Essex DA investigating deaths of 3 babies involving DCF

BOSTON — The Essex County District Attorney's Office has launched an investigation into the deaths of three babies involving the Department of Children and Families.

The first case in the investigation happened on April 25, 2019, in Methuen involving a 3-month-old boy in foster care. Emergency services were called for an unresponsive baby and transported the boy to Holy Family Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner still hasn't ruled the cause and manner of death.

"I don’t want to speculate now on what happened in this circumstance but just to re-state that we are deeply concerned, as we would be in any child in this Commonwealth," Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito told Boston 25 News. "In particular, this child -- who is in the care of the Department of Children and Families and a foster care home -- we want to make sure we understand what happened and take whatever steps are needed following from that investigation.”

The latest case involved in the investigation took place on June 26, 2019, when a 15-month-old girl in foster care in Lawrence was reported to be unresponsive. The baby was rushed to Lawrence General Hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

Cause and manner of death have not been ruled yet.

The following statement was sent to Boston 25 News on Thursday afternoon by Massachusetts Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders:

"There were three tragic child deaths in a short period of time in Essex County. The Department of Children and Families, in collaboration with the Essex County District Attorney's office, is investigating each circumstance and the chief medical examiner's office determines the cause of death. As best as we can determine pending the final medical examiner's report, the infant in Haverhill, who was not in the custody of DCF, was living with their biological parent in a shelter and the death appears to be a result of co-sleeping. The death of the infant in a foster home in Methuen appears to be the result of a medical condition. There is an active and ongoing investigation into the recent death of a child living in a foster home in Lawrence and it is too soon to determine the cause of death."

Boston 25 News had originally reported that the deaths of three babies in DCF care were under investigation. Officials told us Thursday that the 4-week-old boy who died on April 18 in Haverhill was not in DCF custody. Authorities say the boy was living with his biological parent in a shelter and his death appears to be a result of co-sleeping, but there was an open DCF case involving the child at the time of his death.

According to the DA's office, there are two additional cases of baby deaths being investigated but do not involve the DCF.

The Essex DA's Office is required to investigate any and all unattended and unexpected deaths, regardless if they are criminal or not.

Comments on this article