Trial begins for stepmother accused of orchestrating abuse in death of Oakmont toddler

ALLEGHENY COUNTY, Pa. — The trial for a woman accused of orchestrating abuse in the death of her 3-year-old stepdaughter began Monday.

“She was a beautiful little girl who had lots of love in her. She wanted to be held and loved,” Eilene Boggs Airhart told Channel 11′s Gabriella DeLuca.

Airhart was likely the only person who gave Bella Seachrist the love and attention that every child deserves. She was her babysitter from when she was 6 months old until 18 months.

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“She was so cute. Dark skin, beautiful black hair, always smiling and always had a smile on her face,” she said.

She testified on Bella’s behalf in court today, in the trial against her stepmother, Laura Ramriez.

“I’m grateful, and I thank the Lord that I was the one who was able to give her the love, change her diapers, and to feed her, and to put her hair up in the little ponytails that no one else was doing,” Airhart said.

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According to investigators, Ramriez is the one who orchestrated most of the abuse toward her stepdaughter. Bella’s father, Jose Salazar-Ortiz, was found guilty of third-degree murder last month.

Investigators say the couple starved the little girl to death, tortured her, and physically abused her.

“I’m so sorry it happened. If I would have known how this would have ended up, I would have done everything in my power to get that little girl,” Airhart added.

The Oakmont Police Chief testified that when he first responded to the home when Bella died, Ramriez showed “no emotion,” and he found that odd.

But now, Airhart is choosing to believe that Bella is in a place where she will never be harmed again.

“Honestly, she’s in a better place. She’s smiling, laughing and finally running around like she could never do in the daycare,” she said

Investigators say the reason why Ramriez abused the little girl was because her dad, Jose, had an affair. Then, Bella was born.

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