Real Name: Maria Rosa Hernandez
Aliases: Rosa Hernandez
Wanted For: Murder, Child Abuse
Missing Since: March 1991
Case[edit | edit source]
Details: On July 25, 1990, paramedics rushed four-year-old Ashley Berman to an emergency room near Los Angeles; she was unconscious and barely breathing. Her mother, Sharon, told them that she apparently had a seizure and fell on the floor. However, she stated that she did not witness the incident; it was witnessed by the nanny, Maria "Rosa" Hernandez. A short time later the doctor made a stunning accusation: she had been physically assaulted, and the prime suspect was Rosa. The Bermans were stunned; Rosa had been Ashley's nanny for two years and all seemed fine.
The Bermans had met Rosa when she applied to be Ashley's nanny when she was two. When they first met, Rosa's cousin came with her to translate and although she was highly recommended, they wanted Ashley to decide; she felt an immediate and special connection with Rosa. She moved in the week later. She and Ashley were inseparable and everything worked well for a year, until Ashley began suffering from a series of mysterious injuries. She claimed that it happened at school.
However, in February 1990, Ashley received a large gash on her head that required several stitches. Rosa said that Ashley had tripped and fell down the stairs, which caused it. She also said Ashley was suffering frequent blackouts and seizures. Although the Bermans never witnessed the episodes themselves, they feared that Ashley had a severe physiological disorder; tests proved, however, that she was a healthy child.
A few months later, her father, Jeff, came home to find that she had been severely injured again. Rosa explained that she had fallen down the stairs and he believed her. Then, just nine days later, on July 25, Ashley had her frightening brush with death, where her physician, Dr. Gillingham, suspected that she was abused and that her injuries were similar to those suffered in "Shaking Baby Syndrome".
A search through previous records showed that Rosa had taken care of a child who apparently died from child abuse. Two years earlier, in 1988, Dr. Gillingham had treated a seventeen-month-old boy who had gone under cardiac arrest and died several hours later. The Bermans knew that Rosa had cared for him, but they had heard that he had choked on a hot dog. An autopsy revealed that he had a fractured skull with internal bleeding and his death was ruled a homicide. However, in 1988, authorities did not have enough evidence to charged her in his murder. Now, with Ashley fighting for her life, police believe they had a case against Rosa and she was charged with child abuse and murder.
In March 1991, she pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and child abuse. She was soon released on her own recognizance, despite the Bermans' protests, and she promptly disappeared. Meanwhile, Ashley made a full recovery and has now been able to tell the police and her family how she was horribly abused by Rosa, and hopes she will be brought to justice. Maria "Rosa" Hernandez is 5'3", 133 pounds, has brown hair, brown eyes, speaks broken English, has burn scars on her right forearm, and would today be fifty-four-years-old; her birth date is January 20, 1964.
Extra Notes: This case first aired on the March 28, 1997 episode. The re-enactment featured well-known actress Cheryl Hines as Sharon Berman.
- Maria Rosa Hernandez on Unsolved.com
- Nanny charged with slaying, abuse remains at large
- Fan discussion forum on Maria Rosa Hernandez