New Baby Wayne case details
Wed, 05 Sep 2007 22:52:31 GMT — It's been over a month since the death of baby Wayne Anderson of Iberia. Wednesday, we received a report from the Missouri Department of Social Services Children's Division detailing the course of events that took place before the crib fire that resulted in Wayne's death. KRCG's Mallory McGowin has covered this story from the start. She sat down with state officials to set the record straight. It is part one of a special FactFinder report.
Our dealings with the Department of Social Services began with a "Sunshine" request on July 18th. We wanted any and all information pertaining to baby Wayne's mother, Christina White, and her family.
We received a number of reports about what happened the night of June 23rd, when Iberia Police officers removed two of Christina White's children from the home of Walter and Charleana White, their grandparents. citing filthy living conditions and marijuana in the home.
We have received a number of viewer phone calls and e-mails asking us if state agencies allowed baby Wayne and his family situation to slip through the cracks from the June 23rd incident at the grandparents' house and the day of the fire.
"We have reviewed this case and reviewed this case and I don't believe anybody...not the Children's Division, not the Juvenile Office, not anybody in terms of any agency, did anything wrong," says Tammy Walden, the 26th Circuit Chief Juvenile Officer.
"The Children's Division role is to ensure that children are safe. That's our primary role and function as an agency. In this particular case, Wayne was in an unsanitary household and our staff ensured that he did not return to a household that was unsanitary. We made every effort that night to ensure that Wayne and his family went somewhere that was safe and sanitary," says Social Services Children's Division representative Celesta Hartgraves.
"So, from your position, you don't feel like your department dropped the ball in any way?" I asked Hartgraves.
"Our agency had not had any history of reports of physical abuse by Christina White of Wayne," she replied.
The documents included in the state file reflect that. Officials had no reason to believe Christina White was a threat to her children.
And despite the baby's tragic death, Hartgraves stands by the department's actions.
"In hindsight, we can all have a clearer view of things and it makes you question those decisions that we made initially. But I think that everybody makes the best decisions they can at the time," says Hartgraves.
"I think this is one of these horrible situations where everybody did everything right and a bad thing still happened. I sincerely do not believe that this child died because of anything that anybody did or didn't do, I believe this child died in spite of what everybody did," says Walden.
The state report we obtained sheds new light on the sequence of events leading up to the fire that killed Wayne Anderson Jr., a fire the prosecutor says was deliberately set by his mother. We'll have those details Thursday night on KRCG News Nightside.
Click below to view all of our coverage surrounding Baby Wayne, Christina White, and the entire story from Iberia.