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 Is Child fatality disclosure hindered by Bureaucratic circumventing and ignorance?

Part 2 of a 4 part investigative report

Read Part 1

Part 2: Is DSS failure to reply to disclosure requests, breaking the law?

Twenty-six county DSS offices were contacted seeking disclosure about child abuse, neglect and maltreatment fatalities from 2008 to present.

Overall, most counties replied quickly, although there were some issues.

Email addresses for each counties DSS director was obtained from the North Carolina Department of Social Services, Local County Directory, so it could be assumed that these email addresses were correct.

Yet, in two of these disclosure requests, it took 3 to 4 emails in order to obtain a response.

Read more

In Memory of Khisha Lachelle Freeman

Death penalty sought in child’s murder case

Published 8:00am Friday, February 19, 2010

WINDSOR, N.C.—The state will seek the death penalty against a local man who stands accused of murdering his 13-month-old-daughter.

The case against 26-year-old Jermaine O’Brien Freeman, formerly of Conway who later moved to Bertie County, has been declared “capital” — meaning state prosecutors have officially informed the court they will seek the death penalty.

Prior to that ruling, the Northampton County Grand Jury returned true bills of indictment against Freeman, who was charged with first degree murder on Dec. 23 for the Dec. 19 death of his daughter, Khisha Lachelle Freeman.

Following the Grand Jury’s ruling, local District Attorney Valerie M. Asbell conducted a Rule 24 hearing where she declared the case as capital and informed the court she would seek the death penalty.

When asked about the nature of a Rule 24 hearing, Asbell said that was one where the District Attorney informs the judge there are aggravating factors for which the death penalty could be sought in a particular case.

Resident Superior Court Judge Cy Grant agreed, ruling that the case could be tried as a death penalty case.

Tonza Ruffin is representing Freeman. No trial date has been scheduled.

Freeman became the leading suspect in the murder following an investigation by Conway Police Chief Billy Duke.

In an earlier interview by this newspaper, Duke said that at 1:20 a.m. on Sunday, Dec. 20 he was alerted by Northampton County Central Dispatch who advised him about the child who had been brought by her mother, Tenisha Boyd, at 10:30 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 19 to Roanoke-Chowan Hospital in Ahoskie. Duke said the attending physician performed tests on the child in which the results had indicated foul play.

“When I got there the child had been pronounced dead,” he said.

Duke said with the assistance of the Northampton County Sheriff’s Office, he was able to interview both Boyd and Freeman.

The child’s body was transported to Pitt Memorial Hospital for an autopsy.

“Those preliminary results indicated the child had died of blunt force trauma (in the head area),” he said.

Duke said he conducted two more follow up interviews with the mother from which Freeman was developed as a suspect.

Duke said he was able to collect evidence which he transported to the State Bureau of Investigation lab in Raleigh.

After speaking with Asbell, Duke drew warrants for Freeman’s arrest.

Upon being served those warrants on Dec. 23, Freeman was behind bars at Bertie Martin Regional Jail on an outstanding warrant (failure to appear in court) with a bond of $5,000. He is now held without bond on the charges of murder and felony child abuse inflicting serious injury.

According to the North Carolina Department of Corrections Web site, Freeman has a list of convictions, including misdemeanor charges for common law forgery and common law uttering and resisting an officer. He was also convicted in Gates County with felony assault inflicting serious body injury in 2008. The Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald has been able to confirm that the Gates County case involved a minor child.

In Memory of Kali Bekia Martin

Mom mourns her daughter’s violent death

SUNDAY, MARCH 29, 2009 

(Updated Tuesday, April 14 – 8:14 am)
By AMANDA LEHMERT 
Staff Writer

TROY — Like a lot of little girls, Kali Martin carried her beloved baby doll “Bob” — short for Barbara — with her always.

When she carelessly left bald-headed Bob out in the rain and the doll was crushed by her uncle’s car, the little girl knew she hadn’t been a very good mama.

“She said, ‘Mama, I’m calling social services. I’m calling the police,’ ” Kali’s mother Shannon Martin recalled. “ ‘I left Bob out.’ ”

Four-year-old Kali’s life came to a violent end March 18, and police say it was at the hands of her caretakers, Tonya Dobson Williams and Williams’ fiance, Anthony Ravon Duncan.

Williams and Duncan have been charged with first-degree murder in connection with Kali’s death.

Her 30-year-old mother, imprisoned on drug charges, was helpless to prevent Kali’s death by blunt-force trauma.

Interviewed Saturday in a steamy room at the medium-security Southern Correctional Institution in Troy, Martin said Kali was an old soul. And Martin expressed anger toward the people she trusted to care for three of her children.

“Kali was in their care, and they are responsible for my child,” she said. “I want them to suffer the same way they made Kali suffer.”

Martin grew up in the mountains of Dobson and moved to Greensboro last year with three of her four children, Kali, Alasha, 7, and Zion, 2.

The family lived with her cousin Williams, Duncan and Duncan’s three children, Martin said.

Little Kali liked to mother her little brother Zion and had tastes beyond her years, Martin said.

“She loved babies. She loved home-cooked meals,” her mother said. “There was not a morning that baby did not say, ‘I want my breakfast and I want coffee.’”

When Martin went to prison last year for drug trafficking, she gave temporary custody of the three children to Williams.

Martin said she had known Williams her whole life. And she had seen Duncan take care of the children by playing with them and feeding them.

“I really trusted them,” she said.

Although Martin said she was aware of drug and alcohol use in the house, she said she could not say whether there was a history of violence or physical abuse.

But Martin said Saturday that police investigators told her that Kali had both old and recent bruises on her body when she died, and that a blunt-force trauma to the head killed her daughter.

Martin said she is eager to get out of prison and take back custody of her two youngest children — now in the care of social services — and her eldest child, who lives with her parents.

“I hope they’re not traumatized,” she said.

Martin said she is ready to be a better mother to them. “I’m just stronger and wiser than I’ve ever been,” she said. “God changed me.”

Prison officials took Martin to see her daughter one last time before the funeral.

“I tried to take her out of the casket. I tried to wake her up. She didn’t wake up,” she said. “I still don’t want her in that casket. But she’s gone.”

Is Child fatality disclosure hindered by Bureaucratic circumventing and ignorance?


Part 1 of a 4 part investigative report

 

Recently, this reporter, sent out numerous, §7B-2902, child fatality disclosure requests to various county DSS agencies across the state of North Carolina.

These disclosures come at a very high price, the fatality or near fatality of a child. 

As such, requests for disclosure should be handled with the utmost respect, honesty, and in full compliance with the law.

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In Memory of Antonio Devon Bridges Jr.

Antonio Devon Bridges Jr.

Antonio Devon Bridges Jr.

Autopsy: blunt force trauma killed baby

By: From staff reports | GoDanRiver.com 
Published: October 17, 2008

http://www2.godanriver.com/news/2008/oct/17/autopsy_blunt_force_trauma_killed_baby-ar-274932/

An autopsy report confirms that the death of an 11-month-old baby was the result of blunt force trauma June 19 at a room in the Mar Gre Motel in Eden.

The infant, Antonio Devon Bridges Jr., had “blunt force injuries of the head and torso,” the N.C. Office of the Chief Medical Examiner said in its report, released Thursday. Bridges’ injuries included a skull fracture, rib fractures, liver laceration and bruises of the face, neck, chest, abdomen, back, buttocks and arms.

Eden police charged Luther Qwama Martin, 18, of 421 Moir St. in Eden, with the first-degree murder of Bridges. Martin’s attorney requested bail, which was denied.

“The state opposes bond, considering the injuries sustained by the child, a lacerated liver and a fractured skull, and that Martin was out on pretrial release at the time of the child’s death,” Chief Assistant District Attorney Julia Hejazi has said.

Martin could face the death penalty if convicted, according to an Aug. 4 ruling in Rockingham County Superior Court. The court agreed with Hejazi in seeking the death penalty. Martin’s next court date is Nov. 10.

Dispatchers for 911 received a call the morning of June 19 from the Mar Gre Motel, informing them of a child in need of medical attention. Officers found Bridges unresponsive and took the infant to Morehead Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Nearly 12 hours later, Eden police officers arrested Martin.

Police said Martin had been staying in Room 144 at the Mar Gre Motel with his girlfriend, Jamica Woodard, Bridges’ mother. Court documents said Woodard stepped outside the motel room to smoke a cigarette and returned to find her infant son unresponsive.

The baby was the son of Antonio Devon Bridges Sr., who is serving nine to 12 years in Raleigh’s Central Prison. Bridges was arrested in January 2007 after he fired a handgun at two Eden officers after a chase through the Draper area. The officers returned fire. Bridges was hit and was rushed to Morehead, then to Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, where he spent several days in critical condition. Bridgesremains paralyzed from the waist down.

Martin had a criminal record beginning when he was a student at Morehead High School, according to court documents. He was arrested in February and in May on charges of communicating threats, the last instance prompting a $50,000 bail.

In Memory of Dakota Johnson

 

Three dead in murder-suicide

BY SARAH NAGEM AND THOMASI MCDONALD – Staff Writers

http://www.newsobserver.com/2010/07/14/580347/three-dead-in-murder-suicide.html#storylink=cpy

 CLAYTON — Devinee Maier House called sheriff’s deputies four times in the last 12 weeks for help dealing with a husband she was trying to leave before the couple and her teenage son were found dead Tuesday morning in their home near Clayton.

In the early-morning hours, the deteriorating marriage met a violent end. Investigators say William Fulton House, 50, shot his wife and his 15-year-old stepson, Dakota Johnson, before turning the gun on himself.

The couple’s three younger children – ages 2, 7 and 8 – were in the Castleberry Road home at the time of the shootings but were unharmed, said Tammy Amaon, spokeswoman for the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office. They are in the custody of their grandmother, but Amaon said she did not know where the woman lives.

It’s sad,” Johnston County Sheriff Steve Bizzell said. “It just shows domestic [situations] can be deadly.

“Bizzell said deputies who respond to domestic calls often refer victims to a domestic-violence shelter or refer couples to counseling. But he did not know whether his deputies ever referred William and Devinee House to a counselor during the four calls they answered at the couple’s home.

Bizzell also said he did not know whether either had filed for a protective order against the other. Amaon said there were no signs of violence between husband and wife in the four visits deputies made to their home before Tuesday.

Domestic-violence advocates said they were not surprised that the marital discord escalated to violence if Devinee House, 42, had recently tried to leave her husband.

“This is very common. The time of separation can be the most dangerous for a victim,” said Beth Froehling, executive director of the North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence. “Most homicides occur during separation or attempted separation.

“Laura Hilton, director of community outreach and education with Interact, the Raleigh-based domestic violence center, said victims are 75 percent more at risk of being injured or killed when they try to leave the marital home.

Both Froehling and Hilton said law officers investigating a domestic violence case often carry cards that have contact information for domestic-violence agencies that provide victims with resources, safety and help filing a restraining order.

“It’s the most important piece of information to give the victim so that they will know that resources are available in the community,” Froehling said.

Call came at 7:54 a.m.

When the 911 call came in at 7:54 a.m. Tuesday, sheriff’s deputies were already familiar with the brick house at 640 Castleberry Road.

At 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Devinee House called 911 and said her husband barred her from taking the children from the home, Amaon said.When sheriff’s deputies arrived, they found that she and the children had already left. William House, known as “Billy,” told the deputies that everything was fine, Amaon said.

On June 17 at 4:30 p.m., Devinee House called 911 and told a dispatcher that her husband had changed the locks on the doors of the home.

On April 29, she called 911 to report that her husband was harassing her, Amaon said. When sheriff’s deputies arrived, William House agreed to leave for the evening, Amaon said.

And on April 20, just after 5 p.m., Devinee House called 911 and reported that her husband was causing problems, Amaon said.

William and Devinee House each agreed to find another place to stay for the evening, Amaon said.There was no indication that drugs or alcohol were involved in any of the incidents, Amaon said.

A neighbor said he overheard arguments between the couple. Danny Davis, 35, who lives next to the House home, said he began to hear William and Devinee House argue around Christmas. About a month ago, William House moved into an apartment he made in one of several out-buildings on the property, Davis said.

Davis said he heard gunshots early Tuesday morning, but he didn’t call 911 because he didn’t want to get involved.

“When I saw the yellow tape, I knew,” Davis said.”I didn’t know who, but I knew.

“Worked as inspector

Neighbors say William House, who worked for thecity of Raleigh’s inspections department, where he made sure heating and air conditioning units installed throughout the city met local and state codes, enjoyed carpentry and had built up his property over the years.

William House purchased the home in 1996, according to Johnston County property tax records. In the back of the brick house, he put up four out-buildings, and another was under construction. A chain-link fence surrounds the main house and the backyard, which contains an elaborate playground set. Another fence circles the whole property.

“He just loved to build stuff,” Davis said. “He built everything over there.

“Tuesday’s shooting was the second deadly domestic-violence case in Johnston County this month. Authorities say that Aldolfo Reyes Maldonado shot and killed his wife, Elizabeth Holmes Reyes, and injured her stepfather on July 1 in the Brogden community.

Maldonado was wounded by pellets from his own shotgun, authorities said.

Bizzell said he wishes William and Devinee House had separated so maybe their marriage wouldn’t have come to a deadly end. While law enforcement officials often offer resources, he said, the people involved have to act on that offer.

“We’ve got some personal responsibility, too,” Bizzell said.

On Friday, the North Carolina Court of Appeals granted a 10 day stay, that suspended the release of DSS disclosure records regarding their investigation of reported abuse on a child that later died.

4-year-old Cedric Francois died, October 19, 2011, just 19 days after social workers visited the home where he lived with his mother, Taquita Francois and her boyfriend, Michael Antonio Dixon Jr., according to court records.

Read more

In an interview with NBC 17 on Thursday, Johnston County Sheriff, Steve Bizzell spoke out about what he sees as the willful failure of the Johnston County DSS, on-call social workers, to respond to calls from the Sheriff’s department to help children in need.

According to Sheriff Bizzell, this “total disregard for public safety” has been occurring for over a year.

“As Sheriff, I’m going to do my job.  Enough’s enough, I’m sick of it, its disgusting and I’m not going to tolerate it anymore.”

“If the Johnston County Social Workers on call are not going to meet the needs of the Johnston County children, I’m going to be on the steps of the Governor’s mansion finding out who is going to be.”, stated Bizzell.

 

MORE

The following is a message that was left on my answering machine October 24, 2006.

Hal Wilson to Phyllis Fulton  <<<< Click this link to hear.  (left on my answering machine)

*I did remove the child’s name from this audio recording!

In it Oscar Howard “Hal” Wilson III,  a Social Worker Supervisor at the Wilkes County Department of Social Services called our home, believing that he was calling Phyllis Fulton in Raleigh. During his lengthy message to Ms. Fulton, which he left on our home answering machine, he released my name as the reporter, the child’s name, and basically admitted that it was improbable the child received all of these bruises from a haunted ‘hay ride, but…’ He also said that they were going to advise me to make another report. A report that I was later criticized for making.

The level of incompetence required to make this phone call and then leave this message is astounding..  

First, “Hal” had to dial the wrong number,  Phyllis Fulton’s area code is 919, mine is 336, a huge difference.  Mr Wilson should have realized he was dialing a local number,  since Wilkes County’s area code is also 336.

Next, my answering machine, at the time, clearly indicated that “you have reached the Nixon family“.  NOT Phyllis Fulton at the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.

Third, Hal then proceeds to break the law.  He releases the child’s name, (which I removed from this copy of the recording) then the reporters name on MY ANSWERING MACHINE.  

Hal Wilson had no clue who he was talking to, no idea who would hear this message.

But as a social worker supervisor, he should have!

Finally, He admits, “We kind of surmised, after hearing the child had been out on a hayride, we thought well maybe she could  have gotten some bruising from that although its improbable but the child’s age was taken into consideration….”

The last time I checked, which hasn’t been long, the North Carolina General Statutes does not say that DSS and the Director are only required to investigate and accept reports, where the child is saying something “adverse” has happened to them.  

Nor does it say that DSS is allowed to listen to the concerns of the reporter and just ASSUME that the bruises or injuries happened in an accident.

…and that is not what he says here, he basically admits that it is improbable that she received the bruises on the “hay ride” but they chose not to investigate the report based on their own conclusions, without ever talking to the child or viewing the bruises! (it wasn’t a “hay ride” at all, but a haunted trail, that she was carried through by her daddy…and no injuries occurred there! DSS was informed of this at the time of the report!) 

Of course, Hal’s statement in this phone call does not say that they believe “the child received the bruises by accidental means, Hal’s statement in this phone call says, although we believe it is improbable that this child received the bruises during a “hayride”, we aren’t going to investigate this report. 

So they believed that this child received these bruises some other way, other than a hayride, possibly from abuse, but they were not going to investigate it because the child DID NOT state she was being abused!

…and while the child had not stated that anything adverse had happened to her, she had not stated that anything adverse HAD NOT happened to her either!

I did not question her about the bruises, because I did not want to take the chance that DSS would then say that I coached her, or put ideas into her head!

I did what I was told to do, if the child came to our home with unexplained bruises I was supposed to call Allison Baker, which I did, but she refused to come to our home and talk to the child and see the bruises…and instead told me to call the “on call worker”, who refused the report.

In the letter that I received explaining why the report was not accepted, the reasons given is, “the child is nine years old and is not stating that anything adverse has happened to her.”

Refusal does not fit the criteria required for the report to have been screened out and not investigated.

It further states “Allegations do not meet CPS criteria”

Yet according to Chapter VIII:Protective Services 1407 – STRUCTURED INTAKE  a report of abuse is supposed to be screened using the following tools, (I have placed only the ones that apply to this case here) : 

VI. MALTREATMENT SCREENING TOOL AND PROCEDURES

The purpose of the screening tools is to determine which reports meet the legal definitions of abuse, neglect and dependency and to aid in achieving consistency in regards to the screening of CPS reports.

Which cases: The screening tools are to be utilized with every CPS report received in order to determine whether the allegations meet the legal definitions of abuse, neglect and dependency. If the information received meets the legal definitions; a CPS assessment is required. This includes telephone calls and all other means of referral, and includes information on new families and families already known to the agency; whether or not a case is open to CPS Assessments/Investigations, CPS In-Home Services or Child Placement Services.
Who: Every staff member who has the responsibility for CPS intake.
Decision: Screening tools determine whether the report should be accepted for CPS assessment. This is a joint decision made with the CPS Intake social worker and the supervisor.
When: Screening tools are consulted immediately upon receipt of the report.
Appropriate Consultation: Please refer to the definitions page for each screening tool. The tools correspond with the abuse, neglect and dependency statutes. The corresponding screening tools for abuse reports include: physical injury, cruel/grossly inappropriate behavior modification, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, and moral turpitude. The corresponding tools for neglect reports include: improper care, improper supervision, improper discipline, abandonment, improper medical/remedial care, injurious environment, and illegal placement/adoption. The directions provide case examples but are not all-inclusive. It is impossible to account for all incidences of child abuse, neglect and dependency. These tools are guidelines to assist in the decision making process. The social worker should consult each tool as it corresponds to the allegations. Every allegation made by the reporter requires an examination of the corresponding screening tool. It is likely that a reporter will allege maltreatment which requires an examination of multiple screening tools. It is crucial to evaluate each allegation based on the statutory definitions of abuse, neglect and dependency, and consulting the Maltreatment Screening Tools serves this purpose.

A. Physical Injury Screening Tool Directions

Is the parent/caretaker causing serious non-accidental physical injury which creates a substantial risk of death, disfigurement, or impairment?

Fractures, subdural hematoma, dislocations, sprains, internal injuries, burns and inflicted injuries such as extensive welts, bruises, lacerations and abrasions would be indicative of abuse. The specific injuries listed are not intended to be an all-inclusive list, but are an indication of information that does warrant an Investigative Assessment. There may be instances where a child has bruises that do not rise to the level of abuse, but are considered improper discipline (refer to Improper Discipline Maltreatment Screening Tool), as well as situations where there may be bruising and there is no abuse or neglect. Physical abuse of a preschool aged child or a developmentally disabled child requires an immediate response.

The physically injury screening tool for use in assessing a report of physical abuse.

I. Improper Discipline Screening Tool Directions

Is the parent/caretaker using corporal punishment that results in any type of injury, cuts or extreme bruises?

...significant trauma and tissue damage, such as bruises, welts, or lacerations may be signs of child neglect (inappropriate discipline) or child abuse, depending on the extent of the injuries. Factors to consider regarding bruising include: location and severity of the injury, child’s age and developmental stage, and whether the bruises are consistent with normal play. Injuries such as these, not resulting from an accident, must be assessed. A definition of significant trauma is any injury beyond temporary redness of the skin. A practical guideline to use is that any inflicted injury which lasts more than 24 hours constitutes significant injury and requires an investigation. (PEDIATRICS, Vol. 110 No. 3, September 2002, American Academy of Pediatrics.) A reporter’s knowledge that this was the parent’s first time inflicting such an injury or that the injury is just a small bruise does not impact screening. Spanking and corporal punishment should be confined to the buttocks or legs and should not result in injury, scarring or bruising. Physical discipline that is administered to a child’s head or torso area presents a greater risk of injury. The child’s age and abilities are relevant to whether the discipline used is reasonable…”

Improper discipline screening tool for use in assessing abuse/neglect

If the appropriate response is in doubt, the social worker should respond in the most protective way.

Yet even though, Hal Wilson, thought it was improbable that the bruises occurred during a hayride, and knowing that this child had a hand shaped BRUISE on her inner thigh, and bruises on her stomach (a very dangerous area to hit) as well as other bruises…he chose to screen out this report of abuse because the child did not say she was being abused!

This is not how you investigate reports of child abuse, this is how children end up dead!

A look at the law…

§ 7B‑302.  Assessment by director; access to confidential information; notification of person making the report.

(a)        When a report of abuse, neglect, or dependency is received, the director of the department of social services shall make a prompt and thorough assessment, using either a family assessment response or an investigative assessment response, in order to ascertain the facts of the case, the extent of the abuse or neglect, and the risk of harm to the juvenile, in order to determine whether protective services should be provided or the complaint filed as a petition. When the report alleges abuse, the director shall immediately, but no later than 24 hours after receipt of the report, initiate the assessment. When the report alleges neglect or dependency, the director shall initiate the assessment within 72 hours following receipt of the report. When the report alleges abandonment, the director shall immediately initiate an assessment, take appropriate steps to assume temporary custody of the juvenile, and take appropriate steps to secure an order for nonsecure custody of the juvenile. The assessment and evaluation shall include a visit to the place where the juvenile resides, except when the report alleges abuse or neglect in a child care facility as defined in Article 7 of Chapter 110 of the General Statutes. When a report alleges abuse or neglect in a child care facility as defined in Article 7 of Chapter 110 of the General Statutes, a visit to the place where the juvenile resides is not required. When the report alleges abandonment, the assessment shall include a request from the director to law enforcement officials to investigate through the North Carolina Center for Missing Persons and other national and State resources whether the juvenile is a missing child.

(a1)      All information received by the department of social services, including the identity of the reporter, shall be held in strictest confidence by the department, except that:…”

No where in the law does it state that the department of social services is to listen to the report and then JUMP to conclusions about how the bruises occurred!

Nor does the law state that the only reports that will be accepted and investigated are those where the child is saying that someone abused them.

Furthermore, there is no age limitations for investigating a report of abuse, meaning the age of the child does not matter, they are supposed to investigate reports of abuse of any child under the age of 18, who is not married, emancipated, or a member of the armed forces.

 If DSS receives a report of abuse saying that suspected abuse is happening to a nine year old, whether that nine year old is saying it is or not, they are required by law to investigate that report.

Unexplained bruises, some of which look like a hand print fit the criteria of suspected abuse and should be accepted for CPS investigation.

That is not what happened here.

And because that did not happen here, because of the obvious incompetence of this supervisor and the Wilkes County Department of Social Services, this child was left in the care of her mother, and the abuse was allowed to continue, while DSS turned their focus to shutting us up with a malicious, unethical, and illegal investigation!

The failure of the Wilkes County Department of Social Services to protect the child in this case, especially in light of their belief that it was improbable that the bruises occurred by accidental means, constitutes willful failure to follow the laws of North Carolina and America, as well as willful failure to protect a child from abuse.

I believe that breaking the law is a criminal offense, so why haven’t these people been charged with the crimes they committed?

This case out of Oklahoma is very disturbing.  Here we have a child,  8 month old Jacob “Jake” Hedger, who died in a baby sitters care, by injuries that it has been said, had to have occured within a relativity short time frame…one to two hours before, yet DHS removed the Hedger’s 5 year old son and not the baby sitters.

Jacob was at the baby sitters for 7 hours, common sense tells you that whatever happened to this child, happened there.  No charges have been filed, and the statutory disclosure, required by state and federal law has never been released in this case.  

Something is very wrong here, and amazingly, and I say amazing because normally in these case this doesn’t happen…but amazingly Rep. Jason Nelson and a task force is looking into this case to find out why the Hedger’s  son, Sam was removed and kept from them, yet the baby sitter’s (who happens to have a child roughly the same age) was not.

They are also looking into policy and law violations that may have been committed by DHS as well as a conflict of interest with the OSBI, who requested a copy of the autopsy,  because the baby sitters husband is an officer in that department.  One does have to wonder….

My heart goes out to the Hedger family, who not only tragically lost Jake, but lost precious time with their other son,  Sam, because of DHS.  The Hedger family’s grief and devastation was made even worse because of the removal and illegal keeping of Sam, by DHS.  The effect this removal had on this family is unimaginable, I am sure that grief and healing had to be put on hold, because this family had to focus on getting Sam back.  

In the story it even states that the day after Jake’s death, when the parents had visitation with Sam, these parents were told NOT to cry…not to grieve…..what a disgusting display of  the true lack of empathy and understanding DHS has for families.

 I hope with Rep. Nelson and the Task Force’s help, Jake, Sam and these parents get the justice they deserve and the closure they need, so they can move on from this horrible tragedy.  I know that the loss of Jake can never be over came, but hopefully this family can now grieve for him and begin the process of healing and cherishing the time they have with Sam, without undue government interference.

Lawdoll

DHS report to D.A. LINK

First things first, OU Medical Center Hospital Social Worker Amy Baum and Dr. Stuemky both felt that the parents did this to the baby.

DHS interview with OU Medical Center Hospital Social Worker Amy Baum

A couple of things stand out to me, first the Detective who took the children into protective custody has the same last name as one of the other children who was present at the baby sitters home.  Are they related some how?  If they are, should she be working this case?  This does not seem like a common last name to me.

Detective Misty Leitch

Seth Leitch on of the children present at the babysitters

Detective Assigned has same last name as one of the witnesses.

Edmond Police Department Indecent Report LINK

Statement of Traci Kramer (babysitter)

DHS Interview with Traci Kramer (these statements do not match)

There is also the suspicion that Traci Kramer called her OSBI husband before she called 911.  

“Suspicious to prosecutors is evidence suggesting Traci Kramer called her husband before calling 911, The Oklahoman has learned. Also, Traci Kramer did not notify Jake’s parents about their son’s emergency. They found out by happenstance.”

Furthermore Traci Kramer stated that while she was on the phone with 911, she used her home phone for someone to pick up her daughter Payton from school, but did not call Jake’s parents and inform them what was happening to him.  The excuse that was used for not notifying the parents was that the police told her not to, but what about before that?  The first impulse of any person babysitting a child, when that child gets hurt, would be to notify the parents.

  • Concerns about the day care have come up before. John Keene, 36, of Edmond, told The Oklahoman he stopped taking his daughter, then 1, there in 2005 after a series of troubling incidents including a cheek abrasion.
  • “It was one of those situations that just didn’t feel right,” Keene said. Read the rest of this article here

At 8:35 am Jacob was "happy go lucky"

DHS interview with Traci Kramer. How many naps?? I count 3. Did you know that people who have injured a child will put them down for a nap in the hopes their symptoms will go away?

Jake obviously had a severe head injury, I do not think symptoms would take 7 hours to manifest.  His skull was fractured in two places, according to the DHS report, (Left parietal fracture crossing suture line into occipital separate left parietal fracture) and he had severe swelling of the brain. ( Massive Cerebral Edema)

Mild traumatic brain injury LINK

The signs and symptoms of mild traumatic brain injury (concussion) may include:

  • Loss of consciousness for a few seconds to a few minutes
  • No loss of consciousness, but a state of being dazed, confused or disoriented
  • Memory or concentration problems
  • Headache
  • Dizziness or loss of balance
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Sensory problems, such as blurred vision, ringing in the ears or a bad taste in the mouth
  • Sensitivity to light or sound
  • Mood changes or mood swings
  • Feeling depressed or anxious
  • Fatigue or drowsiness
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Sleeping more than usual

Moderate to severe traumatic brain injuries

Moderate to severe traumatic brain injury can include any of the signs and symptoms of mild injury, as well as the following symptoms that may appear within the first hours to days after a head injury:

  • Loss of consciousness from a few minutes to hours
  • Profound confusion
  • Agitation, combativeness or other unusual behavior
  • Slurred speech
  • Inability to awaken from sleep
  • Weakness or numbness in the extremities
  • Loss of coordination
  • Loss of bladder control or bowel control
  • Persistent headache or headache that worsens
  • Repeated vomiting or nausea
  • Convulsions or seizures
  • Dilation of one or both pupils of the eyes
  • Clear fluids draining from the nose or ears

Children’s symptoms
Infants and young children with brain injuries may lack the communication skills to report headaches, sensory problems, confusion and similar symptoms. In a child with traumatic brain injury, you may observe:

  • Change in nursing or eating habits
  • Persistent crying
  • Unusual or easy irritability
  • Change in ability to pay attention
  • Inability to be consoled
  • Change in sleep habits
  • Sad or depressed mood
  • Loss of interest in favorite toys or activities
Some of the other disturbing statements I noticed in the DHS report.
Sam's Statement to DHS about baby sitter, "Ms. Traci"

Sam's Statement to DHS about baby sitter, "Ms. Traci"

Sam tells DHS that he feels safe with his Mom and Dad

Sam tells DHS he feels unsafe at baby sitters Ms. Traci's

Sam also reports to DHS that time out is the only form of discipline used by his parents

Why did she even ask that? Kids take baths together all the time!

Now to the article…

Oklahoma lawmaker, task force question DHS decision to remove boy from home

BY NOLAN CLAY, RANDY ELLIS AND ROBBY TRAMMELL   

Published: November 27, 2011

A legislative task force plans to look into why DHS kept a 5-year-old boy away from his parents after his baby brother died, but did not act to remove the children of the baby’s sitter.

“It just didn’t make sense to me,” said Rep. Jason Nelson, who is head of the task force looking into policies at the state Department of Human Services.

The baby, Jacob “Jake” Ryan Hedger, stopped breathing after being at the baby sitter’s home for seven hours March 8. He died the next day. He was almost 9 months old. The death has been ruled a homicide.

Jacob “Jake” Ryan Hedger

His brother, Sam Hedger, spent more than two months away from his parents, Zane and Leah Hedger.

The baby sitter, Traci Kramer, 41, has four children, including two sons, then 8 and 9, records show. DHS did close her unlicensed home day care, but did not seek removal of her own children from her home.

Nelson, R-Oklahoma City, said, “My reading of the policies and the law is that no other kid should have ever been removed. The baby sitter’s kids or the surviving brother should have not been removed.”

“It took so long to reunite the (Hedger) family that it’s really disturbing,” Nelson said. “This is a child that started to not do well in school. He was a great student. His mother is a teacher. It was really traumatic. What I’m told and understand is the injury most likely had to have occurred while at the baby sitter’s house … I’ve talked to other doctors about it, granted not forensic experts, but some emergency room doctors that have said that an injury like that would likely have had to have happened within an hour or two before she found him in that condition … None of the kids should have been removed. It’s disturbing why the one was removed.”

Sam, now 6, was taken to a shelter and then was allowed to stay with his aunt until he could return home for good. DHS workers acted to keep Sam from his parents even though a hospital social worker reported on March 9 that she and a doctor “do not think the parents did this to the baby,” according to a DHS report.

Sam’s aunt, Tammy Padgett, said being separated from his parents was traumatic from the start. She recalled Sam’s first visit with his parents at a DHS office after he was taken from his home.

“The DHS worker was late showing up, and so I’m there with him and it was the morning after Jake died and that morning I had had to tell him that his brother was dead,” she said.

“And they came up on the elevator, got off, and he ran into their arms crying,” she said. “Everybody was crying, and, then, it just dawned on me that I had signed paperwork that says I will not let them be present together without this supervisor present. So I had to yank him out of their arms and send them around the corner and everybody is bawling and waiting for this late worker to show up.

“Then the worker in … their visitation room got on to Leah because they were crying. She pulled her aside and she said, ‘This is supposed to not be teary. You’re not supposed to be crying. This is supposed to be a happy visit for him.’ And, Leah said, ‘His baby brother just died, you know, our baby just died. He’s got to process that grief.’ You know, just wacky stuff.”

Padgett said she once asked a DHS official why the baby sitter’s four children were not picked up. She said she was told: “We knew that if we picked both sets of children up, we would be 50 percent wrong.

Also traumatic for Sam was that he witnessed the baby sitter trying to revive his baby brother. Sam was at the home after spending the morning in kindergarten. He told investigators the baby sitter was worried because his brother wouldn’t wake up.

A DHS spokeswoman, Sheree Powell, said Sam was removed because of safety concerns. She said an assistant district attorney had to agree with the recommendation and a judge ordered the removal.

“We worked with the family until the concerns were resolved,” Powell said.

“Our hearts go out to the Hedgers for the tragic death of their son,” she said. “We understand their frustrations over the removal of their son.”

She did not directly address why the Kramer children were not removed. Instead, she said, “Ages and verbal abilities of children are factors in determining if safety concerns exist and whether or not children may be at risk of abuse or neglect.”

She said DHS will discuss the case with Nelson and two other legislators who had concerns.

Nelson questions whether DHS is inconsistent in its training of workers. He recalled talking this summer with a group of 15 to 18 DHS child welfare workers from across the state about how the intake process works.

“Pretty soon the whole room had melted down with disagreement,” he said.

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NEWSOK RELATED ARTICLES

Read more: http://newsok.com/oklahoma-lawmaker-task-force-question-dhs-decision-to-remove-boy-from-home/article/3626763#ixzz1evQ9NNat

In less than a month two Gaston County DSS workers have been charged with DWI and subsequently terminated from their jobs at the Gaston County Department of Social Services.

The latest Gaston DSS worker to lose her job over drinking and driving is 34-year-old, Amanda Elizabeth Carrigan, of Gastonia who was charged on Thursday, October 27  at 9:11 a.m., after rear ending a Chevrolet on South Broad Street.  

According to the Gaston Gazette, Gastonia Police Officer, Lex Popovich reported in the citation “that when Carrigan spoke he could smell alcohol on her breath, “that she was unstable on her feet, and failed to do a one-leg stance.”

Continue reading on Examiner.com Examiner.com http://www.examiner.com/cps-in-winstonsalem/second-gaston-dss-worker-arrested-and-fired-for-dwi#ixzz1dVQJDqdJ

Question>>>> Why hasn’t Smithen been charged for child endangerment for driving drunk with a child in the car?  Any other ordinary citizen would have been!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A simple offender search was all it took to find that, Michael Antonio Dixon Jr., the man charged with killing 4-year-old Cedric Francois, has a criminal history of assault.

Dixon was incarcerated for two months, in 2009, after convictions for ASSAULT ON PUBLIC OFFICIAL (PRINCIPAL) a CLASS A1 MISDEMEANOR SS  and  SIMPLE ASSAULT/AFFRAY (PRINCIPAL) a CLASS 2 MISDEMEANOR SS.

It is unclear at this time, if Buncombe County DSS was aware of Dixon’s criminal past.

Continue Reading

A Buncombe County child is dead and the question MUST be asked, could this death have been prevented?

DSS received reports of abuse before death

4-year-old Cedric Francois died October 19, 2011 at Mission Hospital, after suffering brain hemorrhages, from blunt force trauma.  The Citizen-Times, reports that,

According to the warrant application, a detective at the hospital observed numerous injuries, including hemorrhages in both eyes, bruises on his face, buttocks and around his ankles, abrasions on his chest, forehead and under his left eye, a laceration on his right ear, a busted lower lip and a bite mark on his arm.

The warrant application further states that Buncombe County DSS received a report of abuse September 3, 2011, which alleged that the child was being abused by Michael Antonio Dixon, the man currently in custody for his death, that the child had visible signs of maltreatment, “marks and scars” from the abuse, the report also alleged that Dixon was selling drugs out of the home.

Read More

Please click the link and go watch the video on this story, it will break your heart.  The neighbors of this little boy are in so much pain and anguish over his tragic death, they are saying Buncombe County DSS had investigated allegations of abuse about this child before.  I will update this story as it comes in. Lawdoll
 The Asheville man charged with the murder of a four year old boy found beaten to death Wednesday appeared in court today.  Mike Dixon, Junior was granted a court appointed attorney and locked up without bond.  He’s also facing a felony child abuse charge in the death of Cedric Francois.
Police are also looking at possibly charging the boy’s mother in the case.  Taquita Francois told police she was at work and her son was left in Dixon’s care.  Neighbors say she knew her son was being abused but didn’t do anything to stop it.  They say Dixon has a history of violence and police had been to their home in the past.

News 13 is now trying to confirm reports that D.S.S was investigating claims of abuse before the boy’s death. 

 


Monday, October 24 2011, 08:56 PM EDT

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