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Surviving a Family Crisis: Mikaela Yhip Speaks

In an exclusive interview with Action News Now, Mikaela Yhip, daughter of a couple accused of killing their adopted son in 2012, speaks about her side of the story.

Posted: Sep 21, 2018 6:18 PM
Updated: Sep 21, 2018 6:31 PM

CHICO, Calif. - In an exclusive interview with Action News Now, Mikaela Yhip, daughter of a couple accused of killing their adopted son in 2012, speaks about her side of the story.

The Butte County District Attorney recently dropped charges against Peter and Edelyn Yhip in August, after they had been charged with murder and child abuse in April or 2012 against their 2-year-old adopted son, Benjamin. 

Prosecutors alleged that Benjamin died of blunt force trauma to the head, which the prosecutors alleged were symptoms of "shaken baby syndrome" and abuse. 

Defense attorneys argued that Benjamin's death was a result of underlying medical issues, not blunt force trauma. 

In the end, there was insufficient evidence to convict Peter and Edelyn Yhip of the crime and the charges were dropped. 

For the first time, Mikaela Yhip shares her story of what happened and how it felt for her when charges were dropped. 

She defends her parents, saying that there were a lot of assumptions made and that she was taken from her family at an age when she needed them the most. 

Read Mikaela's full statement below. 

I was found at bus stop in China when I was about 5 days old. Thirteen years ago on Sept 19, 2005 I joined my forever family, Edelyn and Peter Yhip. My parents always taught me at a very young age that you don’t have to be blood to be family. I always wanted a little brother or sister and in 2010 my parents completed all the paperwork for adoption and we went to Taiwan to pick up my twin brothers. I was so happy! I had been praying for so long for siblings and I got 2 of the best siblings there could possibly be! Not long after we got home, we found out that Benjamin was really sick. He threw up constantly and needed attention 24/7. I took care of Jonathan a lot while my parents were taking care of Benjamin. One night Benjamin went to the emergency room. Jonathan and I had to go to a family friend’s house because my parents had to be with Benjamin. I was 7 years old, in 2nd grade (I skipped 1st & 7th grade) and remember going to school the next day. I got called to the principal’s office. There was a police officer there and they took me somewhere and interviewed me. That afternoon when our family friend came to pick me up, the police came and took my brother and I away from them. They told me that Benjamin died. My brother and I were taken away from my parents and the only home we knew. I was so confused and scared! We had to stay with strangers. I think we stayed in 3 foster homes, and thank goodness that the last one were family friends. Living in foster homes was really difficult because I really missed my parents especially at night. I was only 7 and Jonathan was a little over 2 ½ years old. I needed my parents and they weren’t there. My brother and I were only allowed to visit them at CPS in Chico where there was somebody always watching over us and taking notes. I remember CPS was also there during Benjamin’s funeral and they didn’t let Jonathan come. That really made me mad. It didn’t feel like I could actually spend time with my family. It was like somebody was spying on us all the time. We were only allowed to see my parents once a week for a few hours. After what seems like forever, my parents said the “kids’ case was dismissed” and my brother and I were able to go home. I was really happy to be home but things were not the same and I was not the same. I was really upset and threw tantrums for hours every night. I swim with Chico Aqua Jets but I didn’t want to because my favorite swim coach left. I had to change schools. It felt like my world had turned upside down. Nothing I came back to was the same. Everything had changed. My parents had really encouraged me to do something different. I didn’t want to. They saw a fencing classes listed in CARD and told me to give it a month and if I didn’t like it, I could stop. I really didn’t want to go at first because they were mostly boys and really tall! After a few weeks of going almost 3 days a week, I really liked it. It was a perfect way for me to put all my energy into. I could stab people and didn’t get in trouble. I became very focused. My parents said my tantrums became less and less. That was about 4 years ago. I love fencing. I also went back to swim with Chico Aqua Jets. My parents home schooled me for 2 years and I caught up with school and was able to spend more time with my family. Fencing helped me focus on what’s in front of me. One point at a time. I was fortunate enough to meet my current coach, Greg Massialas, in a tournament. He invited me to check out his club in San Francisco. I fence with the MTeam in San Francisco every Friday. Usually my mom, sometimes my dad, drive 3 ½ hours so I can make it to practice. After practice, we drive back home. Even after we came home, my parents were still wrongfully accused of my brother’s death. Last month, the case was dismissed. My parents always encourage us to look at the good things even though they may be hard to find. They always ask us everyday what made us laugh and what we can improve. Life is like fencing. I have so much more to learn. It’s one point at a time and when I lose a point, I have to figure out what I did wrong and move to the next point. I find that if I lose my focus, I don’t do so well. I know that there are a lot of other kids who are going through difficult times. Try to find something positive to put your focus on. Put all your energy into that and don’t give up.

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