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HOLLYWOOD (CBSMiami) – A review by the Department of Children and Families (DCF) of the handling of abuse reports prior to the death of Ahziya Osceola found faults with the investigations.
Ahziya, 3, lived with his father Nelson and stepmother Analiz. On March 19th, the boy’s body was found wrapped in garbage bags and stuffed in a box in the laundry room.
“Two additional plastic bags of clothing were shoved into the opening of the box to further conceal the body,” according to a police search warrant.
DCF calls the death of Osceola heartbreaking and inexcusable.
Among the findings in a just released report was that there was and insufficient assessment of Ahziya’s safety while in his father’s care.
Analiz Osceola was charged with aggravated manslaughter and providing misinformation to the authorities. Ahziya’s father was charged with child neglect.
The report also says that investigators ignored warnings from his daycare.
The medical examiner reported that the little boy suffered terrible injuries, finding bruises all over his body, gouge marks on his neck. Nelson Osceola said the child was clumsy to explain his repeated bumps and bruises.
The office also said that blunt impact abdominal trauma killed Ahziya.
The DCF review found that Ahziya was often bruised and injured but, at least in one case, the investigation was closed with no one held accountable.
DCF Secretary Mike Carroll ordered the review which was conducted by the agency’s Critical Incident Rapid Response Team.
The review found that “given that Ahziya was a member of the Seminole Indian Tribe, ChildNet looked to the Tribe to link the family to any necessary services as the Tribe and DCF’s State of Nation Tribal Agreement points to the Tribe providing these services.”
The review also found that there were “diluted lines of responsibility, authority and actions that can be taken by both BSO CPI (Broward Sheriff’s Office Child Protective Investigations which investigated the abuse claims) and ChildNet Staff, due to Tribal rights and authority.”
The review concluded “Tribal representation, both in court proceedings as well as in the duration of services being provided by Seminole Family Services, focused on family advocacy rather than child advocacy.”
Miami Herald investigative reporter Carol Marbin Miller has written extensively on DCF.
“There was a pattern of investigators taking the word of parents over educators,” said Miller.
Attorney and child advocate Howard Talenfeld said, “Sadly Ahziya is one of a long line of South Florida children who have died while under DCF care.”