The Department of Children and Families (hereinafter DCF) affirmative duty “to ensure the safety of children” (110 CMR 1.02). In April and June 2019, three babies died in Essex County while in DCF custody. The Essex County District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett is investigating the cause of each death.
On April 18, a four-week-old baby, who was part of an ongoing case with DCF, died in Haverhill. They found the baby unresponsive and later died in the hospital. The baby was living in a shelter with the biological mother.
Marylou Sudders, The Department of Health and Human Services secretary, issued a statement saying “as best we can determine” they speculate that the baby died because of Co-sleeping. They are waiting for a report back from the medical examiner’s office. Until then, the investigation is still open.
A week later, a three-month-old baby died while in a foster home in Methuen. They found the baby unresponsive in the home on April 25, 2019. They rushed the baby to the hospital and then pronounced dead. The Essex County District Attorney Blodgett’s office is still investigating the cause of death.
On June 23, 2019, a 15-month-old baby died in a foster home in Lawrence. They found the baby unresponsive in the home. They rushed the baby to the hospital where the baby died. The previous Friday, June 21, 2019, the foster father reported that the baby had a high fever. The Essex County District Attorney Blodgett is investigating this tragedy and reports that the baby “showed no obvious signs of trauma.” District Attorney Blodgett is waiting on toxicology results.
The baby’s biological father is distraught and looking for answers. In an interview with CBS Boston, the biological father commented, “They say they’re going to take care of the kids, but clearly it doesn’t seem like they are. How did you let that happen? Why didn’t you bring her to the hospital the first day you noticed the fever?”
Carrie Kimball, the spokesperson for DA Blodgett’s office, released a statement on behalf of Jonathan Blodgett on June 25, 2019, regarding the tragic deaths. She stated that “the involvement of the DA’s office is required by law and should not in any way indicate that these deaths are criminal or not. Also, understand that we are conducting investigations, and we consider and look at ALL the evidence to determine what happened. Nothing is ruled in or out. It is PREMATURE to SPECULATE as to how any of these children died until the Medical Examiner makes their ruling, which takes time. We will not speculate, guess, or give out information out until the investigation is completed.”
The Essex County District Attorney Blodgett’s Office, DCF, parents, family, friends, and neighbors are all awaiting answers. Regardless of the answers that come forward, this will not bring back these three children.