See: Squalor in Newburyport
"Missing girl found safe in the Bronx" by Astead W. Herndon and Travis Andersen Globe Staff August 26, 2015
Four generations of a family lived together in a Newburyport home this summer, but police allege they were far from its only occupants. Rats, mold, trash, and animal feces lined every inch of the house, blocking entrances to bedrooms and bathrooms, police say.
After two of the women who lived in the house missed their arraignment on child endangerment charges in Newburyport District Court, they were found Wednesday night in the Bronx with a young girl who lived with them in the home, authorities said.
A trial court magistrate had issued warrants for Kristen Paquette, 32, and her mother, Debra Paquette, 54,, according to Newburyport Police Lieutenant Richard Siemansko. They left with Kristen Paquette’s daughter, who is 7 years old, police said.
In a statement issued late Wednesday night, Massachusetts State Police said the women and the girl had been found at a residence in the Bronx.
Kristen and Debra Paquette were taken into custody, and prosecutors will arrange for their rendition back to Massachusetts, State Police said. The girl appeared safe and healthy and was taken into state protection for eventual transfer to the custody of the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families, according to the statement.
Authorities said the girl’s great-grandmother, who also had been living in the Newburyport house, is now in a senior living facility in that city.
Criminal charges were filed against Kristen and Debra Paquette after police searched the Paquettes’ Strong Street home during a well-being check on July 5. During that check, police saw “one of the worst living conditions [they] have ever witnessed,” according to court documents.
Pictures of the home, which were included in court filings, show trash piled to the ceiling, mold growing on mattresses, and bedrooms blocked by old televisions.
A criminal complaint for reckless endangerment of a child was issued on Aug. 10.
The Department of Children and Families later moved to gain custody of the 7-year-old, and filed a missing person’s report Aug. 19 in connection with the case, Siemansko said.
“It is understood that the mother left Massachusetts with the child before the judge awarded custody to the state,” DCF spokeswoman Andrea Grossman said. “Once the judge acted, the Department then contacted child protection services in neighboring states as well as law enforcement officials who are now handling this criminal matter.”
The Department of Public Housing condemned the home in August, and called in a cleaning crew shortly after, Siemansko said.
Still, the home’s exterior remains battered, and windows and stairs remain broken. There is yellow caution tape covering the front doorway and dark red “hazard” tape in the backyard.
The police lieutenant described the two missing women as hoarders.
“It was deplorable. People should be ashamed,” Siemansko said. “There was rotting food. There was feces.”
The 7-year-old girl was not registered for school, according to police. Court documents said the girl had special educational needs, and that her mother claimed she was being home-schooled.
In the July 5 police report, the responding officer said the girl looked healthy and well-fed.
The officer also noted that she played in the street with her mother as they waited for DCF to arrive.
The girl’s great-grandmother could not access the front door due to the pileup of trash, Siemansko said. The police report also stated that the girl’s great-grandmother, who has not been charged, could not navigate through the house using her walking aide because of the mess.
Several neighbors declined to comment Wednesday. In court documents, the police list one witness who said she had long worried about the safety of the child.
That person “witnessed the child run into the street without any parental control or within view,” the report stated.
The initial tip to the Newburyport police, which prompted the July 5 well-being check, was made by a member of the Paquette family who did not live in the house.
Kristen Paquette, the 7-year-old’s mother, was previously involved in a child endangerment case in 2007, when officials determined that copious animals droppings and trash made her home unlivable, according to court documents.
After a long battle, Paquette addressed the state’s concerns and was able to return to the home, documents show.
Related: Baker's First Crisis
"Auburn foster child showed symptoms of overheating; Police search foster home for third time" by Michael Levenson and Astead W. Herndon Globe Staff and Globe Correspondent August 19, 2015
AUBURN — A toddler who is in dire condition after being taken from an Auburn foster home last weekend was found with skin that was hot to the touch and an elevated temperature as well as bruising that may be consistent with a seat belt harness, according to two people familiar with the case.
The symptoms suggest the 22-month-old foster child may have had hyperthermia, the medical term for being greatly overheated, the people said. Authorities have not said how the child may have become overheated, or identified the cause of death of a 2-year-old foster child who was also found unresponsive in the home Saturday.
Temperatures in the area were in the 80s at the time. Authorities towed away the foster mother’s SUV on Sunday, but have not divulged why. They executed their third search of the house on Wednesday.
No charges have been filed, and the case remains under investigation by Auburn and State Police, and by the state Department of Children and Families.
The sister of the foster mother strongly defended her sibling on Wednesday, saying the mother treated her children “with the highest level of care, love, and kindness.”
“We can say with complete certainty the cause investigators will find will be nothing more than a complete freak accident,” the sister told WCVB-TV. “We are confident there is zero chance anything with intent or malice occurred.”
She said her sister has not spoken about the tragedy “due to her complete and utter devastation.”
“So quickly she went from a house filled with joy, laughter, happiness, and children one day to a state of sheer shock and destruction the next,” the sister told WCVB.
In addition to the 2-year-old and 22-month-old, the mother also had a 6-month-old foster child and three children of her own — two biological children ages 15 and 11, and a 9-year-old girl she had adopted. The children have all been taken into state custody and are well, officials said.
A state social worker visited the home last Wednesday, three days before the 2-year-old died and the 22-month-old was taken away in critical condition, but noticed nothing unusual, said one person with knowledge of the case.
The foster mother welcomed the children into her family and “raised them as her own,” said her sister.
She became a foster mother early last year and “took in these beautiful children under her wing to care for them while their parents did what it would take to be reunited,” the woman’s sister said. “She wanted to help them grow, learn, and live a happy life.”
Last week, the foster mother held a second birthday party for Avalena, the little girl who died, the sister said. “All of our family attended and showered her with gifts and love, as we do every child in this family,” she said. “Now, this little angel is celebrating with Jesus.”
A handful of unmarked cruisers arrived at the foster home on Wednesday morning, and plainclothes officers spent about an hour inside, accompanied by a crime scene technician with a camera. Police were seen leaving the home with two bulging brown paper evidence bags.
As they continue their search for answers, officials have disclosed that the mother’s boyfriend was not registered with the DCF as a person having interaction with the family. Under state rules, foster parents must notify the department if anyone older than 15 is living in, or spending significant time in, their home.
Florida court records obtained Wednesday indicate that the boyfriend, who is 33, pled guilty in 2005 to grand theft and to animal cruelty, both felonies.
A police report from his arrest on the animal cruelty charge indicates that he used a knife to cut the nose and throat of his roommate’s dog and then told his roommate to get him crack cocaine.
The roommate told police that the man “has a crack problem” and “also has a problem with anger and violence and was recently arrested for fighting,” according to the report.
In March, the boyfriend was arrested in Worcester after he and another woman allegedly pried $24 from a person’s hand. That case is pending in Worcester District Court.
Officials said it is not clear how much time the boyfriend spent with the children. Five neighbors interviewed Monday said they did not believe he lived there; one said he would spend time with the mother when the children went to day care. One neighbor said Wednesday that she had spoken to the boyfriend since the tragedy on Saturday. The boyfriend told her that he was sleeping on the first level of the home and woke up to screams, the neighbor said.
The boyfriend said he then saw the foster mother carrying an unresponsive child toward the front doorway of the home, according to the neighbor.
The neighbor said she believes the boyfriend and the foster mother have stopped talking since the death on Saturday. The neighbor said the foster mother was staying with her family, and friends are worried about her health.
Paul Jarvey, a spokesman for Worcester District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr., said Wednesday that several key questions have not been resolved. He also said that the cause of death for the toddler has not been established because results of toxicology tests are still pending. “As the district attorney has said since Sunday, we are still looking for answers,’’ Jarvey said.
The second toddler removed from the home remains in critical condition, Early said Tuesday. “The situation is dire,” he said.
The body of the toddler has been released to her biological family who held a memorial service for her in Marlborough Wednesday night that was attended by about 40 people, including the child’s biological mother, Jessica Conway.
“She was taken from us and our hearts are broken,” Conway told mourners during the two-hour service. “We can’t get her back, but we can keep her memory alive.” Conway shared the stage with folding white poster boards covered with photographs and images of the toddler. At the end of the ceremony, attendees released balloons into the open sky.
“We love you Ava!” they yelled, paying final respects to their sister, daughter, and friend.
Neighbors told The Boston Globe that the two children both were seen with a severe rash on their arms last Thursday, a day after the social worker visited the home.
The Globe reported Tuesday that since 2008, police and emergency personnel responded to 28 calls to the foster home for reported assaults, threats, breaking and entering, a domestic disturbance, and medical emergencies. In addition, authorities were called 35 times to two homes in Auburn where the foster mother lived between 2004 and 2008.
State officials have pointed out that most of the calls occurred before the mother became a licensed foster mother last year.
“It’s sad,” said a neighbor. “She was a good mother.”
Framingham couple fosters love
Funeral held for toddler who died at Auburn foster home
"The public defender for a Hardwick man accused of starving his 7-year-old son said Wednesday that there were “missed opportunities” and possibly “plenty of blame to go around” for the events that led to the young boy falling into a coma last month."
Left that Lints back in July.
"Court stresses rights of adoptees in contested cases; Orders review to ensure children have attorneys" by Michael Levenson Globe Staff August 27, 2015
The chief justice of the Massachusetts Probate and Family Court has ordered that all pending private adoption cases be reviewed to ensure that children at the center of those disputes have attorneys appointed to represent their interests.
The court would not comment on what prompted the review, but the probate and family court has been under scrutiny for its recent handling of a case involving a 7-year-old Hardwick boy who has been in a coma since last month, after his father allegedly beat him and refused to provide him with food and water.
In a memo to judges and court personnel, a copy of which was obtained by the Globe, Chief Justice Angela M. Ordoñez wrote that she wanted the review to be completed by Sept. 10. The judge pointed to a 2012 Supreme Judicial Court decision that affirmed that children and indigent parents have a constitutional right to a lawyer in all disputed adoption cases.
It was not clear Wednesday how many cases will be subject to review. But in the Hardwick case, the boy’s grandmother, who was his legal guardian and had raised him almost since birth, had petitioned the court to adopt him in 2012, but another family member had objected later that year, according to a person familiar with the case.
This development should have triggered the immediate appointment of a lawyer to represent the boy, under the SJC decision issued earlier that year and cited by Ordoñez.
However, when the boy’s case was ultimately decided, at a seven-minute hearing in June 2014, no lawyer was present to represent the child’s interests. At that hearing, the judge set aside the grandmother’s adoption petition and granted custody of the boy to the father, whom the child barely knew.
Even though all family members agreed to the arrangement, including the grandmother, the boy still should have had an attorney as a result of his previous contested adoption case, according to family law specialists.
That lawyer could have raised questions about whether it was in the boy’s best interests to place him with the father, whom other relatives now say had a history of violence and mental illness.
“It all has to do with a judge making a reasoned decision based on the facts, and a lawyer can bring out those facts,” said Sanford N. Katz, professor of family law at Boston College Law School.
The seven-minute hearing was the subject of a Boston Globe story on Aug. 15....
I've already spent too much time on this.
"Newburyport women who fled with girl held on $20,000 bail" by Sara DiNatale Globe Correspondent August 28, 2015
NEWBURYPORT — The women’s trip landed them in the Bronx, where police found them Wednesday night, barricaded, hiding in a back bedroom of a $1 million residence, as the homeowner denied they were there, prosecutors said.
Prosecutors said police traced them to New York through an IP address, a numerical designator used to identify a computer or other electronic device that is connected to a network.
But they can't find hackers, perverts, thieves, etc, etc.
Kristen Paquette, 32, and her mother, Debra Paquette, 54, looked distraught as they walked into court Friday in handcuffs....