If you haven’t heard of the sad death of 7-year old Adrian Jones, then prepare yourself for a horrific story. Furthermore, prepare yourself to be extremely upset at the child welfare system. My intent here is to say the things that everyone else is thinking, yet are too afraid to say.
After thinking about the open-source model and open-source governance, my mind started racing. What about Open-Source Foster Care?
Adrian Jones father, Michael Jones, was sentenced to life in prison for killing Adrian in the Kansas City area. His stepmother, Heather Jones is also serving a life sentence for her role in his murder. Adrian was abused by his parents and starved to death. Yet, it was what happened after his death that was equally horrific. This is a story you would expect to see on the dark web. If you are not familiar with the dark web, consider yourself lucky as there are some truly evil stories hidden there. However, this one might just be worse than any other I have read.
Adrian’s home became a prison prior to his death. The 7-year old was blindfolded and strapped to a table, his face was cracked with a broomstick, he was forced to eat out of a maggot infested bowl outside his home with his hands tied behind his back, he was stripped naked and confined to a shower stall for hours, forced to stand in neck-deep water in the Jones dirty swimming pool overnight, and even trapped to an inversion table with handcuffs. Yet, this is not the worst part.
After Adrian had died alone in the shower (for which he was left there for two weeks after his death), his parents went out and purchased pigs. They intentionally did not feed the pigs for period of time just to make sure they were extremely hungry. Then, just like a story from the dark web, they threw Adrian’s dead body to the pigs. Yes, his sadistic parents fed him to pigs. If you are interested in reading more on this story, I recommend you read this 3-part series by Jessica McMaster at KSHB.com.
My intent here is to ask why this happened. I want to know why the child welfare system failed this child so badly. Here are three pointed questions I have for our child welfare system, prepare to be upset.
1. You knew he was being abused, yet you did nothing. Why was Adrian not removed from his home?
In 2012, the Kansas Department for Children and Families (DCF) removed Adrian from his biological mother. Guess who they gave him to… his father, Michael Jones. In 2013, a Missouri Children’s Division social worker and police officer actually spoke with Adrian. The little boy told them the following,
“Daddy kicks me.”
Adrian stated that his father,
“Keeps hitting me in the head and punches me in the stomach and mom keeps pulling on my ears and it really hurts.”
He added that his parents,
“Always lock me in my room. I have to sleep without a pillow and blanket.”
The Kansas City Star reported that the Missouri Children’s Division found a preponderance of evidence that Adrian had been neglected in July of 2013. Investigators and medical staff actually examined Adrian. Yet, Missouri’s plan was to provide in-home services to the family, even though the family failed to cooperate with Missouri authorities. At one point, the family even tried to give Adrian to the authorities, yet they would not take him!
As a former Kansas foster child myself, I was removed from my home due to neglect. Yet, my life was not in danger and I was easily removed from my home. Why not Adrian? This should have been blatantly obvious to all involved. This should have been an easy decision to remove the boy from these horrible people… especially since they clearly did not want him.
2. He lives in Kansas now, so we made them aware. So, you allowed abuse to continue because the child moved out of state! Did you forget that Kansas City lies right on the Kansas/Missouri border?
The family stopped communicating with Missouri authorities and moved out of state to Kansas. However, for those of you who live in Kansas or Missouri, you know that Kansas City lies directly on the border between the two states. They remained in the Kansas City area (they just crossed the state line).
Line in the sand
“Imagine you and another adult agree to draw a line in the sand. You both agree that, as long as you are on your side, you have to leave the other person alone. The other adult turns out to be an abusive person who beats children. You can clearly see the child being abused, but you agreed not to cross the line. You decide that you have to at least call ‘someone’ so you can clear your conscience and show that you made ‘someone’ aware. It doesn’t matter that the ‘someone’ you made aware is just as incompetent as you are.” – Dr. Jamie Schwandt
According to The Kansas City Star and CBSnews.com, a Missouri case worker made the following remarks in a report,
“I made KS aware that Adrian had disclosed physical abuse by his stepmother — Heather Jones — and his father — Michael Jones — during a (forensic) interview held in Missouri.”
Additionally, the worker commented,
“I also reported that the children are home schooled and not seen by any outside members of the family on a regular basis, which heightened our concerns for the safety of the children.”
Kansas DCF Secretary, Phyllis Gilmore, stated that they last had contact with the family in early 2012. KSHB.com reported that Gilmore said the family’s frequently alternating residency between Kansas and Missouri greatly disrupted continuity of services and evaluation. However, she insisted Kansas child welfare officials “often” shared information about Adrian “when known” with their Missouri counterparts.
Additionally, Gilmore stated that her agency, “Thoroughly investigated” each reported incident of abuse or neglect involving Adrian.
Yet, they last had contact with the family in early 2012? So, which one is it?
Kansas DCF refuses to release any information regarding the case… something they are known for.
3. What is the purpose of the child welfare system if we fail to protect the welfare of our children?
Have you ever noticed how people will see something horrible, yet they turn their head and pretend not to notice? Well, that’s exactly what happened here. Let’s examine some final key points from this nightmare.
· KSHB.com reported that a former employee of Michael Jones stated that he witnessed Adrian being abused. Why didn’t he say anything?!
· Adrian’s grandmother contacted DCF twice prior to his murder.
· Former Deputy Director of DCF, Dianne Keech, informed KSHB.com that she is appalled by the lack of transparency from the agency. She quit the department due to issues similar to this case. Dianne stated that DCF often kept secret these type of child death cases from the public. She remarked,
“It’s unconscionable. When there’s a child death and that child has had a history with DCF, that information needs to go to the family and the public and that agency needs to be held accountable.”
Diane also commented about a DCF attorney,
“She (the attorney) didn’t feel like we should document anything related to a child death. She wanted to only have verbal conversation over the phone. If we took handwritten notes we were instructed to shred them afterwards.”
Yet, here is the most alarming remark from Diane,
“I’ve personally viewed numerous deaths in Kansas where we’ve missed it.”
· Adrian’s parents had an elaborate camera system setup around the home. In fact, KSHB.com found that the timestamps on the surveillance footage show Adrian was abused over the course of 9 months. They recorded the torture and killing of their son. Additionally, another adult male was living in the home at the time. Willie Flowers, who can be seen on camera in the home knew what was going on. This person did absolutely nothing. According to KSHB.com, John Picerno (criminal defense attorney) said it’s not a crime to live in a home while a child is being abused or even tortured and killed.
This is insane!
· Heather Jones asked her landlord to log into her iCloud account to save pictures of her kids. When she logged in, she found pictures of Adrian being tortured and abused. She turned them over to the police. Heather Jones also shared these pictures to groups of people over Facebook. She discussed and shared stories of torturing young Adrian.
Yet, no one did anything!
· The Kansas City Star reported that a Missouri child advocate and CEO of FosterAdopt Connect, Lori Ross, stated that Adrian should have been removed from the home by Missouri authorities after he reported abuse in 2013. Ross remarked,
“I don’t understand why, after what he initially said, there wasn’t an immediate request to pick him up. He was very detailed, saying in his (then) 5-year old voice he was being dramatically abused.”
So, what was the response by the child welfare system. In Kansas, a new Task Force was launched after Jones was sentenced to life in prison for killing Adrian. It’s too bad it takes a horrific death of a 7-year old child to finally get people to do something.
Yet, guess who we are hoping will fix this horrible system? You got it… the same people who allowed this to happen!
If I performed as poorly in my job as the child welfare system has, I would hope that I would be fired. Everyone involved in Adrian’s case should quit. Obviously, you are in the wrong line of work.
Lastly, my hope is that everyone who reads this will share this story and never allow the child welfare system to forget what happened to young Adrian Jones.