CPS denies prior calls of inaction in young girl's death
Critics say Indiana's child welfare system could have done more to help a an abused three-year-old girl who died just a few days ago.
Friday, an Indianapolis man pleaded not guilty to the beating death of Carmen Ellis. 13 Investigates examines a previous call for help for Carmen, and why lawmakers want a review of Indiana's child welfare system.
Chasity Parksey is nearly overcome with disbelief.
She didn't know three-year-old Carmen Ellis, or José Cruz, the man now accused of beating the toddler to death. But she heard Carmen's cries back in July and tried to save her.
"I thought everything was going to be fine. CPS did not do a damn thing," she said angrily.
Chasity's sister had lived with Carmen's mother and José Cruz.
During a visit last month she heard Carmen wailing.
The toddler's mother was away in the hospital giving birth to a little boy. So Chasity asked José Cruz if she could go into the bedroom to see what was wrong.
What she found prompted her to take these pictures and call police. The details are disturbing and graphic.
"She was filthy. Had on a [urine-soaked] diaper. Had a patch pulled out of her hair, bruises on her face. Bite marks on her stomach, a hickey on her neck in the back. I asked him what the hell was going on and he said a ghost got her," Parksey said, describing her confrontation with Cruz.
Before Chasity could take more pictures of the little girl, she says José Cruz grabbed the little girl and took off after she called police. Responding officers notified CPS.
According to police reports obtained by 13 Investigates, the CPS caseworker told the officer she would handle the incident and contact police if she needed further assistance.
Chasity's sister says CPS came around asking questions, but that's all.
"They didn't take the baby or nothing," added Katrina Parksey.
A spokeswoman for CPS claims the allegations are not true.
Stephanie McFarland said confidentiality laws prohibit the agency from talking about the case, but says claims that DCS did nothing are highly inaccurate.
State lawmakers are conducting a summer study session into Indiana's Department of Child Services.
Senator Tim Lanane is on that committee.
"It just emphasizes the urgency in trying to find out what are the problems in the system, if they are in the system," Lanane told 13 Investigates outside his Anderson office.
Senator Lanane says the agency has given back over $230 million over a four-year period. He would much rather see that money used to ensure the protection of children in need of services.
"Now is the time to act on this. Everyone come to together and find out the solution to this. It's obviously too important of an issue for us not to do that," he said.
José Cruz entered a not guilty plea in court Friday morning.
Police say he previously admitted he lost it on Tuesday after Carmen smeared her soiled diaper around and said "I hate you, Papa." (Cruz was not the girl's biological father.)
Police found her lifeless body with bruises head to toe.
"Something should have been done and nothing was," said Chasity Parksey
José Cruz is under suicide watch at the Marion County Jail. His trial is set for November.