Sunday, August 17

Missouri We Have A Problem

Earlier this week the residences of Virginia Gambriel, 61, of Pleasant Hope was the scene of an animal rescue by members of law enforcement, humane society and Division of Family Services. At least 317 animals suffering from neglect and malnutrition were removed from the residence. There were also 6 children removed from the home at the time the search warrant was served. The property had several old mobile homes and junk cars that served as shelter for a large number of dogs. Gambriel lived in one of these mobile homes along with 2 grandchildren in which she had custody. Also occupying the same mobile home were around 100 animals according to authorities. Virginia Gambriel was charged with 2 counts of child endangerment with more charges possible.

The children who were removed from the home, were dirty,covered in flea bites,signs of scabies and ringworms were present. The children were breathing dangerous amounts of ammonia and dried feces odor. The conditions in which these children lived in everyday consisted of trash, cages and animal cages and a least one dead animal carcass 6 feet from where Gambriel slept. In one of the children's bedroom there was a small pig in a pen next to the bed and 4 malnourished dogs along with large amounts of feces. Another child's bedroom had cages full of birds, quail, mice and gerbils.

Gambriel obtained custody of two of her grandchildren in 2001 according to Docket information shows that a yearly review was to be conducted and due each year on the 16th of July. The last entry was in 2007. There is no information listed to indicate if a review was actually conducted or by whom.

So now I am suppose to believe that on May 14th, 2008 that authorities just learned for the very first time, ever, that there might be a problem. No neighbors ever complained, the alleged yearly review gave no indication, nobody had the foggiest idea that two children surrounded by 317 starving animals making their way in and out of these old mobile homes,ONE IN WHICH THEY LIVED IN, never threw up a red flag for anybody?


I'm also suppose to believe that if someone did check on these children on July 17,2007 that Gambriel was baking cookies and dusting. And just as soon as those checking on the children left, she started moving in old trailers and people started flooding her with their unwanted animals.

Or maybe it's more like...

Nobody ever checked on those children and chances are neighbors have been complaining about the conditions for years. The court system handed the children over to the next of kin and little if any investigation was done. And even after law enforcement investigated in May, it took 2 1/2 months before anything was done. Was there 2 1/2 months worth of red tape?

These children didn't "fall through the crack," of the system, they were ignored by the system. While there may be several people to blame in this whole disgusting mess, I think it only fair to start at the top with Governor Blunt and work our way down. Missourians have been given example after example of the system that continues to fail children, due in part to cut backs implemented by Governor Blunt. A court system that isn't interested in "family problems," along with mounds of cases that promote tired, burned out caseworkers to either lie or take short cuts.

The court gave Gambriel custody of her two grandchildren. The court system gives custody according to what they deem is in, "the best interest of the child." If this is what they consider a "child's best interest," no wonder child abuse has reached epidemic proportion. If this is how the system works, then...Missouri we have a problem.


Jason said...

DSS actually closed an investigation into the molestation of a three year old girl because when she was interviewed she mixed up the terms "penis" and "buttocks." It didn't matter that she said she was touched all over the groin area.

So she can tell them where she was touched and point it out to them but because she didn't have the terminology right they couldn't do more about it.

There seem to be some people in the system who don't care about protecting children.

DONNA said...

Thank you for posting Jason and for sharing with us yet another example of a system that continues to fail the children of Missouri. I agree with you that there are those that do not appear to care. Between the lack of concern,cutbacks,and mounds of red tape the problem will only continue to escalate. At the present time we have someone who is more concerned with spending money to save his own rear than saving the lives of our children. Someone that has put a price tag on the disabled and the abused.
A court system that more often times than not returns the children to an abusive environment or rules that the child must have regular visitation with the abusive parent. The court system's refusal to involve itself with "family problems." as they refer to it, does nothing more than turn their "best interest of the child," motto into a big fat lie.
The department of social services believes that it is important that families remain together if at all possible. Great philosophy, only what they chose not to recognize is that if a child is being abused or neglected, they have neither a family or a home. They live in a prison.
Studies have shown that where 4 or more negative factors are present in the home, abuse skyrockets. Yet the negative factors listed are not part of the systems criteria for determining a child at risk. If this criteria had been used the Rowen Ford case might have had a different outcome! The disabled child that was starved to death by her mother and grandmother might have turned out differently.
A recent case in California where a child died from abuse resulted in at least 7 caseworkers being charged with various charges, one of which was felony child endangerment. These people knew the child was being abused but chose to ignore it. Accountability there's a thought.