Stepfather convicted in death of ‘Baby Grace’

He should have been fast tracked to the chair. This child was an innocent and now she will never make her footprint of this earth. These two people had no feeling or love for this preciouse little girl. They threw her away like yesterdays trash.

JUAN A. LOZANO, Associated Press Writer Juan A. Lozano, Associated Press Writer – 1 hr 33 mins ago
GALVESTON, Texas – A Southeast Texas man was convicted Friday of capital murder in the 2007 beating death of his 2-year-old stepdaughter whose battered body was found in a container floating in Galveston Bay.

Jurors deliberated for 4 1/2 hours before finding Royce Clyde Zeigler II guilty in the death of the child known as “Baby Grace.” He will receive an automatic life sentence because prosecutors did not seek the death penalty. Jurors also could have convicted Zeigler of a lesser charge of manslaughter.

Zeigler and his wife, Kimberly Trenor, the toddler’s mother, were accused of killing her during a discipline session that spun out of control. Trenor was convicted of capital murder in February and also received an automatic life sentence.

Investigators called the child “Baby Grace” until relatives in Ohio identified her as Riley Ann Sawyers.

Prosecutors said Zeigler and Trenor killed the toddler at their home in Spring, a suburb north of Houston, during a July 2007 discipline session intended to teach her proper manners. Authorities said Zeigler was upset the 2-year-old didn’t consistently use “please” and “thank you.”

Prosecutors said Trenor and Zeigler beat Riley with belts, dunked her head in a cold bath water and threw her onto a tile floor, fracturing her skull. An autopsy determined the child died of two skull fractures.

After Riley’s death, the couple stuffed her body in a plastic box and hid it for months in a storage shed at their home. Then they drove about 75 miles southeast to Galveston Bay, where they dumped the container and body in October 2007, according to authorities.

Riley’s remains were discovered by a fisherman on a small island in the bay.

During the trial, Ziegler’s attorneys told jurors their client was in another room when Riley died and there was no evidence he killed her.

But prosecutors said Zeigler lied repeatedly to investigators, giving them conflicting statements on the girl’s death. Prosecutors showed the Galveston County jury video of Zeigler admitting dumping the child’s body in the bay.

Riley’s identity was a mystery for weeks until her paternal grandmother in Ohio saw an artist’s sketch of the girl and told authorities in Texas she thought it was her granddaughter.

Trenor and Zeigler met playing an online video game and married in June 2007 after Trenor moved with her daughter from Mentor, Ohio, a suburb of Cleveland, to live with Zeigler in his home in Spring.

Why Weren’t the Foster Parents Identified?

Vegas Child Found With Bag Over Its Head
3-Year-Old Died In Foster Care

POSTED: 1:25 pm PDT May 27, 2009
UPDATED: 2:05 pm PDT May 27, 2009

facebookdel.icio.usbuzzdiggreddit›› Email›› PrintLAS VEGAS — A Las Vegas foster couple is being questioned by police after the death of a 3-year-old boy in their care.

The couple called police when the child was found unconscious in their home with a plastic bag over its head. Paramedics tried to revive the boy and rushed him to Sunrise Hospital, but he died a short time later.

Metro police identified the child as Adrian Madrid but have not released the names of the couple or why the boy was in foster care.

Federal Lawsuit Goes After Clark County Nevada to Protect Children in Foster Care- Judge Denies Suite Why?

I-Team: Federal Lawsuit Goes After County Family Services
Updated: Sep 02, 2009 8:09 PM EDT
Video Gallery
I-Team: Federal Lawsuit Goes After County Family Services
1:54
A California appeals court may help to decide the future of Nevada’s child welfare system. At issue is whether a lawsuit against the state and Clark County should include all foster children.

The National Center for Youth Law, a California-based child advocacy firm, filed the case in 2006 on behalf of all foster children. It alleges kids in the custody of Clark County regularly suffer from physical abuse, a denial of medical and mental health care, and a lack of a permanent home due to the failures of the system that’s supposed to protect them.

“Class certification is important so that absent members of the class, children who in the future come into foster care and those who are now in foster care will be entitled to the protections that we hope to obtain for them through the federal court,” said Bill Grimm with the National Center for Youth Law.

Instead of monetary damages, the lawsuit seeks reform. In court records, Clark County argues reform efforts are underway and have been for several years. They insist many of the lawsuit’s claims are outdated.

The lawsuit names 10 children allegedly harmed by the action, or inaction, of the Clark County Department of Family Services, including one who was scalded to death in a foster home.

The surviving plaintiffs however have either been adopted or aged out of the foster care system so the firm bringing the suit seeks to include all foster kids to make the case a class action.

The Nevada federal judge hearing the suit denied their motion. Now the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals will decide whether he made the right decision.

Efforts to settle the case stalled in recent months. The county says, in part, because the appeals court decision will have a significant impact on the case and whether there are a few plaintiffs or several thousand.

No word on when the court may issue its decision.

Michigan Child Welfare System Directly Responsible for Abuse, Neglect, and Death of Foster Children, Says New Expert Report in Reform Lawsuit

Michigan Child Welfare System Directly Responsible for Abuse, Neglect, and Death of Foster Children, Says New Expert Report in Reform Lawsuit

Failures throughout Department of Human Services’ management and investigations of abuse allegations make department “no safer” in many cases than children’s abusive homes

DETROIT, MI Likening the management of Michigan’s Department of Human Services to “blindfolded school bus drivers,” unable to see and respond to impending dangers to the children in its custody, a scathing new report by an expert in Children’s Rights’ child welfare reform lawsuit against the state of Michigan lays the blame for several children’s deaths squarely at the agency’s feet.

The report, issued by an independent consultant with more than 30 years of experience working in child protective services, examines the cases of five children who died in DHS custody—some from extreme physical abuse—and provides a long and detailed list of failures throughout the department’s management and investigations of alleged abuse and neglect in DHS foster care placements that, it says, render DHS incapable of protecting the children in its care.

Today’s report corroborates the findings of another released last week that examined DHS’s management in close detail (characterizing its practices as a “formula for disaster”) as well as findings from a review of 460 individual cases of children in DHS custody—and concludes that DHS has knowingly used misleading calculations to obscure the rate at which children in its custody suffer maltreatment. According to both last week’s case review and today’s report, Michigan’s rate of maltreatment in foster care is two and a half times the standard deemed acceptable by the federal government.

“While the Michigan Department of Human Services has tried to distance itself from the disastrous results of its dangerous practices, children have been dying in its custody and on its watch,” said Sara Bartosz, senior staff attorney for Children’s Rights. “Today’s report reveals the stories behind the statistics, and illustrates in no uncertain terms what is at stake if DHS does not commit to real reform immediately.”

The children whose cases are highlighted in today’s report include:

Elizabeth, whose family became known to DHS after she suffered a brutal physical attack in her home when she was just 14 days old, leaving her with a fractured skull, three fractured ribs, and a fractured clavicle. Elizabeth was made a ward of DHS but was returned to her home, leaving a child placing agency contracted by DHS in charge of monitoring her. This agency failed to forward two reports to DHS with additional evidence of Elizabeth’s abuse—including severe burns and two black eyes—until after Elizabeth was found beaten to death in her home.
Heather, a 15-year-old girl whose serious psychiatric problems went untreated by DHS while she was placed in a filthy, chaotic home with an aunt and uncle unlicensed to provide foster care, where a total of 17 people crowded into a three-bedroom house with only one bathroom. Heather eventually ran away to South Carolina, was abandoned there by DHS, and hanged herself.
Brandon, a seven-week-old boy who was placed in an overcrowded DHS foster home with five other children—three of whom had serious behavioral and mental health problems—and died of apparent suffocation when his foster mother left him unattended.
Isaac, murdered at the age of two in a foster home that had been the subject of nine Child Protective Services (CPS) complaints before his placement there. Less than two months after arriving in the home, Isaac was found beaten to death, covered in burns and bruises and having suffered multiple bone fractures. “An overloaded and apparently incompetent caseworker placed Isaac in dangerous foster homes, failed to visit him regularly, and overlooked evidence of Isaac’s maltreatment,” says the report. “DHS’s actions and inactions, and those of its contractor, caused Isaac’s death.”
James, who died of blunt-force trauma to the head in a DHS foster home just a few months shy of his fourth birthday. Despite the medical examiner’s finding that James’s death was a homicide, DHS’s vague definition of the term “abuse” enabled the agency to conclude in its own investigation that there was not a preponderance of evidence that James had been abused.
The report cites widespread systemic problems throughout DHS that it says created the conditions that contributed to these children’s deaths—and place the 19,000 children currently in DHS custody in similarly grave danger. According to the report:

The structure of DHS is diffuse and inefficient. The department is responsible for a very broad range of services—including Michigan’s welfare, disability assistance, Medicaid, juvenile justice, and child support programs, among many others—but lacks a division devoted specifically to child welfare. Components of the child welfare system are scattered throughout the department, diluting accountability and impeding the communication of critical information. DHS management is structured, says the report, “as if to minimize expert focus on child welfare and to all but preclude the effective protection of its foster children.”
DHS managers lack the education and experience necessary to run a child welfare system. National standards for good practice call for directors of child welfare agencies to hold graduate degrees in human services and demonstrate competence in the delivery of child welfare services. Relevant advanced degrees are the exception among top DHS staff, and few have any child welfare experience at all.
DHS fails to adequately investigate allegations of abuse and neglect in foster care placements. The department’s investigations are unstructured, superficial, and rarely gather sufficient information to determine accurately whether maltreatment has occurred. Furthermore, says the report, DHS investigators “often make determinations that are not consistent with the facts.”
DHS has no quality assurance program and is unable to produce reliable data about its practices and outcomes. The statistical information necessary to guide the operation of the agency at every level—and to identify systemic problems—either does not exist or cannot be trusted. When disturbing data does surface, little is done about it. And the agency calculates some statistics—including its rate of maltreatment in foster care—in a misleading manner that hides the danger to which it subjects the children in its custody.
The report further notes that DHS’s shortage of caseworkers would be enough by itself to preclude the agency from adequately protecting the children in its care—and echoes concerns raised by last week’s case review that the agency places children in unlicensed foster homes with relatives as a means of maintaining a “second class” of placements that receive neither appropriate safety and criminal background checks nor adequate financial support.

“Combining the disturbing deficiencies in MDHS’s performance in the five cases reviewed with the many serious shortcomings found in the agency’s structure, regulation, practices, overall management, and—especially—staff resources, it is clear that children are far too likely to be no safer in foster care than they were with their abusive and neglectful parents,” the report concludes.

Today’s report will be offered as evidence in the federal class action known as Dwayne B. v. Granholm, brought against Michigan by the national child welfare watchdog group Children’s Rights, the international law firm McDermott Will & Emery, and local counsel Kienbaum Opperwall Hardy & Pelton. The lawsuit charges the state with violating the constitutional rights of the approximately 19,000 children in its custody by failing to protect their safety and well-being and find them permanent homes.

Who is Watching the Watchers – Another Child in Foster Care Dies

Died February 22,2001

Foster mother charged with murdering boy
West Side woman whose foster child died Thursday after being submerged in a tub of freezing water was charged Saturday with first- degree murder.
Police say 29-year-old Flora Stewart punished 6-year-old Allen Kalfus for misbehaving by holding him under a shower of cold water, echoing a similar charge leveled against the mother last year.

Stewart, of the 4300 block of West 19th Street, told police she sent Allen to take a bath and heard him fall after about 45 minutes. Stewart said she found him unconscious in a T-shirt and underwear in the tub with a bump on the back of his head. Police said he also had a first-degree burn under his eye.

A 2-year-old foster child living with Stewart was removed by the Department of Children and Family Services. Two teenage nieces also were living with her.

Last May, Stewart was accused of forcing Allen to take cold showers, said Cook County Public Guardian Patrick Murphy. DCFS investigated the charge, which the boy confirmed but then recanted, and DCFS said it was unfounded, Murphy said.

Two months later, South Central Community Services, the agency that placed the boy, decided Stewart wasn’t cooperating and said the boy should be removed. Stewart filed an appeal, and during mediation, she apologized and promised to try harder. Ultimately, the mediator, Stewart and South Central agreed to leave the child in the home, Murphy said.

Both Murphy and DCFS Director Jess McDonald say the system needs to change.

Foster child’s death ruled homicide

A West Side woman whose foster child died Thursday in a freezing bathtub had been allowed to keep the boy last year after she was cleared of an anonymous accusation that she forced him to take cold showers, officials said Friday.

The freezing death of 6-year-old Allen Kalfus was a homicide, the Cook County medical examiner ruled Friday. Chicago police were still investigating, and no charges had been filed Friday night, said officer Matthew Jackson.

A child welfare official said that last year the foster mother was accused in an anonymous tip of neglecting the boy. The call to the hotline of the Department of Children and Family Services said the foster mother, 30, was forcing Allen to take cold showers after he wet his pants, officials said.

The accusation was investigated and determined to be unfounded. But the agency that had placed the boy in the home recommended that he be removed because the foster mother wasn’t cooperating. After state-required mediation, the private and government agencies agreed to leave him in the home.

Allen Kalfus died of hypothermia Thursday at 4336 W. 19th St. The foster mother had called police, saying she found him unconscious and clothed in the tub.

Another foster child in the home, a boy of 2 or 3 years old, was removed by DCFS on Thursday and placed with another foster parent, said Andy Martinez, a spokesman for DCFS. Two teenagers have been placed with relatives.

Florida CPS Didn’t Report Her Missing for Four Months WHY????

AngelDied December 18, 2006

An error of judgment, a child is lost

Andrea Moore said “It’s clear Florida children are not being protected in our child protection system,”
It took caseworkers four months to report her missing to law enforcement after she disappeared in September.
At the time of Kenia’s death, she and her sister were under protective supervision of the Safe Children

If this had been a parent who hadn’t reported her child missing for four months that parent would have been charged with so many charges they would have never been set free.They called it an error in judgement. That is more than an unfunny joke that is a travesty and criminal. How does CPS get away with this kind of behavior? How can they lose a child and not tell the authorities? How can they not be charged with criminal charges? The system is broken. It is time to make them stop kidnapping and selling our children. They have become the problem not the solution especially when they get federal money for every child they abduct and then adopt out.

Who Will Answer for this Murder???? Certainly Not CPS where the Blame Really belongs

Another victim of CPS

Died September 4, 2006

“I don’t want them [CPS] in my house.” -“I don’t want them near my other son.”

Parents Blame CPS For Toddler’s Death

Jessica and Ray Nieto cried Monday morning outside a Denton County courtroom, where Child Protective Services was fighting to take back their only surviving son.

“I don’t want them [CPS] in my house,” sobbed Jessica. “I don’t want them near my other son.”

The Neitos are grieving because their baby, Christian, was killed on Labor Day in foster care. Corsicana detectives say Beverly Latimer beat the 16-month-old to death. She’s now charged with capital murder.

The foster mother had been hired by Mesa Family Services to care for children in CPS custody.

CPS supervisor Teresa Morrow avoided FOX 4’s questions about Christian’s death, and Latimer as a foster mother. /

The Nietos say Morrow told them something else.

“She told us they had no idea where they [foster children] go,” said Ray Nieto. “It’s up to Mesa , it’s a contract.”

The Nietos are still angry at CPS for calling them instead of telling them in person that their baby was dead.

“They let us know we can visit our child in the Dallas County Morgue,” said Jessica.

A CPS spokeswoman says Aleda Oaks, the CPS caseworker on the Nieto case, has only two years experience on the job. She didn’t show up at work Monday morning.

But the family of the dead child says Oaks and her supervisor admitted they never did their own background check on Latimer.

CPS says they have no idea why Mesa Family Services kept giving Latimer foster children, because since last year, she had been accused three times of abusing kids in her care.

CPS is now reviewing their employees work on the case, and they’ve suspended Mesa Family Services from placing any foster children.

CPS took the Nietos’ children because they admitted they had smoked marijuana, but they were on the verge of getting them back.

“I want something done to change the system,” said Jessica, “because obviously, our son isn’t the only one who has died in their custody.”

Monday, a judge allowed the Nietos to keep their 3-year-old son while CPS figures out what to do next.

Foster Mother Indicted for Capital Murder

Corsicana, TX – In Navarro County, a Grand Jury indicted Beverly Latimer, 53, on charges of capitol murder of a child under the age of 6 on Oct 26th.

The child, Christian Nieto, was a foster child in her custody who died on September 4th at her home in Corsicana. His death was due to head injuries. He was 16 months old.

Bond was set at $750,000.

Christian and his 3-year-old brother, Logan, were entrusted to an agency that had a lengthy recent history of placing children in dangerous or deadly foster homes. At least one child had previously died in their custody. They were removed from their parents for drug addiction.

The agency shuffled the boys through five foster homes in 7 months. The last move killed Christian.

The papers state that she may have just been overburdened, which left her unable to save him. She’s being charged with a capital crime, however, his murder.

Beverly Latimer still sits in Navarro County jail. She was licensed through Mesa Family Services. Mesa is now on state probation and licensing officials have suspended placements. The state has moved to revoke their license.

The case spotlights the failures in the foster care system that occur when parties don’t do their part for the protection of children. In this case, a child had to die for them to pay attention, as so often happens. The murder of children in care is often the spark that foster care reform needed before the child was placed in harm’s way.

Problems with the system in Texas, as reported, are many and varied. Not enough foster contractors, too much privatization in foster care, more removals and a shortage of foster homes, and serious questions about the licensing process for foster contractors and potential foster parents. Many states repeatedly cite similar problems in the wake of a child’s death. Reforms rarely work the way we would hope.

As for Christian’s brother, Logan, he is back with his natural parents.
By Liz Copeland

Tot’s foster care death stuns legislator

She wants review of state plan to put kids in hands of private firms
12:17 AM CST on Wednesday, November 15, 2006

AUSTIN – A key lawmaker says she was horrified to read of the death of a 16-month-old boy in a Corsicana foster home and now is thinking twice about the state’s mandate for full privatization of foster care, adoption and management of abused children’s cases within five years.

Senate Health and Human Services Committee Chairwoman Jane Nelson, R-Lewisville, said she now favors a more cautious approach after reading a Dallas Morning News account of Christian Nieto’s death. She said she might recommend that the state throttle back its plan and go with a pilot project instead.

“We continue to hear about child abuse and just horrible deaths in foster care,” Ms. Nelson, R-Lewisville, said at a hearing to discuss progress under a protective services overhaul bill passed last year.

Referring to The News’ account of how young Christian and his older brother disappeared in the state’s foster system, with Christian ending up dead, Ms. Nelson said:

“Quite frankly, when I read that, it just, it kills me. I see so many times that we should have done something. That child’s death is at the bottom of a spiral. And up here, parents who were abusing drugs. I would like for us to head off the problem way up here instead of waiting until we’ve just missed opportunities to protect that child all the way down to, you know, the last opportunity – and the child’s not with us.”

Ms. Nelson asked Carey Cockerell, commissioner of the state Department of Family and Protective Services, “What went wrong in the instance … and what else do we need to do to prevent this?”

Mr. Cockerell said Christian’s death was sobering, and the state still is reviewing what went wrong.

“Any time there is an instance of abuse, it touches the very core of who we are and what we are about,” said Mr. Cockerell, a former Fort Worth juvenile justice official who was tapped by Gov. Rick Perry’s administration two years ago to clean up the troubled Child Protective Services and Adult Protective Services agencies.

‘What we’ve done’
“It calls on us to examine what we’ve done, everything that we’re doing and everything that we can do as we move forward,” he said. “And we are certainly in the process of doing that, as we have done in every case of abuse and neglect tragedies such as this one.”

Ms. Nelson did not go into specifics on how she would change the law ordering privatization. Lawmakers, who meet starting in January, would have to approve any change.

Mr. Cockerell said his agency is still reviewing its regulation of Mesa Family Services, the child-placement agency that shipped Christian and his brother, Logan, from Dallas to the Corsicana home of Beverly Latimer on Aug. 30.

Christian, 16 months old, died of severe head injuries five days later.

Foster mother charged
Ms. Latimer, 53, has been charged with capital murder, although there are indications the child might have been injured before he arrived at the woman’s home.

Ms. Latimer, beset by health and financial problems, already was caring for three foster girls under age 5 when she says Mesa officials pressed her also to take in the Nieto brothers. They had been removed from drug-abusing parents in Denton in January.

The state has acknowledged it relies heavily on private child-placing agencies to report their actions and rule violations to the state.

Officials also say Mesa Family Services informed them of only two of the five foster homes where the company placed the Nieto boys from Jan. 27 to Labor Day.

Christian was at least the second child to die from neglect while in a Mesa-run foster home. Sierra Odom, 3, died while living in an Arlington foster home in August 2005.

In reviewing his department’s enforcement actions against Mesa, Mr. Cockerell told the Senate panel Tuesday that the department halted placements of more children with Mesa Family Services after Sierra’s death.

“In some instances about a year ago, we suspended placements,” Mr. Cockerell told Ms. Nelson. “We put them on corrective actions. We moved the monitoring plan down to the most rigorous monitoring plan that we had. We continued to do a fairly robust system of monitoring them and identifying deficiencies and asking them to correct those and move forward.”

Suspension now denied
Questioned later by a reporter, Mr. Cockerell said he had misspoken.

“We did not suspend [placements] after the first death,” he said.

The licensing division’s report on its investigation of Sierra’s death found foster father Timothy R. Warner responsible. Mr. Warner still is awaiting trial in the case.

“Our investigation did not find deficiencies for which Mesa Family Services was specifically responsible,” program specialist Arthur Bussey wrote to Mesa on Oct. 21, 2005.

Mr. Bussey said this even while attaching a list of deficiencies that mentioned a nighttime child-care service being run by Mr. Warner and his wife, which could have conflicted with being a dutiful foster parent. Another violation said Mr. Warner was unfit.

Ms. Nelson said she was relieved to hear that Mesa has relinquished its $7 million state contract for placing abused children in foster homes, and the state has moved to revoke the company’s license. Mr. Cockerell said the revocation would last five years.

He said Mesa’s 350 foster children and 160 foster homes have been transferred to other placing agencies’ supervision.

Patrick Crimmins, the department spokesman, said 140 of the former Mesa homes have been assigned to Therapeutic Family Life, an Austin-based nonprofit with Dallas operations.

New standards Jan. 1
Mr. Cockerell said newly revised standards for child-placing agencies take effect Jan. 1. They will require the firms to hire more staff to oversee foster parents and, in some circumstances, reduce the number of children a foster parent may care for. He also said his licensing division will place “weights” on violations so that serious ones lead to more intensive scrutiny, while mere paperwork lapses do not.

Representatives of placement agencies said the state should move forward with its privatization plan. The plan calls for measuring performance, and whether children spend less time in fewer foster homes. If so, the agencies would be rewarded financially. If not, they’d be punished.

But Ms. Nelson said a pilot project, to test proponents’ contentions, might be in order.

“We need to make sure that we move very slowly until we’re sure that the protections are in place,” Ms. Nelson said. “I don’t object to privatizing … It’s just we’re talking about kids. You can’t afford to lose a kid.”

The More I dig The Worse It Gets- Children Removed by Child Protective Services Wind up Dead or Worse

PART II CHILD PROTECTIVE SERVICES HORROR STORIES

It is time to take our children back. They are our future. Once they are gone there is no replacing them. They are not pets. They are abused by the very system who comes and rips them out of their parents homes and lives. That is the worst abuse in the world. I am sick and tired of it.

Posted By: kbcjedi
Date: Friday, 24-Jun-2005 12:28:08

In Response To: Kidnapping for Profit by Child Protective Services (kbcjedi) To date, the city of Wenatchee, in the state of Washington, and Chelan and Douglas counties have either agreed to or been ordered to pay plaintiffs at least $10 million. This year, at least $1.21 million has been paid to settle lawsuits. Though settlements have been reached, about two dozen people are still seeking damages from the government agencies, public defenders and other entities and individuals. Attorneys expect more suits as children who were interrogated and removed from their parents during the probe file their own claims. At least 14 children have already sued.

Utah currently has about 7,000 children living in faster care.

Five DCFS agencies placed six children in a foster home run by 64 year old Mary Bryant. When police searched the house, they came to a bed with something under the cover. Officer Oscar Arteaga found under the cover a three year old little boy with a 10 foot chain wrapped three times around his neck padlocked in place. The foster mother, said he was chained up for stealing food. Mr. Bond was charged with misdemeanor child endangerment while Mary Bryant was charged with felony child endangerment and weapons and drugs charges. Five other kids in the house, ranging from three to eleven, were taken into the custody. The sixth child was left in the home. Cook County Public Guardian Patrick Murphy rebuked DCFS for placing so many children in the home.

Lena Cumberbatch, 36, of Jacksonville, Florida pushed a baby’s head under water while at least two other children watched her murder the baby. The baby died from drowning and blunt head trauma. Cumberbatch had 8 children in her home, four of whom were foster children and four her own ranging in ages from 2 months to 10 years old.

Rilya Wilson, a Florida foster child was missing for more than a year before anyone noticed in April 2002. She is now presumed dead. Rilya Wilson’s caseworker filed false reports of monthly visits, and no supervisor reviewed the case.

The Florida legislature passed a law making the falsification of documents concerning children under state care punishable by up to five years in prison. Death or serious injury to a child resulting from such records fraud is now a second-degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison. In Utah the Judge looks the other way when changes are made to make dates and other information fit the story better.

Odelia Baca’s two children Miguel, two years and Oswaldo 14 months were placed into foster care. They ended up with Ricky and Evon Haney. Miguel was taken to the hospital on February 1st, 1999 by his foster parents who claimed that he had fallen off the toilet during a potty training session. He died the next day from severe head injuries suffered from a beating. Miguel was in the Haney home several months, while his mother Odelia was allowed visitations. She asked about several bruises on Miguel. Once was told that the marks were from a permanent marker that Miguel been played with. Odelia’s complaints to Social Services fell on deaf ears; they never bothered to check them out and both kids were left in the abusive foster home. How could Social Services place her children with a couple who both had arrest records? After Miguel’s death it was found that both of the Haneys had arrest records and both of their drivers licenses had been suspended.

When biological parents report suspected incidents of child abuse in foster care there is no investigation. I know of one case. in Utah, where the biological mother was told that if she reported any more child abuse by the foster parents they would put the biological mother in jail to shut her up.

A Will County judge awarded custody of 11-year-old Nicolas Zavala to Margaret Williams in February 2002, based on a glowing report about the woman, written by a Benton County, Ind., child-welfare worker. He didn’t know that the home study hadn’t been done by Indiana’s Department of Family and Social Services. It was done by an attorney for Margaret Williams. The study said nothing about her being convicted of two child abuse-related misdemeanors in 2000. These findings are part of a report from the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services’ inspector general into Nicolas’ case. The boy disappeared in August 2002 in Oxford, Ind., and was found dead in April.

Troy Anderson of the LA Daily News reports that in 2001 in the United States, 1.5 percent of the 1,225 children who died from abuse and neglect were in foster care. County and state systems are so overwhelmed with false allegations of abuse by parents that four out of every five reports of mistreatment are ruled unfounded or inconclusive. And experts say the system is filled with so many children who shouldn’t even be in the system, that social workers are failing in their basic mission to protect kids. Nationally, two out of three reports of mistreatment are false.

Across America, thousands of foster children are missing. More than 5,000 are runaways; some have been abducted. And some simply disappear; the state agencies responsible for their care can’t find them.

Tennessee 496
Texas 142
Michigan 198
Illinois 362
Florida 650
Los Angeles County 740

These figures count only those missing children not suspected of running away. Any missing foster child between the ages of 14 and 17 is deemed to have run away and is not included in the figures. All children who turn 18 while still listed as missing are simply removed from the list.

There is no national register of missing foster care children. And there is no standard for reporting missing children. Reports surface of foster parents continuing to receive payments for children who are missing of case workers falsifying visits and not even filing reports of death, injury or molestation.

Jim Barrus
CEO
Constitutional Concepts Foundation

A Mother Not Only Loses her Child- The Child loses Her life

On Jan. 31, 2001, 5-year-old Logan Marr was found dead in the basement of her foster mother’s home in Chelsea, Maine. The foster mother, Sally Schofield, a highly respected former caseworker for Maine’s Department of Human Services (DHS), would later be tried and convicted of manslaughter after police determined that Logan had died from asphyxiation after being bound with duct tape and strapped into a high chair in the basement.

Logan Marr

Sally was the third foster mother to take in Logan since she was removed from her birth mother, Christy Marr, in August 1998. The teenaged Christy had moved in with her mother, Kathy Baker, shortly after Logan’s birth, and the two had fought constantly over how to raise the baby. It was Kathy who initiated Christy’s first contact with Maine’s Department of Human Services; in May 1996, she called the department to report her concerns about Logan’s safety. According to DHS records, Kathy told an intake worker that she had always worried “that Christy is too immature and troubled to be a good parent to Logan,” and that “Christy can’t or won’t put Logan’s needs before her own. Kathy said that Christy screams and hollers at the baby all the time and handles her extremely roughly.”

DHS sent caseworker Diane Sanborn to assess Logan’s situation. Despite Kathy’s allegations, she did not find anything that immediately concerned her about Christy’s parenting. She did believe that Christy should work on what DHS considered an unhealthy relationship with her boyfriend, an admitted drug user.

The department told Christy that in order to maintain custody of Logan, she would have to begin living under a strict set of rules: Any boyfriends or individuals allowed to stay over in her apartment would have to be cleared with DHS. And she would have to cut off her troubled relationship with her mother.Kathy had married a man named Mitch, whom DHS had been told, falsely, had been convicted of sexually assaulting a teenage girl years before. As long as Kathy and Mitch stayed together, DHS warned, Christy would have to stay away or risk losing custody of Logan.

Christy tried to stay away from her mother, but she had few other sources of emotional support. Inevitably, she ended up drifting back. One day, she left Logan with a babysitter at her mother’s apartment. Mitch, who had previously moved out, turned up and was seen by a neighbor, who called DHS. The department immediately sought custody of Logan, citing Christy’s failure to protect her from potentially unsafe people.

Hearing of the department’s plan to remove Logan, Christy took her daughter and fled, heading south toward Boston. But she soon realized her efforts were futile, and turned around and returned to Maine the same day. By the next morning, two caseworkers had come and removed 2-and-a-half-year-old Logan into state custody. She was soon placed in a foster home.

Now pregnant with her second child, Christy had to prove to DHS that she could change if she wanted to regain Logan and keep her new baby. A new agreement was drawn up, requiring her to sever all ties with her mother and to attend a variety of counseling services, including one-on-one counseling, parenting skills classes, and job training. She was to stay in a group home until the birth of her child, and then locate appropriate housing for herself and the children.

Logan and Bailey

After the birth of her baby girl, Bailey, Christy moved into a new apartment. She communicated with her mother only through videotapes that she made, showing Kathy the new baby and the apartment. Her efforts to stay away from Kathy and fulfill the requirements of the agreement reassured her DHS caseworker, and after seven months the department returned Logan.

But Christy had paid a heavy price to regain her daughter — she had cut herself off from the only lasting relationship in her life. Now completely on her own, responsible for two young girls, 21-year-old Christy set out to reunite with her father, who lived a thousand miles away in Florida. Her father had become alienated from the family after an ugly divorce in which Christy had accused him of molesting her, an accusation her father denied and that she later recanted.

Putting the past behind her, Christy and her girls moved in with her father and his new family. For a while, things were good. With something approaching a normal family life, Logan appeared to thrive. But Christy chafed under her father’s rules, and her attempt at reconciliation soon failed. After nine weeks, she and the girls returned to Maine.

With no job and no home, Christy moved back in with her mother, and attached herself to another boyfriend of questionable character, a convicted burglar named Paul. Before long, they were married.

Christy with Logan and Bailey

When DHS learned of Christy’s trip to Florida — which in the department’s view put the girls in jeopardy by exposing them to an accused sex offender — and her new relationship, they reopened her case and assigned it to a new caseworker, Allison Peters. Peters soon received a tip — never confirmed — that Paul had hit Christy in front of Logan. Peters moved quickly, arriving unannounced at Christy’s door with two police officers and a court order to remove the girls. Logan and Bailey were driven to a foster home two hours away. It would be the last time Logan would ever live with her mother.

Determined to get her girls back, Christy divorced Paul, worked two jobs, and attended mandatory classes and therapy sessions, riding for hours in DHS vans to get to them. Logan and Bailey were living with a new foster mother, Mary Beth Anderson, and 4-year-old Logan was beginning to show the effects of separation from her mother. According to Mary Beth’s journal, Logan asked from the beginning when her mother would “get her back.” That month, Logan was seen by a therapist five times. The therapist listed the themes in Logan’s play as “Mommy and Daddy fighting; Mommy and Daddy losing their baby; Big sisters taking care of little sisters; and Someone took me away but I don’t know why.” According to Mary Beth’s journals, Logan began to have raging temper tantrums. She writes, “Logan’s outrage is still bad. The child has anger by the ton. Logan pushes and pushes and if I don’t react, pushes further with whining and screaming and punching with closed fists and kicking.”

Concerned that Logan might have been abused some time in her past, Mary Beth brought Logan for an evaluation to the Spurwink Clinic, which specializes in child abuse. Despite extensive examinations, counselors found no evidence of any physical or sexual abuse. They did recommend, however, that Logan receive counseling to cope with the separation from her mother.

As Christy was struggling with the loss of her girls, and Mary Beth struggled with Logan’s increasing tantrums, DHS caseworker Sally Schofield had begun to think about adopting a little girl of her own. She had two boys: Derek, 14, from a previous marriage, and 1-year-old Shaynen. But she had always longed for a girl. DHS discourages its caseworkers from adopting children from within the system, but Sally was determined to be an exception. She enrolled with her husband in a mandatory training program for adoptive parents, and began the process of getting approved as an adoptive home.

After a physical incident between Mary Beth and Logan — an incident both Mary Beth and the department refuse to discuss — DHS moved quickly to get the girls into another foster home. Caseworker Allison Peters called Sally and asked if she would be willing to take the girls temporarily. According to Sally, it was understood at that point that DHS would pursue terminating Christy’s parental rights, freeing the girls up for eventual adoption. The girls moved in with Sally and her husband in early September 2000. Though she was concerned at what she saw as signs of neglect in Logan — her need to take care of her younger sister and her quick attachment to her new caretakers — Sally says she fell in love with the girls that first weekend.

Christy, Bailey and Logan during a visit

As Sally sought to bond with the girls, DHS cut back Christy’s visits with them. She would have to provide her own transportation, though she didn’t have a car. She wasn’t allowed to know Sally’s last name, address, or occupation. According to Sally, DHS said this secrecy was required because of “safety concerns.”

Discouraged, Christy began to falter. She missed classes and counseling appointments. In a fit of pique, she remarried Paul, the man whose presence had led to the removal of Logan and Bailey. At one point, she stormed out of a meeting with her caseworker and therapist. Her therapist wrote to Allison Peters:

Christy’s progress the past five months has been slow at best. She has missed several appointments blaming transportation and oversleeping (our appointments are at 2 p.m.). Recently when cut off from seeing her daughters Christy ‘fell sick’ not leaving the apartment or calling me for help. Christy has on a regular basis blamed others for her problems. Can’t pay the rent — no job. Can’t get GED — have to be available for my girls. Can’t get a driver’s license — no one will lend me a car. The bad guys have changed since [the beginning of her counseling], but little else has. I hate to think that her relationshipo with her little girls will be on this yo-yo schedule for so long.
The girls, meanwhile, were settling in at Sally’s. Though not rich herself, Sally was able to give Logan things that Christy had not: swimming lessons and dance classes. But Logan didn’t seem happy. Her rages continued, and escalated. According to Sally, they were often particularly bad after visits with Christy. DHS notes from an October visit read:

Logan kept telling mom throughout the visit that she was her favorite person in the whole world. As the visit was ending, Logan ran to mom and said, ‘I want to go home with you.’ At one visit, Logan asked Christy if she knew what Sally looked like. Christy said, ‘Yes, I’ve seen her,’ and Logan responded, ‘I don’t like her.’
As Logan’s behavior deteriorated, Sally found herself at a loss. Logan would rage out of control, screaming, kicking, and thrashing so violently that Sally was afraid she would hurt herself. Suddenly, all the confidence Sally had accumulated as a parent and a DHS caseworker seemed to vanish. “I was supposed to be trained,” she told FRONTLINE. “I was supposed to be educated. How come I couldn’t help her? How come I didn’t know what to do?”

Logan having a tantrum

At her supervised visits with the girls Christy could see that Logan wasn’t doing well. She was discouraged by DHS, though, from discussing what was making Logan unhappy. At their videotaped Christmas visit on Dec. 18, 2000, while a DHS supervisor sat listening, Logan stopped opening her gifts and told Christy that Sally had hurt her. She squeezed her cheeks together with one hand, and said, “She did this to me, and I cried, and it hurts me. She did it to my sister, too.” When Christy tried to find out more about what happened, she says the DHS supervisor shook her head, forbidding her from going into detail about the incident. In early January 2001, during another supervised visit, Logan again told Christy that Sally had handled her roughly, wrapping her up in a blanket. Again, Christy was signalled not to pursue the matter.

DHS rules require caseworkers to visit foster homes quarterly, and to promptly investigate any complaint of physical abuse. Logan’s caseworker, Allison Peters, did neither. Peters declined FRONTLINE’s request for an interview.

By January, Sally had quit her job as a caseworker, and DHS had decided to pave the way for her adoption of the girls, despite clear and repeated warnings that she was having a difficult time dealing with Logan. Discouraged, Christy had begun to believe that she would never get her children back. She wrote them a letter, which she planned to give them at their next scheduled visit, on Jan. 31, 2001:

Dear Logan and Bailey, my sweet little ladies. I think of you so much and often it seems hard to believe you girls have been gone so long now. In a month or so from now, I stand the chance to lose the both of you forever. And it’s been no picnic, but this is not your fault. It’s mine, and mine alone. I want the both of you to know that no matter what happens, I love you, and will never stop fighting for you.

The girls never received the letter. The visit was cancelled because of a snowstorm. And that evening, Logan died in Sally’s basement.

According to Sally, Logan had been in one of her rages in the afternoon. “I asked her if she needed to scream and she said yes,” Sally said. “I said, ‘OK, well then let’s put you some place where you can scream.'” Sally put Logan in an unfinished portion of her basement in a high chair. She left her there for over an hour, she says, periodically checking on her. When she came down to check after starting dinner, she says she found Logan lying in a heap on the floor, still confined to her high chair. She wasn’t breathing. She was rushed to Maine General Hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

Logan Marr’s gravestone

That night, the police came to interview Sally. She told them she thought Logan must have knocked herself over in the high chair and hit her head. Although she claimed that Logan had not been restrained in the high chair, in a subsequent search of Sally’s house, the detectives found evidence that raised doubts about her story. Strewn amid boxes in the dank basement were clumps of duct tape, some 40 feet in all. Police tests revealed that the tape had been looped repeatedly around Logan’s body and head, and across her mouth. Tufts of her hair were stuck to the tape. And an autopsy revealed that Logan had not died from a blow to the head, but from asphyxiation.

The police returned and confronted Sally with the new evidence. At first, she maintained that Logan had tangled herself in the duct tape, but her story soon crumbled. Sally was arrested and charged with depraved indifference, murder, and manslaughter. A prosecution affadavit alleged that she had taped Logan into her high chair, and taped her mouth shut. Sally waived her right to a jury trial, and a judge concluded that she had not intentionally killed Logan. But he found her guilty of manslaughter and sentenced her to 20 years in prison.

Caseworker Allison Peters testified at the trial, but was never asked about her failure to respond to Logan’s complaints about Sally. She was placed on paid administrative leave for a month, and has since left DHS. No formal disciplinary action was taken against any DHS employees in connection with Logan’s death, although the case prompted the state legislature to initiate two investigations of the department.

Bailey was moved to a third foster home after her sister’s death. For the next year, Christy battled with DHS to get her back. Finally, in February 2002, she was returned to Christy for good.

Somer Thompson Someone Knows The Answer to The Question

The Search for the Killer of Somer Thompson
News Type: Event — Thu Oct 22, 2009 7:52 AM EDT

Somer Thompson
us-news, florida, fbi, kidnapped
Clint Van Zandt

The body of a 7-year-old Florida girl who has been missing since 3 PM on Monday has been found in a landfill some 60 miles from her home. Evidently good police work led to following the trash truck pickups from the victim’s neighborhood to a local site, and then on to the south Georgia landfill. Landfills keep records as to where each truck load of trash is deposited, and as investigators were quick to follow up on this potential, they were also quick to find the victim’s body, initially identified by a birthmark on her knee, as it lay among the tons of trash.
This finding now suggests that after the victim was kidnapped, her body was somehow disposed of, like so much trash, that wound up in a dumpster and eventually found its way to the landfill. Were if not for the quick thinking of investigators tons more of trash and dirt would have been placed over the victim’s body and she would likely never have been found, becoming, like Natalle Holloway, another missing child who now stays the same age in the mind of her parents forever.

The FBI’s Evidence Response Team is responsible for recovering the victim’s body and other potential evidence from the landfill. Her hands and feet will be placed in plastic bags to protect any potential evidence, like skin cells under her nails that could be that of her killer and later identified by DNA. Other evidence found on and near her body will be bagged and retained, noting there could have been some type of transference from the victim to her killer, or the opposite, evidence that could link someone to the young girls death. Identifiable items that can be traced to a particular address that are found with the victim’s body may also help investigators identify the exact location where the victim’s body was placed in the trash that was subsequently transferred to the Georgia land fill.

The landfill is but one of perhaps four different crime scenes to be identified, to include where her body was recovered, the means used by her killer to transport her body (perhaps a car), the location where she was assaulted and likely murdered, and the location where she was originally confronted by her killer.

There appears to be a very small window of opportunity for a kidnapper/predator to have taken Somer. We know that on Monday afternoon she walked the one mile from her grade school to her home accompanied by her twin brother and at least one older sibling, plus a few neighborhood children. There are reports that some kind of argument took place and that the victim ran ahead of this group of children, running out of their sight on her way to her home. Evidently she never arrived. If this is the case, it appears that there would have been at best a 5 – 10 minute window for a kidnapper to take her. When she was found to be missing her mother was called at work and she came home and notified authorities. This time lag in reporting, perhaps 1 to 1 1/2 hours from the time Somer was taken, would have been critical in a missing person investigation and would, of course, have given her kidnapper a head start against authorities.

Somer’s biological father has been separated from Somer’s mother and their children for a few years, and now lives in N. Carolina. Evidently Somer’s mother has a current boyfriend, a person the media has not discussed. He is someone whose whereabouts and activities need to be accounted for as part of this investigation. The challenge here is that either someone was waiting for the opportunity to kidnap a child in that neighborhood and saw his chance when the lone and possible distraught 7-year-old walked down the street, or a stalker or child predator knew full well of the children in the neighborhood, had targeted the victim and seized his chance. Either way children as young as Somer should never walk alone and the childish spat she had may well have allowed her to be targeted in this terrible manner.

Investigators have located the 100+ registered sexual predators in the area around her home while hundreds of others can be found in nearby communities. Neighbors will be interviewed to determine if they saw Somer this past Monday, and a search continues for her missing book bag.

Statistically every three days a child becomes a victim like Somer apparently has, a victim of abuse, assault and murder. While we do not yet know the identity of the person responsible for her death, should he be a known sexual predator, it would be but one more case crying out for a national one-strike law for such offenders. Meanwhile Florida 6-year-old Haleigh Cummings has not been seen since February 2009 and her abductor also remains unidentified, this while John Couey, the sex offender convicted of the February 2005 murder of Florida 9-year-old Jessica Lunsford, died in prison last month.

Every community has its share of registered sex offenders, most of whom are not potential killers, but should someone violently offend against a child like Somer or Haleigh or Jessica, we should work to insure they never see the light of day again as a free man or woman. We, as a society, need to reconsider our incarceration of minor drug offenders and others that do not prey on children and reserve our jail cells for the true predators of our land, like John Couey. The “average” sexual predator will offend against 117 children before he is dealt with by the criminal justice system, leaving 117 victims who may never be able to forget their abuse at the hands of their offenders. One such California offender kept records of over 30,000 of the children he victimized. These are the individuals that need to be removed from our streets so they can no longer threaten or harm our children again.

UPDATE – 10/28/09

As part of a general criminal profile, the FBI provided investigators with the following to share with the public in an attempt to develop information concerning Thompson’s suspected killer:

The FBI believes there are people in the community that have information about the crime, but are not coming forward because they don’t feel that their information is relevant to the investigation. Investigators believe that there are specific traits that people may not immediately recognize but want people to think about. Some of these traits could be:

-Anyone that may have left the area for a seemingly plausible reason on or around the day Somer disappeared on Oct. 19.

-The suspect may have missed work recently.

-Any unexplained injuries, such as cuts to the hands, arms or head.

-An unnatural interest in the investigation particularly to media coverage.

-Increased nervousness.

-Facial hair changes.

-Someone that may have abandoned their vehicle recently, such as selling it, giving it away, or hiding it in a garage.

-A sudden change in religious beliefs; either becoming more religious or less religious.

-An unusual change in sleep patterns.

-An increase in drug or alcohol use.

————————————————————-

For a free copy of our DVD, “Protecting Children from Predators,” go to http://www.LiveSecure.org. We’ve given away thousands and the information contained in the DVD can help save lives!

{“contentId”:”3410915″,”authorDomain”:”clintvanzandt”}
2 Votes
Enjoy this article? Help vote it up the ‘Vine.
Share