Report reveals Massena child died from starvation, neglect last December

Published: Sep. 27, 2021 at 4:57 PM EDT
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MASSENA, New York (WWNY) - A 10-year-old girl’s death was ruled a homicide in Massena 9 months ago. It came to light in a state report.

According to the coroner’s findings, the girl was covered with sores, dehydrated and starved to death at her Massena home. It happened last December.

No one has been charged.

“We will investigate anyone to determine if someone has possibly been criminally responsible for her death,” said St. Lawrence County District Attorney Gary Pasqua

It’s all coming to light now because of a child fatality report posted on the New York State Office of Children & Family Services’ website. (Caution: the report is graphic and may not be suitable reading for some people.)

It was found by the child advocacy group Community Helping Individuals Living in Distress, or CHILD.

“It’s deeply concerning to us that it was not previously brought to the attention of the public,” said Courtney Fantone, CHILD founder.

On the day of the 10-year-old’s death, St. Lawrence County Department of Social Services told the state it “did not have concerns the child died because of abuse or maltreatment.” That despite first responders reporting many of the same details later contained in the coroner’s report.

“There’s huge discrepancies,” said Fantone, CHILD founder. “I don’t know how St. Lawrence County DSS did not make more of an issue about this.”

The 10-year-old, who had severe special needs, lived with her mother and six siblings. The family had been investigated 22 times by Child Protective Services. The alleged homicide came just six months after Gouverneur teen Treyanna Summerville was found dead in her home.

“The Department of Social Services caught a lot of heat for that one. So, I would say they would have a motive of keeping this kind of hush-hush,” said Fantone.

The discrepancies in the report are what jump out at you. Why was Social Services so convinced nothing was amiss when others so clearly felt there were things that had gone terribly wrong in the home?

Social Services did not respond to a 7 News request for comment Monday.

The new revelations come just two weeks after another state report was unearthed taking county Child Protective Services to task for failures on many levels.

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