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Care from the Grave

December 31, 2011 permalink

CPS in Texas took baby Kemichael Austin from a living mother and placed him with foster mother Norma Davis, found dead with the hungry toddler on December 30.



Toddler found in playpen after caretaker, 63, dies

Norma Davis
Norma Davis was raising a friend's 19-month-old baby, whose mother was found to be unfit.
Family photo

Carl Thomas had not heard from his 63-year-old mother since Christmas Eve when a relative asked him to go to her home to check on her on Friday morning.

When no one answered the door at the northwest Harris County apartment where Norma Davis was raising a friend's 19-month-old baby, Thomas and a friend pried open a window.

"My mom was on the floor, dead," Thomas, 41, said. "The baby was in his playpen."

Thomas said the toddler, Kemichael Austin, was dehydrated and crying.

"He lost a bunch of weight," Thomas said.

Officials do not know yet how long Davis had been dead.

Harris County sheriff's deputies responding to the scene said there was no evidence of foul play.

Thomas estimated the boy had been alone in the apartment with the body for about five days.

He said the boy's mother was a friend of his extended family.

Child Protective Services spokeswoman Estella Olguin said the woman's lifestyle, including problems with drugs and an inability to maintain a stable place to live, brought CPS into the child's life.

He had been living with Davis since he was about a month old and was formally placed in her home by the agency.

Olguin said a caseworker had visited the home on Dec. 15, and again five days later, to bring the boy Christmas presents.

There were no indications of problems during either visit, Olguin said.

Emergency responders gave fluids to the crying child and turned him over to CPS.

The boy was taken to Texas Children's Hospital, and was expected to be released into foster care late Friday.

Thomas thought his mother had been with his aunt, who lived nearby, and was not initially worried despite not hearing from her as expected through the holidays.

He said his cousin became alarmed, however, and called him to check on the woman.

Thomas spoke for friends and family gathered at the apartment complex Friday.

"We're just going to be strong and take care of what we need to take care of," Thomas said.

Norma Davis' cousin, 33-year-old Tomica Fowler, cradled a photo of her Friday outside the apartment in the 5800 block of West Gulf Bank.

"She's going to be missed," Fowler said. "I love her, and I'm going to miss her."

Thomas said the retiree was beloved in the community for her smile and warm laugh.

"Everybody in Houston knew her," Thomas said. "From the north side to the south side."

Source: Houston Chronicle