State child welfare agency suspends 2 workers in death of 8-year-old girl
The employees of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services are suspended while it investigates their handling of the murder of Amaria Osby, who was killed last week in Uptown, allegedly by her mother.
Last March, the state’s child welfare agency received a report through its hotline that an 8-year-old girl in Uptown might be in danger.
Her parents had gotten into a fight at a restaurant, the report said, and an investigator with the Department of Children and Family Services was assigned to check on the parents and the child, Amaria Osby.
The investigator tried the girl’s home the next day, on March 24, but was unable to see anyone, the agency said. It was not until two months later, on May 24, that the investigator finally checked on the child.
“There were no noted concerns for physical abuse or neglect,” the agency said.
The next day, Amaria was dead, allegedly killed by her mother, Andreal Hagler, who also tried to kill herself.
DCFS said Wednesday that the investigator and a supervisor have been suspended from “child protection duties” while it reviews their handling of the case.
The investigator should have kept trying every day to see the child but did not, according to agency spokesman Bill McCaffrey.
He did not say why it took so long to see the girl. He stressed that there was never any allegation that Amaria was being abused, only that she had witnessed “domestic violence” between her mother and father.
But the Cook County public guardian suggested the girl might still be alive if the agency had seen the family sooner and arranged for mental health and drug treatment.
“If DCFS did what they needed to do, and went out every day in March with services for mental health, we would have had a very different outcome,” Public Guardian Charles Golbert said Wednesday.
“The huge take away is they dropped the ball for two months,” Golbert said. “Under the regulations, when they get a report of abuse, they have to see the child and family immediately and have to make efforts every day.
“This is a case that screamed out for the need for family and mental health services,” he said.
Responding to requests from the Chicago Sun-Times, DCFS released a timeline Wednesday of the agency’s involvement with Hagler and Amaria.
The agency’s first contact with the family was in 2017 when Hagler was arrested for DUI and child endangerment after crashing on the Eisenhower Expressway near Peoria Street, records show.
State police said Hagler was “dazed and confused,” could not spell her last name and did not seem to be aware she had crashed the car against a concrete median.
Amaria, 3 years old at the time, was in the back seat. The girl was released to the custody of Hagler’s sister, the court records show.
An investigator reported no signs of abuse or neglect on the girl, and an “intact worker” was assigned and support services were provided, including substance abuse treatment.
The final visit in that case was in March of 2018. “There were no noted concerns for abuse or neglect during any of the home visits and the intact family services case was closed,” the agency said in the timeline.
Then the hotline report came on March 23. Although there was no allegation of abuse involving Amaria, DCFS opened an investigation into Amaria’s “substantial risk of physical injury” and “neglect.”
The next day, an investigator “made a good faith attempt to visit the child victim and family without success.”
The next entry is the visit two months later on May 24. That night, Hagler walked up to her sleeping child and slipped a plastic bag over her head, according to police. Amaria woke up and began screaming, “Momma stop,” but Hagler continued to hold the girl down, according to police and prosecutors.
Hagler, who had drunk bleach, then put the bag over her own head and lay next to her daughter on the bed. Hagler’s brother-in-law found them around 11 a.m. the next day and called his wife, who called 911.
The girl was pronounced dead at the first-floor apartment in the 4600 block of North Winthrop Avenue. An autopsy determined she had died from injuries suffered during an assault and also had injuries consistent with asphyxiation.
Hagler, 38, was treated at Weiss Memorial Hospital and charged with first-degree murder.
In a statement to detectives, Hagler said she killed her daughter because “she thought [the girl] didn’t love her anymore and she was taking her dad’s side. She felt it was their time to go.”
Hagler admitted having used the drug PCP recently, and a toxicology report showed the drug in her system, prosecutors said.
The final entry in the DCFS timeline is May 26: “The investigation by DCFS is ongoing while law enforcement continues their criminal investigation and as DCFS awaits a final report from the medical examiner.”
McCaffrey said the agency is also determining “appropriate personnel action” for the investigator and supervisor.