Johnathan Ramsey Case: Remains Found Identified As Starved Boy, Police Confirm

Johnathan Ramsey

DALLAS — Authorities have identified skeletal remains found in a rural creek near Dallas as those of a 10-year-old boy allegedly starved to death by his father and stepmother, police and a family member said Monday.

Dallas police said they confirmed with the Dallas County medical examiner that DNA tests have linked the remains to Johnathan Ramsey. The boy’s remains were found April 21 in rural Ellis County, south of the city.

The medical examiner declined to comment on the case because the remains were found in another county. However, Starla Swanson, stepmother to Johnathan’s mother, confirmed that the family had been informed that a positive identification of Johnathan had been made.

The boy’s father and stepmother, Aaron and Elizabeth Ramsey, remain jailed on charges of felony injury to a child. Both are being held on $500,000 bail. Attorneys for each did not return phone messages seeking comment.

Aaron Ramsey allegedly told police he limited the boy’s meals to bread, water and sometimes milk for several months. According to police records, the boy was confined to his bedroom in the family’s Dallas home, The Dallas Morning News reported.

The boy’s mother, Judy Williams, and other relatives did not see him for months. Williams lives in New Mexico and has custody of the couple’s other son, Swanson said.

Johnathan’s grandfather Edward Ramsey had contacted police earlier this year to ask them to search for the child because he had not seen the boy for more than a year.

Aaron and Elizabeth Ramsey initially claimed the boy had gone to live with his mother, but later confessed to starving the boy to death, police said.

According to police, Aaron Ramsey said he put his son on “military rations” because the boy began to misbehave early last year. Ramsey said the boy had punched his stepmother in the stomach when she was pregnant, causing a miscarriage. Ramsey said he hit Johnathan in the chest and then locked him in a bedroom, according to the records.

A spokeswoman for the Dallas County district attorney did not immediately comment on whether prosecutors would seek additional charges now that the remains had been identified.

The child’s remains were to be cremated and his ashes sent to his mother, Swanson said.

VIDEO Remains Found Identified As Starved Boy, Police Confirm

State Child Protective Services Took More Than 400 Children Into Custody

State Child Protective Services took more than 400 children into custody after the FLDS raid last summer; they’ve since dropped 415 of those cases

Child Protective Services has dumped another load of child custody cases prompted by their spring raid of theYearning for Zion Ranch, the West Texas compound of Mormon breakaway sect the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. At press time, the number of cases dropped by the agency had grown to a whopping 415, according to the Deseret News.

 

More than 400 children were taken from their families during the raid, which was based on an allegation of abuse that authorities now consider a hoax. Although CPS said they were compelled to remove the children because they were in immediate jeopardy of being sexually abused, the Texas Supreme Court ruled that the agency had acted improperly. Since then, the agency has filed a string of nonsuits, dumping the custody cases they initially said were necessary to protect the FLDS children. So far just one girl, a 14-year-old whom officials believe was married at age 12 to imprisoned polygamist prophet Warren Jeffs, remains in foster care.

Meanwhile, the two lawyers who have been coordinating the legal action on behalf of CPS against the FLDS families have resigned from their jobs. Gary Banks, lead counsel when the children were taken from the ranch this spring, resigned in early October to take a job at a private firm. Charles Childress, head of the agency’s San Angelo legal team, has tendered his resignation, effective Nov. 1, but has not provided a written explanation for his departure – prompting speculation that Childress might not be pleased with the way things have gone. “I cannot say a word about it,” Child­ress told the San Angelo Standard-Times. “There is nothing I can say that wouldn’t be out of line.”

Videos: CPS Corruption

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lying Social Worker Gets Promoted And Now Trains Others

An Orange County social worker who lied to a juvenile court commissioner in order to take away a woman’s two daughters — and cost the county$4.9 million in a court judgment — was later promoted to a supervisor, county officials confirmed.

She now trains other social workers.

It took Seal Beach mother Deanna Fogarty-Hardwick six-and-a-half years to regain custody of her children, who were 6 and 9 when they were taken from her in 2000.

Fogarty-Hardwick’s oldest daughter, Kendall, is now 20, and filed her own lawsuit against the county and three of its social workers for depriving her of a relationship with her mother.

Orange County Social Services social workersMarcie Vreeken and Helen Dwojak filed false reports and held back evidence which would have cleared Fogarty-Hardwick, an Orange County jury found in 2007. A third social worker was cleared of liability.

The jury awarded Fogarty-Hardwick $4.9 million in damages, with the county responsible for the bulk of the award. The county appealed all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which  denied the county’s request to be heard last week.

Vreeken and Dwojak were never disciplined.

In fact, Vreeken was later promoted, according to county records. She earned $103,441.48 last year as a senior social services supervisor, according to county records.

Dwojak, who was Vreeken’s supervisor, retired from the county in 2006, according to county records.

“I am certain and I stand by my social workers that they did not fabricate, they did not suppress any information and they did not perjure themselves,” said Dr. Michael Riley, director of the Orange County Social Services Agency. “If they had I would have dismissed them.”

Social Services conducted an investigation into how the social workers handled the case and found no wrongdoing, Riley said. “This woman is the epitome of integrity,” Riley said of Dwojak. “They did nothing wrong.”

According to court papers, Vreeken threatened that if Fogarty-Hardwick did not “submit” to her will, she would never see her children again. The social workers also tried in 2000 to coerce Fogarty-Hardwick to sign a document saying she was a bad parent by threatening to take her daughters away, Fogarty-Hardwick alleged.

Fogarty-Hardwick refused.

According to daughter Kendall Hardwick’s lawsuit, Vreeken “attempted to coerce Kendall into visiting her father by threatening that if Kendall did not visit with her father she would be taken away from her mother and ‘put in a home.’ ”

Kendall Hardiwick’s lawuit accuses Vreeken of lying in a Feb. 17, 2000 court report, including failing to disclose her threats against Kendall and her sister that left the two girls in tears and a subsequent  argument between Vreeken and Fogarty-Hardwick.

A county commissioner ordered Fogarty-Hardwick’s daughters taken from their mother and put inOrangewood Children’s Home immediatelyVreeken and another social worker went with a uniformed police officer to  to take Kendall’s younger sister, who was “screaming and crying for her mother as she hid under the principal’s desk,” according to Kendall’s lawsuit. Kendall was also forcibly removed, leaving her “devastated.”

The girls were later put in foster care.

Kendall Hardwick’s lawsuit also accuses Vreeken of repeatedly lying in court reports and on the stand to thwart Fogarty-Hardwick’s attempts to regain custody of her daughters.

In a March 31, 2000 letter, a therapist wrote to the agency that “Kendall … shows signs of emotional regression. She was tearful throughout the session, begging to go home. … She doesn’t know how much longer she can cope and visibly shook while relating this.”

“Defendants knew of Plaintiffs emotional collapse,” the suit reads. “Yet, while testifying in the juvenile court trial, Vreeken refused to acknowledge the children were mentally deteriorating.”

The social workers instead reported the children “were doing well,” according to the lawsuit.

Fogarty-Hardwick gave her ex-husband full custody in 2002, hoping to protect her daughters. She was then allowed two supervised visits a month for two years. She eventually won 50-50 custody in 2006.

Fogarty-Hardwick sued the county in 2002, arguing the Social Services Agency and its two social workers violated her civil rights. A jury ruled against her.

She sued again, arguing this time county’s policies violated her constitutional rights, including her Fourthand Fourteenth Amendment rights.

Fogarty-Hardwick’s accused the county of violating her constitutional rights by removing her children without making a finding of imminent danger or serious physical injury; interviewing her daughters without a parent present; holding her children without cause; fabricating evidence; and failing to properly train employees about parents’ constitutional rights.

The jury voted 10-2 in favor of Fogarty-Hardwick. The county appealed.

In the Fourth District Court of Appeal opinion, Justice William Bedsworth wrote, “the evidence adduced at trial obviously caused both the jury and the judge to conclude not only that something seriously wrong was done to Fogarty-Hardwick in this case, but also that the wrongful conduct was not an isolated incident.”

“Despite Fogarty-Hardwick’s complaints, and the concerns expressed by others about the handling of this dependency case, SSA did not investigate the situation or consider assigning different social workers to the matter. Neither of the social workers involved was disciplined. Instead, Vreeken was promoted to supervisor in 2001,” Bedsworth wrote.

Child Protective Services cases are not open to the public, a fact which Riley says prevents him from providing the whole picture.

“We have no agenda to disrupt families,” Riley said. “Our goal is to keep families

Orange County Loses $4.9 Million Lawsuit Challenge Over Lying Social Workers

The County of Orange lost its battle in the U.S. Supreme Court Monday to overturn a record-setting $4.9 million judgment awarded to a Seal Beach woman, after two county social workers lied to a juvenile court commissioner in order to take away the woman’s two daughters.
It took Deanna Fogarty-Hardwick 6 ½ years to regain custody of her children.
The jury award given to Fogarty-Hardwick included damages against the two social workers. The Supreme Court also upheld $1.6 million in attorneys fees for Fogarty-Hardwick’s attorneys, but that could end being as much as $3 million, Fogarty-Hardwick’s attorney Shawn McMillan said.
The county and the two social workers will also be responsible for paying interest which has accrued on the $4.9 million jury award over the last four years, bringing the grand total close to $9.3 million, McMillan said.
Fogarty-Hardwick’s attorneys had offered to settle with the county for $500,000.
Orange County Social Services social workers Marcie Vreeken and Helen Dwojak filed false reports and held back evidence which would have cleared Fogarty-Hardwick, an Orange County jury found. Vreeken would later be promoted, according to county records.
A third social worker was found not liable.
According to court papers, Vreeken threatened that if Fogarty-Hardwick did not “submit” to her will, she would never see her children again. The social workers also tried in 2000 to coerce Fogarty-Hardwick to sign a document saying she was a bad parent by threatening to take her daughters away, Fogarty-Hardwick alleged.
She refused. A county commissioner ordered Fogarty-Hardwick’s daughters, 6 and 9, taken from their mother and put in Orangewood Children’s Home.
The girls were later put in foster care.
Fogarty-Hardwick gave her ex-husband full custody in 2002, hoping to protect her daughters. She was then allowed two supervised visits a month for two years. She eventually won 50-50 custody in 2006.
Fogarty-Hardwick sued the county in 2002, arguing the Social Services Agency and its two social workers violated her civil rights. A jury ruled against her.
She sued again, arguing this time county’s policies violated her constitutional rights, including her Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights.
Fogarty-Hardwick’s accused the county of violating her constitutional rights by removing her children without making a finding of imminent danger or serious physical injury; interviewing her daughters without a parent present; holding her children without cause; fabricating evidence; and failing to properly train employees about parents’ constitutional rights.
An Orange County jury voted 10-2 in 2007 in favor of Fogarty-Hardwick and awarded her $4.9 million.
The county appealed the judgment.
In the Fourth District Court of Appeal opinion, Justice William Bedsworth wrote, “the evidence adduced at trial obviously caused both the jury and the judge to conclude not only that something seriously wrong was done to Fogarty-Hardwick in this case, but also that the wrongful conduct was not an isolated incident.”
“Despite Fogarty-Hardwick’s complaints, and the concerns expressed by others about the handling of this dependency case, SSA did not investigate the situation or consider assigning different social workers to the matter. Neither of the social workers involved was disciplined. Instead, Vreeken was promoted to supervisor in 2001,” Bedsworth wrote.
The Watchdog is looking into whether Vreeken and Dwojak still work for the county.
“What the county and these social workers did to her was horrendous and she deserves to be compensated in full measure,” McMillan said.
“It’s a big deal for a private citizen to take on the government all the way to the United States Supreme Court,” McMillan said.  “(Fogarty-Hardwick) poured her whole life into this case. She provided a valuable service to Orange County and to other parents for having the tenacity to stick with it.”

California Parent ‘Paul M.’ Wins Victory For Medical Marijuana Users

LOS ANGELES — An appeals court released a Southern California father who is a medical marijuana user from court-mandated parental supervision, making a milestone distinction between pot “use” and “abuse.”
The California Court of Appeals overturned a lower court’s decision to place “Paul M.,” the father of toddler “Drake M.” under the supervision of the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services, a mandate that had meant required drug counseling, parenting classes and random drug testing for the father. The appeals court ruled that medical marijuana use alone does not constitute child abuse or put children at risk.
The decision is a “victory for parents who use medical marijuana,” Lauren K. Johnson, attorney for the man identified in the court case as “Paul M.” Johnson based in Irvine, Calif., told The Huffington Post. According to Johnson, this is the first case to distinguish between substance abuse and substance use in juvenile dependency law. The ruling, she said, means that “medical marijuana use alone does not place a child in substantial risk of harm.”
Paul M. was first placed under county DCFS supervision after an October 2011 hearing in which he testified that he possessed a prescription for medical marijuana and used the drug multiple times a week for knee pain and arthritis. Paul M. also stated that he didn’t use marijuana in front of his son, instead retreating to a detached garage where the drug is kept locked on a shelf in a tool box. When Paul M. was in the garage, either the baby’s mother, adult half-sister or grandmother would watch the child.
At issue for DCFS was the fact that Paul M. picked up his son by car from daycare four hours after using marijuana. The lower court agreed with the agency and placed Paul M. under DCFS supervision.
The hearing stemmed from an initial home visit in May 2011, in which DCFS followed up on an anonymous tip from someone who was concerned that Paul M. and Lisa H., Drake M.’s mother, both used marijuana.
Paul M. admitted to a social worker that he had a prescription for medical marijuana and used the drug multiple times a week to deal with chronic pain. The social worker found that Drake M. was healthy and that Paul M., a concrete mason, was able to support his family. DCFS also noted that Drake M. was “clean without marks or bruises” and “appeared to be reaching developmental milestones.”
Despite finding Drake M. safe and healthy, officials still gave temporary orders that mandated random drug testing for Paul M. in order for the baby to remain at home with his father. Unsurprisingly, Paul M. tested positive for marijuana use during subsequent drug screenings, but negative for all other drugs, court documents noted. The temporary orders were made permanent after the hearing in October 2011.
The appeals court overruled the lower court on Dec. 5. In its decision, the court wrote that DCFS’s assertion that “the court can easily find that he’s regularly under the influence while caring for his child,” was not proof in and of itself that Drake M. was suffering from neglect or harm.
DCFS “provided no evidence, through expert testimony or otherwise, showing that four hours after smoking marijuana father was still under the influence of marijuana and was unable to operate a vehicle or care for a child,” continued the court.
“Both DCFS and the trial court apparently confused the meanings of the terms ‘substance use’ and ‘substance abuse,'” the court concluded.
The court’s distinction between “use” and “abuse” in the case of marijuana is a boon for medical marijuana users, and pushes the drug closer toward controlled legal substances like prescription painkillers or alcohol, marijuana advocates said.
Mason Tvert of the Marijuana Policy Project, which advocates regulating marijuana like alcohol, praised the decision, especially in respect to the court’s reasoning about driving four hours after using pot. “In a situation like this, marijuana should be treated no differently than alcohol,” wrote Tvert in an email to HuffPost. “Mere use is not abuse and our laws and policies should reflect that, just as they do with alcohol.”
Tom Angell, chairman of advocacy group Marijuana Majority, compared marijuana to prescription drugs when discussing Paul M.’s case. “It’s great to see the court recognize that parents who use medical marijuana to ease pain should be treated just the same as those who use opiates or other doctor-recommended medications,” Angell wrote in an email to HuffPost. “While no one is going to argue that it’s a good idea for parents to get high in front of their young children, that wasn’t even the issue in this case. All indications are that Paul used medical marijuana only when someone else was watching his son, and there was no evidence whatsoever of harm, abuse or neglect.”
The ruling affects only Paul M.’s parental rights. Each parent was treated separately by the appeals court, which rejected DCFS’s claim that the parents should be treated as a single unit. After the initial interview with DCFS, Lisa H. was also told to undergo drug tests and to attend counseling and parenting classes. She also was ordered to move out of the home due to past illicit use of amphetamines and marijuana, her history of mental and emotional problems, and the removal of her child with another man from her custody in 2002. That child was adopted by another family.
In drug tests, she tested positive for only marijuana and was eventually allowed to return to the home she shared with Paul and Drake M.

Social Worker Sentenced To Five Years For Ignoring Child Abuse Cases

KENTUCKY —  A Kentucky social worker has been sentenced to five years in prison for her behavior in the investigation of child abuse cases.

According to Attorney General Jack Conway’s office, social worker Margaret “Geri” Murphy, formerly with the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, falsified a number of reports to make it appear that she had investigated cases in which there was evidence of child abuse, including a disturbing case involving sexual abuse by a three-year old’s own father. Prosecutors alleged that Murphy left children in homes in which they were abused and neglected, never looked into the claims, and lied to the state.

Murphy pleaded guilty to nine counts of falsifying documents. According to reports, she appeared surprised as she was taken into custody to serve the five year sentence, having requested probation.

Judge Charles Hickman said on the record that he was disturbed by the nature of the actions and non-actions taken by Murphy in specific instances.

“I feel like it sent a message,” commented Assistant Attorney General Barbara Whaley.

This is not an isolated incident. I have personally witnessed lack of investigation and complacency in the juvenile dependency system in my own work in California. Until the system starts looking at itself with a clear lens with a willingness to acknowledge its problems and deficiencies and until those working within the system start putting the safety of minors before personal interests, we will not be doing our part to protect our children.

Guy Turcotte’s Release Four Years After Killing His Children Is Difficult To Justify

MONTREAL — He stabbed his children 46 times. He was freed after 46 months.

In the latest twist in a case that has shocked Quebecers, a cardiologist who killed his two children was granted his release from a psychiatric institution Wednesday, with conditions.

The decision to release Guy Turcotte came as little surprise. A jury last year had found him not criminally responsible for killing his three-year-old daughter and five-year-old son.

Since the court verdict, he had been in Montreal’s Pinel institute where a panel Wednesday found him mentally fit to be released. The case had provoked a torrent of outrage in Quebec, with Turcotte becoming a household name.

Turcotte told the hearing Wednesday that he wants to lead a regular, productive life — but he’s concerned about his newfound notoriety.

“I’d like to work, to do some good around me,” the cardiologist told the panel.

“My biggest challenge will be dealing with others, with the public. There’s been a lot of badmouthing, a lot of things that will be said. There will be a lot of prejudice against me.”

In reacting to Wednesday’s decision, his ex-wife said she didn’t blame the panel that released Turcotte.

She said it had few legal options, and she added that she was actually pleased with the conditions it had imposed. What she blamed was the broader justice system.

“So we’re freeing a criminal,” said Isabelle Gaston, the children’s mother. “I don’t have faith anymore in our justice system — not with the current rules…

“I continue to hope the justice system changes. If things don’t change … injustices will continue. Like this one … and the ones you don’t hear about.”

Gaston said she has spent a year researching cases like this and has seen huge disparities in the verdict depending on several factors — the judge, the experience of the lawyers in the case, and how rich the defendant is which she says will influence the quality of the defense.

She said she hopes for changes in the way evidence is presented. But she said she still believes in the role of jury trials — despite last year’s jury decision to let Turcotte go.

The cardiologist had admitted to stabbing his young children 46 times.

But he said he didn’t remember doing it, hadn’t wanted to do it, and had been experiencing blackouts on the night of the killings.

He said he was distraught over the breakup of his marriage. Gaston had left him for a family friend who was her personal trainer.

Turcotte’s release was unanimously approved by a three-member panel. He will have to get annual mental-health checkups, continue his therapy, stay out of trouble, get approval for his choice of address, and avoid all contact with his ex-wife.

But his legal woes are not quite over yet: the Crown has filed to appeal the 2011 court verdict.

His psychiatrist said he didn’t object to Turcotte’s release, as long as he continued his therapy. Pierre Rochette said that after a reluctant start, his patient had opened up in recent months and made significant progress.

“At this time I don’t see any immediate or long-term danger,” Rochette said.

“(But) he’ll have to find an inner peace after everything that’s happened. That has yet to occur.”

Rochette added that an unconditional release would have been a bad idea, because of the progress Turcotte was making through therapy.

Several cases like Turcotte’s, including the 2008 bus-beheading in Manitoba and the Schoenborn child-killings in B.C., have prompted a federal policy change.

The Harper government plans to make it more difficult for mentally ill offenders found not criminally responsible to be released from custody.

The government announced proposed amendments to the Criminal Code last month, in the latest in a series of tough-on-crime initiatives by the Conservative government.

The Tories plan to introduce a bill in the House of Commons early next year that would make the safety of the public the paramount factor for review boards that determine an offender’s release