SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Child advocates say that Child Protective Services should have stepped in before a 2-year-old boy was found dead in an apparent homicide.
CBS13 obtained hundreds of pages of CPS reports detailing previous incidents at the toddler’s home involving drug use, violence, and a lack of food and electricity.
William Philyaw, 2, was found dead inside his apartment on Nov. 5. Investigators say he was in the care of a neighbor who lived a few doors down.
His death was ruled as homicide by blunt force trauma.
One report from Sacramento CPS in January 2012 described a caretaker of Philyaw as “A mixed-bag drug addict unable to care for the child.”
Another report details domestic violence in the presence of the child, and a filthy home smelling of rotten food.
A report from December 2012 investigates “severe neglect”; a marijuana joint was found child’s bag. Another joint was found in a child’s diaper bag within the child’s reach.
Other reports describe a child with bruises on his bottom that looked like handprints, exposed wires everywhere, roaches in the kitchen, and people in the home using crystal meth.
“It’s inconceivable that that was a safe place for that child, base on the documents you have,” said Ed Howard with the Children’s Advocacy Institute.
Howard reviewed the documents and pointed out that CPS’ own risk assessments in February and July deemed it a high-risk situation.
The recommendation was the promote—in other words, remove the toddler from the home.
In each case though, reports say the decision was made to leave the 2-year-old there because of insufficient evidence.
“All of us deserve hard answers to what happened to this little boy,” Howard said.
We went to ask CPS why the 2-year-old wasn’t taken from the home. They refused to answer our questions.
In a statement, CPS says: “However, we caution you from making any mistaken assumption that the people in these documents are the same as the one reportedly involved in this child’s death.”
To child advocates like Howard, CPS still has plenty of explaining to do.
“It’s a terrific tragedy, and it’s a real stain on our community that child died,” he said.