Quantcast

Protest targets DCF in case of slain child - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Protest targets DCF in case of slain child

Posted: Updated:
RUTLAND, Vt. - Dozens of parents and concerned citizens gathered outside the office of the Vermont Department for Children and Families in Rutland Monday. They want answers from the child protection agency after 2-year-old Dezirae Sheldon was allegedly murdered by her stepfather, 31-year-old Dennis Duby.

"The signs were there. Pay attention to them. This little one could have been alive," said Lindsay Miller, who took part in the protest.

Those signs include a child abuse investigation last year into Dezirae's mother -- Sandra Eastman. In July 2013, Eastman pleaded guilty to child cruelty for failing to get Dezirae prompt medical care for a broken leg.* A full body scan revealed older injuries too. Eastman never went to prison for the crime. Instead she was placed on probation. Family members tell WCAX News that 2.5 months later, she got her daughter back. A decision they say that cost the toddler her life.

"I just opened the door and I look at Dezirae and her whole face was bruised. And I looked at Sandy and said what happened? And she said Dennis dropped her into the pack and play. And I said that's not from a pack and play fall. Her whole face is bruised," said Michelle Brown, a family friend.

Brown claims they begged the court and DCF to terminate Eastman's parental rights, but say their allegations of abuse were ignored. "I said she's going to kill her... She is going to die. I said I'm never going to see her again. I know it. I knew it in my heart this was going to happen. But nobody listened," said Lisa Eastman, Dezirae's aunt.
 
DCF Commissioner Dave Yacovone invited Dezirae's family inside to speak with him privately. "I want to meet face-to-face with the family members. I want to listen to them. I want to share with them that my very full intent is to make sure that a very thorough review is done of this," he said.

Yacovone cannot publicly discuss the details of the case but says he's deeply sorry for the family's pain."I don't think there's any way that I can properly convey the sorrow I feel," he said.

The commissioner says DCF gets about 16,000 calls alleging child abuse every year. Ultimately, custody is decided by a judge, after input from DCF caseworkers and the state's attorney's office. "It's important for Vermonters to know there is a checks and balance. This is not individual state employees making a decision about what's right or what's wrong.There's an extensive review process to make sure," Yacovone said.

A review process Dezirae's family says failed. In their minds, Eastman is just as guilty as the man accused of squeezing the toddler's head until it cracked. "She covered for him this whole time. She's just as guilty as he is. She had every right to protect her baby and she didn't do it," Michelle Brown said.

Dezirae is not the first child Eastman has lost custody of. In 2008 -- she spent 5 months behind bars -- for molesting a 15 year-old boy -- and getting pregnant with his child. She's not allowed to have contact with the child. And her family tells us -- she has a one months old daughter -- who is also in state custody.

It's still unclear why Dezirae Sheldon was returned to her mother when she doesn't have custody of her other kids.  DCF officials say they can't talk about the case and Police say their investigation is still ongoing. It's even difficult to verify how many children Eastman and Duby have and their custody arraignments. Family court tells WCAX News it does not release records involving juveniles, even if they have died.

*Editor's note: Authorities brought to our attention on June 26, 2014, that WCAX News previously reported Sandra Eastman was convicted of breaking Dezirae Sheldon's leg. That was incorrect. Eastman was convicted of child cruelty by medical neglect. We apologize for the error.

Related Stories:

Volatile court hearing in murder of 2 year-old

Vermont's foster care system and claims of child abuse

Family of slain 2-year-old speak out

  • Local NewsMore>>

  • N.H. man killed in Lunenburg crash

    N.H. man killed in Lunenburg crash

    Monday, September 1 2014 11:33 PM EDT2014-09-02 03:33:55 GMT
    One man is dead following a tractor trailer rollover in Lunenburg.
    One man is dead following a tractor trailer rollover in Lunenburg.
  • 2 charged with skid-steer joyride on I-89

    2 charged with skid-steer joyride on I-89

    Monday, September 1 2014 10:15 PM EDT2014-09-02 02:15:25 GMT
    The theft of some construction vehicles caused chaos on the Interstate this weekend.
    The theft of some construction vehicles caused chaos on the Interstate this weekend.
  • Bike racers wrap up weekend events

    Bike racers wrap up weekend events

    Monday, September 1 2014 9:59 PM EDT2014-09-02 01:59:03 GMT
    The Green Mountain Stage Race took to the streets of Burlington Monday.
    The Green Mountain Stage Race took to the streets of Burlington Monday.
  • Allergy sufferers brave ragweed season

    Allergy sufferers brave ragweed season

    Monday, September 1 2014 7:08 PM EDT2014-09-01 23:08:26 GMT
    If you're sneezing, your nose is running and you're eyes are itchy once again this year -- you're not alone. Fall pollen counts are peaking in our region and proving tough for allergy sufferers looking to enjoy the outdoors.Despite a spate of heat and humidity, the signs of fall are undeniable. Cooler temperatures and color are on the way. And even though many think of spring as "allergy season" due to tree pollens, this time of year can be particularly tough for allergy sufferers, too -- bec...
    If you're sneezing, your nose is running and you're eyes are itchy once again this year -- you're not alone. Fall pollen counts are peaking in our region and proving tough for allergy sufferers looking to enjoy the outdoors.Despite a spate of heat and humidity, the signs of fall are undeniable. Cooler temperatures and color are on the way. And even though many think of spring as "allergy season" due to tree pollens, this time of year can be particularly tough for allergy sufferers, too -- bec...
  • Holiday drivers find lower prices at the pump

    Holiday drivers find lower prices at the pump

    Monday, September 1 2014 6:59 PM EDT2014-09-01 22:59:21 GMT
    Drivers this holiday weekend found lower gas prices at the pump.
    Drivers this holiday weekend found lower gas prices at the pump.
  • Sanders addresses Labor Day rally

    Sanders addresses Labor Day rally

    Monday, September 1 2014 6:51 PM EDT2014-09-01 22:51:52 GMT
    Community members gathered in Burlington's Battery Park Monday to celebrate Labor Day -- and hear from Senator Bernie Sanders.Union leaders addressed the importance of employees supporting one another. They also thanked the community for supporting Vermont's unions. Senator Sanders says the holiday is for working people to not only celebrate their gains, but to also address issues facing the working class."There's a lot of work in front of us if we're going to make sure that our kids and our ...
    Community members gathered in Burlington's Battery Park Monday to celebrate Labor Day -- and hear from Senator Bernie Sanders.Union leaders addressed the importance of employees supporting one another. They also thanked the community for supporting Vermont's unions. Senator Sanders says the holiday is for working people to not only celebrate their gains, but to also address issues facing the working class."There's a lot of work in front of us if we're going to make sure that our kids and our ...
  • Authorities seize animals from Santa's Land

    Authorities seize animals from Santa's Land

    Monday, September 1 2014 4:32 PM EDT2014-09-01 20:32:03 GMT
    The Windham County Sheriffs Department says it seized multiple animals from the theme park this weekend.
    The Windham County Sheriffs Department says it seized multiple animals from the theme park this weekend.
  • Body discovered in Massena

    Body discovered in Massena

    Monday, September 1 2014 4:02 PM EDT2014-09-01 20:02:43 GMT
    New York State Police are investigating an unidentified body found in Massena.
    New York State Police are investigating an unidentified body found in Massena.
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and WCAX. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.