The Tragic Case of Logan Marr

In 2001 5-year-old Logan Marr died of asphyxiation after being bound with duct tape and strapped to a high chair in her foster mother’s basement. One quick online search will tell you that this is nothing new. Foster care givers are arrested in the United States on a regular basis, their crimes ranging from child molestation to abuse to murder. While Logan’s story is not unique in the current system, her murderer was: Sally Schofield was a highly respected former caseworker for Maine’s Department of Human Services. If a case worker cannot be trusted to not physically murder a child herself, then how can she be trusted to make life or death decisions regarding the placement of children?

Christy’s Story

Christy Darling was just a teenager when her daughter Logan was born. Christy did not have much support outside of her mother, with whom she had a turbulent relationship that included frequent calls that were placed by the mother to DHS claiming that her daughter was too immature to raise Logan. Whether or not the complaints were legitimate or they were just a way for Christy’s troubled mother to control her is not clear, but DHS ultimately determined that Logan was not being abused. They did put conditions on the young mother, one of which included moving out of the house she shared with her mother and the mother’s boyfriend, who DHS wrongly believed was a sex offender based on hearsay alone without any evidence.

Logan’s Death

After an attempt at staying away from her mother, Christy returned to the only source of support she had ever known, however erratic it was. And this is when the events turned tragic. Although Christy was deemed to not be abusive, Logan was removed from the home anyway and handed over to foster parent Sally Schofield. This mistake would prove to be fatal when Logan was found dead in the basement on that January day. Although Schofield claimed the child must have fallen and hit her head, an autopsy determined that the child died of asphyxiation. At trial Schofield was found guilty, and she is currently serving a sentence of 20 years with all but 17 years suspended.

Where is Schofield Today?

Although her release date is set for May 2, 2017, Lynn Schofield has already tried to have the terms of her probation changed so that she can have contact with children. Originally the terms stated that she could have no contact, so her lawyers lobbied to have that changed to no unsupervised contact with children under 12 citing her fear of “accidental” or “unintentional” contact, but a judge denied her request. In prison she has won the right to count her charitable efforts toward her 500 hours of community service, but none of this will ever bring Logan back to her loving mother, who was never accused of abusing the child.

Has Anything Changed Today?

Has anything really changed in the foster care system since Logan Marr died? It is obvious that serious reforms need to be made in the foster care system, particularly with regard to whether or not children should be removed from their homes at all. All too often children are removed from loving homes in which there is no evidence of abuse. Whether or not Christy Darling was actually too immature to parent will never be known, at least not in Logan’s case, because Christy’s daughter is dead. How many more times will this happen before the system takes steps to stop it?

Are Kids Really Safe in Foster Care?

More than 250,000 children in the U.S. enter the foster care system every year, and this includes children who have been removed from loving homes due to false allegations and those who removed by overzealous and corrupt DHR representatives. Executive Director Tammi Stefano of the National Safe Child Coalition said, “The minute you call child protective services, you can rest assured that the investigation will not be done properly. Chances are the child will not be protected.” This is because cases of child abuse are criminal cases, and DHR workers are not law enforcement officials, nor are they qualified to investigate criminal cases.

Tragic Flaws in the System

There are many cases that tragically demonstrate that the children who are removed from allegedly abusive households are often put into abusive foster homes where they will be further abused. Former foster parents are currently in prison for everything from distributing child pornography to sexual abuse and even including cold-blooded murder. There have also been reports of DHR and CPS workers resigning rather than facing prosecution for the deaths of children who were removed from their homes and then handed over to their murderers. Until there is more accountability for DHR workers and they are finally stripped from the power they too often wield over helpless families, this will continue to happen to innocent parents and children.

Is There a Chance this Could Happen to Your Child?

That statistics speak for themselves: According to one report by the US Department of Health and Human Services’ Children’s Bureau Division, in 2012 in the state of Chicago alone, 171 children were abused while they were in the foster care system. This, of course, is just the reported incidents of abuse, and it’s only one year of many, and one state of many. The true incidences of abuse in foster care may never be able to be accurately reported, but they are likely to be much higher than what is known. One study claimed that approximately 28% of children are abused while in the foster care system. This number becomes even more tragic when you consider how many children are removed from their homes due to false allegations.

Why You Should Not Call DHR to Report a Crime

DHR workers are not law enforcement officers such as police or detectives, and they do not have the training or the qualifications. This has led to many serious mistakes that sometimes lead to abuse or even murder at the hands of the very foster parents who were entrusted with the child’s safety. In 2013 CPS took thousands of children away from their parents in Los Angeles, and 570 of these children were murdered while they were being held by the system. The system that is used to screen foster parents is flawed, and though there are many loving and safe foster homes, far too many child offenders and people who only take in children for a check still manage to slip through the cracks.

What Can You Do to Keep Your Child Safe from Harm?

If you suspect a child has been abused, then a serious crime has been committed against the child, and this crime needs to be investigated by qualified law enforcement officers before a child is removed from the home. If a DHR or CPS worker shows up at your house and wants to take your child due to suspected child abuse, demand to have a lawyer present before you speak to them, and do not let them into your home or let them interview your children unless your lawyer advises it. Your child’s safety and their life could depend on it.

Can I Check Your Credentials?

If DHR opens a case against you, many different individuals may be brought into your life, each of whom will have their own part in any decisions that are made for or against you. When a worker is hired by DHR, there is a process that they must first go through that is supposed to include a full background check and the verification of their credentials. As we have learned from the bizarre case of Angel Gieske, these actions, while required, do not always take place. When a DHR worker becomes involved in your lives, you have every right to look into their credentials, and indeed you should, as the people of the state of Tennessee learned the hard way.

The Angel Gieske Story

Who is Angel Gieske? She was a deeply disturbed individual who worked as a counselor with DHR in six different counties even though her credentials were fakes and she had no qualifications that would allow her to work with DHR at all, let along the doctorate credentials she was claiming. During the years that she was with DHR she defrauded Medicaid and illegally collected $864,000, but this was not the worst of the damage she caused to the people of Tennessee. Money can be repaid, but the damage this woman did to the families whose custody cases she was involved in can never be undone.

Families Torn Apart

Although multiple workers are involved in each individual case and Gieske herself did not have complete control over the outcome of any case, she was involved in DHR cases in which parental rights were terminated, and her unqualified opinions were given serious consideration during the decision-making process. Even today there are still parents that are fighting for their rights and to access to their children thanks to the damage this woman caused. People are quick to say that there “must be more to the story,” but the sad fact is the “more” that we are sometimes unaware of is corruption on the part of DHR workers.

Could this Happen to You?

One official admitted that no background check had been performed on Gieske, and he also admitted that the organization does not track how many families’ cases a worker is involved in, so we have no way of knowing how many lives were ruined because this woman decided to work in an organization where even the fully qualified were not doing their jobs. Her behavior went unchecked and unchallenged for years before she was caught, and who knows how many families were destroyed in the process? Because anyone can file a complaint with DHR for any reason, it is all too easy for an Angel Gieske to wreak havoc in anyone’s lives.

Don’t be the Next Victim

Anyone who wants to be a counselor for DHR needs to first be vetted, but obviously there are cracks in the system and a few sick individuals manage to slip through them. If anyone has the authority to make life-altering decisions regarding you and your family, make sure their credentials check out by contacting the agencies they are claiming to be affiliated with and verifying their information. Who knows how many other Angel Gieskes are out there still working within this deeply flawed system? The time it takes is minimal compared to the amount of time you could potentially be separated from your child if you don’t.

False Memory Syndrome: A Dangerous Myth

Although it is commonly believed that it is possible for people who have experienced traumatic events to block those painful memories out and then recall them  later on when they are uncovered through therapy, this is the part of this so-called syndrome that is the most false of all. Despite the fact that there have been no credible studies that have demonstrated this scenario to be true, “recovered” memories have been used to “prove” many cases of alleged child abuse.  Despite the fact that there is no evidence that this syndrome exists, lives have been destroyed, and today there are many adults who falsely believe they were actually subjected to the memories that were actually created and put into their heads by overzealous therapists and social workers.

How it All Began

During the late 1980s memory regression therapy became popular, and as mental health professionals experimented with this technique they began to claim to be able to uncover repressed memories that the patient had no memory of and were only able to recall through guided hypnosis. In the early 1990s court cases began appearing in which the only evidence against the accused was these “memories” that the victim only had knowledge of once they began the therapy. There is no evidence that demonstrates that the human mind has the ability to repress trauma and then recover the memories later on through the aid of hypnotherapy, and modern psychiatry does not support the existence of this syndrome.

Satanic Panic

Perhaps the most famous example of False Memory Syndrome being used to destroy lives is the McMartin Preschool case, which took place during the 1980s and at six years was the longest US criminal trial in history. Through therapy that claimed to uncover hidden memories, children which until that point had reported no wrongdoing suddenly “remembered” that they had been involved in occult rituals in which blood sacrifices and sex acts had taken place. This trial cost the state of California $15 million, but more than that it cost the members of the McMartin family their reputations and their livelihoods despite the fact that they were found innocent and no evidence to back-up the wild claims was ever discovered.

Why Does This Happen?

What happened to the McMartin family is not an isolated incident. Different versions of this same scenario have happened to countless families and individuals across the country despite the fact that False Memory Syndrome was debunked many years ago. One study described how easy it is to implant false memories, and in this study it was determined that even claiming to see a person do something can implant a false memory that can lead a person to make a false confession. Corroboration by another person can easily lead to the creation of false memories, and when you are dealing with a child it is easy to see how they could be led in that direction by a DHR worker with a vendetta.

What We Know Now

Today the idea of False Memory Syndrome has been thoroughly debunked by the scientific community, and there have been numerous studies conducted that have explained how false memories are created. Although the number of court cases related to this phenomenon have sharply declined over the past several years, the fact that this was once a popular courtroom defense at all shows just how easily false memories and information can be planted into the minds of impressionable children. If it is at all possible, do not permit your child to be interviewed by a DHR agent without a lawyer, a qualified therapist, or other medical professional present.

Scare Tactics that Social Workers Can Use Against You

Even the very best parents can be the recipients of an unwanted visit from DHR. If this has happened to you, you may have been subjected to any number of threats that made you fear for the safety and stability of your child. Millions of children are abused in foster care every year, and we have all heard about heartbreaking cases of parents having their children removed and placed into the foster system for no good reason. This is becoming an increasingly serious problem, and if a DHR caseworker has knocked on your door, you may be understandably upset, scared, and confused.  While it can be alarming to be told if you question someone’s authority they may take your child away and strip you of your rights, there are steps you can take to diffuse the situation before it escalates and ends in tragedy.

What Should You Do When DHR Shows Up?

Although child abuse is a very real and serious problem, millions of good and loving parents have been investigated by DHR without any evidence of abuse outside of allegations that could have been made by anyone and for any reason, including spite for imagined slights. If a DHR worker shows up at your house, take their visit seriously, but be sure to remain calm. Although your anger and fear may be justified, any acknowledgement of it can be taken as an act of hostility and used against you. Unless they have a warrant, you are not obligated to let a case worker into your house. However refusing them may make them more determined than ever to remove your child.

Do You Need an Attorney?

It is advisable for you to secure the services of an attorney who has experience not just complying with, but actively fighting against, DHR. It would be extremely expensive to have an attorney present every time you communicated with a social worker, but a lawyer will at the very least be able to provide you with guidelines and legal advice that can greatly reduce your chances of having your child removed from your home. It is best to keep your communication with the worker to the bare minimum, and whatever you do, even if you know you are innocent and are merely trying to explain, never say anything that could incriminate you.

Do You Have to Let Them Speak to Your Child?

DHR does not need your permission to speak to your child. They can legally interview your son or daughter at school or in another public place without your child, so it is best to teach your child to refuse to speak to any strangers including DHR caseworkers. If you refuse to cooperate they will make a note of it, and that alone could be used as “evidence” against you. To reduce your risk of having a worker claim that you refused to let them see your child in order to hide evidence of injuries, show your child or children to the worker through the window only, but do not open the door for them.

How DHR Benefits from Removing Your Child

DHR caseworkers believe they are doing what is best for the child, but their tendency to believe accusations without any evidence is far from being in children’s best interests. If these workers ran out of children to remove, their job security would be in jeopardy. The more children they take in, the more federal funding they receive, and the better they look in their own boss’s eyes. While these workers may seem friendly and helpful at first, once they have the information they are looking for they may quickly turn on you. Once they have grounds to remove your child, it can be very difficult—if not impossible—to regain custody. If DHR knows on your door, protect yourself and your children by making sure you know your rights.

As Billy Jackson’s Career as Judge Ends, We’re Fighting CPS One Corrupt Official at a Time

As of January, the career of Judge Billy Jackson of Lauderdale County is over. He turned in his resignation in December of last year and will not be running for re-election this year. If you’re unfamiliar with our personal experience with Judge Billy Jackson, know that this is the individual who refused to let Judy or Kathey to speak in defense against the allegations against them and took guardianship away with no consideration of their constitutional right to be considered innocent until proven guilty. Neither Judy nor Kathey were allowed to even take the stand in the courtroom before guardianship was given back to Danielle’s abusive legal birth mother, the only person who ever willingly gave up parental rights in the first place.

Billy Jackson’s Legacy

Billy Jackson ruined the life of our niece and the lives of countless other families. In the years following our case, she has been unable to battle her mental health issues, has gained a great deal of weight, and is suffering through severe bouts of depression that have affected every aspect of her life. She is no longer the smiling, happy child that we raised. And we refuse to let our voices be silenced.

Jackson cited his reasons for leaving as family and financial matters, but we’d like to think that we’ve made some impact on his decision with our unwavering effort to expose both the incompetency and the corruption in the child “protective” services system, which starts from the initial social workers who are motivated by financial gain and continues all the way up to judges, such as Billy Jackson, who receive kick backs from every child who goes through the foster process. People like this judge along with Denise H Burch of Burch Law Group, Sara Hendershot, DA Chris Connolly, Labrisco Cook and Patricia Miller, and other individuals involved in these situations should be ashamed of themselves for destroying families, disallowing due process, and getting the profits from it all.

One Hopeful Note

Our goal is to make more and more people aware of the plights of the families and children that are wrongfully being victimized by the corrupt CPS system. As of right now, all it takes is to look at the numerous stories around the web like ours and the rip-off reports and complaints made against these officials. With any luck, this is a good sign for the cause against DHR corruption specifically and national CPS corruption.

The Types of CPS Reports and Understanding Your Situation

If you’ve found yourself at this blog, the chances are that you are involved in allegations against you from CPS or another like entity in your location. As a parent, you may not experience anything more heart-wrenching than to have your children taken from you without due process. You’d be surprised about how much that these types of cases have in common. There are typically three types of CPS reports, and knowing your situation could help you understand what courses of action to take in order to improve the outcome.

Child Neglect or Abuse

Not all CPS reports are unfounded. There are people out there who abuse unlawful substances and/or intentionally hurt, abuse, or molest their children. Child Protective Services is called because of bruises beyond what normal children naturally occur or because of evidence of malnutrition. These instances are what CPS should be trying to stop. However, if you’re doing your research on this specific topic, it’s unlikely that you abuse your children and are probably finding an overwhelming amount of corruption in the system because of money and greed. It’s more pertinent to the topic at hand to discuss the other two types of situations.

Being Victimized by a Personal Vendetta

It’s not uncommon for individuals to use children in order to get back at someone for real or perceived injustices against them. CPS is then used as a weapon in order to exact their own personal brand of revenge. Why a parent would exploit their kids in this way is beyond me, but I have witnessed it first-hand.

Imagine an ex-spouse is only granted custody of their child on weekends because they’re unemployed and the other parent is more well-equipped to be a provider. Let’s also say that on one such weekend, that individual takes their child and promptly files a restraining order against the custodial parent, claiming that they’re physically abusive. In this particular case, the court granted the restraining order, did not send the child back to the custodial parent, and began a lengthy court case based on zero evidence, costing the first parent an exorbitant amount of lawyer fees, etc. This all happened out of the spite of the first individual. Lengthy court battles can be costly, and for families that can’t afford legal fees, such circumstances can be simply detrimental, especially to the well-being of the child.

Flat-Out Corruption in the System

Because of the loopholes in the “Adoption and Safe Families Act” (1974), it’s not uncommon for some social workers to be motivated by financial incentives to make allegations against families. They, along with the corrupt judges on their side, receive financial kickbacks for every child that is adopted out of foster care, so the more children that are put into the system, the more money they receive. This flaw in the system is what Nancy Schaefer spent her political career trying to fight, and it’s what unjustly victimizes many families across the country.

With this type of case, you may find that a social worker is being overzealous about normal parenting struggles and blowing circumstances out of proportion in order to make you look bad. Last year, CPS in Florida took an eleven-year-old from his parents because he was playing outside, waiting for his parents to come home since he had forgotten his house key. He was alone for only 90 minutes, but the parents were arrested for negligence despite there being no minimum age for supervision to be required and had to be subjected to parenting classes, forced to pay for day care, and to admit they were wrong for letting their child play outside. Let’s also note that the boy was in the yard within view of the home.

Battling corruption in the system is even more difficult than proving that you’re being victimized by someone’s personal vendetta. That’s why it’s important to continue to raise awareness about the problems in the system.

Nancy Schaefer’s Murder Indicates Extensive Corruption in Child Services

The legacy of former Senator Nancy Schaefer of Georgia extended into the realm of activism, especially in regards to her opposition against Child Protective Services. In 2007, she wrote a report seeking to expose corruption in the system, a report that she later claimed lost her the seat she held in the Senate. The idea behind her allegations is that the process involved in taking children from their families caused children to be wrongfully stolen from loving families. It’s worth it to say here that some children actually are abused and rightfully taken from harmful situations; this isn’t what this article is about. The subject here pertains to families that have had parental rights taken away with little justification and without the chance to plead their case.

CPS Taking Advantage of Loopholes

Essentially, the “Adoption and Safe Families Act” (1974) and its later federal adoption in 1997 paved the way for social workers and even judges to exploit families in pursuit of lucrative gain. Federal funds are legally allocated to professionals in the system as bonuses for every child that is adopted out of foster care. This seems like positive and perhaps even noble legislature, but the unintentional lucrative incentives from abusing the process have ended up causing more pain for children, the ones this bill is intended to benefit.

In order to take full advantage of the financial gains allowed by this bill, more children need to be put into foster care. Thus, greedy individuals then pull children away from their families without due process and enjoy the revenue that rolls in. Schaefer sought to put an end to this practice, pull funding from Child Services, and give law enforcement the jurisdiction to rescue abused children rather than the social workers in order to ensure the proper due process for affected families. The extent of this corruption extended all the way from lowly social workers to judges who purportedly received monetary kickbacks. Perhaps the corruption extends even deeper as Schaefer often asserted that she lost her seat in the Senate due to her pursuits to end this unconstitutional practice. People benefitting from the flaws in the system would have motive to stop Schaefer at all costs.

The Murder of Nancy Schaefer

According to the official reports, Schaefer’s husband killed her and committed suicide, allegedly motivated by financial issues. There are a number of strange circumstances around the situation, particularly because of the increase in recent death threats the couple had been receiving that were potentially due to Schaefer’s political beliefs and activism. There was also no indication from Bruce Schaefer that finances had been bothering him to the point of such a heinous act, especially because the couple still owned assets that outweighed the main source of their financial troubles. What is most concerning is that Schaefer was in the middle of a video to expose the issues in the Child Services system, one that would extend beyond the realm of her political career and transcend into public knowledge.

With such feeble motives tempered with an overwhelming amount of questions and inconsistencies, Nancy Schaefer’s murder doesn’t seem like a domestic tragedy between her husband and herself. There was far more political and profit-oriented motivation surrounding her life’s work of sticking up for families that had no voice in the system and taking away opportunity for CPS to treat children as merchandise to fuel a profit mill with zero accountability. Nancy Schaefer will be remembered as an individual who led a life in service to those families, and we truly lost a dedicated activist and inspiring person.

A Judge in Texas Gets it Right!

As our child welfare system continues to deteriorate nationwide, it was a breath of fresh air to hear that a federal judge has come to the same conclusion. In Austin, a Federal Judge ruled that the state of Texas has violated foster children’s constitutional rights to be free from an unreasonable risk of harm, stating that children “often age out of care more damaged than when they entered.”

This is just a first step in examining a very flawed system that’s based on an extremely slippery slope. The ruling states, “Years of abuse, neglect and shuttling between inappropriate placements across the state has created a population that cannot contribute to society, and proves a continued strain on the government through welfare, incarceration or otherwise.”

The class-action lawsuit was served by the an advocacy group named Children’s Rights, Inc, and the suit argued that Texas caseworkers are currently assigned too many children for them to effectively monitor, and that the children are being placed too far away from their original home, many times in settings where they are not receiving adequate care.

U.S. District Judge Janis Jack was asked to order the state to take greater steps in hiring more caseworkers to alleviate the problem of insurmountable case loads, an issue of which Judge Jack met head on. The judge also mandated that the state should stop placing certain foster children in unsafe placements which include group homes that do not have 24 hour supervision.

Texas’ Child Protective Services division is one of the largest child abuse investigation and foster care services. A ruling in favor of Children’s Rights will make substantial changes at the agency, and will force state lawmakers to reconvene for a special legislative session with a special emphasis on reform.

This is one major step towards nationwide recognition of a system that shatters parents and families every day. Education is always key, and without it we will be unable to address and tackle an epidemic of this kind. There’s strength in numbers, and the movement to protect our families just gained a ton of momentum. We must fight this horribly inefficient, biased and unethical system – one step at a time. This was a step in the right direction.

Adoption is now Big Business!

There are a few social entities that come with a positive public connotation to them. Adoption is viewed as a process for those who elect to give back to the world while taking children to care for. It’s up there with what is considered to be one of the more humane acts of life, and there are countless cases where adoption not only saves a child’s life but is equally rewarding for the parent.
It concerns me that adoption has turned from such a beautiful gesture of warmth, love and community to what many would consider private enterprise. While it may sound that adoption is solely focused on the needs of society; pairing children who do not have parents with established adults capable of care, today, Adoption is a 13 billion dollar industry.

It seems that wherever there is a dollar to be made, close by you will find the justification behind the corruption fueling the billion dollar pipeline. In this case, how can we trust the motivation of the adoption industry? Parents want children, and in the law of supply and demand, the supplier must meet the demand to capitalize on the profit. For this reason alone, there has been a great increase in homes that are broken up and kids parceled out through the same system that originally vowed to honor and protect them.

You may have heard the adage “it takes a village to raise a child,” well it seems that the village needs to start protecting them. Certainly there are millions of children who benefit from being placed in a home that betters their situation, however, the motivations behind keeping the adoption industry running as what I would consider a full fledged business is morally sick and corrupt.

One search for “adoption corruption” and fingers (on the web) point to international practices and mentions some corrupt practices that relate to human trafficking and some other shady topics. However little to no mention of what is going on right here at home.

There are agencies, both domestic and international that have flawless ethics and do not relent in their standard to simply help bridge the gap between children in need and families who can help. However, the middle ground… The gray area that no one seems to discuss at large is what needs attention. Our families are turning into prey, by a corrupt justice and social system. We must stand up and let our voices be heard right now!