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Foster Dad Dead

March 6, 2015 permalink

Joseph Charles Todd Dunn was a foster parent in Georgia when a child died in his care. Russell Charles Chapman was twenty months old at his death on October 3, 2010. A grand jury refused to indict Mr Dunn and he remained free. But detectives persisted and gathered new evidence. Last September Mr Dunn found out he was about to be indicted by another grand jury and fled to Canada. Canadian authorities kept him in jail, and a few days later he was dead. The full circumstances of his death have not been disclosed.

Perhaps Dunn got what he deserved. Exposing a convicted, or even accused, child killer to prison inmates is a death sentence. But the prosecution of Dunn fits another pattern. When a foster death is published, as Chapman's death was, social workers leave no stone unturned to accuse someone outside their own offices. The conviction of a foster parent draws attention away from the failures of the system that placed the child in the dangerous setting. What really happened in the Dunn case? We may never know, but an inquest into his death could answer some of the questions.



Dead inmate was fleeing justice in U.S. 3

Joseph Charles Todd Dunn
Joseph Charles Todd Dunn died while in custody of the CBSA. He was being held at Niagara Detention Centre in Thorold.
Photo courtesy of Henry County Sheriffs Office.

The regional coroner is still working out the details of an inquiry into the death of a Georgia man at the Niagara Detention Centre.

Joseph Charles Todd Dunn, 43, was indicted in September on charges of child cruelty in connection with the death of his 20-month-old foster son in Locust Grove, Ga., south of Atlanta. He fled, crossed the border in Niagara and filed a refugee claim.

He was in taken into custody by the Canadian Border Service’s Agency and sent to the detention centre.

“From my perspective, we are planning to go ahead with this inquest,” Dr. Jack Stanborough, the regional coroner said.

Dunn spent five days at the Greater Niagara General Hospital on life support. He died without regaining consciousness. At the time, police said Dunn’s death was “not suspected to be the result of foul play.”

Both the CBSA and the police referred questions about Dunn’s cause of death to the coroner. Stanborough said the cause of death would be one of the questions examined at an inquest.

Dunn was originally arrested in November 2010 in Georgia and accused of shaking one of his foster children, Russell Chapman. Russell was admitted to hospital after “sustaining trauma to the brain,” the Henry County Police Department in Georgia said. The toddler’s death was ruled a homicide by the medical examiner.

Dunn was charged with both felony murder and first-degree cruelty to a child by the Crimes Against Children Unit of the Henry County police. However, after a hearing in 2010, a grand jury ruled there wasn’t enough evidence for an indictment.

“The first time, he wasn’t indicted by the grand jury, and he was released,” said Lieut. Joey Smith of the Henry County Police Department. “They (detectives) kept pursuing the investigation to gather more evidence.

“They were able to re-present it to a grand jury in the fall of 2014 and (Dunn) was indicted.”

The indictment meant a majority of grand jury members found there was enough evidence to justify a prosecution.

“He received word, some way, that he was about to be indicted and decided to flee,” Smith said.

Detectives from the Henry County Police Department and the U.S. Marshall’s office began a search for Dunn and discovered that he was attempting to leave the United States and enter Canada, Smith said.

Dunn drove to a Niagara border crossing and claimed asylum.

He was “ordered detained on the grounds he was inadmissible to Canada for reasons of serious criminality,” the CBSA said in an email. “Due to his serious criminality, the subject (Dunn) was housed at a provincial jail.”

Dunn appeared in front of the Immigration and Refugee Board for a detention review Sept. 22. He was ordered to remain behind bars because he posed a flight risk. He ended up in hospital later that day because of what Niagara police at the time said as a “serious injury sustained by an inmate.”

Det. Sgt. Paul Koscinski said the Niagara Regional Police have finished their investigation into Dunn’s death and the case is in the hands of the coroner.

Stanborough said he still has some details to work through.

“I have to ensure he was in custody at the time of his death, and I need that in writing,” Stanborough said. “There are some cases where officials recognize someone is going to die and release him from custody. It is an operative procedure that has done in the past to simplify things.

“I know it is a technicality, but it would make a difference if it is called as a mandatory inquest or given consideration as a discretionary inquest.

“If he was in custody — and I have little reason to suspect otherwise — the Coroner’s Act says a non-natural death in custody gets an inquest.”

Source: St Catharines Standard