A newly-released report by Ohio Department of Job and Family Services identified multiple failures in the case of Aniya Day, the 4-year-old girl who was allegedly beaten and starved to death by her mother and her boyfriend in March.
According to WEWS, a 21-page report accused the Cuyahoga County Division of Children and Family Services of repeatedly disregarding protocol in addition to ignoring two years worth of injuries on Day.
As CrimeOnline previously reported, Day was found unresponsive in her Euclid home on March 11. The girl’s mother, Sierra Day, and her mother’s boyfriend, Deonte Lewis, are charged with aggravated murder following the medical examiner’s conclusion that the 4-year-old died from a stroke cause blunt impacts to her head. The report also alleged that malnutrition played a role in her death.
WJW reported that authorities also noted that Aniya had burns on her feet and legs and her eye was bruised and nearly swollen shut.
Months before her murder, Aniya’s father, Mickhal Garrett begged Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court to award him full custody of his daughter. He wrote that he wasn’t allowed to see Aniya and that his relatives believed she was being abused.
“I truly, truly, truly feel as though our daughter is being abused at home physically/mentally and that her life could possibly be in danger,” Garrett wrote in December 2017, according to WEWS.
The latest ODJFS’ report looked at the time period between February 2017 through March 2018. In that time, the state found that DCFS was alerted to abuse on five occasions. Moreover, the state identified three instances where DCFS closed cases without checking in on Aniya or ensuring that Sierra completed parent counseling.
It was in February 2017 when a caseworker reportedly had a face-to-face meeting with the mother and determined that she and Aniya were “bonded” despite never seeing the pair interact. State officials noted that Aniya’s case was the first the caseworker managed without a mentor present.
It was during that encounter when Aniya said, “Mommy did it” while in the hospital. However, the state found social workers ignored her claims “due to the target child’s age and development” and claimed she couldn’t be interviewed, according to Cleveland.com.
State officials wrote that the 4-year-old died a day before a scheduled visit with caseworkers.
Alarmingly, February 2017 was the same month a daycare Aniya attended presented investigators 13 other reports of abuse—going as far back as September 2015. Officials found that DCFS didn’t add these instances to Aniya’s case file and didn’t take them into account when determining whether she should stay in her mother’s custody.
The report comes the same month Aniya’s mother was found competent to stand trial, according to The News-Herald.
The mother and boyfriend remain jailed on $1 million bond as they await their trial, which is scheduled for later this year.
[Featured Image: Aniya Day, Mickhal Garrett/WEWS]