New York City’s history of failure to prevent fatal Child Abuse
” It’s been a series of broken promises between the city and many of its abused kids.”
* On Nov. 5, 2001, 3-year-old Sylena Herrnkind was beaten to death by her mother in the Staten Island home she shared with four siblings.
On the day she died, Sylena had soiled her diaper. Parents Julie and Matthew Herrnkind scrubbed her with steel wool, rinsed her with peroxide, made her eat soap and then dunked her head in ice-cold water. A report after Sylena’s death showed a parade of city caseworkers and therapists missed blatant signs of abuse committed against the girl and the Herrnkinds’ four other children.
*On Nov. 13, 2001, a 4-year-old girl, Signifagance Oliver, was drowned by her mother, who claimed she was exorcising the child of demons. Her mother, Sabrina Wright, 29, had lost custody of Signifagance and her twin sister, Ellagance, as well as two older children in 1997 after ACS found evidence of abuse.
ACS said it didn’t know how Wright came back into contact with the twins or how long they’d been with their mother. ACS had given custody of the twins to an out-of-state aunt in February 1999. In April and December of that year, ACS followed up and found the twins doing well. The case was closed.
* On Nov. 21, 2001, 7-year-old Inez Bennett was found dead inside a roach-infested Bronx apartment. Her jaw was smashed along with both arms. She died of multiple blows to the head. Mom Natasha Anderson, 24, called 911. She and her boyfriend Jason Lewis, 24, also had a 3-year-old son. ACS had gotten a complaint of neglect against the family in 1999 but said it was unfounded. Anderson pleaded guilty to endangering the welfare of a child and avoided a prison sentence. Lewis pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 20 years.
* On May 20, 2004, officials got a 911 call to a Harlem shelter, where they found 3-month-old Colesvintong Florestal, starved and beaten to death. He weighed less when he died then he had at birth, and all his ribs were broken, officials said. He had a broken leg and suffered brain trauma from being violently shaken.
His mother, Jovannie Florestal, then 23, was convicted of second-degree murder. His father, Colesvintong Florestal Sr., had pleaded guilty to his son’s murder and got 20 years as well. In 2001, ACS got a “substantial allegation of inadequate guardianship” against the couple for their older son. The boy was placed with a relative.
* On October 25, 2005, 7-year-old Sierra Roberts was beaten to death. Her father pleaded guilty to manslaughter in connection with her death. ACS had investigated the family, but failed to remove Sierra.
Nixzmary Brown was found dead in her Brooklyn apartment in 2006. She died as a result of a blow to the head.
* On Nov. 6, 2005, 16-month-old Dahquay Gillians drowned in the bathtub of his apartment. His mother pleaded guilty to criminally negligent homicide and reckless endangerment. ACS had also investigated the family.
* On Jan. 11, 2006, police found 7-year-old Nixzmary Brown beaten to death in her Brooklyn apartment. She died as a result of a blow to the head. Her mother and stepfather were charged with her death. Nixzmary’s stepfather was also charged with sexually abusing her and unlawfully imprisoning her. In the year before Nixzmary’s death, ACS received repeated reports Nixzmary and her siblings were being abused and neglected — but the kids were never removed.
* On Jan. 30, 2006, 4-year-old Quachaun Browne was found beaten to death in his apartment. His mother, Aleshia Smith, 26, and her boyfriend were charged with manslaughter and murder. Smith pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 21/2 years in prison. Boyfriend Jose Calderon, 19, was charged with murder. ACS had received six complaints about Aleshia Smith since 2004, and caseworkers visited the house four times in the three months before Quachaun’s death, but failed to save him.
* On Sept. 2, 2010, medics responded to call for a 4-year-old girl who stopped breathing and found Marchella Pierce lying on a bed, weighing 18 pounds, with pieces of twine around the bedposts and blood on the wall.
The girl, starved and beaten, was often drugged and tied to the bed by her addict mother. Carlotta Brett-Pierce was found guilty of her murder in 2012. For the first time, the city also charged two ACS caseworkers, holding them criminally responsible for the death of a child.
* On Jan. 8, 2014, an adorable 4-year-old boy died after being starved, beaten and tortured for a week, allegedly at the hands of his father’s girlfriend.
Myls Dobson was removed his mother’s custody by ACS in 2012, and placed with his loving, jailbird dad who had a long rap sheet. Caseworkers visited the boy’s home nine times without realizing his father was behind bars.
Myls’ accused attacker, Kryzie King, who has yet to stand trial, was charged with his death.