child death

Florida regulators are preparing to issue one of the largest fines against a hospital in recent memory.

When a child dies, it affects a whole community. That's why every other month, people from hospitals, law enforcement and health departments review cases of criminal or accidental deaths of kids. It's called the Child Death Review. Monday, the group focused on accidental deaths in Charlotte, Collier, Glades, Hendry and Lee counties, because it says those deaths go up as school gets out for summer. 

The father of a toddler killed in an alligator attack at Walt Disney World reached his hands inside the animal's jaws as he tried to pry them open and free his son.

According to a final report released Monday by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the alligator sank teeth into 2-year-old Lane Graves' skull and neck before drowning him on June 14th. The boy's submerged body was recovered the next day.

Father Accused In Bridge Death Still Incompetent For Trial

Feb 24, 2016

A judge says a man accused of throwing his daughter from a Tampa Bay bridge is still not competent to stand trial.

It's the third time since January 2015 that a judge has declared John Jonchuck mentally incapable of standing trial for the death of 5-year-old Phoebe Jonchuck.


A Florida woman has been charged in the death of a 6-year-old boy who authorities say died after he was pinned against a couch on Christmas Eve.

Broward County Sheriff's Office

The body of a missing 18-month-old boy from Tampa has been found in a South Florida canal.

Broward Sheriff Scott Israel said Vihaan Pullamsetti's body was spotted Monday morning in Weston, which is west of Fort Lauderdale.

Officials say the child went missing from a relative's apartment in Weston on Sunday afternoon. Deputies, bloodhounds and helicopters assisted neighbors and family members in a large-scale search for the child.

Governor Rick Scott says he wants an additional about $23 million to fund Florida’s child welfare agency—under scrutiny recently for its involvement in two high profile child abuse deaths.

After a statewide meeting, panels tasked with reviewing deaths by child abuse have a few new ideas. But, some say there’s still more work to do to get everyone on the same page.

The head of Florida’s child welfare agency says he’s renewing his commitment to making his agency better.

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

A toddler died Tuesday afternoon after he was found by his mother face down and unresponsive in a kiddie pool, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office said.

Ashley Norman told investigators she had left her 18-month-old son Cedric Phipps in a baby swing while she went across the street to check on other children. When she returned, the boy was in the pool.

Family members and neighbors called 911 and attempted CPR.

Sheriff’s spokesman Scott Wilder said paramedics attempted to resuscitate Cedric on the way to the hospital, but the boy was declared dead.

Department of Children and Families

  The northeast regional office of the Florida Department of Children and Families has formed a child death prevention task force following the deaths of seven infants linked to unsafe sleeping practices, the Florida Times-Union reports.

Polk County Sheriff's Office

  A baby who was found dead in her car seat in a Florida restaurant parking lot had lost more than one-third of her body weight in the 22 days since she was born, a medical examiner testified Friday.

Betsey Kee Stephens died as a result of malnutrition and starvation, said Dr. Vera Volnikh, Polk County’s assistant medical examiner.

“When we examined her stomach, small, intestine and large intestine, all of them were empty,” Volnikh said. “There was no fat tissue on this baby.”

Plan Boosts Child-Protection Reforms

Mar 25, 2015
Florida House of Representatives

A House panel Tuesday approved a proposal aimed at tightening the sweeping reforms that lawmakers placed into Florida's child-welfare system last year.

The House Children, Families and Seniors Subcommittee unanimously approved a bill (PCB FCSS 15-02) that would tweak the new law, which passed after a series of child deaths due to abuse and neglect.

A man accused of throwing his daughter off a bridge has been found incompetent to stand trial in her death.

John Jonchuck appeared in court Tuesday. The case has been reset for a status check on Feb. 17.

If the court rules in line with the doctors' reports, Jonchuck would likely be sent to a hospital for six months before his case returns to court for another status check.

Jonchuck was arrested Jan. 8 after authorities said he dropped 5-year-old Phoebe more than 60 feet off a bridge.

He has a history of mental health issues.

For years, claims of abuse, beatings, rapes and murder of students by staff have come from those who survived the Dozier School for Boys,  the now-closed state-run reform school in the Florida Panhandle.

Many families are still wondering what happened to their loved ones, and some are getting answers as researchers from the University of South Florida identify remains that have been exhumed from the grounds of Dozier.

Santa Rosa County Jail

A Florida Panhandle prosecutor is seeking a first-degree murder charge against the owner of a day care where a toddler allegedly suffered a traumatic injury.

Fifteen-month-old Brodie Michael Kent died Wednesday, several days after authorities were called to Lowery's Little Angels day care in Milton.

According to investigators, Thelma Denise Lowery said another child struck Brodie with a wooden block. He later vomited in his sleep and had a seizure. A doctor who examined Brodie told investigators that he was injured "as a result of violent shaking."

Administrators with the Florida Department of Children and Families had recommended that a child protection program administrator be fired after involvement in a 2013 case where a 2-year-old was killed by his mother’s boyfriend.

According to a review of Florida Department of Children and Families documents by the Miami Herald, child deaths are being inaccurately counted. The problem, as reporter Carol Marbin Miller explains, is when the death of a child goes from “verified” -- resulting from neglect and abuse -- to “unverified.” As the Herald reports, cases where DCF had prior contact and documented abuse still aren’t being counted as a result of these switches and delays in investigations

A child welfare caseworker, two psychologists who failed to report suspected child abuse, and the cousin in charge of caring for a severely disabled preteen have been charged by a Broward County grand jury in her starvation death, the Miami Herald reports. The body of 12-year-old Tamiyah Audain was found emaciated and covered in bedsores in the home of her caregiver last year, as reported by the Herald in its series Innocents Lost. 

The state caseworker who visited the home of 2-year-old Tariji Gordon the morning she died has been arrested, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

Jonathan Irizarry, a child welfare worker for a non-profit contractor for the Florida Department of Children and Families, had recorded that the child was awake and doing fine, but then changed his story when questioned by authorities, the Sentinel reports.

A 2-year-old boy found dead in a Central Florida motel last week had been on the Department of Children and Families’ radar most of his life, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

More than 70 pages of DCF and Seminole County Sheriff’s Office reports document the short life of Justin Polk. The reports document poor living conditions, but do not allege abuse against the boy or his siblings, the Sentinel reports.

Sarasota Police Department


A 2-year-old girl in Sarasota has died after her father left her in his vehicle Sunday morning. It's the first death from vehicular heatstroke in Florida this year. 

According to the Sarasota Police Department, the child's father, 23-year-old Uriel Hernandez, left her in the vehicle when he went inside to get his cell phone charger. Instead of coming right back out, he fell asleep.


After an embarrassing article appeared in The Miami Herald in September, a regional supervisor for the Department of Children and Families ordered workers not to file required incident reports on the deaths of children who were supposed to be safeguarded by DCF, the Herald reports.

Florida Department of Children and Families administrators vowed more transparency in the wake of the “Innocents Lost” investigation by the Miami Herald. But the agency actually is starting to delay and restrict the release of information, the Herald reports.  A new review by the Herald shows DCF started to black out the details about the deaths in the records in the midst of the newspaper’s investigation.  

According to newly released video footage of a foster-care hearing in December, the Department of Children and Families urged a judge to reunite a mother with her children, one of whom was found dead two months later, the Orlando Sentinel reports. 

Child-welfare workers thought Michael McMullen and his three siblings weren’t safe with their mother, so they sent them to live with their grandmother. They failed to note that conditions there were even worse.

At the house in Lee County, sheriff’s deputies say, the children slept in cages. They were beaten and perhaps even drugged. On Oct. 19, Michael was wrapped up in blankets and tied so tightly that he couldn’t breathe. He died.

Melissa Lyttle / Tampa Bay Times

When Biannela Susana first gave birth, she was a child herself; by the time she was 25 she had four children. Now she has none, and is in Duval County jail awaiting sentencing for manslaughter in the death of her 2-year-old son -- even though she wasn’t the one who killed him. The Tampa Bay Times reports the story of an unfolding tragedy. 

A mother convicted of child neglect after her 13-year-old mentally disabled daughter was found malnourished and covered in lice and crabs will spend 18 years in prison, the Florida Times-Union reports. Jessica Rivera’s daughter died a week after she was removed from the home, where authorities say three siblings lived in similar conditions.  She originally faced manslaughter charges. 

A registered sex offender has been arrested in connection with the killing of an 8-year-old Jacksonville girl, the Tampa Bay Times reports. Authorities say Donald James Smith abducted the girl from a Walmart, where he took her and her mother to buy them some clothes. He served time for abduction in 1993 and has a history of arrests, including one for impersonating a social worker.

The father of an 11-year-old who died from oxygen deprivation admitted to police that he and his wife would “hog tie” the girl and duct tape her mouth to keep her quiet. The child’s mother said she was autistic.