Brother tells of orphans’ rescue from Nigeria
August 25, 2004
Texas youth minister Warren Beemer went to Nigeria last month to help needy African orphans. Instead, he found seven starving children from his own back yard, desperate to get home.
Beemer’s older brother, Indian Hills resident Richard Beemer, said Warren stopped dead in his tracks when he heard black children quietly speaking at a run-down orphanage in Ibaden, Nigeria, where he was ministering for his Texas church.
“There were no lights or running water there,” Beemer said. “It was bad. There was feces and urine on the floor. Then he heard the little girl behind him with a Texas accent.”
The girl told Warren she and her six brothers and sisters had been lost for eight months.
To convince him they were American, Beemer said, the kids sang “The Star-Spangled Banner,” rattled off their Social Security numbers, and talked about the Houston Rockets.
“They had been trying to get help for so many months, but people didn’t believe they were American,” Beemer said. “I guess a lot of people try to say they’re American citizens.”
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Beemer said the children, aged 8 to 16, were beginning to give up hope anyone would listen to them. They were severely underweight, and two of them had malaria.
“It’s just unbelievable,” Beemer said.
The Beemers learned the children’s adoptive mother, 47-year-old Mercury Liggins, had left them with a friend of her Nigerian fiance in October, then went to Iraq to serve food to U.S. troops.
Liggins never returned, Beemer said. In the meantime, the children were sent to a boarding school with money Liggins provided, but they had to leave when it ran out.
After he found the children, Warren Beemer enlisted the help of his church and two Texas senators. The children were sent back to Houston.
Richard Beemer said they have since been placed in Houston foster homes, and Liggins is under investigation for allegations of fraud.
He said Liggins wants the children back, because she was paid $500 per month for each child from the state to take care of them.
The Associated Press reported four abuse or neglect complaints had been filed against Liggins before she left Houston for Africa.
Beemer said his brother is caught up in a national media storm, and is very uncomfortable in the spotlight.
“Last time I talked to him, he was in New York, coming from an interview with CNN,” Beemer said. “He’s already been on ‘Good Morning America,’ and people have called from the Montel Williams show, and I think Geraldo (Rivera’s) called, too.”
Richard Beemer’s wife, Debbie, said she’s proud of the brother-in-law she’s never met.
“He wasn’t going to leave those kids,” she said. “He stayed and took care of things.”
Contact Robyn Moormeister at email@example.com or 881-1215.