Failure To Protect Series
In a four-day series, The Daily Sentinel is delving into the killings of three children who were known to the Mesa County Department of Human Services, as part of a broader examination of the child welfare and foster care systems in the county.
The purpose is to inform the public about how the children ended up living with the people who ultimately killed them or are accused of killing them, the warning signs, the fallout that resulted from the deaths, and the changes some want to see happen to try to prevent future killings.
The Sentinel reported this series using law enforcement records, court documents and interviews with Department of Human Services employees, families of children who were abused, foster families and other stakeholders.
Reports and documents not subject to the Colorado Open Records Act were provided by family members or other parties to the cases. You can view some of these documents at GJSentinel.com.
■ SUNDAY, SEPT. 18, 2016: Instability defined the house in which Bethannie Johnson lived — and died
■ MONDAY, SEPT.19, 2016: Angel Place was taken from a loving foster mother and given to an aunt who killed her
■ TUESDAY, SEPT. 20, 2016: Lyla Blackwood’s death came days after an abuse report was made — and never addressed
■ WEDNESDAY, SEPT. 21, 2016: An examination of kinship placement, the need for more foster families in Mesa County, and potential reform
If you see or suspect child abuse, call 970-242-1211 or 844-CO-4-KIDS.
All stories by Erin McIntyre and Gabrielle Porter
Graphics by Robert Garcia
RED FLAGS PRECEDED GJ TODDLER’S KILLING — Part 1
In a child welfare system that favors kinship care, a 3-year-old girl ended up living with an aunt reportedly victimized by domestic violence and a woman previously suspected of child abuse. Six months later, Bethannie Johnson was dead.”
CLICK HERE TO READ PART 1
BABY THRIVES BEFORE DEATH — Part 2
Given a new life with a doting foster mother, Angel Place was then passed on to a young aunt who fatally beat her.
TOO LITTLE, TOO LATE — Part 3
Lyla Blackwood died at the hands of her biological mother’s boyfriend, Isaac Ortiz, before caseworkers followed up on claim of abuse. CLICK HERE TO READ PART 3
KIN FAVORED OVER FOSTER CARE — Part 4
Caseworkers say research supports it, but some say decisions too rigid, want more resources for relatives. CLICK HERE TO READ PART 4