Caps Raise Awareness Of Child Abuse

.jpg photo of nurse
Denise Easeley, a NICU nurse at UnityPoint Health

Hospital’s goal is to knit 3,500 caps as part of campaign

“Crying is the No. 1 trigger for infant abuse,” she said. “Shaken baby syndrome is 100 percent preventable.”

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA  –  Denise Easeley says it’s normal for parents to become frustrated with their babies.

However, there is a point where one needs to draw the line.

“Purple crying” is defined as a period when an infant is inconsolable. It also is a time when parents may feel like they are at their wits end.

The national Click for Babies campaign aims to raise awareness of the purple crying period and prevent child abuse from occurring. As part of the campaign in Cedar Rapids, UnityPoint Health — St. Luke’s five years ago began hosting knit-ins.

“Our goal is to increase awareness for the period of purple crying program by educating parents and caregivers,” said Easley, a NICU nurse at UnityPoint Health — St. Luke’s. “We don’t want babies to be shaken or hurt.”

During the knit-ins, volunteers knit purple caps for babies, to symbolize purple crying.

St. Luke’s will host two knit-ins from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sept. 4 and Oct. 3. There already were two knit-ins at the hospital in July and August.

Nine hundred caps were turned in after this year’s first knit-in, Easley said, including some by those who previously participated.

At the knit-ins, participants look at patterns, teach each other and enjoy chatting, Easley said. Participants are asked to bring their own knitting needles and yarn. A limited supply of yarn and patterns will be available.

Yarn donations also are accepted.

The goal for the campaign is 3,500 caps, which will be distributed to birthing hospitals across the state.

Easley said most of Iowa’s large hospitals teach new parents about purple crying.

“Parents get the education in the hospital and then they take it home. In November and December, after they’ve received their education, then they take home a purple cap.”

Easley said she wants the public to know that babies are supposed to cry.

“Crying is the No. 1 trigger for infant abuse,” she said. “Shaken baby syndrome is 100 percent preventable.”

Man Charged With Killing 2 Adults, 6 Children

.jpg photo murderer
David Conley, 48

I can’t help but wonder how many people will attend the candle-light vigil next year, in this world of misplaced priorities.

HOUSTON, TX – A woman who previously dated the man accused of fatally shooting her, her husband and six children texted her mother before her death that she was being held at gunpoint, a Texas district attorney said Monday.

Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson said after the man appeared in court that authorities had been alerted of problems at the home by the mother of victim Valerie Jackson.

“My heart goes out to the mother who received the text from her daughter that she was in trouble, and the mother was many states away but of course did what any mother would do and called 911,” Devon Anderson said.

David Conley, 48, who has been charged with capital murder, stood handcuffed and shackled before State District Judge Vanessa Velasquez as the probable cause warrant naming him was read.

There was no mention of a lawyer either appointed or hired during the court hearing. His only response was to acknowledge his name when asked by the judge, who also read him his rights.

Those killed, who all were shot in the head, were identified as parents Dwayne Jackson, 50; his wife, Valerie Jackson, 40; and their children Dwayne, 10; Honesty, 11; Caleb, 9; Trinity, 7; and Jonah, 6. Also killed was a 13-year-old, Nathaniel, who was believed to be Conley’s son from the relationship with Valerie Jackson.

Most of the victims had been handcuffed and some had been shot multiple times, police have said.

“We do not – cannot – fully comprehend the motivation of an individual that would take the lives of so many innocent people. Especially the lives of the young ones,” said Chief Deputy Tim Cannon of the Harris County Sheriff’s Office. “The killer’s motives appear to be related to a dispute with Valerie, who was his former domestic partner.”

Anderson said it would be three to four months before she decides whether to seek the death penalty.

The request from Valerie Jackson’s mother Saturday sent deputies to the home in northwest Houston.

“Upon arrival, deputies made multiple attempts to establish contact with residents inside the home. No contact was made,” Cannon said.

After authorities learned that Conley, who had once lived in the home, had a warrant for his arrest for an assault charge, the sheriff’s office High Risk Operations Unit was called.

“While awaiting response for the (unit), the body of an unidentified child was observed through a window at the residence,” he said. “Deputies on scene forced entry into the home and were immediately met with gunfire. The deputies withdrew from the home … and awaited the arrival of the unit”.

A standoff ensued for several hours until Conley surrendered, said Sgt. Craig Clopton, the lead investigator.

Investigators declined to say when on Saturday the victims were shot or if any victims were alive when deputies first tried to enter the home.

According to an arrest affidavit, Conley told authorities that he discovered on Saturday morning that the locks had been changed at the home after he had moved out. He entered the home through an unlocked window, the affidavit said.

According to Clopton, Jackson and Conley had a relationship, which ended, and “then (Dewayne Jackson) began a relationship with Valerie, which led to five children.”

That relationship ended and Conley and Valerie Jackson began another relationship, before breaking up again, Clopton said.
Court records show Conley’s criminal history dates back to at least 1988, with the most recent incident last month, when he was charged with assault after allegedly assaulting Valerie Jackson at the home where the bodies were found.

Conley pushed Valerie Jackson’s head against a refrigerator multiple times after she tried to stop him from disciplining her son with a belt, the documents alleged. The case was still pending.

In 2013, Conley was charged with aggravated assault for threatening Jackson with a knife. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to nine months in the county jail.

In 2000, he was sentenced to five years in prison for retaliating against his then-girlfriend after she had filed an assault charge against him. It was unclear if that woman was Valerie Jackson.

Authorities declined to comment on assault charges Conley had faced in the past.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

VICTIMS NEXT DOOR: Part 2-b, BEYOND HORRIFIC

.jpg photo of Coordinator at Kid's House
Kelly Macleod, Development and Outreach Coordinators at Gulf Coast Kid’s House

Behind the lines of a war on children.
Kimberly Blair, Kaycee Lagarde, Troy Moon, and Carlos Gieseken, pnj.com

“We can’t turn back the clock. We can’t change what happened. But we can make sure that clock doesn’t strike again.”
Anne Patterson, assistant state attorney

Gulf Coast Kid’s House tries to provide one-stop services to children, families
By Troy Moon

Children who are abused might feel they’re alone, left to fight against unspeakable evils on their own.

But there is an army of caregivers, social workers, attorneys and therapists willing to battle on their behalf. From the law enforcement officers who often rescue children from dangerous situations to the attorneys who fight for justice, there is a coordinated effort between local and state agencies such as the Department of Children and Families to shield and protect children from further abuse and work to undo the harm of the abusers.

“We’re all supportive of each other and work in collaboration,” said Anne Patterson, assistant state attorney who leads a satellite legal team based at the Gulf Coast Kid’s House, one of 25 child advocacy centers in Florida, including the Santa Rosa Kids’ House. “And (abuse) is a big enough problem on the Gulf Coast that we’ve had to expand and enlarge services because we have had so many children who have been reported to be abused or neglected.”

There were more than 4,600 reports of abuse made through the Escambia County Abuse Hotline in 2014, according to the Department of Children and Families. There were 628 cases assigned to investigators with the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office Special Victims Unit.

As a child advocacy center, Gulf Coast Kid’s House combines all of the professionals and resources needed for the intervention, investigation and prosecution of child abuse cases in one facility. Child victims and their families also receive mental health counseling at the center. The stated goal of Gulf Coast Kid’s House is to form a collaborative response to child abuse cases to improve case outcomes and minimize trauma to the children and families.

Partnered with the Gulf Coast Kid’s House are units of the Child Protection Team, which conducts forensic interviews, medical evaluations and assessments; Lutheran Services Florida Mental Health Treatment, which conducts counseling for children and non-offending caregivers; and Gulf Coast Kid’s House Advocacy Services, which provides various services and programs for victims and families.

Gulf Coast Kid’s House includes a group therapy room, a play therapy room, a closet to provide clothes and other items, a family room, a forensic interview and observation room, a medical room and more.

Between November 2012 and November 2013, the State Attorney’s unit at Gulf Coast Kid’s House closed 158 child victim cases, with a successful prosecution of 98 percent. Patterson and her team also prosecute sexual predators who fail to register. She is a past president of the board of the Gulf Coast Kid’s House, as well as a board member emeritus.

“This building is populated by a lot of individuals who have discovered they have a propensity for the work, and they’re good at,” Patterson said. “We can’t turn back the clock. We can’t change what happened. But we can make sure that clock doesn’t strike again.”

What they see on a daily basis makes them even more determined to fight for the rights and safety of children.

“We respond to the most egregious allegations of abuse and neglect,” said Karena Karshbaum, a member of the Child Protection Team. “There might be physical injuries, we respond to sex abuse allegations and do evaluations at the Kid’s House, including collecting sexual battery kits.”

Team members said the evaluations are an important part of the process to determine a child’s safety. Of the cases seen at the Gulf Coast Kid’s House, 35 percent of abuse reported is physical abuse; 32 percent sexual abuse and 21 percent neglect. Other forms of neglect — including family violence and drug endangerment — account for 12 percent of abuse allegations. A child is abused by a family member or trusted family friend in 92 percent of cases, according to Gulf Coast Kid’s House statistics.

Ethnicity at Kids House
A breakdown of the Gulf Coast Kids House demographics by ethnicity.

  • White 48%
  • African-American 43%
  • Other 9%

“We’re on the front end with the Child Protection Team,” said Stephanie McBride, a case coordinator with the Child Protection Team. “We see them shortly after they’re abused or we receive reports of abuse.” McBride said case workers get photographs and set up medical evaluations, and also do forensic interviews. “We hope it provides a good picture of the family history and story and will let us discover the risks that are with the family and what we can expect if the child remains at home.”

In 2014, the Child Protection Team conducted 392 forensic interviews and 607 medical evaluations. Their findings confirmed abuse in 83 percent of the cases.

The interdisciplinary teams — judicial, advocacy, investigation, law enforcement — also work to combat child abuse with prevention outreach, including visits to schools and community groups. Paula Doty, Gulf Coast Kid’s House prevention coordinator, said the outreach programs educate children — and adults — on child abuse and gives the children tools to report it. She said that while parents often worry about children when they’re out in the community, or unguarded, most of the abuse occurs closer to home.

“Only 4 percent is stranger danger,” Doty said. “Over 90 percent (of abusers) are trusted by children and their families.”

PENSACOLA News Journal