Child Deaths Unsolved As Autopsies Fall Behind Pt-2 of 2

.jpg photo of Child killed while under state supervision
Jeremiah Oliver. vanished while under social services supervision

Frustrating state delays

The slow pace of the medical examiner’s office can be frustrating to families and law enforcement officials alike, potentially stalling the criminal justice process indefinitely.

Even in the notorious case of Fitchburg preschooler Jeremiah Oliver — who vanished while under state social service supervision — no cause of death has yet been announced almost two years after his body was found.  Jeremiah’s mother and boyfriend, already charged with assault, kidnapping, and child endangerment, could face murder charges if the medical examiner rules the case a homicide.

Medeiros said she called DCF multiple times to warn that Jay was at risk after she quarreled with her daughter, Hailey Corrente, and Corrente moved out of her North Attleborough home in September 2012. Corrente, now 28, was showing she couldn’t be a responsible parent, Medeiros said.

Two months later, in November 2012, police were called to Richmond Avenue, after a 911 call that a baby wasn’t breathing, police records show.  Corrente met them at the front door and sent them upstairs, where her boyfriend Santiago was giving Jay cardiopulmonary resuscitation, police reported.

Medeiros said she repeatedly called police to investigate and the medical examiner for a death ruling.  She said Corrente and Santiago left town not long after the child’s death.

Worcester police declined to comment, except to say an investigation into Jay’s death is “active.”  Redacted records show officials did obtain several search warrants, which Medeiros said focused on Richardson Avenue.

The young couple may have wanted to move on, but their past followed them as they settled into a second-floor apartment with their new baby on a residential street in Lakewood, Ohio.

In June 2014, the couple was contacted by Cuyahoga County social workers who heard about Jay’s death from the Massachusetts child welfare agency, said county spokeswoman Mary Louise Madigan.

The Ohio case was closed in October 2014 after workers visited the family home and determined there was no evidence the baby was unsafe, Madigan said.

In December 2014, Lakewood police knocked on their door after Corrente’s aunt called to say that her niece told her that Santiago was “beating her up.”  When police came to the home, Santiago, dressed in a T-shirt and boxers, refused to let officers in for several hours.

Corrente eventually came downstairs and told police she was OK, inviting them upstairs to check on her infant son.  Santiago was later convicted of obstructing official business, police records show, and ordered to pay a $150 fine.

Last spring, a New England Center reporter knocked on the door of the couple’s closed apartment and left a letter requesting comment when nobody answered.  Corrente came downstairs a few minutes later to read the note after the reporter drove away.  Santiago, later reached by phone, declined to comment.

Medeiros, meanwhile, speaks to anybody she can about her grandson.  Her home is filled with Jay’s pictures, her closet stuffed with his toys and clothes, his death certificate clipped to her refrigerator.

She said the district attorney’s office provides no information.  A local police officer has told her privately that without more information, the investigation is stalled.  She worries incessantly about Jay’s little brother, now nearly 2 years old.

“I want justice for Jay,” said Medeiros.  “I have to speak for my grandson Jay because nobody else will.”  In some cases, even a finding of homicide does not prompt action.  The medical examiner ruled that one-year-old Keanu Ramos of Pittsfield died of “blunt trauma” in February 2010 and the Berkshire County district attorney’s office confirmed the investigation is still open almost six years later.

But Keanu’s family said they were never even informed that the child allegedly was a victim of homicide.  “You have shocked me,” said his great-grandmother, Sandra Mills, when a New England Center reporter informed her earlier this year.

She later told her family what she learned and reported back, that they believe his death was natural: “None of us believe it,” she said about the state report.

There’s some indication that state social workers did not know about the medical examiner’s ruling either: DCF didn’t include Ramos on its list of abuse victims.  DCF officials declined to talk about the case, but have said generally that medical examiners have not always alerted the agency when a child’s death was linked to abuse and neglect as required by law.

Felix Browne, a spokesman for the state Executive Office of Public Safety, said medical examiners are supposed to notify district attorneys and DCF when a death is ruled a homicide.  He would not comment on the Ramos case.

Family members also are waiting for answers in the case of 2-year-old Dean McCullough of Lowell, whose 2010 death was ruled a homicide seven months after his passing, caused by “blunt force trauma of head with injuries to brain,” according to his death certificate.

No charges in five years

McCullough had an open DCF case at the time of his death and the state child protection agency later determined that his death was linked to abuse and neglect, records show.

But five years later, no one has been charged in Dean’s death.  Jennifer Fontes, McCullough’s great aunt, said she is angry and disgusted.  “He is literally just forgotten,” she said.

Medeiros feels her grandson was failed in life and in death.

Medeiros said she called DCF multiple times to warn that Jay was at risk after she quarreled with her daughter, Hailey Corrente, and Corrente moved out of her North Attleborough home in September 2012. Corrente, now 28, was showing she couldn’t be a responsible parent, Medeiros said.

Two months later, in November 2012, police were called to Richmond Avenue, after a 911 call that a baby wasn’t breathing, police records show.  Corrente met them at the front door and sent them upstairs, where her boyfriend Santiago was giving Jay cardiopulmonary resuscitation, police reported.

Medeiros said she repeatedly called police to investigate and the medical examiner for a death ruling.  She said Corrente and Santiago left town not long after the child’s death.

Worcester police declined to comment, except to say an investigation into Jay’s death is “active.”  Redacted records show officials did obtain several search warrants, which Medeiros said focused on Richardson Avenue.

The young couple may have wanted to move on, but their past followed them as they settled into a second-floor apartment with their new baby on a residential street in Lakewood, Ohio.

In June 2014, the couple was contacted by Cuyahoga County social workers who heard about Jay’s death from the Massachusetts child welfare agency, said county spokeswoman Mary Louise Madigan.  The Ohio case was closed in October 2014 after workers visited the family home and determined there was no evidence the baby was unsafe, Madigan said.

In December 2014, Lakewood police knocked on their door after Corrente’s aunt called to say that her niece told her that Santiago was “beating her up.”  When police came to the home, Santiago, dressed in a T-shirt and boxers, refused to let officers in for several hours.

Corrente eventually came downstairs and told police she was OK, inviting them upstairs to check on her infant son.  Santiago was later convicted of obstructing official business, police records show, and ordered to pay a $150 fine.

Last spring, a New England Center reporter knocked on the door of the couple’s closed apartment and left a letter requesting comment when nobody answered.  Corrente came downstairs a few minutes later to read the note after the reporter drove away.  Santiago, later reached by phone, declined to comment.

Medeiros, meanwhile, speaks to anybody she can about her grandson.  Her home is filled with Jay’s pictures, her closet stuffed with his toys and clothes, his death certificate clipped to her refrigerator.

She said the district attorney’s office provides no information.  A local police officer has told her privately that without more information, the investigation is stalled.  She worries incessantly about Jay’s little brother, now nearly 2 years old.

“I want justice for Jay,” said Medeiros.  “I have to speak for my grandson Jay because nobody else will.”

We highly value your Input....

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s