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1 in 4 child deaths in 2018 were caused by neglect or abuse, according to DCS

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Posted at 10:34 AM, Jan 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-02 10:34:46-05

INDIANAPOLIS — One out of every four child deaths investigaged by the Department of Child Services in 2018 were caused by neglect or abuse.

That's according to a report issued by DCS at the end of 2019.

In 2018, DCS was called to investigate 242 child fatalities, of those deaths, 65 — or 26% — were determined to be a direct result of abuse or neglect. DCS determined 22 of the fatalities were due to abuse and 43 of them were from neglect. You can read the full DCS report on the child abuse cases at the bottom of this story, for a full report on neglect cases, including a break-down of all other abuse information released by DCS for 2018 read the report HERE.

According to that report, 52 of the victims were 3 years old or younger and the highest number of child neglect or abuse deaths were recorded in Lake County (8) and Madison County (5).

  • The report also lists a detailed breakdown of abuse and neglect fatalities by county. You can see that below.
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One child died as a result of suicide, 30 child deaths were determined to be homicides and 10 of the 65 victims had prior substantiated history with DCS.

The most common causes of child death from abuse or neglect included:

  • Abusive head trauma: 16
  • Drowning: 8
  • Poisoning: 8
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According to the DCS report, unsafe sleeping conditions remains the leading cause of accidental child deaths.

  • DCS is legally required to review all child fatalities that have the following criteria:
  • Children under the age of 1 when the child’s death was sudden, unexpected, unexplained or involves allegations of abuse or neglect.
  • Children age 1 or older when the child’s death involves allegations of abuse or neglect.

DCS reminds parents and caregivers to remember the ABCs of children sleeping conditions: Children should sleep Alone, on their Backs and in a Crib.

DCS Report: Child Fatalities Due to Abuse in 2018

  • A 5-year-old child died of blunt-force trauma. The child had never been removed from the home by DCS. The child was at his home with his mother and the mother’s boyfriend when he was found, unresponsive, on the bathroom floor by the mother’s boyfriend. The mother was taking a nap at the time the child was found. Her boyfriend woke her up, and she called the child’s grandmother, who came to the home and found the child still on the bathroom floor. The mother admitted to disciplining the child several days earlier with a belt, adding that her boyfriend had to pull her off the child because she was striking the child too aggressively. The mother also admitted she had seen and allowed her boyfriend to discipline the child and had heard her boyfriend punching the child on several occasions. At autopsy, the child’s injuries were consistent with neck compression. The mother’s boyfriend was charged as a result of this fatality. DCS substantiated the allegations against the mother and her boyfriend.
  • A 2-year-old child suffocated. The child had never been removed from the home by DCS. The child was found deceased in her room with a blanket around her neck and bruising to her face. The child resided with her mother, her mother’s boyfriend and several siblings. The mother reported that she and her boyfriend had put the child to sleep together the prior night, and when she went to check on the child later in the morning, she found her tangled in a blanket, blue, with blood coming out of her mouth. One of the other children in the home said that the mother’s boyfriend had put the child to sleep the prior night. Another child said the mother’s boyfriend was overly physical with his discipline of the children, and he frequently covered the decedent in thick blankets and tucked them under her. Another child in the home indicated the mother’s boyfriend would hit the decedent hard and make her cry. The injuries were consistent with someone having placed a hand over the child’s mouth and neck, resulting in loss of consciousness. The autopsy revealed internal injuries and contusions to numerous parts of the child’s body, as well as old fractures. The pathologist indicated that simply swaddling the child would not have caused her death. The mother and her boyfriend were charged as a result of this fatality. DCS substantiated the allegations against the mother and her boyfriend.
  • A 2-month-old child died of skull fractures. The child had never been removed from the home by DCS. The day of the fatality, the child was with his father while the child’s mother was at school. When the mother returned home from school, she thought something was wrong with the child. The father admitted to spanking the child on his bottom and seeing bruises on the child’s bottom and blood in the child’s diaper after doing so. He denied causing any head injuries to the child, stating he fell with the child and possibly shook him a little fast after spanking him. The father was the only caregiver home with the child when the child sustained his injuries. The father was charged as a result of this fatality. DCS substantiated the allegations against the father.
  • A 15-year-old child died of gunshot wounds. The child had never been removed from the home by DCS. The child primarily resided with his mother and sister, but the children were at their father’s home to visit at the time of the fatality. The mother received a call from the child’s school, reporting the child was absent. She attempted to contact the child, his sister and their father, but when she could not get into contact with them, she went to the father’s house. The mother called law enforcement, and the child, his sister and their father were found, deceased from gunshot wounds. The incident was determined to be a double murder/suicide at the hands of the father. DCS substantiated the allegations against the father.
  • A 13-year-old child died of gunshot wounds. The child had never been removed from the home by DCS. The child primarily resided with her mother and brother, but the children were at their father’s home to visit at the time of the incident. The mother received a call from the child’s school, reporting the child was absent. She Fatalities due to abuse 2018 Annual Report of Child Abuse & Neglect Fatalities in Indiana 6 attempted to contact the child, her brother and their father, but when she could not get into contact with them, she went to the father’s house. The mother called law enforcement, and the child, her brother and their father were found, deceased from gunshot wounds. The incident was determined to be a double murder/suicide at the hands of the father. DCS substantiated the allegations against the father.
  • A 3-month-old child died of head injuries. The child had never been removed from the home by DCS but did have an open case at the time of the fatality. The child’s parents took him to the emergency room on the day of his death. The parents’ stories about what occurred were inconsistent and improbable given the child’s multiple injuries, including brain bleeding, brain swelling and retinal hemorrhaging. Physicians indicated the child’s injuries were consistent with non-accidental abusive head trauma. The parents were charged as a result of this fatality. DCS substantiated the allegations against the mother and father.
  • A 2-month-old child died of blunt-force trauma. The child had never been removed from the home by DCS. The child lived at home with his mother, father and half-siblings. The night before the child’s death, the mother asked the father if he could watch the child while she took the other two children to school in the morning. After dropping the other children off at school, the mother received a phone call from the father, who was crying hysterically. The father told her the child was limp and unresponsive. The father reported he gave the child an ounce of water, and the child went limp. The father later stated he fell asleep with the child and then woke up because the child was screaming. He said he thought the child hit his head on a nearby marble coffee table. The child underwent a neck MRI, eye exam and skeletal survey, which showed the child had a brain injury. Doctors determined the father’s story was inconsistent with the injuries. The father was charged as a result of this fatality. DCS substantiated the allegations against the father.
  • An 8-year-old child died of strangulation and a gunshot wound. The child had never been removed from the home by DCS. The child resided with her mother and father. On the day of the incident, the father contacted 911 dispatch and informed them he had shot his wife and daughter; when law enforcement arrived, they would find him, deceased, as well. The father indicated to dispatchers his reasoning for killing his wife and child was because of “a very horrible marriage, years and years of problems.” When law enforcement arrived, they found the mother, father and child, deceased. DCS substantiated the allegations against the father.
  • A 2-month-old child died of blunt-force trauma. The child had never been removed from the home by DCS. The child resided with her mother, father and several siblings. The mother left the child in the care of the father so she could work the night shift at her job. The father stated while the mother was at work, the child woke up and began to cry. The father admitted to shaking the child a few times and putting her back in her crib. The child woke a couple of hours later and was crying again, so he said he shook the child and then threw her from her crib onto his bed. The father was charged as a result of this fatality. DCS substantiated the allegations against the father.
  • A 2-year-old child died from blunt-force trauma. The child had never been removed from the home by DCS. The child resided with his mother, his mother’s boyfriend and several siblings. The mother stated that prior to the day of the fatality, the child had been ill and did not want to eat. The mother’s boyfriend was watching the child the following day and admitted he got angry because the child would not eat. The mother’s boyfriend admitted he sometimes hit the child in the head in an attempt to force him to eat. The mother’s boyfriend stated that on the day of the fatality, he threw the child onto his bed, and the child’s stomach hit the board of the bed. The mother’s boyfriend was charged as a result of this fatality. DCS substantiated the allegations against the mother and her boyfriend.
  • A 4-month-old child died from blunt-force trauma. The child had never been removed from the home by DCS. When the child was taken, unresponsive, to the hospital, the mother indicated to law enforcement, hospital staff and DCS that the child had been with a babysitter, and she found the babysitter giving the child CPR at time of pick-up. The child’s paternal great-grandfather, who lived with the child, mother and father, stated he was home with the mother and the child all morning, and the child had been crying. The great-grandfather indicated the mother left the home with the child, without a word, with the baby covered in a car seat. The father said the mother never left the child with a babysitter. The alleged babysitter said she hadn’t seen the mother since she was pregnant and had never met the child. The mother was charged as a result of this fatality. DCS substantiated the allegations against the mother.
  • A 9-month-old child died of blunt-force trauma. The child had never been removed from the home by DCS. Parents alleged the child was found, unresponsive, in the bathtub, after the father left the child in the tub to retrieve a towel and a diaper. At autopsy, the child was found to have multiple hemorrhages. There was no evidence of drowning found. The parents could not provide a reasonable explanation for the child’s head injuries. At the time of this writing, no criminal charges have been filed. DCS substantiated the allegations against the mother and father.
  • A 1-year-old child died of blunt-force trauma. The child had never been removed from the home by DCS. The mother left the child home with her boyfriend while she went to work. When she returned home, her boyfriend said the child was sleeping, so she went to bed. The next morning, the mother found the child, unresponsive. The child was found to have subdural hemorrhages, optic nerve hemorrhages and other brain trauma. Medical professionals indicated the child’s injury would have caused an immediate change in the child’s behavior. The mother’s boyfriend was charged as a result of this fatality. DCS substantiated the allegations against the mother’s boyfriend.
  • A 1-year-old child died from blunt-force trauma. The child had never been removed from the home by DCS. The family was residing in a hotel, and the mother indicated she woke around 3 a.m. on the night of the incident and found the child, unresponsive, in her playpen. The child presented to the hospital with bruises, which the mother said had been caused by the child’s sibling. The mother’s boyfriend said he was watching the children that night while the mother was at work. He stated he took the children to his parents’ home for a while, and the child got sick, so he took the children home and gave them a bath around 8 or 9 p.m. The mother’s boyfriend indicated he put the child down in her playpen. The mother asked her boyfriend to pick her up from work between 10 and 11 p.m. The child was asleep when they got home. The other children in the home were later observed, and one was noted to have bruises on his body and his eyes. One child indicated that their mother’s boyfriend hit both of the other children often. The mother and her boyfriend were charged as a result of this fatality. DCS substantiated the allegations against the mother and her boyfriend.
  • A 1-year-old child died of blunt-force trauma. The child had never been removed from the home by DCS. The child arrived at the hospital with the mother’s boyfriend. He indicated he had found the child, unresponsive, in the middle of the night and rushed him to the hospital. The mother’s boyfriend indicated he ran into a pole on the way to the hospital and flagged down a passerby to transport them to the hospital. Doctors indicated the child had evidence of significant physical abuse that would not have occurred from a car accident. Mother indicated she woke up, and neither her boyfriend nor the child were in the apartment, but she observed the apartment was in disarray with blood on clothing articles. Her boyfriend was unable to provide an adequate explanation for the child’s injuries. The mother and her boyfriend were both charged as a result of this fatality. DCS substantiated the allegations against the mother and her boyfriend.
  • A 1-year-old child died of blunt-force trauma. The child had never been removed from the home by DCS. The mother left the child at home with her husband, the child’s stepfather, while she was at work. The stepfather said the child was sitting in a baby bath seat with the shower running when the stepfather left the room to check on another child. The stepfather said he heard a thud and then found the child, unresponsive, in the shower. When the child was taken to the hospital, he had bruising on his body and a bite mark on his face. The stepfather said that after he found the child, unresponsive, he hit, shook and bit the child in an attempt to wake him. The injuries were not consistent with this story. The stepfather and the mother were charged as a result of this fatality. DCS substantiated the allegations against the stepfather and the mother.
  • A 10-year-old child died of a gunshot wound. The child had never been removed from the home by DCS. Law enforcement responded to a call of two unresponsive individuals in an apartment. Both the child and mother had suffered gunshot wounds to the head. The grandmother found the child and the mother after having not heard from them for several days. The grandmother indicated the mother was schizophrenic, and the family was in the process of having her committed to a mental-health facility. The mother had stolen a gun from the child’s father’s home a couple of days prior. The incident was determined to be a murder/suicide. DCS substantiated the allegations against the mother.
  • A 7-month-old child died from blunt-force trauma. The child had never been removed from the home by DCS. The child presented to the hospital with severe head trauma. The mother had taken the child with her to her boyfriend’s home for the night. Her story about what happened after they got there was inconsistent. At times, she said she had seen the child smile earlier in the morning; other times, she said the child was dead in her crib when she found her. Physicians indicated the child’s injury would have occurred close to the time the child became unresponsive. The mother was the caregiver for the child during this time. She was charged as a result of this fatality. DCS substantiated the allegations against the mother
  • A 2-year-old child died from blunt-force trauma. The child had never been removed from the home by DCS. The child was found, deceased, at the babysitter’s home by the child’s mother when she returned from work. The mother immediately put the child in her vehicle, called 911 and was met by EMS on the way to the hospital. The child was taken to the hospital and found to be covered in bruises, with swelling to the face and an injury to one ear. The babysitter said the child had gotten up, slipped and hit her head on the bathtub. During the week prior to the child’s death, the child returned home from the babysitter’s home on two occasions with bruising and black eyes. The babysitter gave questionable stories regarding the injuries. The child began telling her mother she was afraid to go to the babysitter’s home. The babysitter was charged as a result of this fatality. DCS substantiated the allegations against the babysitter and the mother.
  • A 1-year-old child died of complications following a physical assault. The child had never been removed from the home by DCS. At the time of the fatality, the child had been with the mother’s friend and the mother’s friend’s boyfriend for several days. The mother’s friend called the mother after a couple of days to say the child was ill and would not sit up. The child’s mother and father went to pick up the child. When they arrived, the child was limp and unresponsive. The mother’s friend denied having injured the child in any way. The child presented with numerous head injuries. Physicians indicated the child’s injuries were consistent with intentionally inflicted trauma that would have occurred during the time the child was with the mother’s friend and the mother’s friend’s boyfriend. The mother’s friend and the friend’s boyfriend were charged as a result of this fatality. DCS substantiated the allegations against the mother’s friend and her boyfriend.
  • A 1-year-old child died from blunt-force trauma. The child had never been removed from the home by DCS. The child resided with his mother and his mother’s girlfriend. It was reported the child was found in his bed, unresponsive, on the day of the fatality. He presented to the hospital with a skull fracture among other injuries. The mother’s girlfriend admitted she became angry with the child and pushed him down. She said the child would not stop crying, so she held the child, facedown, into a robe until he stopped crying. The mother’s girlfriend stated she later went to check on the child, and he was not breathing. Autopsy results revealed numerous injuries indicative of ongoing abuse. The mother’s girlfriend was charged as a result of this fatality. DCS substantiated the allegations against the mother’s girlfriend.
  • An 11-month-old child died from blunt-force trauma. The child had never been removed from the home by DCS. On the day of the fatality, the mother took the child to her babysitter. The mother later received a call from the child’s babysitter, stating that the child was not breathing. The child’s babysitter indicated she found the child, unresponsive, and shook her in an attempt to wake her. At the hospital, the child presented with a skull fracture and other injuries. Physicians indicated the injuries to the child were inflicted. The babysitter gave multiple explanations, none of which was consistent with the child’s injuries. Nearly one year later, the child’s babysitter admitted she took the child off of her shoulder and slammed her down. The babysitter was charged as a result of this fatality. DCS substantiated the allegations against the babysitter.