Tag Archives: Drugs

CO Man Pleads Guilty To Child Abuse

.jpg photo of colorado man whose son was found encased in concrete
Leland Pankey, 40, pleaded guilty to child abuse resulting in death and tampering with a deceased human body.

Father of Denver boy found encased in
concrete pleads guilty to Child Abuse;
murder charge dropped

DENVER, CO  –  The father of a 7-year-old Denver boy found encased in concrete in 2018 has pleaded guilty to a child abuse charge in the case, in exchange for prosecutors dropping the murder charge against him.

Leland Pankey, 40, was charged with murder in Caden McWilliams’ death in May.  In a hearing on Thursday, he pleaded guilty to child abuse resulting in death and tampering with a deceased human body.

The murder charge was dropped in the deal.  Pankey now faces up to 72 years in prison.

“This agreement provides justice for Caden while ensuring that Mr. Pankey will serve a significant amount of time behind bars,” Denver District Attorney Beth McCann said in a news release Thursday.  “This is one of the most horrific cases ever handled by the Denver DA’s Office and we were acutely concerned about re-traumatizing Caden’s family as well as the jury, judge and everyone else involved should this case proceed to trial.”

Pankey is scheduled to be sentenced on Feb. 28.

The body of McWilliams was found encased in concrete in a storage unit in the 5000 block of East Evans Avenue in Denver on Dec. 23, 2018.

McWilliams’ mother, Elisha Pankey, also pleaded guilty in August to one count of child abuse resulting in death.

The Denver Office of the Medical Examiner ruled in a report in March that Caden had been malnourished and had cocaine metabolite and methamphetamine in his system.  The boy also had numerous injuries to his head, torso and extremities, according to the autopsy.  He may have suffered from asphyxia, dehydration or hyperthermia, but that couldn’t be confirmed, the autopsy said.

In an interview with police in March, Elisha Pankey told investigators that Leland Pankey abused Caden while they were living in an extended-stay hotel, according to an arrest warrant affidavit.  The couple and their two children had moved into the hotel in May 2018, and Leland Pankey watched the children while Elisha Pankey went to work, she told investigators.

Elisha Pankey said Caden died in July 2018 after his father kept him in a dog kennel, the affidavit said.  A woman who had been in the Arapahoe County Jail with Elisha Pankey in December said Pankey told her that she believed her son suffocated in the dog kennel.

Leland Pankey kept Caden in the kennel overnight – with blankets on top of it – and the boy cried out that he was hot and thirsty, Elisha Pankey told her fellow inmate, according to the affidavit.

On the day Caden died, his mother and father bought Quikrete, trash bags and water, drove Caden’s body to the storage unit on Evans Avenue, and mixed the concrete and poured it into the kennel, the affidavit said.

The boy’s body wasn’t discovered until December, when officers responded to a domestic violence call involving the Pankeys.

Police learned that the couple had two children, and Elisha Pankey told officers that the children were with their father.  When police contacted Leland Pankey, he said one child was in daycare, but he avoided answering questions about Caden, eventually telling officers the boy was with his mother, the affidavit said.

When officers interviewed a woman whose name was redacted in the affidavit, she told police that Leland Pankey had lost his son and that Pankey said her family could have their storage “because it had too many memories,” the affidavit said.

Investigators obtained a search warrant for the Pankeys’ storage unit and found Caden’s remains inside.

Ohio Prosecutor Making A Difference For Children

.jpg photo of Child Abuse graphic
“Children are our future…”. Vinton County Prosecutor Trecia Kimes-Brown

Seven people charged in Vinton County Child Abuse cases

VINTON COUNTY, OH  –  Seven people are facing various charges for multiple instances of child abuse in Vinton County.

The Vinton County prosecutor says the seven were arrested Thursday after being indicted by a grand jury.

In a release, Vinton County Prosecutor Trecia Kimes-Brown outlined three separate cases where children under a year old were allegedly abused, and one of them died.

Kimes-Brown says in all three cases, the suspects charged have a history of drug abuse.

The indictments include:

– Nicholas Bethel, of Ray, was indicted on three counts of assault, six counts of endangering children, and one count of permitting child abuse.

– Lacey Grant, of Ray, faces charges for endangering children, and permitting child abuse.

– Tyler May, 22, of McArthur, was indicted on several charges including assault, child endangerment, and permitting child abuse.

– Savannah Peoples, 24, of McArthur, was indicted for assault, child endangerment, and permitting child abuse.

– Mark Thompson, 24, of McArthur, is charged with one count of involuntary manslaughter, one count of reckless homicide, one count of endangering children, and one count of permitting child abuse.

– Hannah Beckett, 23, of West Virginia, faces several charges including child endangerment, and permitting child abuse.

– Tyler Rucker, of Jackson County, Ohio, was indicted for using a minor in nudity oriented material.

“I believe these children are our future and deserve the best that all systems can offer,” said Kimes- Brown.  “As a result, many people, through coordinated efforts, worked to attempt to bring security and justice to these victims.  I am aware that there are many others who deserve the same.  I will continue to use my best efforts and our available resources to ensure that we can provide them the safe environments that they need to heal and thrive.”

Her statement goes on to say, “As a result, at this time, I am asking that our local communities and our state come together to have a hearty discussion about our priorities in addressing the issues that face these children and the systems obligated to protect them.  Further, I ask that once that discussion occurs that we take strategical action to implement our priorities and we fund them appropriately.”

SC Woman Wanted In Death Of Infant

.jpg photo of woman wanted in death of infant
Stephanie Marie Healey is wanted for Homicide by Child Abuse in the death of an infant on December 29, 2018.

WANTED: Homicide by Child Abuse
suspect sought by Georgetown PD

GEORGETOWN, SC  –  Georgetown police are searching for a woman in connection with a homicide by Child Abuse case.

According to the Georgetown Police Department, Stephanie Marie Healey is wanted for Homicide by Child Abuse in connection to the death of an infant on December 29, 2018.

The incident report states that the child was born at 2:45 a.m. and died less than three hours later at 5:03 a.m.

In the report Chase Ridgeway from the Georgetown County Coroner’s office told officers the baby tested positive for opioids and had cocaine in its system.

The report says that Healey was the child’s mother and gave birth via C-section when she was 34 weeks pregnant.

If you see Healey or have any information on her whereabouts, please call Georgetown Police Department at 843-545-4300

Misusing Painkillers: Dose Of Reality

.jpg photo of TX Ag at press conference
Attorney General Paxton was joined at a press conference by Department of State Health Services Commissioner Dr. John Hellerstedt and Health and Human Services Executive Commissioner Courtney N. Phillips.

AG Paxton Launches New Dose of Reality
Website to Educate Texans About the
Dangers of Opioid Abuse

AUSTIN, TX  –  In his office’s latest initiative to combat the nation’s opioid crisis, Attorney General Ken Paxton today launched Dose of Reality, a new comprehensive website to inform and educate Texans about the dangers of misusing prescription painkillers.

The new site is available at DoseofReality.Texas.gov

Attorney General Paxton was joined at a press conference by Department of State Health Services Commissioner Dr. John Hellerstedt and Health and Human Services Executive Commissioner Courtney N. Phillips.

“The misuse and abuse of prescription opioids cost lives and devastate Texas families in every region of our state,” Attorney General Paxton said.  “Opioids such as OxyContin and hydrocodone are prescribed by doctors to treat moderate to severe pain, but have serious risks and side effects.  When patients are not well informed, these drugs can inflict far more pain than they prevent.  The Dose of Reality website is intended to give Texans the information they need to avoid those unintended consequences.  My office will continue to do everything it can to protect Texans from the opioid crisis.”

Dose of Reality provides individuals, patients, health care providers, teachers, coaches and others with opioid-related resources in one location, allowing for quick and easy access to vital information.

The new website includes details on approaches to preventing opioid abuse and addiction, proper pain management, safe storage of prescription painkillers and guidelines on responding to an opioid overdose.  It also features a statewide take back map of locations that accept prescription opioids for safe disposal.

Opioids are a family of drugs that include prescription painkillers such as OxyContin as well as illegal drugs like heroin.

Each day, 115 Americans die of opioid overdoses.

Nationwide, there were 42,249 opioid overdoses in 2016, including 1,375 opioid-related deaths in Texas.

The death toll attributed to opioids in the U.S. has quadrupled over the last two decades.

In 2017, Attorney General Paxton and a bipartisan group of 40 other state attorneys general initiated an investigation into whether companies that manufacture and distribute prescription opioids engaged in unlawful practices.  Last May, Attorney General Paxton filed a major consumer protection lawsuit against Purdue Pharma for violating the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act involving the company’s prescription opioids, including OxyContin.

The nationally acclaimed and award-winning Dose of Reality website was conceived by the Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ), in September 2015 provided to Texas, Arkansas, Georgia, Maine, Minnesota and Nebraska at no cost.  Attorney General Paxton’s office partnered with the Wisconsin DOJ, Texas Health and Human Services Commission and the Texas Department of State Health Services on content development for DoseofReality.Texas.gov

To view the press conference, click here:
https://www.facebook.com/TexasAttorneyGeneral/videos/381897475701392/

Child Predators Should Be Locked Up

.jpg photo of Chicago psychiatric hospital
Chicago Lakeshore Hospital’s 60-bed children’s unit is Uptown. The hospital faces state and federal scrutiny after a rise in complaints alleging sexual and physical abuse.

Feds threaten to yank funding of
Uptown psychiatric hospital following
Child Abuse complaints

CHICAGO, IL  –  Federal authorities are once again threatening to cut off funding for an embattled Uptown psychiatric hospital beset by complaints of physical and sexual abuse of young patients, including foster children in state care.

Chicago Lakeshore Hospital officials said Friday they are “working to come into compliance with regulations” before a Dec. 15 federal deadline.  With more than 80 percent of its patients receiving Medicare or Medicaid benefits, hospital officials said the facility may shutter, reducing access to mental health services.  Layoffs began within the last few days, officials said.

Also Friday, a federal judge tapped experts at a Chicago university to do an independent review of the safety of children at the hospital, and Illinois health officials said they may pull the psychiatric facility’s state license.

The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services stopped admitting children in its care to the hospital one month ago amid an increased number of hotline calls alleging harmful conditions.  DCFS also began transferring foster children out of the hospital and stationing staff inside the facility 24 hours a day to better monitor its remaining patients.

Those steps were taken under pressure from child welfare watchdog groups and state lawmakers after separate reports about the hospital’s recent problems by the Chicago Tribune and ProPublica Illinois.

The final foster child left the hospital Friday afternoon, said DCFS spokesman Neil Skene.  He said all are in foster homes or residential treatment facilities with support services.  While transferring children, two 17-year-old boys ran away in separate incidents, but both have been located, Skene said.

The hospital pledged to work with state and federal agencies to fix the problems.  It’s unclear, though, what inroads Chicago Lakeshore can make before a deadline that’s just two weeks away.  After another threat a few months ago to cut off government funding, the hospital asked a federal judge to intervene, then withdrew its request when regulators agreed to give the hospital more time.

On Friday, Lakeshore officials would only say that “options are being explored.”

“Many of the children we serve have no place else to go, and we offer the best hope for their stabilization and return to society,” Dr. Peter Nierman, the hospital’s chief medical officer, said in a statement.  “Frankly, this is a population that virtually no other facility wants to take, and I believe that without Lakeshore, the already tragic story of some of these children will only be further exacerbated.”

DCFS launched at least its 20th hotline investigation last week.  The latest complaint accused hospital staff of inadequate supervision regarding sexual activity between teenage patients.  It was the fourth hotline call in recent weeks, including a Nov. 19 complaint involving a 9-year-old patient who accused a staff member of choking her while trying to restrain the child.

The hospital had only about 17 total hotline investigations in the prior three years, according to DCFS statistics.  Most of this year’s hotline investigations were sparked when hospital staff, who are required to report under state law, notified child welfare officials of the allegation.

The Illinois Department of Public Health, which licenses the hospital, had been inspecting Chicago Lakeshore in recent months mostly for regulatory safety issues, such as whether adequate suicide-prevention measures were in place regarding the length of telephone cords or the doors to empty rooms were properly secured.  The state health department contracts with the federal government, which is in charge of Medicaid and Medicare funding.

On Friday, state public health spokeswoman Melaney Arnold said recent media reports led the agency to also investigate complaints alleging young patients were physically or sexually abused.  Inspectors found the hospital staff failed to notify state health officials about the complaints as required, and that the facility often failed to take corrective action or launch sufficient investigations, according to the reports.

State health officials recommended termination of federal funding and are “looking at license suspension or revocation,” Arnold said.

On the federal front, the hospital was informed of the Dec. 15 deadline to cut off funding in a certified letter dated Thursday.

“We have determined that the deficiencies are so serious they constitute an immediate threat to patient health and safety,” wrote Nadine Renbarger, an associate regional administrator of the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.  “The deficiencies limit the capacity of your facility to render adequate care and ensure the health and safety of your patients.”

In recent weeks, DCFS repeatedly has been hauled into federal court as it battles with the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois over concerns about the psychiatric facility.  The ACLU, which monitors DCFS through a decades-old federal consent decree, called for an outside review of the hospital.

During a court hearing Friday, U.S. District Judge Jorge Alonso approved the University of Illinois at Chicago psychiatry department to oversee the review, which the hospital said it welcomed.

Chicago Lakeshore Hospital knows improvements can be made and we will continue to steadfastly make those improvements, but shutting us down is tantamount to throwing out the baby with the bathwater,” hospital CEO David Fletcher-Janzen said in a statement.

Alonso also ruled that a retired federal judge will be appointed with decision-making authority to help DCFS and the ACLU iron out its frequent disputes in the consent decree case.  DCFS unsuccessfully opposed the ACLU’s request for a so-called “special master,” instead favoring a facilitator without as much authority.

Chicago Lakeshore is one of the largest hospitals for psychiatric services in Illinois. An estimated one-quarter of DCFS kids who need inpatient psychiatric services are treated there, and many languish beyond their scheduled discharge date as the state agency struggles to find homes with appropriate services.

If the hospital closes, DCFS officials said the larger challenge is not just the dwindling number of psychiatric beds but the need for “a more robust mental health system to provide more treatment to more people in their own communities, without hospitalization.”

“The capacity of the mental health system is not just a DCFS challenge but a challenge for the state of Illinois,” DCFS Acting Director Beverly “B.J.” Walker said in a statement.  “We need to put more attention on ways to reduce the need for psychiatric hospitalization.”