Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Background on 5-year-old killed by custodial dad, step: why were these two even allowed around this child? (Lake Charles, Louisiana)

If you skip a couple of posts below, you will see that dad WILLIAM STEWART and the step have finally been indicted for the 2008 death of his 5-year-old daughter.

It just took two years. Why the delay? The two articles below give a little more background on the case. And it's looking more troubling and suspicious all the time. Major issues here:

1) Note that in the June 2008 article there are references to the girl being enrolled in kindergarten and that she "lived" in the home, so it appears that Daddy was in fact CUSTODIAL.

2) And yet we also hear about the "family's history with law enforcement" and how (an utterly ineffective) "child protective services had to get involved because there needed to be some sort of intervention." Guess that "intervention" basically took the form of sitting on their hands and leaving this child in the home of her abusive father and step, given that this girl later died from blunt force trauma to the head. Why was nothing done?

3) So was the little girl's mom dead or otherwise absent? No. She appears in the second article from September 2009, and is understandably very angry about the delays and lack of justice in her daughter's murder.

4) In addition, evidence from the second article suggests that the dad had secured custody of the little girl at a very early age, given the references to her being neglected and abused even as an infant.

5) Therefore, can we ask the question that all these articles manage to avoid? Why did this monster dad and step have custody, and who made the decision to give them custody? Why did they have a carte blanche to commit child abuse? Why didn't the authorities remove this child from her home before she was killed, and why have they delayed prosecution of these evil misfits for the past two years?

Five-Year-Old Dies, Father and Step-Mother Arrested
June 6, 2008

Reported By: Natalie Grise

Neighbors who knew Savannah Vincent, a kindergartener at EK Key Elementary School, say they were shocked to find out what happened to the little girl they described as an absolute angel. This was the last thing they said they expected to hear about the couple they knew, or at least thought they knew, living down the street.

There's still plenty of signs that a young child lived in this Sulphur home, but five-year-old Savannah Vincent left here for the final time on Sunday, when she was taken to a medical facility with severe head injuries, and then transported to Lafayette.

"It wasn't until Tuesday when we were notified by Lafayette General that she was in danger of dying and suffered from blunt force trauma," says Criminal Investigation Commander Mike Byrne, with the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff's Office.

The ensuing investigation lead the Sheriff's Office straight to Savannah's father, William Stewart Vincent, and her step-mother, Barbara Virginia Vincent.

"Through our investigation, we learned the child was with the two, and because of the nature of the injuries, because she was in their custody and what we learned from the interviews, we made the decision to arrest them," Byrne said.

Seven News spoke to neighbors of the Vincents, all of which declined to go on camera, but they told us the couple had lived in a home on Lock Street for about a year. During that time, they said they had never seen either one even raise their voice to any of the children living with them.
That, according to Sheriff's Office investigators, is a different story than the family's history with law enforcement.

"Evidently, child protective services had to get involved because there needed to be some sort of intervention, typically that's when they step in,"
Byrne said.

The Vincents are charged with Second Degree Cruelty to a Juvenile, but those charges could be upgraded once an autopsy is complete and the official cause of death confirmed. Their bond is currently set at $40,000 each. That too is subject to being raised as the investigation continues.

Savannah Vincent's body is still in Lafayette, her organs will be donated before her body is brought back to Lake Charles for that autopsy.

Savannah Vincent's family appeals for justice
Posted: Sep 18, 2009 6:31 PM CDT
Updated: Sep 18, 2009 6:39 PM CDT

By Theresa Schmidt - bio email

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) -Savannah Vincent was just five years old, when she died of injuries allegedly caused by her father and step-mom. Now more than a year a later, some think the legal process has stalled. Family members want answers and justice.

Vincent was the little kindergartner from Sulphur who died in a Lafayette hospital after being brought there with severe head injuries. That was June 2008, and while her father and step mother were arrested, so far no formal charges have been filed.

Savannah's great grand parents Glen and Clara Vaughan and her mother Amber Vincent want to know why. Says Amber, "I want her to know how much we care about her and I feel like that we're all letting her down by not getting her done."

Says Glen Vaughan, "She was neglected, mistreated as a baby. Now even in death we can't find out what happened to her. We don't even have a death certificate." His wife Clara says, "The doctors in Lafayette said it was hit in the head. And nobody can tell us anything. The baby's in her grave and she's still laying there and they're out walking around Scott free and I don't 'think it's right."

But Calcasieu Coroner Dr. Terry Welke explains they must be sure of the facts before moving forward. He expects the manner of death to be resolved soon. "When I make a determination as far as the manner of death I have to be 100% especially in a homicide because someone or other individuals may wind up going through the rigors of a trial. So, when I make my decision I stand firm and then I am willing to defend that in court. The investigation is ongoing."

Meanwhile, Savannah's family lives with the heart ache of losing a child. Says Clara, "I hope they'll get 'em and send 'em away for life." Glen chokes back tears saying, "Oh, she meant everything in the world."

Her little half brother was born just a week or so after she died. And they feel they owe it to Savannah to seek justice. Amber says tearfully, "I feel like I'm not a good mom sometimes. I feel like I'm letting her down."

Savannah would have turned seven years old in July. In June 2008 the sheriff's office arrested Savannah Vincent's dad William Vincent and step-mom Barbara Vincent and booked them for second degree cruelty to a juvenile. But formal charges are on hold until the District Attorney receives the official confirmation of how savannah died.

In Louisiana there are five manners of death: natural, accident, homicide, suicide or undetermined.