DCS: Allen County has the highest number of child abuse and neglect deaths in Indiana

FORT WAYNE, Indiana (WANE) – When the boy arrived at the hospital, there was nothing the doctors could do.

The 17-month-old sustained blunt trauma to his chest so severe that his heart was ripped in two. Doctors later determined that within two to five minutes he would have succumbed to his injuries inflicted by his mother’s boyfriend.

In another case, a 2-year-old boy died after ingesting a lethal dose of fentanyl that his mother and boyfriend left within reach.

In another incident, a 1-month-old boy died from compression injuries after being improperly restrained in a car seat; In another, a 3-month-old girl died of asphyxia while sleeping in unsafe conditions next to her mother, who was in the midst of a three-day drug frenzy.

Three children, aged 5, 3 and 2, were stabbed along with their mother in a quadruple homicide; a 15-day-old baby died while sleeping with his drunk parents; and a 1-year-old girl died after receiving her mother’s fentanyl.

This was just a snippet of a year of child deaths from neglect in Allen County, which led the way in Indiana with 11 such deaths out of a total of 60 across the state of Hoosier in 2022, according to a new report from the Department of Child Care.

Local officials said there were a variety of reasons Allen County’s numbers came out the way they did.

“Allen County has a large population, but seeing that number should be a call to action for us,” said Lisa Blanchard, vice president of prevention services at SCAN (Stop Child Abuse and Neglect).

Allen County Attorney Mike McAlexander said a key factor is parents placing their child in untrustworthy hands.

“I would really hope that parents of young children realize please be careful who you leave your child with,” McAlexander said. “If you don’t put your child with someone who has love and affection for that child, you are really taking a risk.”

According to the Department of Child Services report, most of the incidents investigated involved a biological parent in some way.

Such was the case with the highly publicized murder of 9-year-old Elijah Ross, who was beaten to death by his stepmother in his mother’s presence. Stepmother Alesha Miller was eventually sentenced to 35 years in prison.

His mother, Jenna Miller, was sentenced to 20 years in prison on Friday under an agreement with the Allen County Attorney’s Office, in which she pleaded guilty to neglecting a loved one.

McAlexander says cases like the one Miller was involved in are taken more seriously over time to ensure the perpetrators are fully punished.

“We have to treat it that way to ensure that hopefully these victims are treated fairly and the people who hurt them are punished,” McAlexander said.

Still, they emphasize staying alert to possible abuse.

“We all have a commitment to our families and the community to do better and to continue to support our families,” Blanchard said.

And if that can happen, there may not be another case of Elijah Ross, who, according to court documents, whispered some of his last words to his mother as she and his stepmother tried to revive him in a bathtub after the damage to his body was done.

“Mom,” he said.

https://www.wane.com/news/local-news/dcs-allen-county-has-most-child-abuse-neglect-deaths-in-indiana/ DCS: Allen County has the highest number of child abuse and neglect deaths in Indiana

Dais Johnston

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