Investigative Panel Wants Answers In Barahona Probe

MIAMI (CBS4) – Did Miami-Dade police drop the ball after receiving a complaint of suspected abuse of the children in the now infamous Barahona case?  Police Director James Loftus said Thursday he wants to find out.

Loftus has ordered a probe into whether a complaint desk officer dodged taking a report, just days before ten year-old Nubia Barahona was found dead, and her brother Victor chemically burned in their adoptive father’s pesticide truck.

“I can tell you that there is a spinoff internal affairs investigation into the conduct of our employee,” Police Director Loftus said.

A caller to a DCF abuse hotline on February 12th said he was worried that Nubia was nowhere to be found, and that her twin Victor had a split lip that had not been stitched.  The caller told the DCF operator he had first contacted Miami-Dade Police, attempting to make a report in person.

“I happen to go to the Miami-Dade Police Department and told what I have been telling you to the officer that was there at the counter,” the caller told the DCF operator.  “But they gave me a number to call you.”

Loftus said his investigators interviewed the man Wednesday night after seeing news stories on his apparently unsuccessful effort to file a police report.

“If indeed there was a contact with someone at the front desk of our district office, we want to find out what happened, specifically,” Loftus said.  “We are looking at that.”

Loftus also announced Thursday that he has quadrupled the size of his department’s Child Exploitation Unit.  Loftus said he has reassigned 12 detectives from homicide, robbery and other divisions to the team that investigates child abuse cases.  The child abuse unit previously had only four investigators.

Today’s hearing was the panel’s third so far.

The blue ribbon panel is plowing through familiar ground, bemoaning the fact that red flags were raised and the system didn’t connect the dots.

“We were getting signs early on, very early on, but we didn’t tie it all together,” said DCF Regional Director Jacqui Colyer.

“The school system said ‘My gosh, there’s something wrong here,” exclaimed panel chairman David Lawrence, referring to repeated reports from teachers and other school officials that Nubia was being physically and emotionally abused, even starved.

As early as 2004 a home nurse reported the foster parents, Jorge and Carmen Barahona, were not caring for Nubia properly, and she should be removed. The report went nowhere.

In January 2005, Nubia reported she was being sexually molested by her foster father, Jorge Barahona. Records suggest, though, that investigators weren’t sure whether she was talking about Jorge or her biological father. A psychologist concluded Nubia’s complaint was not “credible,” but it’s not clear that the psychologist even interviewed Nubia after the allegations were made, or relied on the impressions of others.

In February 2006, DCF received a report that Nubia had bruises and welts on her face and body, and that her brother Victor showed signs of abuse. The kids were missing a lot of school. An investigator concluded there was no abuse.

DCF administrators acknowledged that records in the Barahona case were sketchy and incomplete.

“Boy, this is a really sloppy way of passing along information,” declared panel chairman Lawrence.

Lawrence said DCF generated thousands of pages of documents in the Barahona case, but had no snapshot of what was going on in the family.

“This is something that should be contained in a simple three or four pages, this is what is going on with this child,” Lawrence said.

Panel member Roberto Martinez said DCF investigators need to use more common sense in responding to reports of abuse.

“I think the first step should be to go to the mirror,” Martinez said. “Look in the mirror and ask yourself, ‘are you thinking!'”

The panel agreed DCF investigators must respond more urgently to abuse reports, and more effectively communicate with each other, teachers, counselors and police.

“It needs to happen, because a child is dead,” declared a red-faced Lawrence.

The panel will meet twice more next week and is expected to release a report of its findings and recommendations March 11th, nearly one month after Nubia’s body was found stuffed in plastic bags in the back of Jorge Barahona’s pesticide truck. Her brother Victor was in the front seat doused in a toxic chemical. He was released from the hospital Tuesday night and placed in an undisclosed therapeutic foster home.

Jorge Barahona has pleaded not guilty to the attempted first-degree murder of the boy. No one has been charged in Nubia’s death but authorities have been investigating the couple’s Southwest Miami-Dade home as a crime scene.

More from Gary Nelson
  • Marlene Valdes-VEnzal

    Everyone (that did nothing) involved in this case should be detained, starting with Carmen Barahona, Ms. Fleary and the cop that did nothing to follow-up immediately. I am sure that relatives and friends of the family suspected that something was wrong and no one did nothing to save these angels from these MONSTERS. If these would have been animals someone would have been there immediately.

    • Teri

      Marlene – I totally agree with your comment. EVERY ONE of these monsters needs to be in Jail.Especially Ms. Fleary who obviously did not take her job seriously. HOW CAN MS. FLEARY LIVE WITH HERSELF KNOWING HER SLACK ATTITUDE HAS PUT CHILDREN IN DANGER???? HOW CAN DCF AND THE FLORIDA ABUSE HOTLINE WAIT 24 HOURS TO GO TO A HOUSE WHERE ABUSE IS REPORTED???? YOU ARE RIGHT – ANIMALS HAVE MORE RIGHTS. THIS IS SICKENING.


      I agree with you, Marlene.

      And this has been going on for over two weeks.

      What are they trying to do> Allow the guilty parties, to leave the country and/or commit more crimes?

      Only in Florida do things like this take forever!!

    • Bernice W

      Totally agree, but let’s not forget about the incompetent Judge who approved the adoption AFTER being made aware that something was not quite right. She should be sharing a cell with the rest of them.

  • TS1776

    INVESTIGATIVE PANEL ? CYA should be the real title …

    Many came forward to try to save the CHILDREN …

    EXCEPT for those who’s responsibility it was to SAVE the CHILDREN …

    Now they will all conspire to cover one another and nothing will change

    The INVESTIGATIVE PANEL needs to consist on non goverment paid citizens

    that have no affiliation with the DCF, the Courts, Social Workers ,Psycho

    Therapists, or the Police … as they all have had a part in this debacle …

    A Cross section of Citizens that believe in the PROTECTION of CHILDREN …

    Perhaps, even a Federal Grand Jury need to be selected and assembled to

    review the actions and inactions that brought about the endangerment and

    death of one of these supposedly “protected” CHILDREN …

    • terri R

      Investigative panel will consist of their own people for the cover up.
      But we must not let them. We are the only ones that can keep Nubias memory
      alive and protect other innocent children from the system that failed Nubia and
      her brother. Let’s not forget that we have one dead child and one alive .

      People of Miami let’s start an e-mail chain and petition for a change in the system. When we have reached more them 5000 signatures lets send
      this to all GOVERMENT AGENCIES including and not limited to the President of the United States of America.

  • joeb104

    totalhonesty is telling you what time it is. dont get me started. why isn,t the winch in jail yet. god have mercy on that angel.

  • Teri

    And let’s not forget the DCF worker who held the first press conference and made wise remark when asked if it was normal to go out to a home over 20 times. She told the reporter something about depends on the neighborhood. HELLO – this is a middle class neighborhood they were sent to. Who is she and why is she still around and allowed to make those type of contents. Any child in ANY neighborhood should be protected. What a joke.

  • dbm

    This has been going on forever. The people who run these agencies for the protection of children, seniors-etc are mostly in it for the paycheck and nothing more. No one ever shows enough concern until its too late or its uncovered they have done something wrong & now need to cover their behinds. I believe that half the foster families out there are only in it for the money as well not the children. Its a job with a paycheck. Personal greed, laziness and making sure you work only the hours you are paid foris what is on these people’s minds. How did they qualify and get hired in the first place, since they sure weren’t doing the job they were hired to do. I believe your heart MUST be in a job like this or all the people who need help will never get it.
    What makes these people such monsters, how can you hurt anyone? Yes in self defense of yourself or family by all means. But there are more crazy people out there than I care to think about, the world just isn’t safe anymore. May Nubia and others find their comfort in heaven !

  • Laura

    The system is so broken and malfunctioning. My friend’s 6 years old child dialed 911 and asked police to come over because he wanted someone to play board game with him. My friend was outside gardening at that time. When police came they involved a DCF and removed the child. The DCF made their ‘evaluation’ and put this child with the foster family. They removed perfectly happy child from his biological parents for NOTHING. If they are not getting kickbacks from foster parents why would they want to do this and break good family apart? It cost my friend a lot of money and time to get the kid back. Here, this kid Nubia, is being blatantly abused, caring individuals making real reports to DCF and NO ONE finds this alarming??? How is this possible? Why is an agency that is created to protect the children, hurting them so much – in both cases? Who is monitoring DCF?

  • Teri

    Jacqui Colyer This is the one I was referring to. Made a smart remark to reporter about the neighborhood – when he asked if 20 calls to one home should be sufficient to remove a child. She didn’t think so. She should of been the first one to fired.

  • aitor

    Why is that POS Carmen Barahona not behind bars. How much more evidence do you need? It is obvious she was a major part of the child abuse that took place in her home.

    • AngryParent

      I agree. Carmen should be in jail!

  • Sad and Angry

    Carmen is not in jail because they were waiting for DCF to finish the inquiry and because jurisdiction for the case has to pass from Palm Beach County to Miami Dade County. Now, after Carmen has been to the house several times, and probably removed evidence they declared it the crime scene. I do not want her in jail, I want her to be subjected to the same abuse that she subjected Nubia.

  • Terri Reyes

    Police Director Loftus you are going to investigate one of your own. What a joke
    you people stick together like CRAZY GLUE. I can assure you that the answer
    will be inconclusive no evidence. The police department in Miami , Florida is more crooked them the DCF themselves . Why is this Jacqui Colyer still on active duty and payroll?
    .Especially Ms. Fleary who obviously did not take her job seriously. Is she still on active duty and getting paid. They couldn’t safe a child that was pleading for some one to help her thru her innocense and what did she get DEATH. You people killed her together with the FOSTER PARENTS. There is no excuse for any of you to have allowed this 10 year old girl to die the way she did . For her brother to have live the horror that he must have lived thru. Lets not forget that now you have him in a foster care where no o ne is allowed to see him. Why? Are you scared of what we might find out from this child? Let the citizens of Miami due the investigation, invite us to come and sit in your meetings, let us judge you we pay for your salaries. We the citizens of Miami have had enough of your investigations and neglect . We want answers and if we dont get those answers we should unite for this child that lost her life and the brother who must live in hiding.

    We were getting signs early on, very early on, but we didn’t tie it all together,” said DCF Regional Director Jacqui Colyer. How in the world can you sleep , How can you say that you could not tie this all together. Why are you working with children and why are you still working with children. What does it take for you to tie it all together … DEATH , DEATH, DEATH, Now you can tie it all together but it’s to late for that isn’t it. The people of Miami will not let this sleep and we will not let you sleep and every one involved. This will only bring us together. We will create a memorial for this young girl and she will always be part of our lives those who met her and those who did not.

    Nubia was and is one of our CHILDREN.

  • Justice please

    DCF, the police, judges, teachers, psychologists all dropped the ball and they are not being punished yet Carmen’s daughter did not rat on her mother and she has her daughter who has never been abused, is in perfect health and an A student taken away from her. Removing this child from all contact with her mother is also child abuse. Jail Carmen, she is the witch, her biological daughter is only another victim.

    • Gloria

      The biological daughter is an ACCESSORY TO THE CRIME, by not reporting the child abuse which is a crime, she assisted in the commission of a crime. Jennifer Perez should and will be punished for not protecting the twins. She like her parents lost their humanity and should not be allowed to be near other children, EVER. They should all be jailed the sooner the better. All animals.

  • Jorge

    Jennifer has a brother around the same age – who is also walking around free. He knew about it as well. He works for a company affiliated with ours. They are all animals.

  • anon

    Where is the Guardian ad Litem assigned to this case? Why have we not heard one word about his/her recommendations. The Guardian ad Litem is the advocate for the children within the court system…where are they???


    Why would Judge Manno Shurr need a separate report from a psychologist to rule out in their adoption case??? The reports of abuse from case workers and school employees was not enough for her?? Did she question her claims or not believed them? Is this what an “honorable” judge does?
    Maybe the only opinions that matter in courts are the ones of those super “smart”, educated, priviliged citizens like the psychologist Vanessa Archer. Great job Miss Archer: Your “professional” recommendation was what made the nightmares of those innocent children come true. Years of abuse, pain and torture. Nubia can rest in peace now. Victor, I hope one day you can be a happy person. And Miss Manno Shurr and Miss Archer: I hope a higher authority investigates the horrible job you did, I thinks it was criminal.

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