Sunday, May 3, 2015

Dad with CONFIRMED history of domestic violence, severe mental illness, and child sexual abuse GETS CUSTODY OF NEWBORN and 2-year old; kills baby within two months (Denver, Colorado)

Just unbelievable incompetence and abuser father coddling.

Dad is identified as MICHAEL HERRON.

See the Killer Dads and Custody list for Colorado.

Child's death after being placed with troubled dad raises new questions about Denver Human Services

By: John Ferrugia Posted: 10:55 AM, May 1, 2015

DENVER - Two month D'anthony Herron arrived at the Denver Health emergency room near death, with horrific trauma to his head.

His father, Michael Herron, who was caring for the baby and his two year old brother alone, claimed the infant had fallen off a counter while he was giving D’Anthony a bath.

Herron called his girlfriend and mother of the children telling her there had been an accident.

“I get to the hospital…and they have D'anthony hooked up to all these wires already,” said Amber Lucero, “And they have his head wrapped. And he wasn't even conscious.”

The scene overwhelmed her. “I just broke down and I couldn't believe it,” she said.

Doctors told Amber that her two month old baby had likely been abused by her boyfriend and that his story didn’t match the grave injuries her son had suffered.

“He had a skull fracture,” she said. “He had bleeding in the brain and his brain was swollen and his skull was pushed up and he had suffered from seizures and a stroke.”

Doctors told her there was no hope of saving this tiny child who had been born bright-eyed and healthy.

Now, her baby had nearly no brain function and simply could not survive.

Amber and her mother held the baby for two hours after nurses un-hooked him from life support. “He finally took his last breath,” she said, “And I just remember he went (soft breath) and his had just rolled to the side ... And that is when we just knew."

“Do you think Michael should have had those children by himself?” asked CALL7 Investigator John Ferrugia.

“No,” she said through tears, “No.”

A CALL7 investigation has found that Michael Herron had a long history of mental illness, a police record that includes domestic violence and drug use, and a list of referrals -- or complaints -- to Denver Human Services that stretches back to 2002.

In fact, a complaint was made to DHS when D'anthony was born in May of 2014. At the time, the parents were living apart, Michael in transitional housing and Amber in a motel with her mother.

The morning after D’Anthony’s birth, Amber says Michael was in her hospital room.

“He started calling me names. He started calling my mom names. He started getting loud. So security came in,” she said. “Hospital security?” asked Ferrugia.

“Yeah”, she replied, "And he was threatening to take D’Anthony and just leave that day.”

“That's when the social worker came in,” she said.

According to D-H-S documents submitted to juvenile court -- and obtained from the family -- that social worker called DHS.

"Hospital staff concerned about Mr. Herron’s ability to care for D’Anthony and was very angry at the hospital," the document reads.

And there was a second call the following day by an unlisted party.

Records show the complaints were "not accepted" and determined to be "unfounded."

Michael Herron took home the newborn to care for him and their other two-year old son.

Amber says, at the time, she believed the child was given to Michael because he was living in transitional housing at Decatur House, a Mercy Housing Project in Denver.

But she says she was concerned about the children’s safety.

“Because of the way he was with his temper and attitude, I don't think he should have the kids," she said.

Records show that on July 15th, 2014 DHS was called again.

The complaint, or "referral," read: "Heard Mr. Herron screaming at the kids. The next day (his two year old son) had a scratch on his face."

Sources familiar with the investigation tell CALL7 Investigator John Ferrugia that there was also concern by the caller that Michael Herron was overwhelmed by caring for the newborn and the two-year old.

Despite all the apparent red flags and concerns about child safety, DHS left the kids with him.

Heron is accused of beating D’Anthony five days later, and doctors found it wasn't the first time the baby had been injured.

"He had previous injuries that were already healing," said Amber. "His ribs were broken."

That is confirmed by the autopsy report obtained by the CALL7 Investigators.

Records confirm that DHS caseworkers and supervisors knew Michael Herron was a serious risk.

In 2013 a complaint was "founded" - or confirmed - for domestic violence. "Mr. Herron was punching and choking Ms. Lucero," the report read.

Again in 2013 a complaint called in was "not accepted."

"Mr. Herron screaming at Ms. Lucero and pushing her,” read the report. “Mr. Herron reports that he does not know how to calm a crying baby.”

In 2009 a complaint was "founded" for "sex abuse."

Michael Herron was arrested for sexually assaulting his daughter by a previous marriage.

The child was 7-years old, and had significant health problems.

While D-H-S was convinced the assault occurred, the charges were dropped as the child may have been too young to testify.

In 2004 D-H-S records show that caseworkers and supervisors knew Michael Herron suffered from mental illness.

"Mr. Herron is bipolar," read he report.

Herron’s father, Danny Herron, told CALL7 Investigator John Ferrugia that his son has long suffered from mental problems.

“He started writing suicide notes when he was about seventeen, maybe 18 talking about how he's going to kill himself”, said Danny Herron “So I called the police and they came and got him and took him to this mental hospital,” he said.

“And that's when they diagnosed that he had bi-polar “.

“He had bi-polar disorder?" asked Ferrugia.

Danny Herron nod his head.

Danny Herron is guardian of his granddaughter who made the sexual abuse complaint against Michael Herron when she was 7 years old.... The claim "founded" by DHS.

“Danny, does it make any sense to you that human services, knowing what they knew, gave him children?” asked Ferrugia.

“No, no”, he said. “I don't see why they would have did that at all.”

What's more, amber claims when she and Michael applied for food stamps in 2013 for one of their children, Michael was referred to a mental health facility by DHS for an evaluation.

“He told me they were talking about putting him on medication for being bipolar and schizophrenic,” she said.

Records make clear, and amber admits, the couple was often violent with one another.

In the past, Amber has also pled guilty to domestic violence against Michael Herron and had a protection order filed against her.

But despite all the referrals and complaints to DHS during their tumultuous relationship she says that, other than at the hospital when D’Anthony was dying she has not been interviewed by DHS.

“Have you ever seen a caseworker from Denver Human Services?” asked Ferrugia

“No,” Amber replied.

“Never?" Ferrugia asked.

“No,” she replied.

A spokesman for the Denver Department of Human Services says DHS officials have no comment on the case as they claim they are legally prohibited from talking about the case.

Michael Herron remains in jail, charged with the murder of his two-month old son.

This is yet another case uncovered by an ongoing CALL7 investigation that raises questions about DHS practice, supervision of caseworkers, and judgment in the placement of vulnerable children.