By the time Silver Starr Hernandez gave birth to her third child, she was no stranger to Child Protective Services — or the law.
Hernandez’s parental rights were revoked and the agency had taken custody of her two sons.
In Bexar County, her rap sheet contained minor crimes but Kerr County implicated her in a 2008 slaying. She pleaded to a lesser charge of engaging in organized crime for stealing.
CPS spokeswoman Mary Walker said a caseworker monitoring Hernandez noticed improvement and never saw any signs of abuse by the last visit at the end of April.
“The worker didn’t see anything out of the ordinary, but something changed,” she said. “There’s no way of knowing what happened. There was no way to predict this would happen.”
Walker said Hernandez recently started a new relationship, and so far, that’s the only thing investigators have determined that changed in the last months of Faith’s short life.
A Police Department spokeswoman, however, said there was evidence of abuse on Faith’s body, including bruising on the leg, cuts, scabs and cigarette burns.
The Bexar County medical examiner’s office hasn’t determined the cause or manner of Faith’s death, but the arrest affidavit states she had injuries to the nose and mouth consistent with suffocation.
CPS first began investigating Faith’s case when the child’s doctors called the agency because the infant was at-risk for cerebral palsy and Hernandez was ignoring her daughter’s follow-up appointments
“This baby also had some kind of seizure disorder and was seeing a doctor for that,” Walker said.
Shortly after CPS began its investigation and working with Hernandez, Faith’s doctors were pleased with her progress and reported she had no evidence of abuse or neglect. A caseworker visited Hernandez once a month and last saw the mother and child April 29. The worker did not see Hernandez in May despite having visited the apartment unannounced twice.
“In reading all of these reports, there were no past incidents of violence with the child,” Walker said. “The worker never saw any bruises or scars on the baby, and there was no reason to believe she would harm” Faith.
Hernandez already had lost her first two children to state custody. In 2007, when her then-8-month-old son was hospitalized, there were concerns about his medical care and nutrition. He and his older brother, then 5, both were placed in the care of a female relative, but the relative couldn’t properly care for the children. Hernandez lost her parental rights after she stopped visiting her sons.
In Kerr County, Hernandez, also known as Silver Starr Corona, was one of 16 people implicated in the 2008 murder of Allan Kowalski, 52, who was found buried in his backyard.
She pleaded guilty to a charge of organized crime for stealing Kowalski’s property and was sentenced to 10 years probation
on Feb. 19, 2009, officials said.
Two people were charged with murder in Kowalski’s death. Charles L. Tidwell of Ingram and Ricado Giovannetti of San Antonio both are awaiting trial.
Assistant District Attorney Lucy Wilke said Hernandez is a witness in the case and was “cooperating fully.”