Starved, disabled girl was failed at every turn
In this undated photo released by the Philadelphia Police Department, Andrea...
14 hours ago
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PHILADELPHIA — For days before Danieal Kelly died in a fetid, airless room — made stifling hot by a midsummer heat wave — the bedridden teenager begged for something to drink until she could muster only one word: water.
Unable to help herself because of her cerebral palsy, she wasted away from malnutrition and maggot-infested bedsores that ate her flesh. She died alone on a putrid mattress in her mother's home, the floor covered in feces. She was 14 but weighed just 42 pounds.
The nightmare of forced starvation and infection that killed Danieal while she was under the protection of the city's human services agency is documented in a 258-page grand jury report released this week that charges nine people — her parents, four social workers and three family friends — in her ghastly death.
The report describes a mother, Andrea Kelly, who was embarrassed by her disabled daughter and didn't want to touch her, take her out in public, change her diapers or make sure she had enough fluids. It portrays Daniel Kelly, the father who once had custody of Danieal, as having no interest in raising her.
And it accuses the city Department of Human Services of being "uncaring and incompetent."
"It was this indifference that helped kill Danieal Kelly," an angry District Attorney Lynne Abraham said. "How is it possible for this to have happened?"
The report should "outrage the entire Philadelphia community" and bring about "earth-shattering, cataclysmic changes" at the Department of Human Services, Abraham said.
Andrea Kelly, 39, the only defendant charged with murder, was ordered held Friday without bail. The social workers — suspected of falsifying home visits and progress reports in the case — face charges ranging from child endangerment to involuntary manslaughter. The family friends are accused of lying to the grand jury about the girl's condition before her death.
None of the lawyers for any of the defendants had any immediate comment.
Human Services Commissioner Anne Marie Ambrose, in office only a month, said Thursday that she is intent on improving child safety and worker accountability in an agency that has repeatedly been accused of failing to protect children.
Late Friday, the city announced the resignation of Assistant Health Commissioner Carmen Paris. The grand jury had accused Paris of interfering in the investigation of the girl's death while she was acting health commissioner, but found insufficient evidence to charge her with obstruction of justice.
The report on Danieal's death in August 2006 documents a downward spiral from the early years that she spent in Arizona with her father and his girlfriend.
Though Danieal attended special-needs classes only sporadically, a school report described her as an active learner and "one of the sweetest students ever enrolled in this program." But allegations of parental neglect soon surfaced, and following Daniel Kelly's breakup with his girlfriend in 2001, Danieal never again attended school.
Daniel Kelly and his children moved to Philadelphia in 2003. He eventually asked his estranged wife to move in, even though she had several other children and he knew she was incapable of caring for Danieal, authorities say. He then moved out.
"Daniel Kelly was well aware what deserting his daughter meant to her safety and welfare," the grand jury report said. "He just did not care."
The Department of Human Services received at least five reports of Danieal being mistreated between 2003 and 2005. All described a "helpless child sitting unattended, unkempt and unwashed, in a small stroller in her own urine and feces," her screams ignored by her mother, the grand jury report said. The stroller, which served as a wheelchair, apparently never left the house.
Agency employee Dana Poindexter, assigned to investigate, also ignored Danieal, authorities say. Already having been suspended after a 3-week-old baby died on his watch in 2002, Poindexter continued his "slovenly, neglectful and dangerously reckless work habits" after being assigned the Kelly case, the grand jury said. He did not file a single report, authorities said.
The Kellys finally were assigned help from a private agency in 2005. Employee Julius Murray was required to visit the family twice a week, but authorities believe he may have come to the house only once — to have Andrea Kelly sign predated forms attesting to future visits.
The grand jury report said Laura Sommerer, a city social worker, failed to hold the now-defunct company accountable when, months later, Danieal still was not enrolled in school or receiving medical care.
And after Danieal died, authorities say, company director Mickal Kamuvaka held a "forgery fest" in her office where she had employees "concoct almost a year's worth of false progress reports."
But authorities say Andrea Kelly, whose other children are now in foster care, is primarily responsible for her daughter's death.
The report said she was confronted repeatedly by her own mother, uncle, friends and even two of her sons about Danieal's deteriorating health. She would lie or put them off by saying she would seek help, or banish them from the house, authorities say.
In the meantime, the report said, she entertained friends, attended classes and fed her other children.
"This behavior indicates that Andrea Kelly did not merely allow Danieal to die," the report said. "She may have even wanted her disabled daughter to die."
When an ambulance responded to a 911 call for Danieal on Aug. 4, 2006, the girl had been dead for several hours. Authorities said she was so emaciated she looked like the victim of a concentration camp.
She had been lying on the filthy mattress for so long that her body outline was imprinted on it.
Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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How the hell can something like this happen in this day and age? What happened to accountability? How could so many "human" beings let this go unnoticed? This is unacceptable..
Aug 2, 2008
One of my favorite childhood memories, before the parents hated each other etc, was when I was about 6 or 7 was on Saturday's my mom and dad would take me out antiquing", that's what we called it..Around 10am or so, we would get in the car and drive out to the country and go to these little out of the way places looking for treasures. My mother's treasures consisted of finding a piece of furniture that had refinishing potential. My dad's goodies were usually something a little off the wall, his best find was an old pie safe. My mom hated it, which made my dad love it even more. My thing was old books, comics, and little knick-knacks. I got my first comic book at one of those antique stores. That is how I acquired my Nancy Drew book collection. I got The Diary of Ann Frank at an antique store, and because the book was so old and tattered and musty, and cost 5 cents, when I read it I secretly daydreamed that maybe it was really HER diary. I was an avid reader as a child. The best gift my parents ever gave me were probably those Saturdays, and the love of books. Those old haunts won hands down over The Smithsonian trips. Although the Air and Space museum was cool, it couldn't compete with going thru stacks of old books to find the 3 that I was allowed to purchase. The ending highlight was stopping at one of those side of the road produce spots. Silver Queen corn, peaches, and Dad's favorite, cherries; he spat the pits out as we drove home. Alas, my parents divorced when I was 13, my mom gladly gave him his pie safe when he moved out and my father is deceased. I still have my Saturday mornings tucked away in my memories and God, do I love peaches and cherries.
Aug 1, 2008
Well for all you fellow SSI/SSDer's out there, this is the day you get your monthly allotment. Sitting here juggling the bills to try and make it last thru out the month..Hahahaha...The poor mailman must dread delivering mail on this day. People are posted up at their mailbox anticipating a couple dollars in their pocket. I heard Mr. Bush is generous enough to send out another stimulus check right before December. What a guy!!!! The wealthy oilman dishing out money to the poverty stricken people. We went out for coffee the other morning and just listening to people in this dingy little shop, complaining about their lack of living money, just for simple necessities, is heartbreaking. I wish I had a tremendous pile of large bills..I would make it rain money in the poorest neighborhoods. Alas, let a girl daydream..I don't see that happening anytime soon. Kenny and I are arguing over who has the better legs (mine rock) just in case one of us has to get some glass heels and learn how to swing on that pole...Have a great day...
Jul 31, 2008
I have two children. One is 23 and the other is 18. My eldest son suffers from heroin addiction. He has chosen to panhandle for a living. Last week he asked me to go for a ride with him. I love him, but I have walked in his shoes many years ago. I know the pain, the whole damn journey that lies ahead for him. He said "Come on mom, go with me and my girlfriend out for awhile". So we are driving and he pulls off at a rest-stop. Said "Mom, I'll be right back". I sit in the car with his 100lb girlfriend who does Suduko puzzles non-stop. He comes back to the car 15 minutes later and tells me we are going out to lunch. After we leave the rest-stop he pulls out $175. I asked him where did he get the money. He proceeds to tell me that he does this everyday. He drives to rest-stops, pulls out his old military ID, and tells everyone he is stranded and needs to get back to his base. I was dumbfounded. I told him that if he gets caught this is a Federal offense, as he was only in the service for 4 months, and that morally it is wrong. His addiction doesn't understand or care about my argument. I am watching my firstborn kill himself. I am also looking in an old mirror. I was a heroin addict at 23. I walked in his shoes. Yet, when I plead with him, beg him, cry...he tells me.."I got this"..His first treatment appointment is in two weeks. He is not allowed in my home, he steals...so I have to go sit in his girl's car if he wants to visit or we go for a ride. I hate whatever genetics played a part in my one child's suffering. Is addiction genetic? I just know what I see with my own two green eyes. It is painful. The child that was soooo smart, precocious, is now panhandling to feed his need. This is the child that I took to pet the cows when he was little..he is now sticking needles in his arm at every opportunity. Afraid of a sickness that will pass, it will be painful, but it does pass. His youth and the feeling that he is infallible is blinding him to help. How do you impart your experience and wisdom to someone that is choosing deafness?
Jul 28, 2008
Living in the moment. I look at my other half. His salt and pepper (mostly salt) hair, his belly hanging over his pants, his laughter at a stupid game show. I love this man. 18+ years now. Sometimes I just gaze and think about how much time has passed, and how the hell did we make it this long. I believe that after spending so much time with another person your spirits become entwined. He knows when I am not happy just by a look on my face. I gave up trying to lie to him years ago, he reads me all too well. Damn...The daily hustle and bustle can sometimes be overwhelming and we forget to tell each other just how important we are to one another. I need to check myself, and make a point of letting him know, that thru all the daily bullshit, he is till the man, my man, and that I wouldn't trade him for another human on this planet. Sometimes you need to hear it, words can be comforting. How many of us have been in long term relationships, and start taking one another for granted, unintentionally? It just seems to happen. People need to know they are loved. So my post today is about telling someone important to you that, yes indeed, I love you and you are my world. Actions do speak louder than words, but words are nice also...Have a blessed day...