Indianapolis News and HeadlinesIndianapolis Local NewsIndianapolis Crime News


4-year-old killed after DCS gives custody back to birth parents remembered at vigil

Records state he was duct taped in basement and withheld food
Posted at 2:37 PM, Oct 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-18 14:37:53-04

INDIANAPOLIS — A LaPorte County family is fighting for change within the Department of Child Services after a 4-year-old died just months after being reunited with his birth parents.

Judah Morgan lived with his foster parents for four years before he was forced to return to his birth parents back in April.

Six months later, on Oct. 9, Judah was found unresponsive at his birth parents' home and suffering from blunt force trauma.

"This is the worst pain I have ever felt," Jenna Hullet, Judah's foster mother, said.

Judah's foster parents along with the Indiana Foster and Adoptive Parents organization held a vigil at the state capitol on Sunday.

justice for judah.jpg

They say their biggest question is why DCS allowed Judah back into his birth parents' custody after everything he had been through.

The family says they believe DCS failed Judah and his death never should have happened.

"They simply didn't do their job," Hullet said. "They didn't follow up, had they followed up they would've seen the red flags."

As candles burned, tributes were paid to 4-year-old Judah. Loved ones held "Justice for Judah" signs as community members stood together in support.

"He was sweet, he was loving caring very caring," Hullett said.

He was placed with his cousin, Hullett, at four months old following abuse allegations within the home.

"Judah was born with a large amount of THC in his system from my understanding and I wanted him with family," Hullett said.

Judah was with her for four years but was reunited with his birth parents Mary Yoder and Alan Morgan back in April.

Both are now charged in connection with his death.

"Long story short, they dropped the ball. The LaPorte County regional manager had told me that they were to file termination on parental rights on two different occasions," Hullett said. "For some unknown reason, they failed to do so and all he could do was apologize and he said they had to start the case over."

According to the police report, Judah's mother called 911 on Oct. 9 stating the child's father had lost his temper and hurt him.

Investigators found Judah inside a bedroom, naked and covered in a blanket with bruises all over his body and on his face and head.

Judah's mother told investigators he was sent to the basement around three times a week for punishment for not being potty trained like his other three siblings in the house.

The lights were purposely shut off as a "scare tactic and food was withheld from him," according to the report.

"He was potty trained when he was two," Hullett said.

According to the report, Judah's mother said he was forced to stay in the basement naked with only a fuzzy blanket for days before being allowed back upstairs and that his father would duct tape his hands and feet and physically abuse him.

Hullett describes his parents as monsters for what they allegedly did.

"That's the hardest part. It's hard for him to be gone but the details are eating at me," she said.

The police report states Judah's mother would tell his father things like "that's enough" but didn't stop the abuse.

In that same report, the home where Judah died was described as having a "strong pungent odor of urine and rotting food" with clothing garbage, and animal fecal matter all over the house. It also said the refrigerator had a cord attached to it that prevented anyone from opening the door.

Hullett said she warned DCS multiple times that he was in harm's way, but nothing was done.

"She repeatedly told me they're not listening. I'm telling them what's happening, they're not listening, I don't know what to do," Hullett's sister, Joyce Mandt, said.

Hullett said while she had custody, Judah was upset when it was time to visit his birth parents.

"He would come home to us and tell us things and I would contact DCS immediately," she said. "I made videos when he would throw fits because he would scream and hold on to me so tight he would have to be pried off me and I would feel so bad because I felt helpless because I couldn't stop what was going on. He was forced to go to visits when he was telling me things and I kept contacting them and letting them know things were going on it went in one ear out the other."

The family says they believe the system mishandled their case.

"We want them to listen. We want to make sure it doesn't happen again. It should've never happened with Judah. He was safe with us," Hullett said.

The family wants to establish a new law in Judah's name that would help prevent things like this from ever happening to another child.

In the meantime, they encourage the community to email local legislators and senators about their concerns with the foster care system.

There is a "Justice for Judah Morgan" Facebook page along with a GoFundMe to help assist with costs as the family fights for change within DCS.