Social workers with the Child Protection Services (CPS) are being investigated after it was revealed they did not act when visiting the family of a bruised and battered three-year-old girl who was murdered a day later.
Trinity Chandler died as a result of a blunt force trauma to the heart, and her mother’s boyfriend Samuel Lester Smart, 29, is currently in custody in Oakland County Jail in Michigan and facing a life sentence if convicted.
However, it was also revealed that on the day that she died at her Groveland Township home six months ago, she had been visited by CPS staff who had decided not to take her into care despite seeing injuries.
Ashley Brown, the mother of one Trinity’s friends, said: “To me, it looked like healing from two black eyes. It was two.”
Pictures of the little girl show her with obvious bruises on her face, and the documented abuse went back to at least August or October, yet despite that the little girl remained with her mother who in turn refused to leave Smart who is accused of killing her in December.
Brown said: “Nothing was done. She wasn’t taken. We hoped she would be, but we knew she wasn’t.”
Trinity died after being left alone with Smart at the Groveland Manor Mobile Home Park where they lived.
Among the evidence in the case is a video of Smart attacking the little girl, which he later deleted but was uncovered during the investigation.
Prosecutor Karen McDonald has refused to reveal whether the caseworkers had been put on administrative leave or are still working, or indeed to discuss the details on what criteria needed to be in place for a child to be removed.
However, a former prosecutor Todd Flood told WXYZ Detroit that at the very least it was “dereliction of duty and indifference” but as far as he was concerned it was more likely to be properly classified as either “gross negligence” or simply someone “just not caring”.
He said that from the evidence made public to date both the little girl’s mother and the CPS workers could also face charges alongside Smart.
Smart is currently undergoing a psychiatric evaluation and his next appearance in court will be on 3 November.