The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services had prior contact with the families or caretakers of 59 children who died from abuse or neglect between July 1, 2012, and June 30, 2014, with one more case from 2014 still under investigation. That’s according to a Chicago Sun-Times and WBEZ analysis of the most recent yearly reports by the state child-welfare agency’s Office of Inspector General. What follows are the inspector general’s descriptions of the deaths, all of which occurred within a year of DCFS’s involvement.: The inspector general identifies the children only by number.
Fiscal year 2014 DCFS-involved abuse and neglect deaths: 29, with one case still under investigation
Children who died from abuse: 10
Death under investigation for potential abuse: 1
Children who died from neglect: 19, including 10 sleep-related/rollover deaths, five of which involved drug use
Fiscal year 2013 DCFS-involved abuse and neglect deaths: 30
Children who died from abuse: 13
Children who died from neglect: 17, including 14 sleep-related/rollover deaths, one of which involved drug use
2014 ABUSE DEATHS (10)
Child No. 2
Age: 8 ½ years old
Cause of death: Strangulation and multiple blunt force injuries
Eight-year-old girl, who lived with her 27-year-old father and 51-year-old grandmother, was found dead on arrival, covered with injuries, by police who were called to the home. The grandmother told police that the child caused her own injuries, intentionally running into furniture and hurting herself because her mother was not visiting regularly. At autopsy the child was found to have fractures, puncture wounds and ligature marks. The father and grandmother were arrested and charged with first-degree murder. They were denied bail. The father has since died from natural causes. The grandmother is in jail awaiting trial.
Prior history: The father had gained temporary custody of the child through domestic relations court in November 2012. The Department was not involved with the family at that time. In April 2013, the father reported that the 8-year-old had disclosed that her mother’s boyfriend had molested her. During the investigation of that allegation, the child disclosed that another boyfriend of the mother’s had molested her earlier, prompting a second concurrent investigation. The child participated in two forensic interviews and a medical exam. The investigation was not well-coordinated despite the involvement of a child advocacy center. Though the child reported military style discipline at the grandmother’s house to a child advocacy center interviewer, there was no further investigation into that practice. A doctor at a clinic located in a child advocacy center noted the child had faded linear marks, but when the doctor asked the child about them in front of the grandmother, the grandmother answered for the child. The doctor verbally informed the child protection investigator that the exam was normal, not adding the information about the observation of marks or the grandmother’s explanation that the child self-inflicted the injuries. The child protection investigator did not read the full medical report and never asked follow-up questions. In addition, though the father reported the child was seeing a counselor, the counselor was not contacted. The reports were unfounded because no concrete evidence of sexual abuse was found and the timeframes for when the abuse allegedly occurred did not fit.
Child No. 3
Age: 5 months old
Cause of death: Suffocation
Five-month-old infant was killed by his mother’s 26-year-old boyfriend. The 25-year-old mother had recently separated from the father and moved in with a new boyfriend. The boyfriend confessed to police that he placed his hand over the baby’s mouth while the baby was crying, then put him in a backpack and disposed of his body in a garbage dumpster. The boyfriend pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and was sentenced to 30 years in prison. He was indicated for death by abuse to the infant. At the time of the infant’s death, the infant’s 17-month-old brother was with the father. Both parents had limited intellectual functioning. The couple had four older children who were in foster care. The mother and father were indicated for substantial risk of physical injury by neglect to the surviving 17-month-old. The toddler entered foster care in December 2013. A sibling born in March 2014 is also in foster care. The four oldest children have goals of substitute care pending court determination on termination of parental rights, and the two youngest have goals of return home.
Prior history: The Department first became involved with the family four years earlier when the parents were indicated for bone fractures by neglect and medical neglect to one of their children, then 2 years old. The family refused services. Between 2009 and 2011 three reports were investigated and unfounded and were unavailable for review. Toward the end of 2011 the couple’s four children entered foster care following indicated allegations of environmental neglect. A fifth child, born in March 2012, was allowed to remain in the couple’s custody. A year later the mother and father were indicated for substantial risk of physical injury by neglect to the child because of unresolved issues and allegations of domestic abuse. By April 2013 police determined the mother fabricated the allegations of domestic violence against the father. The newborn sixth child was allowed to remain at home with the toddler sibling. The investigator determined the parents were meeting minimum parenting standards and a private agency was involved with the family as they were monitoring the placement case as well as the two siblings at home. The Office of the Inspector General has made previous recommendations regarding services to developmentally disabled parents and the inadequacy of placement workers also being responsible for monitoring children left in the parents’ care.
Child No. 4
Age: 5 years old
Cause of death: Cardiac rhythm disturbances precipitated by blunt force injury to the chest
Five-year-old boy became unresponsive while in the care of his mother’s 24-year-old boyfriend. It was the boy’s fifth birthday, and his 27-year-old mother was out shopping for birthday presents. The boyfriend admitted to striking the boy in the chest with his fist. The boy’s 7 ½-year-old brother was taken into custody and found to have multiple marks, lacerations and bruises from abuse. The boyfriend was charged with first-degree murder and aggravated battery of a child. The mother was charged with endangering the life or health of a child because she was aware of her boyfriend’s treatment of her children. The boyfriend was indicated for death by abuse to the boy and for cuts, bruises, welts by abuse and substantial risk of physical injury by abuse to his brother. The mother was indicated for death by neglect to the boy and for cuts, bruises, welts by neglect to his brother. The brother is placed in the care of a relative. He has a permanency goal of return home. The mother gave birth to a third boy in March 2014; the father is the boyfriend. The mother was allowed to keep the infant pursuant to a one-year court order of supervision.
Prior history: In February 2013, a teacher at the brother’s school called the hotline to report the 6 ½-year-old child had disclosed that his stomach hurt because he was hit with a belt buckle in the stomach by his mother’s boyfriend. The teacher said he had no visible injury, and she had talked to the mother about it. A report was taken for investigation of substantial risk of physical injury by abuse to the child by his mother’s boyfriend. While that report was pending, in March 2013, the principal at the child’s school called to report the child had a bump on his head, and he was afraid if he told what happened his mother would hurt him. A report was taken for investigation of cuts, bruises, welts by abuse to the child by his mother. Both investigations were unfounded after talking to the child, her mother and boyfriend, the maternal grandmother and a nurse at the primary care physician’s office. Both the mother and maternal grandmother characterized the child as a liar.
Child No. 6
Age: 3 ½ months old
Cause of death: Suffocation
Three-and-a-half-month-old infant was reportedly found unresponsive on the floor in the early morning by her 27-year-old stepmother. Her 30-year-old father was at work. The stepmother reported that she placed the swaddled baby in her swing between 9 and 9:30 p.m. She checked on her at midnight and she appeared fine. The stepmother said she awoke at 3:50 a.m. and found the baby face down on the ground, still swaddled, but not breathing. At autopsy, the infant was found to have multiple fractures of the ribs and extremities, healing and recent appearing. A police investigation is ongoing. The DCFS investigation is completed. The infant’s 2 ½-year-old sister and 6 ½-year-old half-sister were taken into custody and are placed in relative foster care. DCFS indicated the stepmother for death by abuse to the infant and for substantial risk of physical injury to the infant’s sisters. The father was indicated for bone fractures by abuse.
Prior history: In March 2013, while pregnant with the infant, the 23-year-old mother and her 24-year-old boyfriend were investigated and indicated for cuts, bruises, welts to the infant’s 1 ½-year-old sister, and an intact family services case was opened while the investigator sought the filing of a petition for court involvement. In June 2013, the court awarded custody and guardianship of the sister to the father. When the infant was born in September 2013, the mother was indicated for substantial risk of physical injury by neglect, and the infant went to live with her father when she was discharged from the hospital. In October 2013, the father took the infant to the hospital with a spiral femur claiming her 2-year-old sister fell on top of the infant’s leg. The infant had bruising on her head, face and chest. The stepmother was at work at the time. While the emergency room doctor felt the explanation was plausible, the admitting doctor, experienced in child abuse and neglect, did not. The father, when questioned and confronted by police, admitted he lied and that he actually fell asleep three times while holding the infant, with her falling out of his arms each time. The final time, he grabbed her by the leg as she fell, causing the break. The child abuse doctor then opined that it could not be determined whether the injuries were inflicted or accidental given the father’s second explanation, as it could explain the infant’s injuries. The father was indicated for bone fractures by neglect. The injuries and the children were allowed to remain in the father’s care.
Child No. 8
Age: 6 ½ years old
Cause of death: Blunt force trauma to the head and abdomen, scalding burns
Six-year-old boy was beaten to death by his mother’s 39-year-old husband (who was listed as his father on an amended birth certificate though he was not the biological father). The 30-year-old mother was present in the home at the time of the beating. The mother pleaded guilty to child abuse and has been sentenced to four to ten years. The father pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and has been sentenced to 100 to 150 years.
Prior history: The deceased was the mother’s fourth of seven children. She gave birth to her first child as a teen in 1999 and made a plan for her parents to raise the child. Her first contact with the Department was in April 2006 when her then 17-month-old child was taken into custody after she left the child with relatives without a care plan. The maternal grandparents’ health problems prevented them from being able to take the child so the toddler was placed in traditional foster care. The mother was inconsistent in maintaining contact with her worker and participating in services. In June 2006 the mother gave birth to a baby she was allowed to keep because she had stable housing and was visiting her child in care consistently. In October 2006 a report of medical neglect on the baby was unfounded after the mother took the baby to the doctor. In June 2007 the mother gave birth to the deceased. She left the violent boyfriend she had been involved with, sought an order of protection, and moved into a domestic violence shelter. The mother participated in services, but her counselor noted that she was not making progress in counseling. The mother again became less consistent in services, though the children in her care appeared healthy. In June 2008 the mother stopped visiting her child in care. The case was taken to legal screening and the mother’s parental rights were terminated and the child was later adopted. In June 2012, four years later, relatives of the mother’s husband, with whom the family was living, reported that the husband had whipped the mother’s six-year-old child and left marks. The six-year-old and then five-year-old (the deceased) confirmed the report. The two children and their six-month-old sibling were taken into protective custody. The court awarded custody of the five and six-year-old children to the Department but returned the six-month-old child to the parents, saying there was no indication of abuse to the baby. The older children initially remained with relatives but were later moved to traditional foster care when questions arose about the appropriateness of the caretakers. In November 2012 the parents moved out of state without informing the worker until after moving. The worker advised the parents that they needed to locate services in their new state in order to complete their service plan. The worker made a call to the neighboring state’s hotline but the report was taken as information only. In August 2013 the worker noted that the parents had visited the children only once since moving, had not kept in touch with the worker, and had not completed several elements of their service plan. When the worker found out the mother had given birth to another baby in the other state she informed the parents that the case would be taken to legal screening. In September 2013, the adjudicatory hearing was held. The case was dismissed on a motion from the State and the children were ordered returned home to the parents. The worker transported the children to the neighboring state and the case was closed. Following the child’s death the mother gave birth to a seventh child. The parents’ rights have been terminated on all of the children.
Child No. 10
Age at death: 19 months old
Cause of death: Subdural hematoma due to closed head injury due to assault
Nineteen-month-old toddler was discovered deceased in the woods with burns covering 80 percent of her body. Approximately two days prior, the child’s 23-year-old mother reported the toddler missing after arriving to her 23-year-old boyfriend’s home and finding him outside searching for the girl. The mother had left her daughter with the boyfriend while she went to work. An autopsy revealed that the toddler’s death resulted from abusive head trauma and the burns were post-mortem. The boyfriend admitted he caused the injuries that resulted in the child’s death and he was charged with murder. He also was indicated for death by abuse. The mother was not investigated.
Prior history: A month prior to the toddler’s death, a daycare worker called the hotline to report that the toddler had bruising and scratches to her face. The investigator interviewed the reporter, the mother, and the maternal grandmother and was informed that what appeared to be injuries to the child were symptoms of an allergic reaction. The mother had taken the child to the emergency room on the day the bruising was noted and the child was diagnosed with gingivitis and oral thrush. The investigation was pending at the time of the child’s death and has since been unfounded.
Child No. 11
Age: 2 ½ years old
Cause of death: Multiple blunt force injuries due to child abuse
Two-and-a-half-year-old child was reportedly found unresponsive in the afternoon lying on an air mattress by her 21-year-old father who called 911. The father reported that the child had fallen off of a chair that morning and hit her head and was fine except for wanting to lie down. First responders found the child covered in bruises and already deceased. The child had been living with her father and his 28-year-old girlfriend for about three weeks. The father was her only caregiver that day; his girlfriend was at work. The father was charged with first-degree murder. He was indicated for death by abuse. The child’s 24-year-old mother was indicated for substantial risk of physical injury by neglect to the child.
Prior history: The father was a ward of the Department from March 2010 until he was emancipated in August 2013. In March 2013, a hospital social worker called the hotline to report that the mother and maternal grandmother had brought the child to the hospital with bruising to her face and buttocks and scratches to her back. The child had been staying with her father when she sustained the injuries. The doctor who examined the child said that in her best medical opinion, the child’s injuries were the result of physical abuse. The father was indicated for cuts, bruises, welts by abuse to the child, who returned home with her mother and grandmother who lived in a neighboring state. The father’s caseworker was advised of the indicated finding against the father. Five days before he was emancipated, the father told his caseworker that his daughter was staying with him and that he had been her caretaker for two-and-a-half-weeks. The caseworker did not see the child or call the hotline.
Child No. 14
Age: 6 weeks old
Cause of death: Subdural hemorrhage
Six-week-old infant was found unresponsive in his crib by his 35-year-old foster father. The child was taken by ambulance to the hospital where he was found to have severe head injuries and non-displaced fractures to two of his right ribs. Medical professionals determined the trauma occurred within two hours prior to the foster father’s call for emergency services. The infant was in the foster father’s sole care during that time period. The baby’s foster mother was at work and the infant’s agency supervised visit with his mother earlier that day was uneventful. The foster father, who had no criminal history and no prior child abuse history, was charged with first-degree murder. He also was indicated for death by abuse.
Prior history: In 2012, the infant’s sibling entered foster care following an indicated finding against the mother for leaving the sibling, then 6 months old, home alone in the care of the sibling’s father, a registered sex offender. The father had been found guilty of aggravated criminal sexual abuse of a victim under age 13 and aggravated criminal sexual abuse of a victim between the ages of 13 and 16. The mother had previously been informed by the Department and local police that the sibling was not to be left alone with the father. The sibling was placed in a home of relative with her paternal uncle, his wife, and their 1-year-old son. After his birth, the infant was removed from his mother’s care because of her finding of unfitness regarding the sibling and her failure to participate in services. The infant was placed with his 2–year-old sibling, who was in the process of being adopted by her relative foster parents, who also had their own 3-year-old son. Following the infant’s death, the sibling was removed from the home and placed in a traditional foster home. The foster parents’ son was also removed from the home because of concerns raised about the foster mother’s continued support of her husband. He is placed with his maternal grandmother.
Child No. 16
Age: 16 months old
Cause of death: Complications of asphyxia due to suffocation
Sixteen-month-old child died three weeks after being suffocated by his mother’s 24-year-old best friend. The child, his 24-year-old mother and her 25-year-old boyfriend were spending the night at the friend’s home. The boy awoke during the night and the friend got up to tend to him and became frustrated because the mother and her boyfriend were sleeping while she was caring for the child. The friend said the boy grabbed her shirt and bit her breast and she responded by squeezing his head and neck in the crook of her arm for 10 to 12 minutes until he went limp. The friend has been charged with first-degree murder. She was also indicated for death by abuse.
Prior history: In December 2013, an intact family services case was opened after the mother was indicated on a report of environmental neglect because of the condition of her home. The mother cleaned her home and maintained its condition. At the time of the child’s death, the mother was participating in services including counseling, parenting training, and early intervention services for her child.
Child No. 45
Age: 8 months old
Cause of death: Pending
Eight-month-old infant died in the hospital a few days after being removed from life support. In June 2014 the infant was taken to a hospital in critical condition and was admitted to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit where he was placed on life support. The infant was diagnosed with multiple intracranial hemorrhages. CT scans showed both old and new brain bleeding. The mother’s 23-year-old boyfriend, who was babysitting the infant and two of his three siblings (4-year-old twin boys), reported that he heard the baby crying and found one of the twins in the crib with the infant. He said he picked up the infant and took him into another room where he lapsed into unconsciousness. Autopsy and coroner findings are pending and police and DCFS investigations are pending. The infant’s three siblings, who were initially in a safety plan, entered foster care in July. They are placed with relatives.
Prior history: In March 2014, a caseworker called the hotline to report that her 19-year-old client, who had untreated mental health issues and had lost custody of her own child, was living in the home and babysitting the children while their 24-year-old mother went out all night. The reporter said the home was filthy and smelled of marijuana. A report was taken for substantial risk of physical injury and environmental neglect. The report was unfounded because the investigation showed that the babysitter had not been left unsupervised with the children and while the home was cluttered, it was not unsafe.
2014 POTENTIAL ABUSE DEATH STILL UNDER INVESTIGATION (1)
Child No. 30
Age: 2 years old
Cause of death: Undetermined (pending)
Two-year-old child was pronounced dead at the hospital where her 30-year-old mother took her, stating she had stopped breathing. The child had multiple injuries over multiple planes of her body and hair loss at the time of her death. A police investigation is pending as is a child protection investigation for death by abuse by the mother and her 30-year-old boyfriend and substantial risk of physical injury by abuse to the boyfriend’s 8-year-old daughter who was visiting her father, but is now in the care of her mother.
Prior history: One week before the child’s death, paternal relatives called the hotline concerned that they had witnessed injuries and hair loss on the child while she was visiting the previous weekend. A report was taken against the mother for investigation of cuts, bruises, welts by abuse; it was pending at the time of the child’s death. An investigator had seen the child and spoken with the mother, her
boyfriend, the father, paternal relatives, daycare provider, and a nurse at the child’s doctor’s office where the child was seen the day before she died. She had been diagnosed with a viral infection, reactive airway disease and alopecia.
2014 NON-SLEEP RELATED NEGLECT CASES (9)
Child No. 32
Age: 3 years old
Cause of death: Undetermined
Three-year-old boy was found unresponsive in bed just before midnight by his 29-year-old mother. She reported that he had been tired all day and slept most of the evening after 4:00 p.m. until she took him to her 34-year-old boyfriend’s home where they planned to spend the night. The mother reported the boyfriend was picking up his son with her car when she found her own son unresponsive. She called him to return home and they took the boy to the hospital where he was cold to the touch and pronounced deceased. At autopsy the boy was found to have two healing rib fractures; healing human bite marks to his back (possibly adult or child); and bruising to his arms, back, testicles, and abdomen. The boy had been seen by his pediatrician three days earlier for cellulitis (bacterial skin infection), but the doctor did not conduct a full body exam. Police and DCFS investigated. Police suspended their investigation without any charges. DCFS indicated the mother for death by neglect; cuts, bruises, welts by neglect; and human bites by neglect. The boy was an only child. His 33-year-old father was not involved in his care.
Prior history: In July 2013, a hospital nurse called the hotline reporting the child had bruises on his forehead, his palms, and his chest; and he was pale and lethargic. His mother reported that he had been hit by a swing at the park three days earlier and had been vomiting ever since. She also reported he played rough and had hit his head on a table. The Department opened an investigation for cuts, bruises, welts by neglect against the boy’s mother. The boy was transferred to another hospital for an enlarged liver and elevated enzymes. The second hospital was not concerned about abuse or trauma, but treated the boy for anemia. The maternal grandparents, with whom the mother and child lived, reported the child was very active and that the mother would never harm him. The investigation was unfounded. The investigator offered services, but the mother refused them.
Child No. 33
Age: 22 months old
Cause of death: Acute methadone toxicity
Twenty-two-month-old toddler was found unresponsive on the living-room sofa by her 22-year-old mother. The mother reported she last saw her child alive at approximately midnight when the child was on the sofa watching television. The mother initially reported that she went to bed leaving the child on the sofa and her two siblings, ages 4 and 5, in the living room asleep. The mother awokearound noon to find the toddler lifeless on the sofa with a bottle of methadone- without a childproof cap-next to the child. The methadone had been prescribed for the mother’s bedridden husband’s palliative care. The mother called an ambulance and the child was pronounced dead at the scene. The mother later recanted her account of going to bed and leaving the child on the sofa and admitted that she left the home to party with a boyfriend, leaving the children in the care of her bedridden husband. The mother was arrested and charged with child endangerment. She is being electronically monitored while the charges are pending. The mother was indicated for death by neglect to the toddler and for substantial risk of physical injury by neglect to the surviving siblings. The surviving siblings, who were initially placed in a safety plan with relatives, are at home and an intact family services case is open.
Prior history: In September 2013 the mother’s 3-year-old daughter went to school with a red and swollen eye. The school counselor contacted the hotline with an allegation of cuts, bruises, welts after the child reported her mother hit her in the face a belt. The child told a child protection investigator that her cousin hit her and did not state she was hit by her mother. The mother took the child to the doctor at the request of the investigator. The investigation was unfounded. In February 2014 the same child, went to school with a bruise under her eye and stated that her mother hit her in the eye. When the child was questioned by a child protection investigator, she gave several explanations for the injury, including being hit by her mother and being hit by her 5-year-old sister. The investigation was pending at the time of the child’s death. It was subsequently unfounded.
Child No. 44
Age: 14 months old
Cause of death: Pending
Five-month-old twin baby girl was discovered unresponsive by her 19-year-old mother around 10:00 a.m. The mother and twins had spent the night at a relative’s home. The mother, who was 7 months pregnant, slept on a blanket on the floor with the twins. The mother last saw the baby girl alive around 5:00 a.m. when the baby woke her with her movement. She placed the baby back on the blanket next to her and went back to sleep. She awoke around 9:30 a.m. and her twin baby boy was awake. She made a phone call, brushed her teeth, and fed the baby boy a bottle. Around 10:30 a.m. she realized she didn’t hear the baby girl breathing, picked her up, and learned she was unresponsive. A child protection investigation of the infant’s death is pending. The surviving twin entered foster care in July 2014. A baby born in August entered care following her birth.
Prior history: A May 2013 report of substantial risk of physical injury by neglect to the mother’s twin infants, who were hospitalized at the time, was unfounded. The mother was offered services but refused them. A June 2014 report of medical neglect to the infant was pending at the time of her death.
Children Nos. 53 and 54
Ages at death: 8 years old and 2 years old
Cause of death: Spinal injuries due to blunt force trauma
Eight and 2-year-old siblings were killed in a car crash on a highway. Their 27-year-old mother was also killed; their 5 and 6-year-old siblings were seriously injured; and their 31-year-old father was injured. A van crashed into the family’s vehicle while it was stopped in a lane of traffic on the highway around 5:30 in the morning. The children were not properly restrained in the vehicle. The father, who was driving, had a blood alcohol content of .10. A police investigation did not find anything wrong with the vehicle to explain why it stopped on the highway. The father was charged with driving under the influence. He was indicated for death by neglect to the two deceased children and head injuries by neglect to the two surviving children, who are in foster care. One child is placed with a paternal great-aunt and the other is in a licensed placement with a foster parent trained to manage her special needs as a result of the accident. The father is participating in services and the girls have a court set permanency goal of return home in five months.
Prior history: The parents were indicated in 2010 for death by neglect after their 2-month-old son died from asphyxiation from co-sleeping in an adult bed with them after the father drank alcohol and the mother smoked marijuana. A 2-year-old was also in the bed. The baby’s death followed an incident of domestic violence between the parents two days earlier in which the mother was arrested. The children entered foster care and three months later, in January 2011, the court returned them home under a supervision order. After completing assessments and services requested of them, the parents regained guardianship of their children in July 2011 and the case was closed. At the time of the children’s and mother’s deaths, there was a pending investigation, initiated in September 2013, when the parents brought their 2-year-old son to the emergency room with scratches and bruises to his face that they alleged occurred that day at day care. They also filed a police report. Following the child’s death, the investigation was unfounded because it could not be determined how the child obtained the injuries or who was responsible for them.
Child No. 60
Age: 3 years old
Cause of death: Thermal injuries due to apartment fire
Three-year-old child died in an apartment fire. The child and her twin were in their bedroom playing when the child set a mattress on fire with a lighter. The twin alerted her 39-year-old mother to the fire and the mother ran into the bedroom and tried to push the mattress out of the window, but opening the window caused the flames to spread. The mattress had been propped up near the window because it had bed bugs. The mother, the twin, the mother’s 18-year-old daughter, and 8-month-old grandson made it out of the residence, but the mother could not find the child, who was later found by firefighters on the floor near the window in the room where the fire originated. The mother’s 12-year-old daughter was at school at the time of the fire. There was a smoke detector in the hallway of the apartment building, but it was not working. DCFS investigated the child’s death. The mother was indicated for death by neglect. She reported that she had repeatedly admonished the child not to play with lighters. However, she left the child unattended in a room with access to a lighter. She also was indicated for substantial risk of physical injury to the surviving twin. The children were removed from the mother’s custody; they are placed in a foster home together and have a goal of return home.
Prior history: In April 2013, an anonymous reporter called the hotline to report that she had found the 2-year-old twin girls outside unattended around 5:00 p.m. A report was taken for investigation of inadequate supervision. The mother was unaware that the children were outside because everyone in the home had been napping. The mother agreed to install safety chains in the residence to which they were soon moving. The mother was indicated for inadequate supervision and was referred to community services. In December 2013, the non-custodial father of the twins called the hotline alleging the children were inadequately fed and supervised. The investigator observed food in the home and talked to 17 and 19-year-old siblings who reported caring for their younger siblings when their mother was not home. The father admitted to making up the allegations because he was mad that he wasn’t getting enough visitation with his children. The report was unfounded.
Child No. 62
Age: 3 ½ years old
Cause of death: Smoke inhalation and thermal burns
Three-year-old girl died from smoke inhalation and thermal burns sustained in a fire in her family’s home at approximately 12:00 a.m. A boarder in the home was able to rescue the girl’s twin sister from the first floor living room where the twins slept. The girl could not be located because of the intense smoke and fire emanating from the room. The girl’s 32-year-old mother, whom the boarder reported was intoxicated, escaped through a second floor window. The 34-year-old father was not home, the girl’s 13-year-old sister was out of town visiting her grandmother, and her older brother lived with his maternal grandparents. At the time of the fire the home had been without electricity for two weeks. The boarder reported that the parents were using the stove to heat the home and a lit candle was in use on the first floor. A fire department investigation was unable to determine the origin of the fire. The mother was indicated for death by neglect and substantial risk of physical injury to the surviving children. They are in relative foster care.
Prior history: In July 2012, an intact family services case was opened after the mother and her husband were indicated for substance misuse and inadequate supervision to the mother’s 12-year-old son and his 12-year-old friend because they allowed them to consume alcohol and joined the youths in using crack cocaine. While the intact family services case was open, four additional hotline calls were accepted for investigation. In August 2013 the parents were investigated for burns to their 3-year-old daughter. The case was unfounded after the investigation determined that the child suffered from an infection and was receiving medical care. In September 2013 the mother was investigated for inadequate supervision. She was indicated after an investigation revealed that her 3-year-old daughter was left unattended in the family’s back yard and was found wandering three blocks away. In January 2014 the parents were investigated for allegations of inadequate food and substance misuse. The investigation determined that there was adequate food and the 13-year-old child denied that her parents had provided her with alcohol. The family’s caseworker saw the family in the month before the girl’s death. The parents had not been participating in services and three days before the fire the caseworker had completed the paperwork to request a petition for a temporary custody hearing.
Child No. 67
Age: 14 ½ years old
Cause of death: Bronchial asthma
Almost fifteen-year-old boy was taken to the hospital by ambulance and became unresponsive in the emergency room where he died. Earlier that day the teen had been having trouble breathing and gave himself a nebulizer treatment. According to his 40-year-old mother, he did not finish the treatment, saying he felt better. He left to go play basketball with a friend, but the friend’s mother called the teen’s mother ten minutes later to let her know that he could not breathe. The mother was indicated for death by neglect to the teen because of a documented history of not following through with aftercare treatment for her son’s asthma, including being indicated on two prior occasions when she was unavailable to pick up her son after he was hospitalized from asthma attacks. She also was indicated for medical neglect of one of the teen’s siblings and for substantial risk of physical injury by neglect to all four surviving siblings. The mother was offered intact family services, but she refused them. DCFS took protective custody of the children and the court awarded the Department temporary custody.
Prior history: The family has a history with DCFS dating to 2006 when the Department indicated the mother for burns by neglect to her 4-year-old child. Eight child protection investigations occurred between May 2012 and August 2013, with seven of them being indicated against the mother for neglect allegations. The mother consistently refused to participate in intact family services, but voluntarily made arrangements for her children to stay with family members for extended periods of time.
Child No. 72
Age: 15 months old
Cause of death: Acute asthmatic reaction and acute bronchopneumonia due to chronic
Fifteen-month-old toddler was found unresponsive around 9:45 a.m. by his 37-year-old father, who called 911. The toddler was last seen alive at 6:00 a.m. when his father administered a breathing treatment to him, which he did every four hours. The father was indicated for death by neglect and for medical neglect to the toddler because he had not been giving him a recently prescribed preventive medication on a daily basis as prescribed and because he had missed a follow-up appointment to have the child’s lungs re-checked. He was also indicated for substantial risk of physical injury by neglect to the toddler’s 3-year-old brother. The brother was placed in relative foster care with a maternal aunt. In September 2014 both parents signed specific consents to allow the aunt to adopt him.
Prior history: The toddler was in foster care following his substance-exposed birth until he was 7 months old when his father was awarded custody and guardianship by the court. The father was already caring for his older brother because of the mother’s substance abuse. In August 2014, an anonymous individual called the hotline and an investigation was opened for allegations of inadequate food and environmental neglect. While that investigation was pending, a second call was made to the hotline, twelve days before the toddler’s death, with concerns about drug use by the father. The father showed the investigator the prescription medication he was taking and admitted to using marijuana two weeks earlier. The investigator called the local police who denied any contact with the father or his home; and spoke to the father’s former caseworker and a community professional working with the father, who described the children as well-cared for by their father. Fifteen days before the toddler’s death, the investigator spoke with the child’s primary care physician who reported the father had brought the child in for a visit two weeks earlier because of concerns about his breathing. At that visit the toddler was diagnosed with bronchialitis, but was not yet diagnosed with asthma. He was prescribed albuterol, a nebulizer, and Singulair to be taken every day. The doctor reported that the father seemed concerned about the boys and that the child was due for a one year checkup, but did not tell the investigator that the father had not returned to have the child’s lungs rechecked one to two days after his last appointment as recommended. Both investigations were unfounded after the child’s death.
2014 SLEEP-RELATED NEGLECT CASES (10)
Child No. 18
Age: 4 ½ months old
Cause of death: Sudden Unexpected Death in Infancy with history of co-sleeping
Four-and-a-half-month-old infant was found unresponsive around 9:30 a.m. by his mother. The infant had been co-sleeping in a king-sized bed with his 30-year-old mother and 23-year-old father. He was last seen alive at 2:30 a.m. when he was fed a bottle. The mother and father admitted to smoking marijuana and drinking alcohol before going to sleep. The mother’s BAC was .10 ten hours after going to bed. There was a crib in the home. The parents were charged with felony endangering a child causing death. They were indicated for death by neglect. An intact family services case is open to provide services to the mother and her three daughters. Since the infant’s death, the Department referred the case to the State’s Attorney’s Office for a petition to be filed for an order of supervision, but the State’s Attorney has not done so.
Prior history: Between April 2012 and the infant’s death, there were four child protection investigations on the mother involving physical abuse; substantial risk of physical injury due to gang activity by the mother’s boyfriend, the infant’s father; and substantial risk of physical injury because of the mother’s alcohol problem. An intact family services case was open from February 2013 to October 2013 when it was closed for non-cooperation. In January 2014, the Department met with the State’s Attorney’s Office requesting a petition be filed for an order of supervision after one of the mother’s daughters reported the mother was drinking and passing out while caring for the infant. The State’s Attorney’s Office did not feel there was enough evidence to file a petition.
Child No. 24
Age: 2 months old
Cause of death: Undetermined
Two-month-old infant was found unresponsive by her 18-year-old mother. The mother had fed the infant at about 3:00 a.m. After feeding her the mother laid on the couch with the baby on her chest and they both fell asleep. When mother awoke, they were both on the floor. The mother and her children were staying at a relative’s home. DCFS investigated the infant’s death. Mother was indicated for death by neglect and substantial risk of physical injury by neglect to the one-year-old sibling. The sibling was taken into protective custody but the case did not pass legal screening. An intact family services case was opened. The mother was not compliant with services and the sibling eventually entered foster care and is in a relative foster placement.
Prior history: In June 2013, just prior to the infant’s birth, an anonymous report contacted the hotline and reported that the teen-age mother was homeless and often walked the streets at night with her child because she had nowhere to live. It was also reported that the mother would call relatives begging for money because she had no food. Allegations of inadequate food and inadequate shelter were taken for investigation. The report was unfounded three days prior to the infant’s death. Mother denied being homeless. She and an aunt reported that mother was in the process of moving to Wisconsin and had been staying with family and friends.
Child No. 28
Age: 5 weeks
Cause of death: Undetermined, cannot exclude overlay or suffocation
Five-week-old infant was found unresponsive around 5:00 a.m. by his 28-year-old parents. The infant had been sleeping on a queen-sized bed between his parents while his 2 ½ year-old sibling slept at the bottom of the mattress which was placed on the floor. An autopsy could not determine the cause of the infant’s death. The report noted that overlay or suffocation could not be excluded. Despite the undetermined cause of death, the parents were indicated for death by neglect because they had received information about safe sleep. An intact family services case was opened after the baby’s death. When they learned they were indicated for causing their baby’s death, the parents expressed their grief and guilt to their caseworker as well as the emotional stress they were under since learning about the indication. They reported their belief that they were being extra caring by having their son sleep in their bed.
Prior history: In April 2013, prior to the infant’s birth, DCFS and police investigated a report that the father’s 4-year-old son had suffered partial thickness burns to his body while in the care of his stepmother (the deceased’s mother). Investigation showed that the stepmother left the child in the shower unattended, and he turned on the hot water faucet, burning himself. The hot water temperature measured 130 degrees. A doctor specializing in burns opined that the family’s explanation for the burns was consistent with the boy’s injuries. DCFS indicated the stepmother for inadequate supervision and the police closed their investigation as an accident. The stepmother was also indicated for cuts, bruises, welts by abuse to her 9-year-old son after she admitted to hitting him with a belt and leaving marks on his leg and arm when he dropped a perfume bottle he was not supposed to touch.
Child No. 36
Age: 7 months old
Cause of death: Complications of hypoxic encephalopathy (brain not getting enough oxygen)
Seven-month-old baby died six months after suffering brain injury from a lack of oxygen. When she was 15 days old, her 33-year-old foster mother laid the baby on her back next to her on an adult bed because the baby had cried after being put back in her bassinette following an early morning feeding. About an hour after they fell asleep, the foster mother’s alarm went off and she found the baby unresponsive. The foster mother called 911 and the baby survived, but was severely compromised and lived in a nursing care facility until her death. Doctors thought the foster mother may have rolled over the baby, but could not rule out that the baby simply stopped breathing on her own. The baby’s manner of death was undetermined with the notation that “external/environmental factors cannot be excluded as contributing to death.” Following the injury, the foster mother was indicated for head injuries, internal injuries, and substantial risk of physical injury by neglect. After the baby died, the foster mother was indicated for death by neglect which caused her to surrender her foster care license and resign from her job as a preschool teacher at a licensed day care center where she had worked for over 12 years.
Prior history: The baby entered foster care right after her birth because of a substantial risk of physical injury. The baby’s 23-year-old mother had a 3-year-old child in foster care for over two years and she had not been consistent in participating in services to regain custody of him. The child remains in foster care with a relative.
Child No. 39
Age: 1 month old
Cause of death: Undetermined
One-month-old infant born prematurely with sepsis and respiratory issues was found unresponsive around 8:20 a.m. by her mother. The infant was last seen alive around 3:00 a.m. when she was fed and changed. The infant’s 23-year-old father smoked marijuana around 1:30 a.m. The couple was staying overnight in a motel with the infant. The family slept together in a king-sized bed with the infant on one end of the bed and the father lying on the other, with the mother lying in the middle. The infant was found lying face up. The infant had been delivered by cesarean section at 33 weeks because of placenta previa. She spent the first three weeks of her life in the hospital and had been discharged weighing five pounds only five days before her death. The parents were indicated for death by neglect. The mother was also indicated for substantial risk of physical injury by neglect to her other two children, ages 2 ½ and 4 years, who were already living with maternal relatives by private agreement.
Prior history: Hospital staff called the hotline while the infant was hospitalized because of concern that the mother smoked marijuana while she was pregnant and the parents appeared to be under the influence of marijuana on two occasions when they visited the infant. A report was taken against the parents for substantial risk of physical injury by neglect. The investigation was pending when the infant died; it was subsequently indicated. When the baby was discharged from the hospital, he was living with his mother in his maternal grandparents’ home. The investigator observed a bassinette in the home, discussed safe sleep with the mother, and received the assurance of the maternal grandparents that they would help care for the infant. The investigator had documented his plan to refer the mother for a substance abuse assessment and for intact family services.
Child No. 43
Age: 11 months old
Cause of death: Sudden Unexpected Death in Infancy with a history of co-sleeping
Eleven-month-old infant was found face down in a queen-sized bed around 10:15 a.m. by his 20-year-old mother and 23-year-old father. He was last seen alive at 3:00 a.m. when the mother fed him and laid him back in bed with her, the father, and a 1 ½-year-old sibling. The infant had not seen a doctor since he was one month old despite being told to follow up for risks associated with prematurity, as he had been born at 29 weeks gestation. The 1 ½-year-old sibling also had not seen a doctor since she was two months old. The parents were indicated for death by abuse (apparently an error as the rationale for the indication described neglect and recommended the report be indicated for death by neglect) and substantial risk of physical injury to the sibling. An intact family services case was opened and a court order of supervision was entered.
Prior history: In May 2011, the Department investigated a report that the mother, then 17 years old, was not properly caring for her 6-month old child. The investigation was unfounded, but a case was opened for preventive services. That child later went to live with relatives. The family’s next involvement with DCFS was in July 2013 when a hospital social worker called to report no one had been to the hospital to visit the deceased until eleven days after his birth. Once the parents visited, they had loud arguments causing security to be called. The father was indicated for substantial risk of physical injury by neglect. DCFS provided the family with a pack and play and a car seat. The family was offered services but they refused them. The State’s Attorney’s Office refused to file for an order of supervision and DCFS had no further involvement with the family until the baby’s death.
Child No. 57
Age: 5 weeks old
Cause of death: Asphyxia due to overlay due to co-sleeping
Five-week-old infant was found unresponsive around 3 a.m. by her 26-year-old mother. The infant was last seen alive around 10:30 p.m. when she was fed. The baby had been put to sleep on her back on her mother’s stomach in bed with the mother and father. The mother awoke to find the baby on the bed face down lying in vomit. There was no crib or heat in the home (the family had moved since the prior investigation). The mother tested positive for marijuana and the 41-year-old father refused to take a drug test. The infant had not been taken to the doctor since her birth. The parents were indicated for death by neglect and inadequate shelter to the infant and for substantial risk of physical injury and inadequate shelter to the mother’s two surviving children who were placed in the temporary custody of the Department. The mother engaged successfully in services and her children were returned to her care in November 2014. The court case remains open and a caseworker is monitoring the family.
Prior history: In May 2013, paternal relatives of the infant’s 2 ½ year-old and 4-year-old half-siblings called the hotline alleging substantial risk of physical injury to the 4-year-old child who had been staying with the relatives for a couple of weeks, but whose mother wanted him to come home. An investigator spoke with a paternal aunt, the mother, and her paramour (the unborn infant’s father), and observed the children who appeared to be in good health. The investigation was unfounded.
Child No. 59
Age at death: 3 months old
Cause of death: Asphyxia due to co-sleeping with an adult on a couch
Three-month-old girl was found unresponsive by her 31-year-old mother around 1:30 p.m. The mother went to sleep with the infant on a couch around 4:00 a.m. after a night of drinking and playing cards. The mother had a bassinette upstairs in her residence, but reported that she, the infant, and her 4-year-old daughter regularly slept on the sectional couch downstairs because of shots fired in the neighborhood that had entered the upstairs of her home. DCFS investigated and the mother was indicated for death by neglect because she admitted to drinking alcohol prior to sleeping with the baby and when the police responded she had a blood alcohol content of .035. The mother was referred to community services and engaged in substance abuse treatment and grief counseling.
Prior history: In December 2012, the mother’s 5-month-old son died while sleeping in bed with his 26-year-old father and his father’s 27-year-old girlfriend. The baby’s cause of death was asphyxia due to prone position and co-sleeping with adults. The father was caring for the baby boy while the mother was at the hospital with her daughter who was having outpatient surgery. DCFS investigated and unfounded the father and his girlfriend.
Child No. 61
Age: 4 weeks
Cause of death: Sudden Unexplained Death in Infancy while co-sleeping
Twenty-eight-day-old baby was found face up, unresponsive at 8:00 a.m. in her 31-year-old parents’ bed. The baby had been sleeping in her bassinette until she awoke at 3:00 a.m. to feed. After the 31-year-old father fed the infant, he handed her to the mother who placed the baby face up in the bed between herself and her 6-year-old daughter, who was visiting overnight. The baby’s father was also in the bed. The mother reported that while she normally placed the baby to sleep in her bassinet, she was tired that night so she placed the baby next to her. The forensic pathologist who conducted the baby’s autopsy noted “asphyxia due to the soft bedding of an adult bed, or asphyxia due to overlay cannot be completely ruled out.” Both parents were indicated for death by neglect because they slept with the baby after receiving a handout from the baby’s pediatrician about safe sleep practices. The baby was the mother’s second child to die. A 6-month-old son died in 2003 from myocarditis, a natural death.
Prior history: The mother has a history with DCFS dating to June 2011. In July 2011 her 3 ½-year-old daughter and 6-year-old son entered foster care because of drug use by her and the children’s father. The children were returned to their father’s care and the case was closed in March 2012. In June 2013 the mother and the father’s girlfriend got into a verbal altercation during a transfer of the children for visitation. DCFS investigated and unfounded the mother for substantial risk of physical injury by neglect.
Child No. 63
Age: 5 ½ months old
Cause of death: Overlaying due to co-sleeping in an adult bed
Five-month-old baby was found unresponsive by his 26-year-old mother who reported that the grandmother, who was spending the night, had brought the infant to her in bed with a bottle at 5:30 a.m. She fed the baby and fell back to sleep. When she awoke, she found her son cold and hard. Law enforcement and DCFS investigated the death. Investigation revealed that the mother’s husband, the infant’s 32-year-old father, was in the home despite a no contact order due to a prior domestic violence incident; the husband was in the twin bed with the mother and infant; and the mother and husband had engaged in drug use. The mother was indicated for death by neglect to the infant and substantial risk of physical injury to her 2-year-old son. The husband was indicated for substantial risk of physical injury to the deceased and his 2-year-old step-son. The boy was initially placed in a safety plan with his father, but then was removed and placed in a traditional foster home. The family’s caseworker had provided the mother with cribs for both children.
Prior history: The hotline was called in October 2013 when the mother was eight months pregnant with the deceased. Her husband beat her nearly unconscious. He was arrested and mother cooperated with criminal proceedings. The husband pleaded guilty to aggravated domestic battery and was in jail until January 2014. He also was indicated for substantial risk of physical injury by neglect to his step-son. An intact family services case was opened. The mother and her child moved in with the grandfather until she secured her own housing. The mother lied to her worker about her contact with her husband.
2013 ABUSE DEATHS (13)
Child No. 2
Age: 13 months old
Cause of death: Blunt head trauma due to child abuse
Thirteen-month-old girl was found unresponsive by her 22-year-old father’s 25-year-old girlfriend. The girlfriend reported that ten minutes after feeding the toddler chicken, she found her breathing funny and gurgling. At autopsy the toddler was found to have massive head trauma. The little girl had lived with her father and his girlfriend for 3 ½ months prior to her death. The father last saw his daughter eight hours earlier when he left the house. The girlfriend was charged with first-degree murder. She was indicated by DCFS for death by abuse and for substantial risk of physical injury by neglect to her 3-year-old son, who is now in foster care. She subsequently gave birth to a baby in April 2013; that child is also in foster care.
Prior history: Twenty-four days prior to her death the hotline was called by an anonymous reporter alleging that the father had left his daughter with an ex-girlfriend overnight and two days later had still not picked her up or answered his phone. The reporter said that the ex-girlfriend had contacted the mother who lived in another part of the state, who said she would come get her daughter. There was too little information and misinformation provided by the reporter to locate the toddler before her death. The father’s first name and birth date were incorrect; the mother’s last name was incorrect; the child’s first name was misspelled and her birth date was incorrect; and the one cell phone number provided (the phone number of a friend of the mother’s) continually went to a busy signal after one ring. DCFS investigators in two parts of the state attempted to locate the family by searching public aid, calling numbers in the telephone directory, and sending a letter to a woman with the same name as the reported name of the mother.
Child No. 3
Age: 3 ½ weeks old
Cause of death: Suffocation
Three-and-a-half-week-old baby died in the hospital two days after being suffocated by her mother’s boyfriend’s 39-year-old mother (who was not the paternal grandmother). The 14-year-old mother had run away from home with her baby and went to her 17-year-old boyfriend’s house. When the maternal grandmother and police showed up at the house to look for the baby, the boyfriend’s mother hid with the mother and baby in a basement crawlspace. When the baby cried, the boyfriend’s mother placed her hands over the baby’s mouth. After the police left and they exited the crawlspace, the baby was unresponsive. The mother was found delinquent of endangering the life and health of a child and was sentenced to 5 years probation. The boyfriend’s mother was convicted of endangering the life and health of a child and was
sentenced to four years in a correctional facility. Both were indicated for death by abuse.
Prior history: In January 2012 the Department indicated a report of abuse to the 14-year-old by her 17-year-old brother, who was a ward. The abuse occurred while the siblings were staying with a sister.
Child No. 4
Age: 6 ½ months old
Cause: Blunt trauma to the head
Six-and-a-half-month-old infant became unresponsive while in the care of his 19-year-old father. The father called 911 and the infant was taken by ambulance to the hospital where he was airlifted to a second hospital with massive head injuries. The infant was pronounced dead the following day. The father and 18-year-old mother had taken the infant to the emergency department the evening before he became unresponsive. They reported that the infant had fallen and cut his lip after he was propped on a couch by the father, who was watching the child while the mother was at work. The infant was observed with no neurological deficits; hospital staff recommended blood tests and x-rays, but the parents refused and left with the baby. A nurse called the hotline and a DCFS investigator went to the home the next morning. The father did not answer the door and the DCFS investigator was still on the premises when 911 responded to the father’s call. The father was indicated for death by abuse and multiple other abuse allegations. The mother was indicated for death by neglect and multiple other neglect allegations. The father was indicted by a grand jury for aggravated battery to a child and involuntary manslaughter. He is in custody awaiting trial. A second child born to the couple in March 2013 is in traditional foster care.
Prior history: The teen parents first came to the attention of DCFS in May 2012, when they brought the baby, then 3 months old, to an emergency department with bruises they could not explain and which they believed might be caused by a bleeding disorder. A nurse called the hotline and the Department initiated an investigation of cuts, bruises, welts by abuse. Following investigation, the Department indicated an “unknown perpetrator” for the infant’s bruising, recognizing that bruises on a non-mobile infant were likely inflicted. Medical professionals did not believe the parents were responsible for the injuries leading the Department to believe that another family member may have inflicted them and that no services were needed.
Child No. 5
Age: 20 months old
Cause: Blunt head trauma due to abuse
Twenty-month-old toddler was found unresponsive by his 67-year-old grandmother when she returned home from volunteering. The 30-year-old mother had left the toddler in the care of her 39-year-old boyfriend while she went to school. The boyfriend was charged with first degree murder and was indicated for death by abuse. The boyfriend had previously been convicted and indicated for head injuries to a 1-year-old child. The mother was unaware of her boyfriend’s history. Neither the mother nor the grandmother had ever seen the boyfriend mistreat the boy. The boyfriend did not normally babysit the child, but it was the mother’s first day of school and the maternal grandmother was not available. An investigation of death by neglect was unfounded against the mother.
Prior history: Hospital staff called the hotline after the boy’s birth because they learned the mother had two children in foster care in another state. A third child was in the custody of his father. The mother was indicated for substantial risk of physical injury by neglect and an intact family services case was opened. The mother and infant lived with the maternal grandmother who helped care for the child. The intact family services case was closed in June 2012. The mother began dating the boyfriend in April 2012, but the worker did not know that the mother was dating anyone.
Child No. 6
Age: 11 months old
Eleven-month-old infant girl was taken to the hospital by her 39-year-old mother who reported she found the infant not breathing. The mother later confessed to holding her hand over the baby’s mouth and nose in order to resuscitate her to get attention. The mother was charged with first-degree murder. She was indicated for death by abuse and for substantial risk of physical injury by neglect to her 3-year-old child who is in the care of his father. Six weeks earlier the infant was seen in the emergency department for respiratory distress for which the mother used rescue breathing. The infant was hospitalized for 2-3 days following that incident.
Prior history: The family first came to the attention of DCFS in May 2009 following the birth of the couple’s first child. Hospital staff were concerned about the parents’ mental health and a request for child welfare services was made. The Department ensured that the parents were linked with services and the case was closed. In June 2010 the hotline was called after the mother was psychiatrically hospitalized for the second time in one month. The mother was indicated for substantial risk of physical injury and an intact family services case was open until February 2011. The mother participated in services and her extended family was supportive and helped care for the child. In January 2012 the mother’s mental health provider called the hotline requesting support services for the family. The referral remained open for one month.
Child No. 7
Age: 9 months old
Cause: Blunt head trauma by abuse
Nine-month-old reportedly became unresponsive after being given a bottle by her 36-year-old father. The father called 911 and began CPR. During transport to the hospital, emergency responders noted bilateral bruising to the infant’s thighs. An MRI revealed bilateral retinal hemorrhages, massive swelling of the brain, and brain herniation. Neither the father nor the 29-year-old mother could provide an explanation for the infant’s extensive brain injuries. The family elected to remove the infant from life support four days later. The Department indicated both parents for death by abuse and cuts, bruises, welts by abuse to the 9-month-old and substantial risk of physical injury by neglect to the 2-year-old sibling. The sibling was placed in relative foster care. Police investigation of the child’s death remains pending and no charges have been filed.
Prior history: At the age of three months .the infant sustained bilateral corner femur fractures and unexplained bruises. The parents and five relatives had provided care for the infant and the infant’s 18-month-old sibling during the time when the injuries could have been inflicted. Both parents were indicated for bone fractures by abuse and cuts, bruises, welts by abuse to the infant and substantial risk of physical injury by abuse to the sibling. The children were placed in relative foster care. The parents participated in counseling and visited daily with their children. At the end of July 2012 the court returned both children home under a pre-adjudication supervision order. The Department was providing services to the family and monitoring the children at home.
Child No. 9
Age: 8 months old
Cause: Skull fracture due to multiple blunt force injuries, with blunt force injuries of varying ages contributing
Eight-month-old infant became unresponsive while being cared for by his father. The father called 911 and the infant was pronounced dead in a hospital that evening. In the hospital the infant was discovered to have a skull fracture and healing rib fracture. His three surviving siblings who resided with the 26-year-old parents were medically assessed. The infant’s twin brother was found to have head injuries and a 1 ½-year-old brother was found to have a healing rib fracture. The third child, a 2 ½-year-old sister, did not have any injuries. At autopsy the infant was found to have multiple injuries and peritonitis (painful infection of the peritoneum) likely caused from being punched in the stomach. The father was indicated for death by abuse and for the abuse of the other children. The mother was indicated for death by neglect and for the abuse of the other children. All three children entered foster care and were placed with relatives. The father was charged with murder. While in jail awaiting trial the father hung himself. His death was ruled a suicide.
Prior history: In December 2008, the parents brought their 1-month-old son into the emergency department complaining he was constipated. Examination revealed that the infant had a complete break of his femur bone. The parents had no explanation for the injury. They were indicated for bone fractures by abuse and for substantial risk of physical injury by neglect. The baby and his two older siblings entered foster care. The parents participated in services and the four subsequently born children were allowed to remain in their custody while they worked for the return home of their other children.
Child No. 10
Age: 3 years old
Cause: Thermal injuries due to assault with an ignition of accelerant
Three-year-old girl died in the hospital two days after her 29-year-old mentally ill father set his family on fire. Her 33-year-old mother and the father also died. Her 9-year-old brother sustained burns over 35% of his body and survived. He is in foster care with a paternal aunt. On the night of the deadly fire, the children’s maternal aunt/relative foster mother permitted the mother to take the children overnight to the paternal grandmother’s home where the father was living, in violation of a court order that allowed the mother day visits with the children supervised by the aunt. She also violated a court order that allowed the father to see the children only when supervised by the caseworker. The aunt was indicated for death by neglect to the deceased; burns by neglect to the surviving child; and inadequate supervision and substantial risk of physical injury by neglect to both children. The paternal grandmother was indicated for death by neglect and substantial risk of physical injury by neglect, but the findings were unfounded on appeal.
Prior history: In September 2012 the two children were taken into protective custody and placed with the maternal aunt after their father filled a bathtub with gasoline and threatened to kill himself and the children.
Child No. 12
Age: 3 years old
Cause: Blunt force trauma due to child abuse
Three-year-old girl was pronounced dead at the hospital after her legal guardian/aunt and her aunt’s boyfriend called 911 because she was gasping for air. The aunt had been the girl’s legal guardian since the girl was eight months old. The boyfriend was charged with first degree murder and is in custody awaiting trial. He was indicated for death by abuse. The aunt was indicated for death by neglect.
Prior history: In October 2010, the Department investigated the girl’s mother for medical neglect. Instead of her child entering the foster care system, the mother wanted her aunt and her aunt’s husband to adopt the girl. In November 2010 the aunt was granted legal guardianship for one year and the Department monitored the child in her custody for six months. The aunt contacted the Department for help when the guardianship was due to expire. The Department re-assessed the aunt and her husband; assisted them with obtaining guardianship; and monitored the family until March 2012. In March 2013, eight days before her death, the Department received a hotline call alleging that the girl was being mistreated by her aunt’s boyfriend. A child protection investigation was pending at the time of her death.
Child No. 14
Age: 5 months old
Five-month-old infant was taken off life support and pronounced dead four days after being brought to the emergency department with multiple head injuries including a skull fracture and severe brain swelling. The 21-year-old mother and 29-year-old father confessed that the father put his hand over the baby’s mouth and nose until the child went limp and then they left the baby in the crib until they checked on her later and found her unresponsive. Both parents are charged with murder. They were indicated for death by abuse and for substantial risk of physical injury by neglect to their two surviving children, who are now in the care of the Department.
Prior history: Three months prior to the infant’s death, school personnel called the hotline to report concerns about her 6-year-old sibling, who was new to the school. Staff reported that the boy had marks and bruises on his face, neck and arms and after getting sick, he expressed fear of going home early. During the investigation of cuts, bruises, welts, the child denied being mistreated and said the marks were from his 2-year-old brother. The parents denied any abuse to the boy and both the children’s maternal grandmother and doctor reported good care of the children, and the investigation was unfounded.
Child No. 15
Age: 14 years old
Cause: Stab wounds and drug intoxication
Fourteen-year-old autistic boy was found in his bed stabbed to death. His 50-year-old mother and 44-year-old live-in caretaker were unconscious next to him having taken pills and left a letter explaining their actions. Both women survived and have been charged with first-degree murder. They were indicated for death by abuse and for substantial risk of physical injury by abuse to the teen’s 17-year-old sister who is in the care of her father.
Prior history: In January 2013, the Department opened an investigation of medical neglect to the boy by his mother because she was refusing medical treatment for the boy. During the investigation the mother caused the hotline to be called at least six times alleging misconduct by medical personnel at three different hospitals. The child was released from the hospital to the mother’s care with a medical action plan and an agreement that the family would participate in home-based services. The mother was unfounded for medical neglect. DCFS offered the mother intact family services but she refused.
Child No. 27
Age: 4 years old
Cause: Seizure and injuries
Four-year-old medically complex ventilator-dependent boy with a history of seizures was found unresponsive around 10:00 p.m. on the floor after his 23-year-old mother and 22-year-old father heard him fall out of bed. His parents called 911 and the boy was pronounced dead at the hospital. The boy had multiple bruises, abrasions, and scars on his body and a laceration on his inner lower lip. The parents reported that he had fallen out of bed three or four times throughout the day on the day of his death. The police did not pursue an investigation of the child’s death. The Department indicated the parents for death by neglect, cuts, bruises, and welts by abuse, and for substantial risk of physical injury by neglect to the surviving 2-year-old sibling. The Department took protective custody of the sibling, but the court denied temporary custody, instead ordering the family to participate in intact family services. The court case and intact family services case were closed in March 2013.
Prior history: A preventive services case was open from January 2011 until April 2011 when the Department investigated and indicated a report of medical neglect against the parents. The deceased was placed in a children’s hospital where he remained for one year. Upon his release from the hospital, he was returned home under an order of protection. His parents were involved in his medical care and he was receiving in-home nursing services. His court case was closed two weeks before his death.
Child No. 41
Age: 5 years old
Cause: Blunt force trauma
Five-year-old boy died in the hospital after becoming unresponsive in his foster home. His 22-year-old maternal aunt/foster parent reported that she heard a loud noise in the bathroom and found the boy on the floor vomiting and having what appeared to be a seizure. The 5-year-old did not have a previously diagnosed seizure disorder. At the time of his death, the boy had numerous bruises on him that the aunt said were self-inflicted and inflicted by the boy’s 9-year-old brother. Following the boy’s death, the foster parent’s two children, ages 5 months and 2 ½ years, were placed in foster care, but returned to their parents’ care in August 2013 pursuant to a court order that the mother have no unsupervised contact with the children. The boy’s two siblings remain in foster care; one is with his paternal grandmother and the other is in a non-relative foster home.
Prior history: The boy and his two older brothers entered foster care in January 2012 after an incident of domestic violence to the middle brother by the mother. The 25-year-old mother and 37-year-old father have a history of substance abuse and domestic violence.
2013 NON-SLEEP RELATED NEGLECT DEATHS (3)
Child No. 24
Age: 8 months old
Eight-month-old baby was found unresponsive and floating in the bathtub by his 24-year-old mother when she returned home from school. The baby’s 30-year-old father had left him and his 2-year-old sibling unattended in approximately 6 inches of water. The father was indicated for death by neglect to the baby and both parents were indicated for substantial risk of physical injury by neglect to the sibling. The father was convicted of endangering the life or health of a child and sentenced to 2 ½ years in prison. The sibling is in foster care with his maternal grandmother; he has a goal of return home to his mother who is progressing in services.
Prior history: Five months prior to the baby’s death, in April 2012, court personnel called the hotline to report an incident of domestic violence to the mother by the father while she was holding their almost three-month-old son. The mother obtained an order of protection against the father, but failed to renew it while the investigation was still pending. The father was indicated for substantial risk of physical injury by neglect and an intact family services case was opened. The parents were referred for domestic violence services, but had not followed through with the referrals before the baby died.
Child No. 25
Age: 5 ½ years old
Cause: Tramadol poisoning
Five-and-a-half-year-old boy was found unresponsive around 11:30 a.m. by his 32-year-old mother. An autopsy and toxicology results from the boy’s autopsy revealed the boy died from Tramadol poisoning. Tramadol is a pain reliever used to treat moderate to severe pain. It was prescribed to the boy’s 44-year-old father and it was present in the home at the time of the boy’s death. Police and child protection investigations of the boy’s death are pending. The boy’s 14-year-old siblings are in relative foster care and are placed with a paternal uncle. Both parents were indicated for death by neglect.
Prior history: In September 2012, a school social worker called the hotline requesting services for the family because of poverty. A worker attempted to visit the family in October but had an incorrect address. The worker had not yet seen the family when the boy died. The parents were previously indicated for environmental neglect in 2009.
Child No. 46
Age: 1 ½ years old
Cause: Hit by minivan
One-and-a-half-year-old toddler died after she was struck by a minivan driven by her 40-year-old mother. The mother’s children were playing outside and the mother was backing up the minivan to move it to the other side of the driveway. She did not see the toddler behind the van. A blood test following the accident revealed the mother had been drinking and her blood alcohol concentration level was over the legal limit. The mother was charged with felony aggravated DUI leading to the death of another. She was indicated for death by neglect and for substantial risk of physical injury by neglect to her surviving children. The family already had an intact family services case open. The surviving elementary school-aged children participated in a grief therapy group at school; the high school-aged child attended counseling with her school social worker; and the family received supportive services from their church. The Department continued to provide services including substance abuse treatment and parenting education until the case was closed in July 2013.
Prior history: The family first came to the Department’s attention when the mother gave birth to her first substance-exposed infant, her fifth child, in March 2006. An intact family services case was open until January 2007 when the mother stopped participating in services. The children were cared for by their father and paternal grandmother. In December 2010 the deceased was born substance-exposed and a second intact family services case was opened. Both parents participated in services. In the month prior to the toddler’s death, the mother was noted to have completed treatment and been sober for over a year; drug testing that included screening for alcohol had been negative.
2013 SLEEP-RELATED NEGLECT DEATHS (14)
Child No. 19
Age: 2 months old
Cause: Undetermined, but apparently sleep-related
Two-month-old infant was found unresponsive in the morning by her 56-year-old maternal grandmother. The infant had been sleeping on an adult bed with her 3 and 9-year-old siblings. This was the usual sleeping arrangement. The grandmother reported the baby never wanted to sleep in her crib. The grandmother and the baby’s 24-year-old mother were indicated for death by neglect and for substantial risk of physical injury by neglect to the 2, 3, and 9-year-old siblings.
Prior history: In late May 2012 the grandmother called the hotline to report that her daughter and four grandchildren lived with her and the mother often went out for days at a time without asking the grandmother to watch the children. The grandmother requested child welfare services, specifically counseling and housing for the mother and beds for the children. The child welfare services referral was pending at the time of the infant’s death.
Child No. 21
Age: 5 ½ months old
Cause: Undetermined, but apparently sleep-related
Five-and-a-half-month-old infant girl was found unresponsive around 4 a.m. by her 13-year-old cousin. The infant had been sleeping with her twin sister in a pack ‘n play at their aunt’s home. The cousin heard one of the twins crying and got up to check on her and found the other twin unresponsive. The twins were spending the night at the aunt’s home; the mother’s six other children were at the maternal grandmother’s home and the mother was staying with the twins’ father. The aunt’s husband, who had previously been incarcerated for domestic violence against the aunt and her oldest child and indicated for the sexual abuse of another of her children, was residing in the home. The mother was indicated for inadequate supervision of the twins and for substantial risk of physical injury by neglect to two of her children. The aunt was indicated for death by neglect and for substantial risk of physical injury by neglect to her five children and the surviving twin. The mother’s seven surviving children and the aunt’s five children were placed in foster care where they remain.
Prior history: In June 2012 the 35-year-old mother and the 34-year-old aunt were indicated for inadequate supervision of the deceased’s twin sister. The mother went to get her hair done and took the deceased, leaving the other twin with the aunt. The aunt left the baby in the care of the 13-year-old cousin who took the baby to the beach with the baby’s 7 and 11-year-old siblings who took turns watching the baby while they swam. Both the mother and the aunt were indicated for inadequate supervision of the baby five days before the baby’s death. The mother was engaged in community services.
Child No. 22
Age: 2 months old
Two-month-old infant was found unresponsive in the morning by her 24-year-old mother. The mother had been sleeping in the same bed as the infant. The mother got up at 6:00 a.m. to get ready to take her father to work and pick up the baby’s father who worked a night shift. She left around 6:30 a.m. Her 23-year-old brother stayed at home with the children. The mother believed the baby was sleeping when she left the home. When she returned the baby was unresponsive. The mother called 911 and the baby was taken to the hospital where she was pronounced dead at 7:45 a.m. An officer responding to the call described the baby as warm with blue lips. The brother reported that he checked on the baby and her 2 ½-year-old sister while the mother was gone. The baby was sleeping in the bed on her back. Her 2 ½-year-old sibling was sleeping on a mattress on the floor alongside the bed. The mother reported that she had found a bug in the baby’s crib so she had been putting the baby to sleep in her bed. The mother was indicated for death by neglect and for substantial risk of physical injury by neglect to her two surviving children. The father was indicated for substantial risk of physical injury by neglect because he allowed the mother to sleep with the infant. A short-term intact family services case was open from January to September 2013.
Prior history: In June 2012, prior to the infant’s birth, the hotline was called with a report of a 4-year-old child outside unsupervised at almost 10:00 p.m. Investigation showed that the mother had gone out with her 2-year-old and had left her 4-year-old in the care of the child’s maternal grandmother, with whom the family lived. The maternal grandmother dozed off. The child said she couldn’t sleep so she went outside, but she didn’t tell her grandma. The child had not previously gone outside unsupervised and police did not have any prior contact with the family. The investigator talked to the family about putting an additional lock high up on the door, and the investigation was unfounded for inadequate supervision.
Child No. 31
Age: 3 months old
Cause: Sudden unexplained death in infancy, but apparently sleep-related
Three-month-old infant was found unresponsive around 6 a.m. by her 33-year-old father. The father had gone to sleep with the baby on an adult mattress on the living room floor around 2:30 a.m. The baby was placed to sleep on her back on the side of the mattress pushed up against the wall. The father reported she rolled to her side and touched his face. The father, who was living with his sister and was a regular caregiver of the baby, was indicated for death by neglect to the baby. The baby’s mother reported advising the father not to sleep with the baby; the father’s sister had provided a pack ‘n play for the baby and advised the father to use it; and the mother of the father’s older child said she had warned him of the dangers of co-sleeping when he slept with their child. The father reported that he was not aware of the dangers of co-sleeping. He denied being under the influence of drugs at the time of the baby’s death, but he tested positive for cocaine, marijuana, and prescribed benzodiazepines so it could not be ruled out.
Prior history: The baby’s half-sister entered foster care in August 2011 when she was 5 months old because the mother had failed to take the child to several scheduled appointments to assess her for sickle cell disease. The mother engaged in services and the child was returned to her mother’s custody in March and to her guardianship in November, five days prior to the baby’s death. The family’s caseworker discussed safe sleep practices with the mother and provided her with a pack ‘n play. A caseworker saw the baby with the mother in August and October.
Child No. 39
Age: 4 months old
Four-month-old baby was found unresponsive around 8 a.m. by her 31-year-old mother. The baby was found face up in the mother’s queen-sized bed where she regularly slept. There was no crib in the home. At autopsy the infant was found to have congenital heart disease which likely contributed to her death, but because overlay could not be excluded, the cause and manner of death were undetermined. At death the baby had severe untreated eczema. The mother was indicated for death by neglect and medical neglect and for substantial risk of physical injury by neglect and environmental neglect to the three surviving siblings. The father was indicated for substantial risk of physical injury by neglect to the surviving siblings who are in foster care with a maternal aunt.
Prior history: There was a child protection investigation pending for three weeks at the time of the infant’s death. In January 2013, the father of the youngest child and the unborn infant called the hotline to report the mother left the children, ages 10, 2 and almost 2, at home alone while she visited him; that her home was filthy; and that the children complained of being hungry. Despite phone attempts and in-person visits to the home, the child protection investigator had gotten no response from the mother and had not seen the children or been in the home when the baby died. After the baby’s death the investigation was indicated for environmental neglect.
Child No. 40
Age: 7 months old
Seven-month-old infant was found unresponsive around 9:30 a.m. by his father. The infant had been sleeping on his stomach between his 26-year-old mother and 34-year-old father on a full-sized bed. He was last seen alive around 7:30 a.m. when he was given a bottle. There was a bassinet in the home. The infant had been diagnosed with RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) two months prior. The parents were indicated for death by neglect and for substantial risk of physical injury by neglect to the mother’s surviving children, ages 10 and 11. The two surviving siblings were placed with one of the children’s fathers under a safety plan while DCFS awaited the autopsy report. The family decided it was best for him to continue to care for both children. DCFS provided the father with intact family services while he sought full custody of his child and guardianship of the other. The case was closed in December 2013.
Prior history: In June 2012, an intact family services case was opened after the mother was indicated for substantial risk of physical injury by neglect to her two children because of an incident of domestic violence between her and the deceased’s father. The couple was participating in services at the time of the infant’s death. The intact family services worker had discussed safe sleep with the mother.
Child No. 43
Age: 5 months old
Cause: Undetermined, but apparently sleep-related
Six-month-old infant who was born prematurely was found unresponsive in bed with his 35-year-old mother and 5-year old sibling. The mother had breastfed the infant around 9:00 p.m. and laid him between herself and the sibling. She woke up around 3:00 a.m. and found the baby not breathing. She placed the baby in his crib and called 911. The mother was indicated for death by neglect. She reported that she had been advised by the baby’s primary care physician and child protection investigators that she should not co-sleep with the baby. During the investigation the father of the sibling sought and was awarded custody of the child in domestic relations court.
Prior history: The mother has a history with the Department dating to 2008 when an investigation was unfounded for environmental neglect. A 2009 investigation was unfounded for a bruise on her four-year-old son’s face. A witness said the child fell while jumping on the couch. This child later went to live with his father. In 2011 the mother reported that her then four-year-old daughter had been molested. The report was unfounded after the child denied being molested during a forensic interview. Shortly after the birth of the deceased, hospital staff called the hotline reporting that the mother was acting strangely and threatening to take the premature baby out of the hospital against medical advice. The mother voluntarily underwent two mental health assessments and was not considered to be a risk to the infant. The maternal grandfather assisted the mother in the care of the infant and his sibling and the investigation was unfounded. A month prior to the infant’s death, a pizza delivery man called emergency services to report the mother was passed out on a couch with the baby. Police released the baby and his 5-year-old sibling to the care of their grandfather. The report was pending at the time of the infant’s death. The mother was subsequently indicated for inadequate supervision. She has no children in her care; both surviving children are in the custody of their fathers.
Child No. 44
Age: 1 ½ months old
Cause: Undetermined, but apparently sleep-related
One-and-a-half-month-old infant died in the hospital several hours after being discovered unresponsive by his 34-year-old mother. The mother fed the baby at 4:00 am and laid him face up on top of a pillow with a pacifier in his mouth, next to her on a queen-sized mattress. When the mother awoke at 9:00 am the baby was lying between her and the pillow and was unresponsive. The mother was indicated for death by neglect to the infant and for environmental neglect to her surviving eight children. A short-term intact family services case was opened to help the mother secure appropriate housing.
Prior history: There was one unfounded child protection investigation involving the family. When the deceased was born in April 2013, he and the mother tested positive for opiates and the Department opened an investigation for substance misuse. The investigation was unfounded after the investigator verified that the mother had a valid prescription for opiate-based pain medication for a broken finger she suffered while pregnant. During the investigation, the investigator provided the mother with a portable crib for the baby.
Child No. 45
Age: 6 ½ months old
Cause: Asphyxia due to prone sleeping position on a couch
Six-and-a-half-month-old infant died in the hospital 10 days after being found unresponsive during a nap by her 27-year-old foster mother. The 27-year-old foster father had come home from work for lunch. The infant was tired and fussy, so he placed her on her stomach on the sofa to take a nap. The sofa was an L shape and she was placed in the corner with her face facing the back of the sofa. The foster father pushed the ottoman up against the sofa with some cushions to prevent the infant from rolling off the sofa while she slept. The foster father then made a sandwich and went back to work. The foster mother checked on her about a half hour later and found her in the same position unresponsive. The foster mother started CPR and called 911. The baby suffered brain injury related to a lack of oxygen. She was placed on life support which was removed 10 days after the incident. The baby died a little over an hour later. Her mother and grandmother were with her. The foster parents were indicated for death by neglect and for substantial risk of physical injury by neglect to their 2 ½-month-old infant. The couple’s foster home license is pending revocation because of the indicated findings against them.
Prior history: The baby girl’s biological parents had three children removed from their custody in January 2010; those children were adopted by foster parents in July 2012. A fourth child, born in December 2010, was placed with the foster parents with whom the deceased was later placed. The biological parents surrendered their rights to the baby boy so the foster parents could adopt him. The adoption was finalized a couple of weeks prior to the baby girl’s death. The biological parents were engaged in services and were making progress toward regaining custody and guardianship of their daughter.
Child No. 52
Age: 5 months old
Cause: Suffocation due to entrapment under a pillow
Five-month-old baby was found unresponsive around 6:45 a.m. by his 29-year-old aunt with whom his family lived. He was found lying on his back on the floor, wedged between a couch cushion and couch pillows. There was a bed pillow covering him. The aunt reported that she fed the infant around 1:00 a.m. and placed him on his stomach on a couch cushion with couch pillows pushed up next to it. His 8-year-old sister slept next to him and it was her pillow that ended up on top of the infant. There was not a crib in the home. The aunt was indicated for death by neglect and for substantial risk of physical injury by neglect to the other children in the home. The mother was indicated for substantial risk of physical injury by neglect to her surviving children because she stayed out overnight the night of her son’s death and had not left a number where she could be reached. A case was opened for short-term intact family services.
Prior history: In June 2012 hospital personnel called the hotline to report that the infant’s newborn screen was unreadable and the infant needed to be retested. Hospital staff made multiple outreach attempts, including sending a public health nurse to the home. Despite mother’s assurances that she would have the screen completed, and hospital staff advising they would call the hotline if she did not, the mother did not take the baby to be retested until after DCFS became involved. An investigation of medical neglect was indicated against the 27-year-old mother. The infant tested positive for the sickle cell trait and the mother was referred to community services.
Child No. 54
Age: 2 years old
Cause: Asphyxia due to entrapment between mattress and wall due to co-sleeping
Two-year-old girl was found trapped between the bed and the wall by her 55-year-old grandmother with whom she was sharing the bed. The child had been diagnosed with cerebral palsy, viral disease and sleep disturbances a month before her death. The grandmother was indicated for death by neglect, cuts, bruises, and welts, failure to thrive and inadequate food. An investigator had previously talked to the grandmother about sleep safety with the deceased because of her developmental delays. A sibling who was also in the care of the grandmother was placed in a safety plan with an adult sister. Following assessment, the girl was released to her mother’s custody.
Prior history: In June 2011 the mother left the children with an acquaintance who took the children to the police station saying he could not care for them. The children’s grandmother took physical custody of the children and requested assistance from the Extended Family Support Program which helped her to obtain public assistance and medical cards for the children. At a doctor’s appointment in February 2012, a doctor noted bruises and a lack of weight gain. The hotline was called and an investigation was indicated for medical neglect and cuts, bruises, and welts by the grandmother. The grandmother appealed the indicated findings and they were overturned in September 2012 following a hearing in which early intervention therapists and the child’s treating physician testified.
Child No. 61
Age: 2 ½ months old
Cause: Asphyxia due to probable overlay
Two-and-a-half-month-old infant was found unresponsive by her 31-year-old mother around 6:00 a.m. The mother last saw the infant alive at approximately 2:00 a.m. when she fed and changed the baby and put her to sleep next to her in a full-sized bed. The mother’s 22-month-old and 3-year-old children, who normally slept in their own beds, slept at the foot of the mother’s bed that night. There was a bassinet in the home. Pursuant to a safety plan, the surviving children were placed with their maternal grandmother for eight months while the Department waited for the infant’s autopsy report to be completed. The mother was indicated for death by neglect and for substantial risk of physical injury by neglect to her surviving children.
Prior history: There was an unfounded investigation involving this family prior to the infant’s death. In February 2012, a paternal relative called the hotline to report the mother was an alcoholic and drug addict who left her children home alone for days. The child protection investigator interviewed a paternal aunt, the children’s godmother, and the maternal grandmother. All reported seeing the family regularly and denied the veracity of the allegations. The maternal grandmother, who lived in the same building as the family, reported babysitting the children when the mother went out. The investigation of inadequate supervision was unfounded.
Child No. 70
Age: 3 days old
Cause: Asphyxia due to co-sleeping and prone position on an adult bed
Three-day-old infant was found unresponsive by his father at approximately 9:30 am. The baby had been sleeping on his stomach between his 24-year-old mother and 21-year-old father on a full-sized adult bed. A bassinet was next to the bed and the parents had been educated about safe sleep. Both parents were indicated for death by neglect. While the investigation of the baby’s death was pending, a domestic violence incident occurred and the parents violated a safety plan for the mother’s 10-month-old daughter. The mother was indicated for substantial risk of physical injury by neglect and the baby girl entered foster care and is placed with her maternal great-grandmother.
Prior history: In March 2013 the mother’s boyfriend (father of the deceased baby) called the hotline to report that his girlfriend threw a can opener across the room and it hit her 8-month-old baby’s foot causing a cut. When interviewed by the child protection investigator, the boyfriend said he made the report because he was mad at his girlfriend. He said his girlfriend had actually tossed the can opener onto the bed and it bounced off, hitting the baby on the foot. The mother, who was interviewed separately, told the same story. The investigator observed a small, superficial scratch on the baby’s foot. The investigator completed a home safety checklist and discussed safe sleep practices, and the mother was unfounded for cuts, bruises, and welts by abuse.
Child No. 73
Age: 3 months old
Cause: Possible overlay due to co-sleeping on an adult mattress
Three-month-old baby was found unresponsive around 9 a.m. He was sleeping in an adult bed with his 34-year-old mother and 5-year-old brother. An 11-year-old sister is in the custody of her father and was not present. The baby was last seen alive around 2 a.m. when his mother fed him. There was a bassinet in the home. The mother was indicated for death by neglect. An intact family services case is open and the 5-year-old is being cared for by his grandparents.
Prior history: There was a pending child protection investigation when the infant died. Two-and-a-half-weeks earlier the police called the hotline to report the mother had been arrested for battering her boyfriend while holding the infant. The family lived with the maternal grandparents who agreed to care for the children. After the baby’s death, the investigation was indicated for substantial risk of physical injury by neglect. The mother has a history of substance abuse and domestic violence. She was indicated for substance misuse after she gave birth to the deceased who tested positive for amphetamines.