Custom Search

Monday, October 18, 2010

Zahra Baker & Tiffany Wright: Two North Carolina DSS Tragedies

Case Of Missing Zahra Baker Highlights North Carolina DSS Issues

Friends and family worried that 10-year-old Zahra Baker was in danger.

They saw bruises and a black eye. They questioned her parents. And they reported suspected abuse to the Department of Social Services.

Now, police believe the missing Hickory girl whose story has captured worldwide attention is dead. They are investigating her disappearance as a homicide and last week jailed her stepmother, who they say admitted writing a phony ransom note.

As the search for the girl entered its second week Saturday, people are left asking: Why didn't someone protect Zahra?

And the case raises fresh questions about North Carolina's long-troubled child protection system.

DSS officials in Caldwell and Catawba counties, where the Bakers most recently lived, say state law prohibits them from talking about any involvement they might have had with Zahra or her family. It's not clear how any abuse allegations might have been handled.

But the state's own reviews show it's not uncommon for children to die in North Carolina under suspicious circumstances while their families are under DSS supervision or had recent contact with social workers.

At least 137 children died during a recent five-year period in cases where abuse or neglect were suspected to have contributed - even though DSS had contact with their families within 12 months before they died, the Observer found. That's up from 119 deaths during the prior five years. And it comes at a time when child deaths overall in the state are at a record low.

Most of the 137 died from illnesses or accidents, but at least 26 became victims of homicide, usually committed by relatives or caregivers.

More than a decade ago, state officials began to pass reforms that were supposed to prevent such cases. They hired more social workers, lowered recommended caseloads and adopted a less confrontational approach with most families, which is designed to build cooperation.

The head of the N.C. Division of Social Services, Sherry Bradsher, said the changes have vastly improved the child protection system.

Instances of abuse recurring within six months in families under supervision has declined from about 7 percent in 2004 to about 5 percent in 2009.

"We have implemented so many reforms that are working," Bradsher said. "Workers feel better. Feedback from parents is better than it's ever been."

But state reports and interviews show long-standing problems persist.

Expert reviews of the child deaths found mistakes had been made by social workers and were often linked to inexperience and heavy caseloads. In more than half of the 137 deaths, social workers weren't thorough in evaluating a family or didn't follow state guidelines, the Observer found. In one child death in Rowan County, a state report shows, the case was given to a social work intern.

And case workers often have difficulty getting child protective service records for families who have lived outside their county. In cases such as Zahra's, whose family moved between counties, social workers may have limited information to assess a child's safety.

Tom Vitaglione said Zahra's disappearance should sound alarms about child protection in the state. He co-chairs the N.C. Child Fatality Taskforce, which recommends child safety improvements to the General Assembly.

"I am not comfortable with where things are," Vitaglione said. "I don't think DSS is comfortable either."

Troubling signs

Zahra's wide smile and story of overcoming adversity have drawn attention to her disappearance, reported Oct. 9. Family and acquaintances describe her as a polite child, courageous while coping with bone cancer, and memorable for her Australian accent.

At age 5, she lost her left leg below the knee to bone cancer, a condition that also left her hearing-impaired.

She moved to the United States last year with her father, Adam Baker, after he started an online romance with his wife-to-be, Elisa Baker of North Carolina.

Trouble soon began.

At a vigil for Zahra last week, family friend Lindsay Parker told the crowd that family members had reported suspected abuse of Zahra to the Department of Social Services on three occasions.

"They tried," Parker said of the family members. "They really tried."

Libby Brown, a spokeswoman for the Caldwell County Schools, told the Observer that staff had visited the girl's home and sought help for Zahra from an "outside partner" because staff was concerned. But she wouldn't elaborate, citing confidentiality laws.

Zahra attended the district's Granite Falls Elementary and Hudson Elementary, where she completed fourth grade in the spring.

Bobby Green said he lived next door to the Bakers for about a year in the Caldwell County town of Hudson, about 70 miles northwest of Charlotte.

Green, 27, who has two 8-year-old daughters, said Zahra often came over to play. He and his fiancée, Kayla Rotenberry, 23, said Elisa Baker would leave Zahra locked alone in the house for hours.

In the spring, Zahra came over for an Easter egg hunt. The girls searched the yard looking for red, yellow, and white eggs.

Rotenberry and Green said they noticed bruises on Zahra. But when they asked the girl about it she wouldn't say anything. When they asked her parents what happened, Green said: "It was always, Zahra fell down. Zahra fell out of bed. It was always, Zahra had done something."

Elisa Baker's attorney, Scott Reilly, wouldn't discuss specific allegations but said generally some people have "embellished, exaggerated or made up" stories of abuse.

He confirmed that DSS had received and investigated reports of child abuse against his client, but said social workers found the accusations "unsubstantiated."

Hasty investigations

Whenever a child dies in North Carolina and abuse or neglect is suspected to have played a role, the state convenes a review team to figure out what went wrong.

The team of DSS officials, police and other professionals review case files and recommend improvements in a public report that aims to prevent future deaths.

The Observer analyzed reports of the 137 child deaths between 2003 and 2008, which included asphyxiation, illnesses, drowning, shootings, car accidents and physical abuse.

Social workers were most often cited for errors, but so were law enforcement and others. Here are some findings from the newspaper's study:

In 71 deaths, reviewers said social workers were not thorough in their investigation of abuse or neglect allegations, or in resolving them. Sometimes they looked too narrowly at a single problem instead of all issues surrounding the child's welfare. In the 2007 death of a Mecklenburg baby, who accidentally suffocated while sleeping with someone on a couch, social workers were criticized for failing to assess risk, properly review prior child protective records and maintain sufficient contact with the family.

In at least 51 deaths - more than one-third - social workers weren't told about additional incidents of suspected abuse in those families. State law requires any resident who suspects child abuse or neglect to report it to DSS. Among those who did not, one report found, were Winston-Salem police, who didn't notify DSS about numerous domestic violence calls to the home where a 5-year-old died of an Oxycodone overdose.

Forty reports said social workers or others had trouble getting previous child welfare records, usually from outside their counties or states. A Richmond County case involving a child who died of physical abuse suggested that county social workers got limited information from the state's central registry of child services cases, but not enough detail and background. And social workers didn't follow up with the family's previous county DSS to learn more.

Twenty-seven reports found DSS was too thinly staffed and that caseworkers carried loads far beyond what the state recommended - which meant they didn't have enough time to spend with each family. In a 2006 Stanly County death, the social worker was new and carrying 25 cases; the state standard was 12.

In Caldwell and Catawba counties, where the Bakers lived, some social workers were carrying twice as many cases in recent years as the state recommended. The problem was highlighted in reviews of child deaths that occurred in those counties in 2006 and 2007. Current caseloads weren't available last week as DSS officials declined requests for interviews.

'In the Stone Age'

DSS leaders say reform efforts during the last decade have made kids safer.

They've bolstered training for social workers and adopted a holistic approach that aims to get more cooperation from families under scrutiny for abuse or neglect.

When children are not in imminent danger, the family-friendly initiative pushes social workers to offer services to help parents overcome problems such as substance abuse, unemployment and a lack of parenting skills.

Bradsher, the state DSS director, said the approach has helped protect children and kept families intact.

But child advocates counter that social workers continue to struggle with high caseloads and low budgets.

They note that North Carolina spends about $43 per capita on child protection, less than all but eight states, according a 2009 study by Every Child Matters, a Washington-based advocacy group.

Brett Loftis, who heads Charlotte's Council for Children's Rights, said children lack a strong constituency in politics.

Caseworkers simply do not have enough resources, Loftis said. "We are in the Stone Age as far as children go."

Tiffany Wright's Murder/ DSS Cover Up: 16 Important Facts

In this post I've listed 16 Important Facts in Tiffany Wright's Murder case.

Its a Fascinating, Cold-Blooded Murder case filled with Corruption and a Crime desperately seeking to be solved.

On September 14, 2009 Tiffany Wright, a 15-year-old, African-American pregnant teenager living within North Carolina's Foster Care system, was shot to death while standing at her school bus stop.

Her Autopsy reveals she was shot three times, including the head and abdomen.

Due to extreme Negligence, Charlotte DSS is TOTALLY responsible for Tiffany Wright's Death, just as they are TOTALLY responsible for the recent deaths of Orgal Orpata's two young African-American children.

Since the Charlotte Observer (Community nickname: "the Charlotte Disturber") is paid (by NC Democrats) to publish Partisan Lies on a regular basis, Charlotte's "Powers that be" are telling the Observer what to print to make Charlotte DSS appear favorable.

All the while destroying Tiffany's Character and attempting to make Royce Mitchell appear Innocent.

Please DON'T believe this propaganda!

Destroying Tiffany Wright's Character to free a Violent, Repeat Offender (Royce Mitchell) with a criminal background of Murder, is exactly what North Carolina & Charlotte DSS Officials are planning to do.


Its a Charlotte DSS Cover up.

Continuing reading and you'll learn more about this disturbing tragedy.

Now check out these 16 facts to decide whether or not you believe Charlotte-Mecklenburg County's DSS Dept is Legally & Solely Liable for Tiffany Wright's death:

1) Charlotte DSS Director Mary Wilson, is a friend of Charlotte County Manager Harry Jones, who is also friend of Charlotte-Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioner Chairperson Jennifer Roberts.

Some of those individuals listed are also Fraternity/Sorority associates, Masons and Church friends.

2) Tiffany Wright, Tiffany Wright's Family, Royce Mitchell and Mitchell's Co-Murder Conspirator Adrian Powell, all hail from Buffalo, NY. What a coincidence.

3) The City of Charlotte hired Royce Mitchell a dangerous Convicted, Violent Felon with an extensive Criminal History.

After serving 5 years in Federal Prison, he was released for "good behavior".

Mitchell's criminal past also includes stabbing people.


He was released early for "good behavior"? Go Figure.

4) Royce Mitchell was Indicted for another Murder (in New York) but mysteriously acquitted at Trial.

I guess his Colombian Drug Lords paid off New York Prison Officials just like they probably tried to influence Charlotte Officials.

5) Royce Mitchell was also a Freemason which provided him with "Special" connections.

No doubt Mitchell's Freemason connections, his Light-Skinned, Bad Boy looks and most likely FEAR helped him land a job with the City of Charlotte despite his terrible past.

Can you believe someone with his background was hired by the City of Charlotte?

Well believe it because he was! Just like Marcus Jackson was.

6) Royce Mitchell's Wife filed a complaint against him for Domestic Violence (he beat her) and separated from him.

7) After his wife left him, Charlotte DSS Officials allowed Royce Mitchell a Convicted Felon with a dangerous criminal history which includes Drug Trafficking ($1M a year in Cocaine Trafficking) & Murder, to have temporary custody of Tiffany Wright after her Foster Care Mother died.

No one was residing in the home but this Violent Drug Dealer (Mitchell) and a 15-year-old girl of which NC DSS Officials didn't seem to care two cents about.

A recipe for Statutory Rape disaster don't you agree?

8) Royce Mitchell had Sex with Tiffany Wright and she became pregnant not longer after.

According to NC Statutes, this constitutes as Statutory Rape:

§ 14‑27.7A. Statutory rape or sexual offense of person who is 13, 14, or 15 years old.

(a) A defendant is guilty of a Class B1 felony if the defendant engages in vaginal intercourse or a sexual act with another person who is 13, 14, or 15 years old and the defendant is at least six years older than the person, except when the defendant is lawfully married to the person.

(b) A defendant is guilty of a Class C felony if the defendant engages in vaginal intercourse or a sexual act with another person who is 13, 14, or 15 years old and the defendant is more than four but less than six years older than the person, except when the defendant is lawfully married to the person. (1995, c. 281, s. 1.)

9) After Tiffany Wright reported to Charlotte DSS Officials she had Sex with Royce Mitchell, they still allowed her to remain in Mitchell's home for several more weeks before removing her.

10) Charlotte Police detectives interviewed Tiffany.

The detectives also recorded Tiffany's interview during which she admitted to having Sex with Royce Mitchell.

11) Despite her unstable, painful life, Tiffany's Teachers stated she was a good student, who dreamed of becoming a Lawyer like Michelle Obama (one of her idols).

12) Prior to her tragic death Royce Mitchell tried to influence and force Tiffany into having an Abortion because he thought the baby she was carrying was his. When she refused not longer after she was Murdered. Shot three times while standing at her school bus stop.

Strangely enough Tiffany Wright was shot after her Foster Care mother who usually waits with Tiffany at the bus stop until the bus arrives, went back in the house to get something.

Is this a coincidence? I think not.

13) Now Charlotte Law Enforcement Officials and the Charlotte Observer want you to believe Adrian Powell (the other Murder Suspect) is the real father of Tiffany's dead baby.

If you believe Adrian Powell (Murder Suspect no. 2) is the father of Tiffany Wright's dead baby, I have some swamp land in Florida I want to sell you.

If so than why did it take Charlotte's Medical Examiner Office & Charlotte DSS six months to reveal this fact?

What were they trying to hide?

(For the record I don't have any swamp land in Florida to sell.)

14) After Tiffany's death a Warrant was issued for Royce Mitchell's arrest.

The charge? Statutory Rape.

Since Mitchell was on Federal Probation, that illegal act violated his probation and landed him back in Jail per a Fair, Honest Federal Judge.

15) The Charlotte D.A.'s Office and Charlotte's Criminal Justice System has a long history of practicing Racial Discrimination, including intentionally failing to prosecute Killers of Charlotte's Black Youth.

16) The Charlotte Observer, NC DSS, Charlotte-Mecklenburg County Commissioners, Charlotte-Mecklenburg County Manager and Charlotte DSS are now involved in a Cover-Up of Tiffany Wright's horrible, premature Death.

A death caused through NO fault of her own!

If Tiffany were related to a Black Fraternity/ Sorority or Black NC Politician, it would have been a different story. Unfortunately she wasn't.

During Tiffany's young life she was Molested on numerous ocassions and had engaged in many sexual encounters.

To Tiffany having sex with Royce Mitchell and maybe Adrian Powell was normal because NO One had taught her differently.

What about her Foster Mother you ask?

Its obvious she had not.

Please understand I'm not attacking Tiffany Wright's Foster Mother, Alma Wright's character but most of the time people just adopt or raise Foster Care Children to receive a Check from DSS, not because they really love them.

Charlotte's current D.A. Peter Gilchrist, a man widely known for NOT doing anything to punish Killers of Charlotte's Black Youth, didn't want to do anything to bring Royce Mitchell to Justice.

Peter Gilchrist considers ALL of Charlotte's Black Youth to be "thugs" who don't deserve to live, much less walk on the same of the sidewalk he walks on.

Gilchrist claims because Tiffany was dead she couldn't defend herself.

Let's see how many Killers of dead White Women has Peter Gilchrist prosecuted?

I'll remind you of one, Kim Thomas.

Kim Thomas was a Wealthy, White Charlotte Woman murdered in 1990.

Charlotte's Criminal Justice System prosecuted and punished Kim's Killer even though she wasn't alive to "Defend" herself either.

Kim Thomas' Wealthy White, Influential husband was eventually charged with her Murder but the charges were dropped after he raised a ruckus.

A Black Man was later linked to her death and imprisoned.

Now a New probe has been opened into the Kim Thomas Murder Case.

All of this "Justice" has taken place and yet Kim Thomas NEVER testified to defend herself because she's DEAD! Just like Tiffany Wright.

In addition there were no Character Assassination tactics being used against Kim Thomas, as in the case of Tiffany Wright.

How was Charlotte's D.A. able to prosecute someone for Kim Thomas death but yet NOT do so for Tiffany Wright's?

Both were Murdered, neither could testify to defend themselves, however their cases were handled with different levels of Justice.

So other than Racism what's Peter Gilchrist's excuse?

I presume that since Tiffany Wright was Black and Poor, she wasn't a victim of Statutory Rape.

No since Tiffany was Black, she was just a Whore in Peter Gilchrist's, in the eyes of Charlotte DSS and in the eyes of Charlotte Observer Editorial Staff.

Did Charlotte Police botch Kim Thomas's case? NO!

Did Charlotte Police botch Tiffany Wright's case? NO!

Charlotte Racist D.A.'s Office did!

(North Carolina's Criminal Justice System is extremely Racist. No doubt Gilchrist is a part of that racism. How else can he explain NOT doing anything to punish Killers of Charlotte's Black Youth?)

Even though the Charlotte Police had collected evidence linking Royce Mitchell to Tiffany Wright's Murder and despite Mitchell's terrible, Violent past Gilchrist claimed "he didn't have a case".

Even though Charlotte's Police department presented ALL their evidence to Peter Gilchrist and was willing to fully cooperate, he still claimed "he didn't have a case".

I wonder which North Carolina and Charlotte's "Powers that be" influenced him NOT to pursue this case.

I wonder if any of Royce Mitchell's Freemason or Drug Lord Connections also influenced Peter Gilchrist NOT to prosecute Royce Mitchell.

Don't forget Royce Mitchell a $1Million a year Drug Dealer, was previously Indicted for Murder in New York but somehow mysteriously acquitted at Trial.

Also Don't forget that Gilchrist is a part of North Carolina's Racist Criminal Justice System.

Thanks to a Federal Judge and Federal Prosecutors, at his Probation Violation Hearing, Royce Mitchell was found to have violated his Probation for sleeping with Tiffany (Statutory Rape).

He was than sent back to jail for a measly 30 months.

Now its time to charge him with Murder.

Do I believe Royce Mitchell is directly linked to Tiffany's Murder? Yes!

Do I believe Royce Mitchell paid Adrian Powell to shoot and kill Tiffany? Yes!

Do I believe Adrian Powell is the real father of Tiffany's baby? No!

Do I believe Royce Mitchell is the REAL father of Tiffany's baby? Yes!

Do I believe Royce Mitchell should spend the rest of his life in Prison? Yes!

Do I believe Adrian Powell should spend the rest of his life in Prison too? Yes!

Do I believe Charlotte Officials are afraid of Royce Mitchell? Yes!

Do I believe the Federal Gov't needs to remain involved in this Murder case because the local Legal System is Corrupt & Racist? Yes!

Do I believe Charlotte DSS is solely responsible for Tiffany death due to their extreme Negligence?

Yes and they know it which is why they are trying to destroy her name with these Charlotte Observer Character Assassination articles.

Do I believe there is definitely a Charlotte DSS Cover Up taking place? Yes!

Double Jeopardy won't allow the American Criminal Justice to try Mitchell again for the previous Murders (he was acquitted at Trial) but his past is proven to be extremely Dangerous and Violent.

Since the people responsible for Tiffany's death are Corrupt Democrats and Pres. Obama is a Democrat known for slinging "Chicago Politics" because he only cares about the next election, its obvious we can't count on him to help.

Pres. Obama is so desperate for votes to pass his Health Care Plan which is going to hurt our nation more so than help it (Debt), I wouldn't be surprised if he wasn't somehow involved in Tiffany Wright's Murder Case Cover Up just to get enough votes.

What about Charlotte's Black Leaders?

Forget It!

With the exception of perhaps one or two people (Its NOT Mayor Anthony Foxx!), Charlotte doesn't have any real, Bold, Black Leaders who are willing to stand up for our Black Youth.

Certainly NOT the tired local NAACP! (Charlotte's NAACP is a Joke.)

Tiffany Wright's Killers WILL be bought to Justice along with everyone involved in the cover up of her Murder.

God Almighty is going to deal with them before they leave this Earth and on Judgment Day.

View Larger Map

Sources: CNN, McClatchy Newspapers, Nancy Grace, WCNC, Youtube, Google Maps

No comments: