2 missing foster children found in Conn., father arrested

BRAINTREE, Massachusetts — Authorities say two children, 8-year-old Patrick Nguyen (n'wihn) and his 10-year-old sister, Sarah Nguyen (n'wihn) who were forcibly taken by their father from a foster home in Massachusetts have been found safe in Connecticut and their father has been arrested.

Conn. foster mom pleads guilty for spoon-spanking

Jami Littlefield, 51, of Griswold, pleaded guilty Monday in Superior Court in Norwich to third-degree assault. She told authorities she paddled the girl in January because she was acting out, according to an arrest warrant affidavit. She faces 100 days in prison.
Littlefield was arrested after the girl's biological mother noticed bruises on her daughter's buttocks when the child bent over to pick up a toy during a supervised visit. Medical staff at the Pequot Health Center determined the girl's contusions appeared to have been caused by the repeated strikes of a blunt instrument.
Littlefield initially denied hitting the child but later said she spanked the girl with the spoon she was using to stir soup after the child struck her granddaughter, spat at her and used a racial slur, according to the arrest document.

Man Accused Of Abusing Foster Child In Court

CORPUS CHRISTI – Irving Patrick, a foster father accused of shaking his 2-year-old daughter will be in court today. He will be arraigned today on charges of injury to a child. Police say he shook her because she would not sleep. He claims he tried performing CPR on the child. The arrest report states she had a fractured skull, broken ribs, and burns on her body.

Foster parents charged for whipping boy for scuffed shoes

Lorna C. Bankston, and Timothy K. Bankston, both 47, of 2774 W. 47th Ave. in Calumet Township, the foster parents of a 7-year-old boy have been charged in Lake Superior Court with battery resulting in bodily injury for allegedly whipping him with a belt for scuffing his shoes.

Man accused of molesting children was foster parent

SPENCER Tenn. — Authorities say a William Wayne Jones who has been charged with molesting children was a foster parent during the times those crimes are alleged to have happened.  Police Chief Michael James said that while investigators don’t know for sure, they believe it is “very possible” that the victims were foster children in Jones’ home.

11-month-old girl dies in foster home in New Jersey

NEWARK, N.J. (WABC) -- Officials in New Jersey are investigating the case of Kaniiyah Ealey, an 11-month-old girl who died in foster care. Kaniiyah spent most of her life in foster care with her brothers while their mother Kenyatta worked on her sobriety, trusting the system would keep them safe. Sources say the 11-month-old drowned during a bath at her foster mother's Newark home. The Medical Examiner's office is running an autopsy, and Newark Police officers are investigating, but won't give much detail about the case. Vanessa Gentleman is a close friend of the Ealey family.
Three years ago, her son Xavier also died while in foster care.The 2 year old was beaten to death.


AUGUSTA, Maine — Sally Ann Schofield,  a Maine woman serving a 17-year sentence for the suffocation death of her foster child wants her probation conditions eased once she's released from prison.  A judge rejected Schofield's request to relax her probation conditions banning direct or indirect contact with children under 12, ruling that it's premature because she's still in prison. Schofield was convicted of manslaughter in the 2001 death of 5-year-old Logan Marr, who died after Schofield bound her with duct tape and left her alone in her basement in Chelsea.

Attorney of Foster Dad Calls Beaten Boy an "Unapologetic Thief"

The attorney for a man accused of brutally beating his foster son defended his client and had harsh words for the alleged victim.
"This young man is an unapologetic, unrepentant thief," said Michael Quinn, the attorney for 48-year-old Claybon Hawthorne. 
On April 30, police say Claybon's wife, Renee Fennell Hawthorne, accused her 12-year-old foster son of using her credit card to buy an iPhone. Renee called Claybon, who arrived at her home on the 600 block of Brooke Road in Glenside. Claybon, who stands 6-foot-2 and weighs 330 pounds, allegedly dragged the boy into a room, locked the door, and beat him with a metal belt buckle. Police say the buckle eventually broke and Claybon began to use a metal broom handle. After that broke, he allegedly used a second broomstick to continue the beating. 
Police say the assault lasted more than 20 minutes. Hawthorne then allegedly ordered the boy to clean up his face with peroxide and throw away his bloody clothes. Sources close to the investigation say Renee was in the room the entire time during the beating.
The next day, a DHS case worker arrived at the home. Renee allegedly told the child, “you better not tell them what happened or I’m going to call Clay back here.” Police say the case worker noticed the boy’s injuries and took him to the hospital. According to investigators, the boy had welts, bruises and a gash to his face that required 18 stitches to close. Hospital workers contacted police. Police say the boy then told them about the abuse.
Hawthorne was arrested on Friday and charged with aggravated assault. He is currently being held in the Montgomery County Prison on $125,000 bail. His wife was arrested Monday and charged with tampering with evidence and endangering the welfare of a child. She is currently being held on $99,000 bail. Sources close to the investigation tell NBC10's Deanna Durante that she could eventually face more charges.
According to online records, Claybon Hawthorne has been arrested several times in Philadelphia and even pleaded guilty to drug possession charges. Despite this, he was still allowed to care for foster children. A DHS spokeswoman told NBC10's Deanna Durante that they couldn't' comment on this due to privacy laws. However, the spokeswoman also said that not all criminal convictions prevent someone from being a foster parent.
Quinn defended his client on Wednesday, denying the allegation that it was a prolonged assault and also claiming the boy's injuries were accidental and that Claybon didn't mean to hurt him.
"From what I understand, there was a broom handle that had a shard on it," said Quinn. "When he accidentally hit him with the broom handle, it caused the stitches."
Quinn also claimed the boy had used his foster parents' credit cards numerous times and was running up their bills.
Officials say the Hawthorne's had several adopted children in their home. Those kids have been placed in the care of the Montgomery County Office of Children and Families. 


CLEARWATER — A 5-year-old girl who died mysteriously in January, days after being placed into foster care, suffered from a heart condition.
An autopsy completed this week found that Elizabeth Holder died Jan. 19 of endomyocardial fibrosis, aggravated by a severe case of tonsillitis.
"She wouldn't have known that she had the endomyocardial fibrosis," which is marked by a change in heart tissue and generally caused by previous viral infections, said Bill Pellan, director of
Eight days before she died, Pinellas deputies had placed Elizabeth and her 2-year-old sister into foster care after their mother was charged with neglect.
Although initial reports indicated a medical event prompted the girl's death, an investigation revealed sheriff's employees broke a state rule requiring that children placed in foster care get a medical screening within 72 hours.
Elizabeth never got a screening.
Elizabeth's heart condition likely would not have been picked up by a casual health screening, officials told the Tampa Bay Times on Friday. Tonsillitis, however, might have been detected.
"That event of the tonsillitis would have caused the heart to go into some type of arrhythmia," Pellan said Friday. "That would have triggered a cardiac event because she had the underlying disease. That's the most probable chain of events."
Pellan said investigators were not able to determine how long Elizabeth had the disease or the tonsillitis, a common condition in children.
Pinellas authorities said the girl never complained of being sick while in foster care. Tonsillitis symptoms can include fever and sore throat.
Authorities said they could not say if the outcome would have been different if Elizabeth's tonsillitis had been discovered.
The girl was taken from her parents' care on Jan. 11 after a neighbor saw her wandering unattended at the Gulf to Bay Mobile Home Park near Clearwater.
Pinellas deputies said Elizabeth's mother and father were high on prescription pills at the time.
Eight days after the children were placed in foster case, they were at a babysitter's in Dunedin when Elizabeth began clutching her head.
"She began to scream, 'It hurts! It hurts! It hurts!'" Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri told reporters at a news conference shortly after the girl's death.
Elizabeth went limp and was pronounced dead at a local hospital.
"I hope that the fact that (the screening) did not happen did not make a difference," Gualtieri said Friday. "To me it doesn't matter. Even if there was no causation we were still wrong. I take responsibility for that. We should have done it, and we own it."
Gualtieri launched an internal investigation after it became clear his agency had violated the three-day rule. A family support worker at the agency, which handles child protection investigations in Pinellas County, tried to get the children a health screening but made the doctor's appointments for Jan. 22 and Jan. 24 after offices said they were booked solid before then.
Gualtieri said the internal review was still ongoing, but that the department already made policy changes.
"We've expanded the network of the providers we can take the kids to," Gualtieri said,
The state Department of Children and Families' investigation is not yet complete, spokeswoman Terri Durdaller said Friday.
Elizabeth's family could not be reached for comment.
After the girl died, her grandmother said she believed the girl suffered a brain aneurysm based on hospital staff statements.
Nothing suggestive of an aneurysm was found in the autopsy.

Hernando deputies: Phony social worker tried to take child from foster home

BROOKSVILLE - Sheriff’s deputies have arrested a 65-year-old woman who allegedly tried to remove a juvenile from a foster home and return the child to the biological father.

Linda Grass was charged with interference with child custody and bond set at $500. Also arrested and charged with the same offense was the father, Scott Alden Smith, 51.

Following a Department of Children and Families (DCF) investigation, the child was removed from the familial home and placed in a foster home.

The day after, a female who identified herself as “Lisa Grass,” paid a visit to the foster home and identified herself as a social worker. Grass said she was there to take the child and reunite it with a parent, a sheriff’s report said.

The person at the foster home did not believe the story, told her to leave and that they were calling law enforcement. Grass fled the area.

Deputies later determined that “Linda Grass” left voice mail messages on the juvenile’s cell phone. Grass made contact with the child in the driveway of the foster home, in an attempt to persuade the juvenile to get into Grass's vehicle.

During one of Grass's visits to the foster home, a witness obtained a vehicle description and tag number. With this information in hand, detectives queried the tag information and put together a photo-pack and the suspect was positively identified as Linda Grass.

Through the investigation, detectives learned Grass was working with Smith, the biological father who was also arrested with bond set at $500.

Army major, wife charged in NJ with abusing, neglecting foster children

NEWARK, N.J. — An Army major and his wife disciplined their three foster children over a span of several years by withholding food and water and assaulting them severely enough to cause broken bones, a federal indictment released Tuesday charged.
John and Carolyn Jackson of Mount Holly made an initial court appearance and were detained Tuesday pending a bail hearing Thursday. They face 17 counts including endangerment, assault and conspiracy. John Jackson surrendered after his wife was arrested at their home, federal officials said. Each of the 17 counts carries a maximum possible prison sentence of 10 years upon conviction, according to the U.S. attorney’s office.
Federal authorities have jurisdiction because the alleged crimes occurred when the couple lived at Picatinny Arsenal, a military installation about 35 miles west of New York City.
“Carolyn and John Jackson are charged with unimaginable cruelty to children they were trusted to protect,” U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman said. “The crimes alleged should not happen to any child, anywhere, and it is deeply disturbing that they would happen on a military installation.”
Peter Rowland, a spokesman for the arsenal, said the Jacksons lived there from 2007 to 2012. He said the arsenal would not comment on the case because it is a pending legal matter.
“We have cooperated fully with investigators to date and we will continue to do so,” Rowland said.
Attorneys representing the Jacksons didn’t immediately return phone messages seeking comment Tuesday.
According to the indictment, the Jacksons had three children of their own and fostered three other children they eventually adopted. One of the foster children, referred to by the initials “J.J. (hash)2,” died in 2008. The Jacksons weren’t charged directly with the child’s death but are charged with assaulting the child and failing to seek prompt medical care.
The Jackson children are in the custody of New Jersey’s Department of Children and Families, the U.S. attorney’s office said. Kristine Brown, a spokeswoman for the department, said the one child’s death was determined not to be caused by abuse or neglect. Brown declined to comment further on the Jacksons’ case, citing confidentiality laws.
Two of the foster children were forced to eat red pepper flakes and drink hot sauce as punishment and two suffered fractured bones from assaults by the Jacksons, the indictment alleges.
The couple employed “disciplinary and child-rearing techniques that were neglectful and cruel,” the indictment charges. Also among the accusations are that the Jacksons misled Army and medical authorities in Oklahoma, Indiana and New Jersey about the nature and causes of the children’s injuries.
The alleged abuse was directed at the foster children, according to the indictment. The Jacksons’ biological children allegedly were instructed to monitor the foster children and told that the disciplinary measures were meant to train the foster children to behave.
The Jacksons also allegedly forbade their biological children from telling others about the discipline and beat one child with a belt after discovering the child had told a family friend.