ordered them to do excessive exercises, such as 2,000 jumping jacks, and would grab or hit them if they stopped.  The boys’ rooms had alarms, and if they set off the alarm to go the bathroom they would be punished.  DD tells that when he tried to hide wetting his bed, a furious Melissa would choke him.

Another foster child in the Falgoust home, Steven Murray, ran to the police about being beaten.  The police took pictures of belt marks on his buttocks, but social services believed Melissa that the boy had injured himself.

It wasn’t until the day that Melissa killed Steven, that AJ and DD were finally removed from the Falgousts’ home.  On that day in 1999, when Steven did not do his assigned task of jumping jacks as expected, Melissa ordered DD to hit the Steven with boxing gloves, but because Melissa thought he was hitting  hard enough, she took over beating on Steven and pounding his head against a wall until he seized.  Also failing to get timely medical care, the boy died.  To this day, DD says he has nightmares about this event, blaming  himself for the boy’s death.

In 2008, at the ages of 17 and 18, AJ and DD sued the State of Alaska, the Falgousts, and Alternatives Community Mental Health Center Inc., now called Denali Family Services.  (The State of Alaska also sued Alternatives.)

Alternatives provided a case worker and therapists for the boys.  A spokesman for the center claims they are blameless because the boys exhibited “
Attachment Disorder” before their therapists became involved.

Advocates for AJ and DD asked the State of Alaska to pay each $10 million.  They claim the boys were severely damaged by their experiences, leaving them now unable to live independently.

All parties have apparently settled with AJ and DD.  And for killing Steven Murray, Melissa Falgoust served just six and a half years in prison.

Douglas Falgoust, a passive figure when the boys were abused, filed a complaint with the police against his wife for beating him with a baseball bat a week before Steven’s death.  Information about this event, however, did not reach social services.