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Caseworker visited home before Vt. baby's death - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Caseworker visited home before Vt. baby's death

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Peighton Geraw Peighton Geraw
WINOOSKI, Vt. -

Startling new details around the moments that led up to the death of a baby boy. The baby died one hour after a social worker left the home. Now, there are concerns around what went wrong and whether the case was handled appropriately.

The medical examiner says 14-month-old Peighton Geraw died April 4 from trauma to the neck and head. Investigators say a social worker from the Vermont Department for Children and Families was at the home in Winooski to investigate reports of child abuse just one hour before the child's death, raising questions about whether more should have been done.

"Without having all the facts, it would be entirely wrong to assume the worker did anything inappropriate. Though it may look as though something was, maybe some misjudgment was made, it's unfair without all the evidence to draw a conclusion," said Dave Yacovone, the commissioner of the Vt. DCF.

The caseworker told police he observed bruises on the baby's neck as the child was sleeping in a crib. But a 911 call was made just one hour after the social worker left the home because the child was not breathing. He was pronounced dead at the hospital.

It is unclear if Peighton has been removed from the custody of his mother, Nytosha LaForce, in the past.

"Well, I'm prohibited from talking about any of those details," Yacovone said. "The only thing I can talk about is what may be released in an affidavit and thus far, the affidavit is focused on the investigation."

After the baby's death, police interviewed Tyler Chicoine, the boyfriend of the child's mother. Investigators noticed he was bruised under his left eye and on his back. Police say he gave conflicting stories around what happened moments before the 911 call. The police say he later admitted to a physical altercation with LaForce. Both Chicoine and LaForce are now in custody for unrelated parole violations.

This is the second death of a child who had some DCF involvement this year. In February, 2-year-old Dezirae Sheldon was allegedly killed by her stepfather after DCF returned the child to the care of her mother, who had been convicted of abusing her.

Reporter Melissa Howell: Does this raise any concerns knowing that this is the second case, that there is a second case that has also resulted in the death of a child? Are there any steps that will be taken to look deeper into how DCF is handling cases?

Dave Yacovone: Well, each case is different. It would be wrong for people to draw conclusions that because there's a similar case that DCF did something wrong or was even involved.

Police continue to investigate, but no one has been charged in connection with the baby's death.

Related Story:

Police: Death of Winooski toddler was homicide

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