Foster parent accused of rape

Foster parent accused of rape


September 27, 2011 9:21 AM


Police accuse a 33-year-old foster parent with having sexual relations with a child under the age of 13.

James Terrell Austin of 2429 Trinity Ave. was booked into Gaston County Jail Monday on a $500,000 bond.

He faces four child sex crimes including first-degree rape, indecent liberties with a child and first-degree sex offense.

The incidents date back to in 2009.

Austin was a foster parent at the time of the incident.

Foster mom facing abuse charges in child death

Adam Mertz Reporting KFOR-TV

12:00 a.m. CDT, September 21, 2011

GUTHRIE, Okla. -- A foster mom is facing a charge of abuse in connection to the death of child. Amy Holder, 40, was charged with child abuse after 2-year-old Naomi Whitecrow died in her home in January 2009.

Her trial started Tuesday with jury selection.

Opening arguments are set to begin Wednesday morning.

"There's no evidence. She didn't do anything wrong. She never hurt this child. No one ever saw her hurt the child. She didn't do anything," Holder's attorney Scott Adams said.

Holder told investigators she found Naomi and she wasn't breathing.

She then attempted CPR and called 911.

The Logan County District Attorney's Office said Naomi had numerous injuries including "blunt force trauma" and "multiple contusions and abrasions" all over her body.

When interviewed by authorities, Holder told them Naomi had significant emotional and physical health problems.

According to the OSBI, other people interviewed, including a former foster parent, contradict that saying Naomi was a happy and healthy child.

The Oklahoma Medical Examiner's Office never determined an exact cause of death.

Investigators said an out-of-state expert determined the child died of blunt force trauma to her head and body.

"I expect for Amy to be acquitted and she'll go about her life. I mean, it's already a black cloud over her head and hopefully we'll be able to remove it," Adams said.

Why Do Hawaii Children Keep Dying in Foster Care?

September 21, 2011


It seems to me that Child Protective Services has some serious explaining to do about why multiple children have died after being taken into the foster care system in Hawaii. The problem is, it doesn’t seem like anyone is forcing them to provide an explanation.

4 deaths have been reported since 2006. While this may seem low to you, the fact of the matter is that 1 death being reported is too many. The latest tragedy involves 9-month old Jayvid Waa-Ili.

Sheila Deal and her husband David are trying to get information from Child Protective Services and the state Department of Human Services about what happened to their grandson, Jayvid Waa-Ili, after he was taken from a relative’s Hauula home on Aug. 10 and ended up dead on Aug. 26 at the Wai­anae Coast Comprehensive Health Center.

“I don’t care how much it is,” Sheila Deal said. “If it’s one, it shouldn’t even be one — no matter how many children they have. It just shouldn’t happen. It just shouldn’t happen.” So far no answers have come forth, and it seems as though Child Protective Services and the state is able to dance around any inquiries. Someone (HPD) should step in and force the hand of Child Protective Services and force them to find answers.

An autopsy was performed on Jayvid, but came back inconclusive, and as of right now there are no signs of foul play. Still, there needs to be something done about this problem. What is the point of taken children out of harmful situations if they die after the fact?

The previous head of the Department of Human Services released case files in other high-profile deaths. But current Director Patricia McManaman “reinstituted long-standing departmental policy to maintain confidentiality in all child welfare cases immediately upon assuming her position” in December, then-department spokesman Joe Perez said last week. (Perez left the job Friday.)

Toxicology reports for Jayvid are due in 6-8 weeks, so we will see if that brings any new infor

mation to light.

You Can Help

Donations to pay funeral expenses for Jayvid Kawika Waa-Ili are being accepted in his name at Bank of Hawaii branches. Help the family out in their time of need.


Foster Father Convicted on Child Sex Charge

SALISBURY, Md.- A Mardela Springs foster father has been convicted of sexual abuse of a minor, the Wicomico County State's Attorney's Office announced.

According to prosecutors, the victim was a foster child in the care and custody of 52-year-old Tracy Grant Bayne. The victim was removed from Bayne's home when other foster children who had been placed on the property disclosed abuse in March 2011, prosecutors said.

Bayne, who was convicted of the aforementioned charge in Wicomico County Circuit Court on Tuesday, faces a maximum penalty of 25 years in prison. Sentencing is expected to occur within the next 60 days.

Bayne's nephew, 39-year-old Stephen James Merritt, who lived at a separate home within close proximity to Bayne, pleaded guilty last month to three counts of sexual abuse of a minor and five counts of third-degree sexual offense. By pleading guilty, Merritt waived his right to a jury trial. He faces a maximum of 125 years in prison at his sentencing hearing, which is scheduled for Nov. 4.

During his trial, prosecutors told the court that Merritt sexually abused eight boys while they were in his care from as far back as Jan. 1, 1998 to as recently as March 15, 2011.





2 year old's legs and feet severely burned, foster mom arrested

As of 3pm CT, investigators were on the scene again in the 2000 block of Southwood Drive in Lake Charles, LA. Calcasieu Parish Sheriff's Office (CPSO), Sheriff Tony Mancuso says that this case is one of the worst cases of child abuse his office has ever scene. He called the act "mean and cruel".

The foster mother is 26yr old Lan Le.

The video shows CPSO investigators arriving on scene and serving the search warrant to the suspect's husband. Later, the husband (who was on a cell phone) led investigators to a trash bin where several officials can be seen taking away garbage bags as evidence.

Nearby there are businesses that deal with children. One of the workers at Pediatric Cardiology center, Debbie LaRocca, says she was shocked and sickened by the child abuse allegations. She said she remembers seeing the child and the family from time to time. LaRocca says she never saw anything "weird or suspect".

We asked the suspect's husband if he had any comments and he gave KPLC a thumbs up then said meekly "I just want to be by myself".

Authorities said there was another child in the foster parent's care but that 7 month old child was found unharmed. However, authorities did remove the child from the home.

Tonight, September 16, 2011, Le is being held at the Calcasieu Correctional Center on 1.1 million dollars bond. She has been charged with one count 2nd degree cruelty and one count cruelty.

BELOW is a news release from Calcasieu Parish Sheriff's Office:

Lake Charles – Yesterday afternoon the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff's Office was called to a local hospital in regard to a 2 year old brought into the emergency room with severe burns to his legs.

The investigation revealed the child sustained 2nd and 3rd degree burns to both legs below the knee. He also had bruising to the top of both ears, a bruise on his face, a bruise on his genital area, and bruises under one arm.

When questioned, the foster mother, Lan Le, 26, of Southwood Dr., Lake Charles, stated the child stepped in a tub of hot water when she left him unattended for less than five minutes.

After evaluating the pattern of the burns on the child's legs, medical personnel at the hospital, have determined they are inconsistent with Le's story.

The child has been moved to a hospital in Baton Rouge due to the severity of his burns.

Another foster child in the home, who is 7 months old, has been removed by OCS. That child was uninjured.

Le has been arrested and booked into the Calcasieu Correctional Center. She is being charged with 1 ct. 2nd degree cruelty; and 1 ct. cruelty.

Judge David Ritchie as set her Bond at $1,100,000.

Jail ordered for Dodge couple who abused foster child

A Dodge County couple accused of abusing a foster child in their care will spend time in jail.
Dodge County District Attorney Kurt Klomberg said his decision to enter into a plea agreement stemmed from his desire to spare the child the trauma of reliving the events while testifying during a jury trial.

Instead, Kenneth and Kathryn Kreier pleaded no contest to charges related to the abuse of the child that took place in their town of Clyman home between September 2007 and December 2008. Kenneth Kreier, 46, was found guilty for failure to protect a child from harm, child neglect and disorderly conduct, while his wife, Kathryn Kreier, 46, was found guilty on two counts of child neglect. Each will serve one year of probation. In addition Kathryn Kreier will serve 60 days in jail while Kenneth Kreier was ordered to serve 30 days in jail.
“This was a very difficult, heart-wrenching situation. My ultimate goal was to protect the victim, both from future suffering and re-victimizing her by making her relive her trauma during a trial,” said Klomberg.

Klomberg told the media that the Kreiers’ parental rights had been permanently terminated and the child had been adopted into a “loving home where she is safe and thriving.”
Prior to the plea hearing, the Kreiers’ attorneys had convinced the court to grant them access to several years of confidential psychological treatment history of the child.

“This meant that not only would a trial require the child to relive and recount the abuse she experienced, but the child’s cross-examination by the defense would include the private and intimate thoughts, diagnosis and experiences of her psychological treatment history,” Klomberg said.
During the 13-month period the girl, now age 15, was in the care of the Kreiers, she lost nearly 25 percent of her body mass, going from 91 to 70 pounds. Child welfare investigators were tipped off about the girl’s condition by school officials . A subsequent investigation of the Juneau residence revealed that Kathryn Kreier had allegedly locked the refrigerator and cupboards to prevent the child from accessing food, according to the criminal complaint.

The woman went as far as prohibiting school officials from giving hot lunch to the girl, according to the complaint.
The girl told police that she was often locked outside and forced to sleep outside naked. The Kreiers adopted the girl in 2008, according to the complaint.

“Since the child is now safe, the only purpose a trial would serve would be to seek more punishment for the defendants,” Klomberg said. “I will not subject this child to additional trauma simply to see the defendants spend a few more months in jail,” Klomberg said



Laurelton foster kin sue city ACS

Ten foster siblings who were improperly adopted and abused by a Laurelton woman for more than two decades have taken the city to court for failing to see the red flags that led Judith Leekin to ruin their lives.
The siblings, whose ages range from 19 to 28, filed a civil rights action lawsuit in Brooklyn federal court in 2009 against the city Administration for Children’s Services and several adoption agencies to seek damages for the years of abuse they suffered while in Leekin’s care.
The 66-year-old woman is currently serving a 10-year prison sentence for using several aliases to adopt 11 children, some of whom were developmentally disabled, and keeping them locked in her home in Queens and later Port St. Lucie, Fla., until they were discovered in 2007 by the authorities.
Some of the children were so badly abused mentally and physically that they could not stand up straight or talk. An 11th sibling was missing when police discovered the children and he has never been found despite an extensive search.
Leekin received more than $180,000 in subsidies from the city for the adoptions even after she moved out of New York in 1997.
The siblings, who are only listed by their initials in the lawsuit, and their legal guardians are blaming ACS for the abuse because it never properly vetted Leekin when she made the adoption applications.
“[The] child welfare system was a maze of dysfunctional bureaucracy operating under unconstitutional policies and practices that demonstrated its deliberate disregard for the safety and well-being of the children it is duty-bound to protect,” the suit’s complaint said.
The children’s attorneys contend that ACS did not determine her identity and failed to check in on the children when there were clear signs of abuse and imprisonment. One adoption agency failed to look at Leekin’s background by not looking at her employment history, interviewing neighbors, or validating her phony Social Security number.
The suit also criticized the agency for outsourcing its adoption and letting the illegal adoptions take place.
A state law was enacted in 1999 that mandated prospective parents who were looking to adopt children needed to provide fingerprints and go through an extensive process that included interviews and a home study.

Foster Father Convicted on Child Sex Charge

SALISBURY, Md.- A Mardela Springs foster father has been convicted of sexual abuse of a minor, the Wicomico County State's Attorney's Office announced.
According to prosecutors, the victim was a foster child in the care and custody of 52-year-old Tracy Grant Bayne. The victim was removed from Bayne's home when other foster children who had been placed on the property disclosed abuse in March 2011, prosecutors said.
Bayne, who was convicted of the aforementioned charge in Wicomico County Circuit Court on Tuesday, faces a maximum penalty of 25 years in prison. Sentencing is expected to occur within the next 60 days.
Bayne's nephew, 39-year-old Stephen James Merritt, who lived at a separate home within close proximity to Bayne, pleaded guilty last month to three counts of sexual abuse of a minor and five counts of third-degree sexual offense. By pleading guilty, Merritt waived his right to a jury trial. He faces a maximum of 125 years in prison at his sentencing hearing, which is scheduled for Nov. 4.
During his trial, prosecutors told the court that Merritt sexually abused eight boys while they were in his care from as far back as Jan. 1, 1998 to as recently as March 15, 2011.

State sued over releasing info on children who die in foster care

SAN DIEGO — A lawsuit filed Wednesday by a prominent child advocacy group in San Diego contends the California Department of Social Services has fashioned new regulations that thwart a state law requiring counties to divulge more information about children in the child welfare system who die from abuse or neglect.
The lawsuit, filed in San Diego Superior Court, argues that several regulations the department adopted to comply with a state law passed in 2007 will actually result in less information being released about child deaths.
Child advocates say the issue is key because more public information about the circumstances surrounding child fatalities can lead to improvements in the care of children and reforms in the child welfare system.
“Knowledge is power,” said Robert C. Fellmeth, executive director of the Children’s Advocacy Institute at the University of San Diego School of Law. “This kind of information gives us leads on what we need to do to prevent child deaths in the future.”
Oscar Ramirez, a spokesman for the Department of Social Services, declined to comment to the suit, citing an agency policy that prevents commenting on pending litigation.
Fellmeth’s group conceived and pushed for the successful adoption of the law, known as SB 39. Previously, almost all information about the deaths of children who had come in contact with the child welfare system were confidential.
The new law laid out a three-step disclosure process that broadens the information that can be released. That included, for example, reports of any previous contact with child welfare officials and information about the licensing history of a foster care home if the child died or was injured while in that kind of care.
The lawsuit contends that some of the rules the social services agency drew up for counties to implement the law do not comply with the goal of releasing more information. One rule says information can be released only if the agency determines the injuries were caused by a parent, guardian or foster parent in the home the child was living in at the time.
The law has no such conditions, Fellmeth said. The regulation means that no information would be released if the injuries were caused by live-in boyfriends, grandparents or others, he said.
Another regulation targeted in the suit says information would not be disclosed if a child dies or was injured in a day care facility that is not in a home. Again, Fellmeth said, the law did not contain any such distinction.
The suit also identified two other regulations, one that requires local law enforcement to be consulted before any documents are released, and another that says information can only be released if the medical examiner concludes the immediate cause of death was abuse or neglect.
That would rule out disclosure cases where children who are malnourished and neglected for a lengthy period of time die for some other reason identified by the medical examiner.
The plaintiff in the suit is Robert Butterfield, a founding board member of the child advocacy group Promises2Kids, which used to be called the Child Abuse Prevention Foundation of San Diego. The suit asks the court to strike out the rules.
Fellmeth said child advocates have tried to negotiate with the Department of Social Services to modify the regulations but were not successful in changing the four identified in the suit.

The Closing of the America Care Mind: The Business of Child Abuse

Author: Joshua Allen
Published: September 06, 2011 at 5:25 pm

Los Angeles County will not be renewing their contract with America Care foster family agency.
America Care was responsible for the care and treatment of over 200 abused and neglected children and has been in business for over a decade.
So why should we care?
Because while we do not completely know the reasoning of the county behind this, it appears to be a sign that business as usual in LA foster care is in for some type of change.
Previously, when the county wanted to get the attention of foster family agencies they would cite them for rule violations which were often overlooked. Title 22 regulations are so onerous, even the county knows it is impossible to completely abide by all of them at all times and instead (appropriately) the county will concentrate on child care issues and indulge in minor fines and warnings when harmless rule violations are broken.
However, these broken rules are very useful when officials want to get you for other things, such as the perceptions of financial malfeasance or other ethical violations which are too difficult or expensive to prove or pursue.
It’s sort of like how that got Al Capone for tax evasion if you get the drift.
The county doesn’t want to be on the losing end of lawsuits such as what occurred with El Camino foster family agency and the administrator George Guiterez. El Camino was a riduclous financial garbage dump and the county bungled the agencies termination so badly, that they ended up having to pay out millions of dollars.
To avoid this pathetic outcome, the county will use what things they can to serve its needs and desires. And therefore the partial fiction of rule and or child care violations are used to meet its ends.
However, this strategy often allows much of the money and or foster care real estate to remain in the hands of the evil doers despite limiting their ability to continue raking off excess profits from abused and neglected children.
And sometimes it doesn’t even do that.
It was reported to us that Disgraced CEO of United Care foster agency Craig Woods recently tried to open up a new agency in Ventura and almost succeeded. Joe Stienberg of Refugio Para Ninos has apparently opened up another agency in a different county after paying himself several hundred grand a year, co-mingling funds, participating in several ethically challenged financial schemes, and at one point even telling employees they could keep %10 of any donations they could raise for the agency as a sort of finders fee. Regugio Para Ninos spent almost a million dollars to raise perhaps a third of that but this guy is still around.
So the old paradigm of properly obsessing on child care issues while having free reign (up to a point) on financial improprieties is apparently up for grabs.
We say apparently because we just don’t know. The county and DCFS in particular are as secretive as a bad government conspiracy movie even though all funding comes from the tax payer.
DCFS completely lacks for example, the transparency we have come to expect in our police department and hides behind confidentiality rules that have nothing to do with protecting children. Because the one thing they protect the best is themselves.
But back to America Care foster agency.
Apparently America Care will try to merge with another hapless agency. Foster parents will be in for a big surprise however if they fall for that "Seemless transition," stuff which they'll try and foist on the foster parent customers in order to keep their business. The foster parents should know there will be more than a few people tramping through their homes in the near future.
Yet why merge? What do these ethically challenged executives bring to the table for abused and neglected children besides their salaries? Why should they continue to earn off the backs from abused children simply because they know the telephone numbers of the foster parents and have an office building?
Anyways the entire 2009 tax form can be found here.
And it is always important to remember that the above salaries are always just the beginning of the story when it comes to wealth creation.
America Care was/is one of the bigger agencies in Southern California. And what set America Care apart from other agencies were several factors:
The CEO, who many referred to as "Ramsy," and who was one of the founders was listed as the CEO at the agency but many employees had never actually seen or met him.
The 'Ramsy' also had several outside business interests (including a bankruptcy a couple of years ago which may have precipitated this) and whose wife generally runs the place has a infrequently used office, and individuals are discouraged from asking too much about him - questions like... where is the guy? (One ex employee noted the room would become silent whenever he asked this).
Foster parents and employees keep talking about another six figure guy they have never met and don’t know what he does. I mean it's one thing to rarely see the boss, but it is quite another when long time employees don't t even know a guy exists in your non-profit agency. We are talking about a non-profit charity that cares and treats abused and neglected children...seems kind of strange huh?
So the old paradigm of properly obsessing on child care issues while having free reign (up to a point) on financial improprieties is apparently up for grabs.
We say apparently because we just don’t know. The county and DCFS in particular are as secretive as a bad government conspiracy movie even though all funding comes from the tax payer.
DCFS completely lacks for example, the transparency we have come to expect in our police department and hides behind confidentiality rules that have nothing to do with protecting children. Because the one thing they protect the best is themselves.
But back to America Care foster agency.
Apparently America Care will try to merge with another hapless agency. Foster parents will be in for a big surprise however if they fall for that "Seemless transition," stuff which they'll try and foist on the foster parent customers in order to keep their business. The foster parents should know there will be more than a few people tramping through their homes in the near future.
Yet why merge? What do these ethically challenged executives bring to the table for abused and neglected children besides their salaries? Why should they continue to earn off the backs from abused children simply because they know the telephone numbers of the foster parents and have an office building?
Anyways the entire 2009 tax form can be found here.
And it is always important to remember that the above salaries are always just the beginning of the story when it comes to wealth creation.
America Care was/is one of the bigger agencies in Southern California. And what set America Care apart from other agencies were several factors:
The CEO, who many referred to as "Ramsy," and who was one of the founders was listed as the CEO at the agency but many employees had never actually seen or met him.
The 'Ramsy' also had several outside business interests (including a bankruptcy a couple of years ago which may have precipitated this) and whose wife generally runs the place has a infrequently used office, and individuals are discouraged from asking too much about him - questions like... where is the guy? (One ex employee noted the room would become silent whenever he asked this).
Foster parents and employees keep talking about another six figure guy they have never met and don’t know what he does. I mean it's one thing to rarely see the boss, but it is quite another when long time employees don't t even know a guy exists in your non-profit agency. We are talking about a non-profit charity that cares and treats abused and neglected children...seems kind of strange huh?

Caregiver charged in case of missing girl

MIAMI, Sept. 12 (UPI) -- Florida prosecutors plan to bring first-degree murder and other charges against the former caregiver of a 4-year-old girl who has been missing since 2000.
The South Florida Sun Sentinel reported Monday nobody knows whether foster child Rilya Wilson is alive or dead.
"In a homicide case, generally there is a body, and there is not one here," said Scott Sakin, an attorney representing caregiver Geralyn Graham.
The Florida Department of Children & Families did not learn Rilya was missing until 2002, and her disappearance and the fact it wasn't discovered until then led to major changes in the state's child welfare system, the Sun Sentinel said.
Graham, 65, has denied harming Rilya and told investigators she last saw her in January 2001 when a woman who said she was from the DCF took her for a medical exam.
A Miami-Dade grand jury indicted Graham in March 2005 on charges of first-degree murder, kidnapping and aggravated child abuse.
At the time, prosecutors said they would seek the death penalty but have since decided to seek life in prison instead.
When Graham was indicted, State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said, she had told someone in jail she had smothered Rilya with a pillowcase because the child insisted on wearing an "evil" Cleopatra costume instead of an angel costume for Halloween.
Graham was arrested on unrelated charges and convicted of using a friend's Social Security number to buy a sport utility vehicle. She has been in jail since.
The trial is scheduled to start Oct. 11.

Hardin woman denies charge in death of child



Lavonna Bird is arraigned in Big Horn County District Court on Thursday.

HARDIN — A woman charged with negligent homicide for the death of a 3-year-old boy found locked in a hot car was arraigned Thursday in Big Horn County District Court.

Lavonna Bird, 50, appeared before Judge Blair Jones more than three weeks after the Aug. 17 death of Jaren Wayne Blacksmith, one of three foster children in Bird’s care.

Bird pleaded not guilty to the charge, and Jones maintained bond at $100,000 after rejecting a request form Bird’s attorney for a lesser amount.

Bozeman attorney John Hud represented Bird at the arraignment and told the judge that Bird has no prior criminal record. Bird is not a flight risk, Hud said, and she is charged with a crime of negligence, not a deliberate act. Hud asked the judge to set bond at $25,000 or $50,000.

Hud also suggested that conditions such as GPS monitoring and a curfew could be imposed to ensure Bird’s compliance with pre-trial release conditions.

Jones said he was concerned that Bird could flee to the Crow Reservation beyond state jurisdiction before her case can be resolved.

The judge suggested that he would consider reducing Bird’s bond later if she signs a waiver of extradition, which would allow authorities to return her to state jurisdiction from the reservation.

The judge also ordered that Bird have no contact with children outside the presence of another adult while her case is pending. Hud told Jones that Bird had three foster children in her care at the time of the boy’s death. She also has several grandchildren, the attorney said.

Bird and her husband, who is listed as a witness in the criminal case, also ran a day care for many years, Hud told the judge.

A trial date will be set later. At the conclusion of the court hearing Thursday, Bird was returned to the Big Horn County jail where she has been held in solitary confinement since her arrest.

Prosecutors allege in court records that Jaren died from hyperthermia — or elevated body temperature — after being locked in a car at Bird’s residence for several hours on a day where the outside temperature reached 93 degrees.

The Big Horn County Sheriff’s Office responded to a 911 call from the residence at about 6 p.m. Blacksmith was pronounced dead about an hour later.

Bird initially told authorities that she left the boy in the back of the car because he was sleeping and he was a fussy child when he woke up, according to charging documents filed by Chief Deputy County Attorney David Sibley.

“The timelines of when she had left the child in the vehicle changed multiple times, but each time (Bird) admitted that she had left the child in the vehicle,” court records state.

Bird also told investigators that she left the windows of the vehicle down, but Sibley alleges in court records that the investigation determined that the windows were up when the child was in the vehicle.

“Evidence was found in the back of the vehicle which indicated that there was likely someone in the back of the vehicle, attempting to escape and unable to do so,” Sibley said in court records.

Child locks on the vehicle doors were engaged, Sibley said.

The case is also being investigated by federal authorities, according to a search warrant request filed by FBI agents.

According to that document, Bird allegedly assaulted the boy while the vehicle was parked outside a dental clinic in Crow Agency.

While Jaren’s death was determined to be caused by prolonged heat exposure, an autopsy also showed fresh bruising to the boy’s scalp, forehead, right cheek, middle shoulder and upper back, according to the search warrant.

Another child told authorities that Jaren was sleeping in the vehicle on the way to the clinic and awoke when they arrived. Bird became upset with him, the child witness said, and she assaulted the boy by slamming his head on the floor board and against a car window.

The child said Jaren appeared to go back to sleep, and he was left in the vehicle wrapped in blanket outside the clinic.

When they returned to Hardin, Jaren was again left in the vehicle, the child said. The child said she went to check on Blacksmith at about 2:30 p.m. and saw him flailing in the vehicle.

It was unclear Thursday if federal authorities, who have jurisdiction in major crimes against Indians on reservations, intend to file charges in the case.

A senior FBI agent in Billings said recently that the investigation was ongoing and that federal and state prosecutors would decide whether the case would proceed in state or federal court.

Child who died in hot car may have been beaten

By LORNA THACKERAY Of The Gazette StaffThe Billings Gazette | Posted: Tuesday, August 23, 2011 10:51 am | (49) Comments

 A 3-year-old child who died while locked in a car in Hardin on a 93-degree day may have been beaten earlier that morning on the Crow Reservation.
Lavonna Bird, 50, the child's foster mother, is being held in the Big Horn County Detention Center in Hardin on a state complaint charging her with negligent homicide in the Aug. 17 death of Jaren Wayne Blacksmith. Bond is set at $100,000.
But an application for a search warrant filed by the FBI said agents wanted to search a 2006 gray GMC Envoy for possible evidence of federal crimes, including assault resulting in serious bodily injury and murder.
According to an affidavit filed with the request for a search warrant, Bird assaulted the toddler while the vehicle was parked outside Indian Health Service (IHS) in Crow Agency.
Major crimes against Indians on Indian reservations are usually handled by the FBI.
While the cause of death was determined to be prolonged heat exposure, an autopsy showed fresh bruising to the scalp, forehead, right cheek, mid-shoulder and upper back.
The affidavit said Bird, who lives in Hardin, told investigators that she had traveled to the IHS dental clinic in the late morning with the boy and two other children, but was not able to get a walk-in appointment.
Bird said she put the children in back in her Envoy and drove back to Hardin. Blacksmith fell asleep on the way home. When she arrived in Hardin in the early afternoon, she left him to sleep with the windows of the vehicle rolled down, she said. About 6 p.m., she went to check on the child and found him dead, she said.
But one of the other children who was in the vehicle told investigators that the Blacksmith boy awoke when they arrived at the IHS clinic that morning and that Bird became upset with him. She said Bird assaulted the boy, slamming his head on the floor board and against a car window.
The girl said the Blacksmith boy appeared to fall asleep again. She and the other child went into the clinic with Bird, but Bird left Blacksmith inside the Envoy wrapped in a blanket. When Bird and the girls got back into the car, Blacksmith appeared to be still asleep.
They drove to Hardin, but the victim was not removed from the vehicle, she said. When the girl looked in the car about 2:30 p.m., she said she saw the boy flailing about.
At 6 p.m., the Big Horn County Sheriff's Office received a 911 call about a child in distress. Court documents filed in Hardin said that while Bird claimed the windows had been rolled down, the investigation showed that while the child was inside, the windows were up.
"Evidence was found in the back of the vehicle which indicated that there was likely someone in the back of the vehicle attempting to escape, but unable to do so," the document said.
The return on the search warrant showed agents seized several items of clothing, a blanket, pieces of carpeting and a spare-tire/tool compartment door.
Investigation into the boy's death is being conducted jointly by the FBI, BIA and Big Horn County Sheriff's Office. An arraignment date has not been set in state District Court in Hardin.
Eric Barnhart, supervisory senior resident agent for the FBI in Billings, said that investigation is ongoing and prosecutors from the jurisdictions involved will make the decision on whether the case proceeds in state or federal court.
Blacksmith, who turned 3 on Aug. 10, was the son of Latsha Little Light and Dwayne Blacksmith. He was buried Monday in Lodge Grass.
Lorna Thackeray can be reached at 657-1314 or lthackeray@billingsgazette.com

Local mother, son accused of sexually assaulting foster children

Local mother, son accused of sexually assaulting foster children



Eau Claire (WQOW) - A foster mom and her son are accused of sexually assaulting foster children in their rural Eau Claire home.

Jane Howard and her son Joshua Howard, 21, are under court orders not to have any contact with children after a hearing Thursday.

Four former foster children recently told investigators Joshua Howard sexually assaulted them numerous times at the home on Olson Drive. The boys ranged in age from seven to 12 years old. Some say he would deny them access to video games unless they complied. And one of the boys told detectives the assaults, "Ruined his life." He also says his foster father witnessed the activity but did nothing about it.

Police say Joshua Howard admitted to sexual activity with one of the boys when Howard was 14 or 15, but denied assaulting the others.

Meantime, one of the same children says Jane Howard sexually assaulted him twice. He says she threatened to kill him if he told anyone.


American foster parents on trial

The trial of the American adoptive parents accused of the murder of their foster child from Russia Vanya Skorobogatov starts in the US. The Cravers adopted Vanya and his twin sister Dasha, who previously lived in an orphanage in Chelyabinsk, in 2003. In August of 2009, the seven year old boy died in a hospital in Pennsylvania. The investigation established that the causes of death were beatings and starvation.


More sex charges against former boys’ ranch operator



Suspect formerly from Hamilton ran ranch for foster children in Ancaster in 1969.


Hamilton police have filed more sex charges against a former city man who ran the now defunct Way-J-Boys Ranch for foster children in rural Ancaster over 40 years ago.

Police said Thursday Howard Wayne Jones, 68, is now facing three charges indecent assault on a male and three counts of gross indecency in relation to incidents at the Bennetto Community Centre pool in Hamilton in 1967, a private home in Hamilton in 1968 and the Way-J-Boys Ranch in 1969.

The Bennetto Community Centre is a city operated rec centre on Hughson Street North. Police did not say what those complaints involved.

Sergeant Terri-Lynn Collings said investigators believe there may be more victims involved with at the Bennetto pool.

Jones, who was arrested on a Hamilton police warrant at his home by RCMP in Salmon Arm, B.C., on Aug 8 had been already charged with indecent assault on a male and gross indecency.

These charges relate to offences in 1969 and therefore are titled as they were under the Criminal Code as it stood at that time. He has no prior convictions.

The charges in relation to alleged incidents at the Way-J-Boys Ranch involve foster children who stayed at the farm.

Detective Dave Oleniuk of the police victims of crime unit said in a statement Thursday police believe there may be further victims and encouraged anyone with information to contact him at 905-5405543.

Oleniuk said the latest charges came about after a victim came forward following previous media releases.

Jones,, who ran the boys’ ranch on Powerline Road East in Copetown in 1969, was arrested

Hamilton police said Jones was arrested following complaints about the ranch, which surfaced early last spring. Police made a public appeal for witnesses in the Hamilton area in May and other witnesses have come forward.

Oleniuk said previously the Way-J Boys Ranch was only in operation a short time, about six months from about the end of March or early April, until the end of August or early September in 1969. Jones ran the ranch until it closed after there were “some complaints.”

Oleniuk could not say what those complaints were. The victim made no statement at the time and so there was nothing on record.

“There is no statute of limitations on criminal offences in Canada, “ Oleniuk said.

Shortly after, Jones went out west and lived in various towns in British Columbia. He has been there ever since. Oleniuk believes he was a building superintendent and held various other jobs.

Not much else is known about Jones. He once had family here, but doesn’t anymore.

Police did say he volunteered at a drop-in centre for neighbourhood kids run out of St. Luke’s parish in the north end of Hamilton, prior to his involvement at the ranch in 1969. It’s believed the building burned down in 1970. No allegations have been made with regard to this location.

Way-J Boys Ranch could care for eight foster boys between the ages of 10-14. Police expect there may be more victims. Now that Jones’ name has been released and charges have been laid, police hope they will come forward.

“I’ve got a few first names, “ said Oleniuk. “Other witnesses have come forward, but unfortunately I haven’t been able to identify anybody, but my victim.”

The Children’s Aid Society (CAS) and the Catholic Children’s Aid Society (CCAS) have no records of organizations dating back to the 1960s making it difficult to identify other potential victims.

“We have records that go back to the early 1900s, but we track individuals, not residences, “ Dominic Verticchio, executive director, CAS of Hamilton said in May. “The recordkeeping of today’s standards is night and day to what it was in the ‘60s.”

The ranch occupied a farm on the property that was leased by Jones. Last spring detectives released an old black-and-white photograph of the house in hopes of jogging someone’s memory. The photograph was taken in 1974 before renovations were done on the house.

Investigators are asking anyone with more information to contact the Hamilton police victims of crime unit.


905-526-2469

Trial resumes for foster mother accused of murder



Posted: Aug 31, 2011 1:59 PM MT

The second-degree murder trial of an Edmonton foster mother resumed Wednesday with the accused taking the stand in her own defence.

Lily Choy is accused of killing a three-year-old boy who was in her care.

The child, who cannot be named under Alberta's Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act., died of a severe brain injury in January 2007.

This is the second time Choy has been tried on this charge.

A jury found Choy guilty of manslaughter in November 2008 and she was later sentenced to three years in prison.

In March 2010, the Alberta Court of Appeal ordered a new trial after finding the judge in the first trial gave the jury a "legally incorrect exhortation" to reach a verdict after they said they were deadlocked.

The second trial is being heard by judge alone in Edmonton Court of Queen's Bench.