A Broward grand jury has charged a child welfare caseworker and three other women after a severely disabled girl died while under state care.
A cousin who was given custody of 12-year-old Tamiyah Audain after her mother died was among those indicted by grand jurors on Tuesday. Audain's emaciated body was found in her caregiver's home last September.
Latoya Patterson faces life in prison after being charged with felony murder. She was arrested Tuesday and is being held without bail. Investigators called it “child torture.”
“The whole house smelled like rotting flesh when law enforcement showed up,” prosecutors said Tuesday. “This child’s body rotted around her while she was still alive.”
Tamiyah originally went to live with her grandparents when her mom passed away. But DCF removed the girl due to her grandfather’s health problems.
“If it wasn’t for them snatching my children away from me, I feel they’d still be here today,” Tamiyah’s grandfather Willie Bryant said.
Still, Bryant said he stands behind Patterson, his niece.
“I saw her at least three weeks to a month before she died. She wasn’t that small,” Bryant said. “Police call it child torture. From doing what? They can say what they want, I still don’t believe it.”
Jabeth Moye, an employee of ChildNet, which is contracted by the Department of Children and Families, faces second-degree child neglect charges. She remained in jail on Wednesday. An attorney wasn't listed on jail records.
In addition to Patterson and Moye, psychologist Helene Richardson, who tested the girl for autism spectrum disorder, and Juliana Gerena, who signed off on Richardson’s report, were also arrested. The MIami Herald reported both were charged with failure to report child neglect.
ChildNet released a statement saying: “ChildNet takes the immense responsibility of protecting Florida’s most vulnerable children extremely seriously; we are constantly reviewing and evaluating our policies and procedures to ensure that we are doing everything in our power to protect children from abuse, abandonment, and neglect.”