Philadelphia, PA – Three months premature, Danieal Kelly weighed only 1 pound, 4 ounces at birth in January 1992. She was a miracle baby. She should have led a miraculous life. Instead, she lived and died in a nightmare.Â
When paramedics were called to the Philadelphia home that 14-year-old Danieal shared with her mother and siblings two years ago today (August 4, 2006), they found her fly-covered withered body on a filthy mattress amidst her own shit. At death, she weighed 42 pounds and was covered with maggot-infested bedsores, at least one so deep it went to the bone. A doctor later reported that the bone itself had gone soft from infection. When relieved of its slight burden, the mattress retained the shape of her body.
While Danieal had cerebral palsy, which impaired her physical and intellectual development, that’s not why she died. She died because her mother stopped giving her enough to eat. She died because her father left her with a woman who had already proven she couldn’t–or wouldn’t–provide her daughter with the care she needed. She died because other family members and friends of the family didn’t step in and help her. She died because people working in the system set up to protect children like her were lazy, and greedy, and selfish, and disinterested. Danieal’s death was the result of so many failures at so many decision points by so many people that I almost can’t get my head around it.
Thursday, a grand jury released a 250+ page report (warning: graphic) on Danieal’s life and death. Based on the grand jury’s recommendations, nine people are being charged in the case, eight of whom are described below:
- Mother Andrea Kelly, 39 (charged with murder). This is the woman who gave birth to Danieal (and, as of October 2006, 9 other children) but didn’t like touching her and was embarrassed to be seen in public with her. This is the woman who lied to people about her daughter’s condition while she starved to death in her own feces and refused her son’s pleas to call 911 in the hours before she died.
- Father Daniel Kelly, 37 (endangering the welfare of children). At the time of Danieal’s death, he blamed both the child’s mother and social service agencies for her death. “It’s a lot of finger-pointing between her and them,” he said. “This happened over a long period of time. Obviously, somebody didn’t care.” Obviously, the grand jury thought he was among those who didn’t care.
- Mother’s friend Andrea Miles, 18 (perjury). She lied to the grand jury under oath. In fact, she claimed to have witnessed Danieal being bathed by her mother on August 3rd. When asked about the condition of the child’s back, she said, â€œLike her back, like my back. It looked like a back. It didnâ€™t have no sores, nothing. Her back was clear.â€
- Mother’s friend Marie Moses, 34 (perjury). Also lied to the grand jury under oath.
- Mother’s friend Diamond Brantley, 22 (perjury). Also lied to the grand jury under oath. She said on August 3, Danieal “smelled like soap and powder and stuff” and “had some meat on her bones.” Maggots don’t count as “meat,” you cunt.
- Caseworker for the now defunct MultiEthnic Behavioral Health Julius Murray, 51 (involuntary manslaughter). He was paid to visit the Kelly family twice weekly. He visited perhaps only once in the months before Danieal’s death–to have Andrea Kelly sign future-dated service forms–and there is no evidence he ever met Danieal.
- MultiEthnic cofounder and Murray’s supervisor Mickal Kamuvaka, 59 (involuntary manslaughter). Not only did she fail to ensure that her subordinate was doing the job he was paid to do, but the day Danieal died, she convened a “forgery fest” at MultiEthnic to cover up the agency’s repeated failures. Yeah, fuck the dead girl, let’s do what we can to make sure we get another $3.5 million from the taxpayers.
- Philadelphia Department of Human Services (DHS) worker Laura Sommerer, 33 (child endangerment, reckless endangerment). Sommerer’s job was to supervise the agencies that provide direct services to DHS clients: meaning, to make sure MultiEthnic provided services to Danieal. Ten months after Sommerer was assigned the case, Danieal was dead and not a single one of the goals that had been set regarding her had been met. Sommerer also visited the home in late June, yet did not even walk into the room in which Danieal lay to check on her.
Pick the person you’ve read about on the Dreamin’ Demon who has filled you with the most revulsion and disgust–each of these eight is at least equally worthy of your scorn. A separate–and long!–post could be written for each of them detailing how what they did or didn’t do paved the way to Danieal’s death, and each one of them would contribute to the development or worsening of your gastroesophageal reflux disease. However, I want to spend time on a particular player in this tragic game. Like Murray, Kamavuka, and Sommerer, he was paid money to ensure that Danieal stayed safe. And like them, he failed Danieal miserably.
Meet Dana Poindexter (code name “Captain Sloth”). Poindexter has been at DHS 16 years. As a DHS intake worker, his job is to decide–within 60 days–whether a hotline report is substantiated and whether the child in question needs services. Apparently, Dana Poindexter couldn’t decide in 60 days whether it’s his head or his ass that’s attached to his neck.
Poindexter received a report in October 2002 about Andrea Kelly’s children living in a house with no gas, no water, no working toilets, and a collapsed roof. All he had to do was determine, by December 8, 2002, that the Kelly family needed services or that the children were not at risk. However, he did nothing. And this was crucial for Danieal, because whenever a case is not properly closed by the intake unit, any subsequent reports will go to the worker with the unclosed case: in this case, Dana Poindexter. Danieal’s family was hotlined four more times between October 2002 and April 2005. All four reports landed on the desk of Dana Poindexter. And every single time, he did nothing. NOTHING. According to the grand jury’s report, he “failed to complete a single investigative report, progress note, risk assessment, or any other document required by DHS.” It wasn’t until a September 2005 hotline call by a neighbor who didn’t provide the family’s name that Danieal got the attention of a different intake worker…one who immediately recognized that the family needed DHS services. I bet you’re asking yourself, “So, what the hell has this guy been doing while he’s on the clock?” Perhaps Andrea Kelly’s sister could tell us. According to her, “The man donâ€™t do nothing but try to talk to women.”
In April 2007, a detective with the Philadelphia District Attorneyâ€™s Office searched Poindexter’s work area. In his cubicle, she found a cardboard box large enough to hold a file cabinet. It was filled to the top with case files, food wrappers, and unopened mail (some four years old). At the bottom of the box was the Kelly family file.
Sadly, Danieal Kelly was not the first child who suffered from Poindexter’s unwillingness to even spit in the direction of performing his job duties. He was assigned a case in September 2002 but never made the required home visit. In December of that year, DHS was notified that a three-week-old baby born to a 14-year-old in the home had died. He subsequently was suspended for 10 days and warned to improve…but he never did. Over the coming years, he was suspended again. And again. And, with the release of the grand jury’s report, yet again. But Dana Poindexter is at this moment still an employee of the Philadelphia Department of Human Services.
And yes, of course, the story becomes even worse when you consider that Poindexter’s immediate supervisor Janice Walker referred to his paperwork as “horrendous” yet gave him satisfactory and even superior ratings on his evaluations. Not enough for you? Janice Walker’s immediate supervisor Martha Poller falsified DHS records to conceal Poindexter’s nonperformance. Poller subsequently was promoted…to oversee child fatality reviews.
Current DHS Commissioner Anne Marie Ambrose said the department was finalizing plans on how to investigate the roles of other employees named in the report but not charged and that those plans would be made public today.
“Safely home,” Danieal’s funeral program read.”I am home in heaven.” Damn, I hope so.Tags: Child Abuse, Child Endangerment, Child Neglect, Murder, Negligence, Starvation