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August 18, 2006 permalink
To the misdeeds of child protectors you can now add serial killer. Parents Matt and Jennifer Lethbridge lost a daughter Ashleigh who died in adoptive care on February 23, 2006. This week their two-year-old son Isaac died in foster care, apparently killed.
The information above comes from sources still confidential. The family has placed an embargo on information until their lawyer issues a statement. Internet discussions have suggested a high-profile lawyer may take the case, turning it into a political issue.
The parents have a four-year-old daughter still in foster care. In the days of the draft, once a mother had lost several sons in battle, her last son was excused from military service. If child protectors were as merciful as the army, the last Lethbridge child would be returned to her parents, not at the next court hearing, but forthwith.
Police awaiting autopsy results on foster child
Detroit Free Press, BY JACK KRESNAK, FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER, August 18, 2006
The attorney for a Detroit foster mother under scrutiny after a 2-year-old foster child died in her care this week said Thursday that his client has no idea why or how the child died.
"She feels horrible about what happened," attorney Marc Shreeman said of Charlise Rogers. "She doesn't know what happened."
An autopsy on the toddler, Issac Lethbridge, is to be performed today to determine a cause and manner of the boy's death Wednesday evening at Children's Hospital of Michigan in Detroit, officials said.
A preliminary report from Detroit police filed Thursday in Wayne County Family Court said Issac had second-degree burns on his stomach and back and bruises on his forehead, shoulder and buttocks.
The child's unexplained death prompted the Child Protective Services division of the state Department of Human Services to remove Issac's biological sister from Rogers' foster home, as well as two of Rogers' three adopted daughters, ages 20 months and 12 years. Rogers' third daughter is 18.
Detroit police were called to Rogers' home in the 18000 block of Greenlawn about 4:30 p.m. Wednesday on a report of an unconscious child. Issac was rushed to Children's Hospital, where he was pronounced dead about an hour later, the report said.
No arrest has been made as homicide detectives awaited results of the autopsy.
Rogers is to appear at a preliminary hearing in juvenile court next Friday.
Contact JACK KRESNAK at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Detroit Free Press
Addendum: From information posted to the web in 2003, the family had at that time six children, Ashleigh, Nicholas, Zachary, Garret, Sean and Gage. Ashleigh was born with multiple medical problems, when she needed help the family was afraid to take her to the hospital for fear of losing her to CPS. CPS eventually seized all their children anyway. Gage was born in Canada in a futile effort to hide him from child protectors. Canadian authorities seized him at birth and returned him to Michigan.
Here is their description of the Canadian experience:
Gage was born on my husband's birthday in Canada. The sight of him, the smell of him, he was so perfect. There were complications. The cord was wrapped tightly around his neck and he had to be admitted and placed on a ventilator, but everything looked good. Soon we'd be bringing our son home. On Tuesday afternoon my husband got a call from Canadian CPS. They'd seized our son without a warrant. If we tried to visit him they would call the police. They were moving for termination. They'd never even talked to us. No one had. Court in Canada was a farce. No one could do anything since his parents were foreign nationals. Eventually they transferred him back to the states (again without notifying us).
Addendum: Police are now treating the death as a homicide. According to the mother's website, her children were seized at birth from the hospital, so the remark about the filthy condition in the home is likely a slur.
Boy's death ruled homicide
He was struck with object, officials say
The death of a 2-year-old foster child was ruled a homicide Friday after Wayne County medical examiners determined the boy had been struck by a blunt object.
Isaac Lethbridge died Wednesday at Children's Hospital of Michigan after he stopped breathing in a Detroit foster home.
Detroit police were investigating and no arrests had been made.
Investigators for the state Department of Human Services were reviewing case files at the Lula Belle Stewart Center in Detroit, which licensed the foster home in the 18000 block of Greenlawn where Isaac lost consciousness.
The foster mother, Charlise Rogers, has said that she does not know why Isaac stopped breathing.
Child Protective Services investigators removed Rogers' two minor children, ages 20 months and 12 years, from her home, as well as Isaac's 4-year-old sister, who was in foster care there. Rogers' home was the third foster care placement for Isaac and his sister, who were removed from their parents' Westland home last September because of the filthy condition of the home. The sister now is in her fourth foster home.
Isaac's parents, Matt and Jennifer Lethbridge, said their attorney had advised them not to comment.
Janet Burch, a retired DHS division director who became interim executive director of the Lula Belle Stewart Center on Aug. 1, said everyone at the agency feels hurt by what happened to Isaac.
"Our goal is to keep children safe," Burch said Friday. "We take it personally all the way up the line. We'd like to express our sympathy to the family and to all those people who are connected to the family."
Burch said she is investigating the incident, "but right now I don't have anything I can share."
Detroit Free Press