Hannah and Andrew

In October 2006 a four-year-old boy from Corpus Christi died mysteriously of salt poisoning. His foster mother, Hannah Overton, was charged with capital murder. But was this churchgoing woman a vicious child killer? Or had the tragedy claimed its second victim?

  1. What little is known about Andrew Burd’s early life is contained in a slim Child Protective Services case file that chronicles the boy’s descent into the child welfare system. His mother was just sixteen, the file shows, when she gave birth to him in Corpus Christi on July 28, 2002. She would later admit, according to one report, “to using alcohol, methamphetamines, cocaine and crack cocaine, LSD, marijuana, cigarettes, and taking prescription Xanax.” His father was seventeen and worked for a traveling carnival. CPS launched its initial investigation into Andrew’s well-being shortly after his first birthday, when his mother took him to a local hospital with a broken arm. Four subsequent investigations were triggered by reports of abuse or neglect, including one allegation that both his mother and maternal grandmother were incapable of properly caring for him because they used methamphetamines. When Andrew was two-and-a-half years old, CPS determined that he was in “immediate danger,” according to an affidavit, and he was put in foster care. His mother’s and father’s parental rights were terminated soon after he turned three.

    If not for a Corpus Christi couple named Larry and Hannah Overton, Andrew might have lingered in state custody, shuffled from one foster home to another. The Overtons already had four children, and Larry’s income—he installed landscape lighting—was barely enough to make ends meet. But as devoted Christians, their desire to adopt a foster child was roote...

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