Barahona Caseworker: “I Did Everything I Could”

MIAMI  (CBS4) – Andrea Fleary, the Florida Department of Children and Families caseworker fired for allegedly botching the investigation the Barahona family  abuse case, believes she did everything she could to investigate the charges.

Fighting to regain her job, she told CBS4 News anchor Shannon Hori, in an exclusive interview, that she was a dedicated caseworker who did the best she could when the stopped at the home of Jorge and Carmen Barahona just before Valentine’s day. She had been sent to investigate allegations that their 10-year-old adopted daughter, Nubia, was being abused.

She did not find Nubia, or evidence of abuse, but days later, Nubia was dead, and her parents were charged with her murder.

“Not a day, not a day past that I don’t think about those kids,” Fleary said. “People may look at me and think that I’m heartless, but every case that I touched, it stays with me.”

None more so than the case of Nubia Barahona and her brother, Victor, twins found on February 14th in their adoptive father’s pick up truck.

Victor was alive, but convulsing and covered with chemicals. Nubia was in the back of the truck, covered with chemicals and dead.

Andrea Fleary says the first time she heard of the Barahonas was four days before that gruesome discovery, Thursday, February 10th.

A caller to the Florida abuse hotline said that children in the Barahona’s Southwest Miami-Dade home were tied by their hands and feet with tape and made to stay in the bathtub all day and night.

Fleary says she went to the home that day but no one was there.

She has been accused of not following through

“If you get an allegation that kids hands are being tied by tape and made to stand in the bathtub,” asked CBS4News anchor Shannon Hori, “that’s a pretty severe and specific allegation.”

“Again, like I said, it’s an allegation,” Fleary said. “A lot of cases come in to the hotline with allegations as such.”

She went back to the home on Friday, February 11th, and said the adoptive mother, Carmen Barahona answered the door.

“Based on information that mother had provided me at that time, the children were safe, ok,” Fleary said

Asked why, knowing how serious the allegations were against the parents, she didn’t ask to see the bathroom where the abuse had allegedly taken place, Fleary said she didn’t have the right.

“I don’t have the authority to go in a person’s house without probably cause,” she said.

Fleary says Carmen Barahona told her the twins were living with her husband, Jorge, at another location.

Fleary’s been criticized for not using that information to continue the search for the children over the weekend over the weekend. She blamed DCF rules and regulations regarding overtime.

“I was not authorized to work on Saturday and Sunday,” she said. “I not been preapproved to work overtime.”

She has heard the scalding criticism of her handling of the case, and the claim that she couldn’t be bothered to work on a weekend. She thinks it is unfair.

“The public can say we are lazy,” she said. “I can’t see any investigator that works with the Department of Children and Families that’s lazy, none of us, cause we work hard.”

When asked what she would say to Nubia now, if the murdered child could hear her, she answered through tears, “That I wish I could have saved her. I wish I would have seen her.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Children and Families disputed Fleary’s claim that she could not have followed up on the case over the weekend. DCF said has she asked to work over the weekend that request would have been approved because that is standard procedure.

Fleary said she wants her job back, and is appealing the decision to fire her.

Carmen and Jorge Barahona have been charged with First Degree murder, and face the death penalty if convicted.

  • ntrump

    Appears not to have the critical thinking necessary to fulfill the job requirements.

    • hol


  • Jimbo99

    Just me, but if someone were falsely imprisoning a child, let alone abusing them, isn’t this something the sheriff/police should be involved in ? Yeah, I realize it’s DCF when it involves children, but I’m also thinking these parents are nothing short of Dahmer-like and that’s where an arrest on the spot would need to be made ? At risk is the DCF case worker based upon reports. I’m not sure that this isn’t or shouldn’t be escalated as a domestic violence disturbance when reported ?

  • Danny Akerman

    Excuse me! When somebody calls in with that kind of abuse, you don’t stand at the door and take the mothers word that the kids are okay and then get in your car and leave, you DEMAND to see the children to make sure they’re okay, so what if they’re at another location, you go to that location and see the children for yourself, That’s your job! Protect the children! Nubia might be alive today if you did your job, I swear, people are so lazy!

    • Darlene

      I couldnt agree more, she FAILED these poor children miserably and should pay the price for it.

    • Indhira

      I couldn’t agree more… I have no sympathy for this woman whatsoever…. cry me a river for all I care…

    • BVC

      Totally agree with you. The murderers are the parents, but others are also to blame for the abuse and murder of Nubia. May Nubia rest in peace, for sure she’s at a better place being LOVED for the first time in her life.

    • yokolee


  • Jim

    These prior contributors obviously have never worked for a government agency, who are notorious for hamstringing well meaning employees. In these cash strapped times, I seriously doubt that DCF’s management ever authorized any overtime, no matter how dire the circumstance!

  • Ann

    I definitely object…that OVERTIME WOULD NOT HAVE BEEN APPROVED!!!
    DCF administrators will do anything to cover themselves!

  • m

    Kiss my rear end Andrea Fleary. You should be charged along with the Barahona’s.

  • IQ$$


    Day 1 :: She did a drive by … leave the car running , walk up to the door knock once … Oh too bad, no one is home … now I can go out with the girls …

    Day: 2: She did a drive by plus … leave the car running , walk up to the door knock twice … If the Abuser answers the door ask them if everything is fine … Ok … case is closed … time for the weekend …

    That POS just wants to get reinstated to any job so she can get that State Pension … That why she was there … not to PROTECT CHILDREN …

    Just to going through the motions … until she could get that State Pension … that free money at the end of the rainbow … that sweet reward for all those … that just put in their time, going through the motions …

    I’m certain that they will find her another position … she is so worthy …

    She was just following the State workers dream … to all that free money

  • mari

    Fleary did not follow through because OVERTIME was not approved? How about doing YOUR JOB, which you obviously did not and follow through whether you got paid or not??? A child’s life was at stake and you are excusing it as “following DCF rules”? How about HUMAN ETHICS????? Do you know the meaning of the word?? You should be charged not re-instated in ANY position!!!!! I know, this was just a paycheck!! State Attorney’s office…where are you???? What, no election in sight??? This community is hopeless!!!!

    • Darlene

      Come election time, ALOT of heads are gonna roll over this case. The POS knows nothing about human ethics. Hold the DA, judges accountable especially after they said they will leave no stone unturned, they will go after anyone involved…We shall see.

    • Vanessa Benitez

      Mari, I know that it is very easy to rationalize someone ‘just doing it’, but unfortunately we don’t live in a wild west society. There are laws, rules and regulations. Had this woman for any reason gone on the weekend and found something despite not being approved, they could later overturn any evidence just because she was not working in her capacity as a DCF worker- she was there ON HER OWN ACCORD. It’s sad but true. The law is not as simple as it seems, she could win the battle and take the kids…but not the war because they would go right back where you got them from. Just a sad sad case.

  • TR


    For providing this “dedicated protector of children” with a forum
    to excuse her actions and inactions …

    Perhaps you can now work to get her a promotion !

    • Darlene

      I’m sure that will happen..promotion, HUGE pay raise, tickertape parade, her own jet, anything they can think of to reward this CRIMINAL.

  • Aracelly Fowlks

    The Department of Chilren and Family does not have enough case workers to take good care of every case. And, to make things worse, the case-workers in charge eventually become negligent and forget the importance of their work and how it can impact the lives of these children I put the blame on the abusers first, then on the inefficiency of those in charge.

  • M Westie

    The police should have been involved in this case. And why these people were allowed to adopt these children in the first place is beyond me. I read somewhere that blood relatives wanted to adopt them, but were denied. Instead they were handed over to these killers. What a twisted system. In regards to this article, Andrea Fleary is DCF’s scape-goat, plain and simple.

    • Darlene

      Nubia and Victor’s paternal aunt and uncle fought to adopt the children back in 04 i believe, they were denied b/c the children had bonded with the barahonas, and other lines of bs they could come up with to justify them not getting the children. so the story goes. when this story broke, the aunt and uncle flew from texas in an attempt to get Victor, i’m not sure how it all panned out, but Victor is still in a DCF theraputic foster home…God help that poor little boy.

    • Vanessa Benitez

      I agree she is being used as a scapegoat. Granted, I’m sure she maybe could have done more- but that child’s death is not her fault. There was a long series of events and mistakes that took place way before this transpired.

  • Lady Justice

    The same old story of DCF. Then they wonder why most cities are privaticing everything. Because people like this piece of work. Sure there were not probable cause, sure there was no evidence of abuse and if you believe that you will believe anything. DCF has be indoctrinated to look the other way, to rehabilitate and to forget the dangers these children often find themselves in. They do not care. You could send them to a house where there is no food in the refrigerator, the child has not eaten in days the place a pig pen and they will not bother. You can send them to a house that sell crack and has the mother high and everyone in the house and the childre watching tv in front of all of this and they still would not do anything. Oh maybe appoint a Guardian at lietm another piece of work that is so frustrated that can be sucked into whatever story they tell them.

    Welcome to our so not corrupt system.

  • observerfromupnorth

    If you as a child welfare worker are required to make contact with a child on your case load you should of had the adoptive mother arrested until she revealed exactly where these children were period. And if you could not do it in your allotted time frame it should have been passed on to the supervisor to handle this is a case that should not have happened. Also if she was in fear of her own life she should have called for assistance from the county sheriff as they are a part of the same team. The problem here in Florida is that no one and I mean no one works together to formulate a plan that works it is always pass the buck here it is terrible. This lady and her supervisor should be dismissed period, if you are in child protection protect them the federal guidelines are there you just need someone to convey them in a way that all understand instead of standing around with your thumbs up you but.

  • responsible father

    Andrea Fleary is a member of Florida DCF FBF(Fat Black Female) sorority which is why their organization is and has been a train wreck top to bottom. Everyone should have the degrading experience of showing up at one of their locations and you’ll see what I mean. If you are a FBF(or sometimes a classless white or hispanic) with multiple babies with multiple men their staff will welcome you with open arms into their DCF FBF sorority because you are their element. If you are a father and have failthfully paid child support(or allimony) over the years and a dispute arrises their staff will not listen to you but will always side with and welcome their own element into the DCF FBF sorority without question.

    • Darlene

      Sadly alot of responcible fathers are treated like that, they will take the word of an abusing, neglectful mother over a responcible father. And mothers will even make up sickening sexual abuse allegations, have the kids say daddy touches me or daddy did other sickening things and physical abuse allegations against the fathers in order to bolster their case. More and more fathers are fighting for and getting custody of children through divorce courts, mothers being ordered to pay child support. Yovani and Allessandra are the true heroes in this case. he immediatly took her to a therapist when she started hinting to him about the children being abused.He should be granted FULL PERMENANT custody of her if he hasnt already.And whats sickening, there will be horrific cases in the near future that will make the Barahona case look like nothing.

  • Darlene

    The woman is a fruitcake! she contradicted herself a few times, plus the DCF spokesperson contradicted her about OT, passing cases off to other workers, etc. She said she had filled in for someone the weekend BEFORE and wanted that weekend off. She’s crying crocadile tears b/c she lost a cushy govt job after 22 yrs NOT b/c of the kids. Sad thing is, she’ll get some dumbazz judge to force DCF to bring her back, and i’m sure with backpay. Probable cause????? Apparently she FORGOT about the urgent call to DCF by Allessandra’s therapist who STATED the children were bound, locked in the bathroom. Noone from DCF called the police, They stated they searched for the children for like 4 days by themselves.Andrea says she was lied to by Carmen. Gee lady, your lied too every day of the week! IF DCF is forced to hire her back, then all she should be allowed to do is wash windows, mop floors, clean bathrooms, take out trash. The woman is a MENACE AND A THREAT to society. Why wasnt she arrested???? Nevermind they need to crackdown hard on KIDS, adults who make false allegations that are tying up workers etc. Then maybe they can handle legit cases alot better then what they have been. MAYBE.

  • Karen

    Andrea Fleary was the one person who could have saved Nubia from torture and death. Instead she chose to put her trust in the Mrs Barahona and disbelieve the “allegation” that was phoned through. In doing so, she practically sentenced Nubia to death. Losing her job is small punishment for what she has done.

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