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.