The mother of a six-week-old baby allegedly murdered by his father is now herself being investigated by the Children's Aid Society.
Mary Smith, who held her newborn son Cohen in her arms as he died, broke a promise to the CAS not to leave her children alone with the man now charged in her baby's murder.
The violation came to light after her two-year-old son wound up with an injury to his nose.
"The allegation is that it was a possible cigarette burn," Smith says. "That's what they're using against me."
Smith says she left her two youngest children alone with Terry Legacy on the very day Cohen was murdered. She says the CAS also suspects her two-year-old was burned that same day.
Smith, however, says the mark on her toddler is the result of a tumble. "He fell. And his face was all scraped up."
The executive director of the Children's Aid Society of Hamilton says the agency is "reviewing everything" about its history with Smith and her three children (there is also an eight-year-old daughter) in the wake of Cohen's murder and "uncovered some child protection concerns." He says these new concerns aren't about Legacy, Cohen's father now charged with second-degree murder.
"He's out of the equation," says Dominic Verticchio.
Soon after the toddler was treated for his broken hip last fall, the CAS informally requested that Smith not leave her children alone with Legacy, according to Verticchio. "She kept reassuring us that Cohen wasn't left with Terry," he says.
But Smith admits to leaving Cohen and his brother alone with Legacy earlier on the day of the murder while she and her daughter left for an hour to clean an office building. It was later that night, after she returned, that Cohen died.
The CAS conducted an abuse investigation into Smith and Legacy last year. That investigation is under review. Remarkably, the same CAS social worker who conducted that investigation continues to make decisions about Smith's children even while he is under review.
These are the latest twists in a complicated case that has three young, vulnerable children at its core. One of whom was murdered.
Cohen, with the strawberry blond hair, was born March 29. Two weeks later, Mary says, she rushed him to the St. Joseph's ER during the night because he was bleeding from his mouth. She says she left Terry alone in the room with the boy for a moment during a bottle feeding and when she returned Cohen had a bit of blood drooling from his mouth. She says a doctor told her the baby may have scratched himself with a fingernail. Mary also says police have told her Cohen appears to have had injuries prior to the day he died.
Cohen stopped breathing at his east Hamilton apartment on Mother's Day. Smith and Legacy were with him. A day later, after an autopsy, police and the coroner declared the infant's death a homicide. Two days after that, police charged Legacy with aggravated assault in connection with an incident last fall when Smith's then 14-month-old son broke his hip and spent weeks in hospital. A report at that time by the Child Advocacy and Assessment Program at McMaster Children's Hospital referred to bone scans that "demonstrated the presence of old fractures of the left ribs and potentially of a vertebra."
Still, CAS and a child abuse detective closed the case after determining the boy fell down stairs.
A little more than two weeks after Legacy was charged with the assault on the toddler, he was arrested for the murder of Cohen.
Since then, Smith has blamed the CAS and the child abuse detective for botching their initial investigations into the broken hip. She says if they had done their job properly and charged Legacy last September, she would have left him then. And Cohen would be alive.