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Reports reveal details on grandmother accused of torturing, murdering grandson

New reports show Arizona Department of Child Safety investigated a family multiple times before a child was abused to death. (Source: Arizona’s Family)
Published: Jun. 2, 2022 at 5:46 PM EDT
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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (Arizona’s Family/Gray News) - Reports show a grandmother in Arizona who is accused of torturing and murdering her grandson was investigated multiple times by the state before the boy’s death.

According to Arizona’s Family, the Arizona Department of Child Safety shared reports about the department’s interactions with Stephanie Davis and her two grandsons dating back to 2017 that showed a pattern of abuse.

According to one of the reports, Davis’ grandson Chaskah Davis Smith had a severe black eye in May 2017. The boy told DCS officials that Davis, who he referred to as his mom, hit him and kicked him in the face. Her husband, Thomas Desharnais, reportedly told DCS that no one in the home used physical discipline. Officials then closed the investigation, with caseworkers determining the claims were unsubstantiated.

Chaskah later died in a hotel room in Scottsdale in January of this year. Authorities said he was sharing a room with his younger brother, Davis and Desharnais.

“There seem like there were a lot of missed opportunities here to protect this child,” David Lujan with Children’s Action Alliance said. “DCS’s priority is always to keep children with the family or with family members.”

According to court documents, authorities found a shock collar for a dog in the room, but the family didn’t have a dog. A paring knife and wrench were also recovered that had blood on them. Chaskah was found with cuts and bruises in various stages of healing. Court documents also showed he was starved.

Attorney Michael Girgenti, who specializes in family law, said investigators are looking for evidence to present in court.

“These investigators can’t just plow ahead. They want to have some kind of evidence to point to move forward in court,” Girgenti said. “The DCS took the third claim more seriously, but the case was closed because the family moved back to Minnesota.”

According to court documents, Davis had an active arrest warrant from 2016 out of Minnesota.

“There were at least three governmental agencies across two states who looked into this family and closed the cases out,” Darcy Olsen, the CEO of Gen Justice, a child advocacy group, said.

Davis was eventually taken into custody by Scottsdale police and is facing murder and child abuse charges. Her husband has also been arrested in the case.

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