Two Wichita, Kansas, staff members lost their jobs on Tuesday after the Kansas Department for Children and Families fired them while making a “number of personnel changes.”
The Wichita Eagle reports that the Wichita DCF has been under extreme scrutiny after several children allegedly died at the hands of abusive parents or disappeared, even though DCF had records of reported abuse. For instance, last year, 3-year-old Evan Brewer was found dead inside his mother’s rented home in Wichita, buried inside a makeshift concrete block.
As CrimeOnline previously reported, the boy’s mother, Miranda Miller, 36, had reportedly abused Evan while in her care. She was accused of leaving the boy in filthy clothes and dirty diapers. Another court document stated that Miller’s boyfriend, Stephen Bodine, 40, had beaten Evan so severely that the child needed CPR. DCF had been alerted to the situation on numerous occasions and reportedly had a logbook of complaints.
In November, local station KWCH sent a request to DCF, asking for records to outline the abuse complaints against Miller. The agency denied the request and said the records are sealed.
“We just have very little faith at this point that justice can be served in the criminal courts given the frequent and repeated refusal to cooperate with us,” said Carlo Brewer’s (the boy’s father) lawyer, Shayla Johnston.
In 2018, 5-year-old Lucas Hernandez disappeared in February while his stepmother was supposed to be taking care of him. The stepmother, Emily Glass, allegedly told detectives she took a nap during the day on February 18 and when she woke up, Lucas was nowhere in sight. Court documents indicate a history of complaints about Glass and the boy’s father, Jonathan Hernandez, allegedly abusing and neglecting the boy.
Lucas remains missing while Glass remains behind bars on a child neglect charge stemming from an incident with her 1-year-old daughter.
Further, as CrimeOnline reported, the mother of 10-year-old Caleb Blansett called 911 in December, 2014, claiming she stabbed her son to death. Court records indicate that 33-year-old Lindsey Nicole Blansett crept into her son’s bedroom just before midnight and hit him over the head with a rock. She then “stabbed him with a knife multiple times until he was dead,” before calling 911 and admitting what she did.
Court records further show that shortly after the little boy’s death, Kansas DCF arrived at his father Clint Blansett’s home and asked him to sign paperwork and agree to never talk about his son’s death and DCF with the media.
“It was a gag order,” Blansett said. “She was there for DCF; she wasn’t there for me…. She was there to ensure that I wouldn’t speak to the press. That was her only concern.”
Neglect reports against Lindsey Blansett dated back to 2012. A timeline on the report outlined a series of allegations that Lindsey Blansett failed to care for her son. DCF determined on several occasions that Caleb was OK after his mother refused services offered by the agency.
More recently, on May 4, 2018, authorities found 2-year-old Anthony Bunn unresponsive in his family’s Wichita home in Riverside. EMS workers who arrived to the scene reported seeing severe trauma to the toddler’s face and head. The little boy later died at a local hospital; his mother and his boyfriend were arrested on suspicion of murder. Similar to the other cases, DCF reportedly had a logbook of complaints against Anthony’s parents, with allegations of abuse and neglect.
In February, DCF Secretary Gina Meier-Hummel relieved former DCF Wichita office leader, Bill Gale, from his job. Earlier this week, she appointed Thomas Buell as the new leader. Meier-Hummel said that “recent tragedies involving children” prompted the changes and an internal review.
Open cases of child abuse and neglect in Wichita are currently being investigated and reviewed to “strengthen oversight in the region,” according to DCF. Meier-Hummel stated that although most of the Wichita DCF workers are dedicated to helping children, she hopes that under the direction of the new leader, important changes will be made to ensure all of Wichita’s children are protected.
“Across the board, the vast majority of our staff are hardworking, dedicated individuals who change the lives of Kansas children and families every day, but we cannot shy away from issues that arise as we review our systems. I have absolute faith in Thomas Buell’s leadership. I know he will come alongside the Wichita Region staff to strengthen our programs.”
[Feature Photo: Caleb Blansett, Evan Brewer, Lucas Hernandez, Anthony Bunn/Handout]