New Details in Foster Child Death



by Mikaya Thurmond

Panicked... That's the reason Sahara Palmer's foster parents say they waited seven hours to take her to hospital. Foster mom, Clara Edwards, described the two-year-old as unresponsive in her final hours of life.
  
Police say it all started New Year's Day, when Edwards claimed that Sahara fell down the stairs to chase a toy. A very different story from what she told police the day of the incident when she describe two days full of "minor injuries"

Edwards says the child was fine after the fall, but noticed the two-year-old was laying in her bed more than 8 hours later, not moving. Edwards says she "attempted to revive the child by placing hands in cold water and then taking the child outside in the cold air."

Once realizing things weren't turning around, the foster parents decided to go to the hospital, but not before "driving around for a little while and then driving back home."

With multiple case workers and a 12-page DHS summary documenting a series of injuries, many may wonder if this case fell through the cracks. While there's more questions than answers, one thing is certain. This little girl suffered a life of neglect and abuse.


CATOOSA COUNTY, GA (WRCB) -
New documents show North Georgia foster parents waited seven hours before seeking help for an injured child in their care. Two-year-old Saharah Weatherspoon later died from that injury.

It's a case Channel 3 has been following since it happened late last year. Division of Family and Children Services documents list other injuries and allegations of abuse and neglect against the foster parents.

In the 12-page, heavily-redacted report, around 2:30 p.m. on December 29th, 2013, Saharah Weatherspoon's foster parent said she fell down the stairs inside the Ringgold residence while playing with a ball. The foster parent reported the child crying a little, but said she kept playing and seemed fine.

Later that night around 10 p.m., a sibling found Saharah slumped over and making snoring noises. The foster parent tried reviving her with cold water and fresh air, and drove around for a while, but Saharah never got better. When asked why they didn't call 911, the foster parent said they "panicked."

Eyewitness News spoke with the child's biological mother, Jennifer Palmer, right after it happened. She suspected her child was a victim of violence.

"I told her, there's something going on in that house, they're doing something to my baby," Palmer said.

In the case summary, preliminary autopsy results showed evidence of bruising on the child's neck, back, arms, face and torso, along with new and old brain bleeding. The 12-page document notes three previous complaints and allegations of abuse and neglect against the foster parents.

In May 2013, the foster parent said one child's cut on the cheek happened after falling out of a chair. The case manager ruled it was "completely accidental."

Just months before Saharah's death, there were two additional complaints involving bruising, abuse and neglect. Case managers ruled those allegations were either accidental or unproved.

No charges have been filed, but the case is still open according to the Catoosa County Sheriff's Office. Captain Chris Lyons said they are "waiting on final autopsy results to come back" before deciding to pursue any charges.

The Catoosa County Coroner said the pathologist is performing additional autopsy tests, and those results are not back yet. It could take up to several weeks or months, she said.