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CALL 6: DCS reports made before baby's death

Posted at 5:11 PM, May 04, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-04 18:55:53-04

INDIANAPOLIS -- Newly released records from the Indiana Department of Child Services reveal the agency had prior involvement with a man accused of dropping his 4-month-old baby son on a hardwood floor and setting a fire to cover up the infant’s death.

Cory Wallace is charged with numerous felonies in connection with the February 10, 2015 death, including neglect of a dependent resulting in death, aggravated battery, obstruction of justice and arson.

MORE | Coroner: Muncie 4-month-old died before fire

Wallace admitted to police that he had "accidentally" dropped Jensen on a hardwood floor, and started a fire after he “freaked out” when the baby wasn’t breathing, according to the Delaware County probable cause affidavit.

Following Jensen’s death, Call 6 Investigates submitted a records request to the Indiana Department of Child Services for the family’s case history.

While many of the records are redacted and contain limited information, the history shows people were concerned about Wallace potentially abusing or neglecting children and called DCS to report those concerns.

Records show the Indiana Department of Child Services investigated Cory Wallace in 2012 for child neglect, and substantiated the case, which means they found Wallace responsible.

When DCS substantiates a case it means that they believe it’s more likely to be true than not true, which is a lower threshold than a criminal case --- which is beyond a reasonable doubt.

Wallace was also criminally charged in 2013 in Marion County with neglect of a dependent for failing to seek medical attention for his injured son.

While those charges were pending, the DCS closed a CHINS (Child In Need Of Services) case involving the Wallace household.

In 2014, DCS investigated an allegation of physical abuse and child neglect with Cory Wallace listed as the parent, but DCS could not substantiate the claim.

In the criminal case for neglect of a dependent, Wallace was sentenced to home detention, probation, and community service on Jan. 20, 2015, just weeks before Jensen’s death.

Court records do not make any mention of Wallace being unable to see his children as a result of his conviction.

DCS declined to speak about the Cory Wallace case, but agreed to speak in generalities about the process.

Michelle Kalogeros, communications coordinator for DCS, told Call 6 Investigates when they investigate abuse or neglect, they take into account a family’s history with the agency.

“When the department receives a report alleging abuse or neglect, the family case manager will assess allegations listed in that report specifically, as well as how it pertains to the safety of the children involved,” said Kalogeros. “Anytime a family case manager is in a home assessing safety, all that information is presented to the judge in the courtroom. A judge takes that information and decides what the outcome will be.”

Kalogeros emphasized DCS does not focus on custody.

“I don’t think anyone would want us coming into their home on a win and trying to remove their children,” said Kalogeros. “A family case manager is able to assess safety, and if they believe the child is unsafe, they can use the team around them to decide if the child should be removed. There is a need for a judge approval to confirm the removal should have occurred.”

Call 6 Investigates asked DCS about criticism that the agency doesn’t heed warnings for problematic families.

“We can only take the information in front of us. We can’t create information,” said Kalogeros. “That wouldn’t be legal, that wouldn’t be fair to the families, but we absolutely respond in any way we can for child safety.”

Wallace is being held at the Delaware County Jail.

His attorney declined to comment for this story.

His wife, Sheryl Wallace, is also charged with neglect of a dependent resulting in death and obstruction of justice.

Police also asked Cory Wallace about Jensen's broken ribs and skin abrasions. Wallace admitted on several occasions when he and his wife Sheryl were arguing he would "grab" and "snatch" Jensen from her, and that, "I don't know my own strength."

The criminal case involving Jensen’s death has yet to go to trial.