Grandmother of slain teen says she repeatedly called the state child abuse hotline
By Michelle Cole, The Oregonian
December 10, 2009, 10:10PM
The step-grandmother of a 16-year-old Eugene girl who police say was abused and tortured before her death on Wednesday says she repeatedly called a state child abuse hotline, trying to get someone to check on the teenager.
According to court documents, Jeanette Maples’ death “came in the course of, or as a result of intentional maiming and torture.” Her mother, Angela McAnulty, 41, and stepfather, Richard McAnulty, 40, appeared in court Thursday to face aggravated murder charges.
Thursday afternoon, Dr. Bruce Goldberg, director of the Oregon Department of Human Services, ordered an internal investigation into caseworkers’ contact with the family.
Lynn McAnulty, Richard’s mother, was technically Maples’ step-grandmother but said “we took her in as if she was our own.”
Several months ago, McAnulty said she became concerned about the teenager. Maples had a split and swollen lip, she said. “And it looked like somebody had taken a fist and yanked her hair.”
She asked about the girl’s swollen lip. ” ‘Fallen down’ is what they told me,” she said.
Urged by a friend, McAnulty said she called the state child abuse hotline. She said she made several calls, each time making anonymous reports. She was uncertain when she started making the calls but it was several months ago.
She didn’t give her name, McAnulty said, “because I didn’t want to lose contact with my grandchildren.”
McAnulty lives in Walterville, on the McKenzie Highway six miles east of Springfield.
In terrible hindsight, McAnulty said she should have called police. But she just wanted someone to check on the girl and she thought child welfare officials would do that.
Gene Evans, a Human Services spokesman, could not provide any details on the child abuse hotline calls.
One of the purposes of the investigation is to find out what happened, he said.
Whenever a child known to state child welfare officials dies or is seriously injured, Oregon law requires the Department of Human Services to convene a critical incident response team to comb through the agency’s files and contacts with the family.
Such reviews are somewhat unusual. The death or injury of a child has triggered 24 similar reviews since Gov. Ted Kulongoski called for more scrutiny and accountability of the child welfare system in 2004.
Detectives worked through the night Wednesday and Thursday afternoon to determine what happened to Maples.
The Lane County district attorney and medical examiner are working on the case. A cause of death has not been released.
Two younger children in the home were taken into protective custody.
A Lane County Sheriff official said the girl was taken by ambulance from her home in the 150 block of Howard Avenue at 8 p.m. Wednesday.
A caller to 9-1-1 told dispatchers that a person there was not breathing. Maples was pronounced dead at the hospital a short time later.
Staff writer Stuart Tomlinson also contributed to this report.