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Opportunistic Child Snatching

December 26, 2006 permalink

Eight times child protectors examine a home and find it safe for children. When a mother comes to the same conclusion and leaves Damya Jefferson with a lethal baby-sitter, child protectors punish her by taking her other child.



Home where toddler stabbed investigated 8 times by state workers

State caseworkers are defending why they didn't sooner remove children from a family investigated eight times before police say a 9-year-old boy fatally stabbed a 2-year-old girl in an unsupervised house.

More than a dozen children were being watched by a 15-year-old baby sitter on Friday when Damya Jefferson was stabbed twice in the chest, authorities said. The boy who police say stabbed the toddler, who cannot be prosecuted because of his age, has been placed in a hospital.

No charges have been filed.

Police said the boy's mother, Detress Richmond, was not home at the time. Richmond has at least 13 kids, and the Texas Department of Child Protective Services has been to her house eight times since 1994 to investigate allegations that her children were neglected, not fed or living in filth.

CPS spokeswoman Marissa Gonzales said conditions at the home were never bad enough for the state to intervene.

"It never rose to the level of imminent danger," Gonzales said. "That is what is necessary for removal of the children."

Damya's mother, Tiara Jefferson, 17, went to earn extra Christmas money Friday by braiding hair and left Damya and her 2-month-old sister in Richmond's care.

Authorities said the boy who stabbed the toddler was described by siblings as a bully.

"We don't know what spurred it," Dallas police Sgt. Brenda Nichols said. "All we know is that his brothers and sisters say that he tended to push them around."

Instead of removing Richmond's children after previous investigations, state workers referred her to parenting classes as well as helping her find work and food. Gonzales said Richmond seemed to be cooperative with that intervention.

Three of Richmond's children have been placed with relatives and seven others were placed in foster care.

CPS workers also took Damya's 2-month-old sibling, because caseworkers questioned Jefferson's judgment when she left her children at a home that police said was dirty and potentially unsupervised.

A hearing will be held within 14 days to determine where the children should live.

Source: Dallas Morning News