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Family of murdered toddler says system failed

March 22, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
The family of a murdered 2-year-old boy says authorities did not heed their warning reports, and the system failed them by not acting quickly enough to come to the boy's rescue.The family even thought about going after the accused abuser and kidnapping the boy so the abuse would stop, but they felt that was too risky. They opted to go the legal route by reporting the abuse to the police as well as county child welfare workers, but that didn't work either.

Two-year-old DeAndre Green was in trouble, and when he visited his relatives, they saw the signs of abuse.

"At that time, he had bruises on his body," described DeAndre's cousin Lavetta Jones.

That was in October when DeAndre's family members embarked on a path of frustration. It ultimately ended with the death of the toddler.

Relatives had called the abuse hotline for child welfare and told them about the injuries and relayed what the child said about being hurt by his mother's boyfriend, Hector Ernst Jr.

Jones said that in one incident, DeAndres told her directly that Ernst busted his lip.

Relatives called child welfare as well as the Hawthorne Police Department. DeAndre lived in Hawthorne with his mother and Ernst.

DeAndre's family members said that a lieutenant helped but told them that he referred the case to Long Beach Police Department because that is where the family had moved to.

Meantime in Moreno Valley, relatives on the other side of the family were also looking for help.

Independently, they had also called the county abuse hotline. It linked them to Long Beach police who told Kerry Porter, DeAndre's grandfather, that they would do a child welfare check.

"It wasn't done. Like I say, all they did with that situation was knock on the door. Knocking on the door is not enough," said Porter, who said that they police should have persisted. The police reports on DeAndre go back for weeks.

"If multiple people are calling and saying that this child is in danger, you need to be able to jump on that as soon as possible. If it takes you to bust that door down to find out if that child is okay, that's got to be done," said Porter. "You would want it done for your child."

So far, Long Beach police have yet to comment on the case.