MONTGOMERY (CBS) — A 6-year-old girl was found dead in her Kendall County home, and her parents charged with involuntary manslaughter. But, could Kerri Rutherford’s death have been prevented?
CBS 2 Investigator Megan Hickey is digging into the red flags, which include more than a dozen calls to police and the Department of Children and Family Services before her tragic death.
Kerri was found in her Montgomery home on July 2, and her cause of death was initially unknown.
“When I saw them at the house my first response was, ‘It’s Kerri,’” a neighbor, Monica Alexander said. “I just assumed that she was hurt or she was gone. And then when they didn’t take her away, I knew.” Alexander had called police several times in the past to report her concerns.
According to police dispatch accounts, authorities found a “6-year-old female, possibly not breathing, bleeding from the nose, turning different colors.”
Weeks later, toxicology tests revealed the cause. Kerri had ingested a lethal dose of the drug olanzapine — commonly prescribed for adults with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.
On Aug. 6, Kerri’s stepfather, 29-year-old James Davidson, and her mother, 32-year-old Courtny Davidson, were charged with involuntary manslaughter. Police records obtained by the CBS 2 Investigators through the Freedom of Information act described the horrific conditions inside the home.
“The living conditions were horrible,” one officer wrote, “With a very foul stench in the house, as well as what appeared to be feces on the floor.”
It appeared she had been dead for some time.
CBS 2 discovered that there were so many red flags. There were warnings from neighbors, and multiple people called police, asking for well-being checks. Records show the Kendall County Sheriff’s Department was called to this house 15 times since the family moved in.
Alexander called to report abuse and neglect “at least four times. I’d say more because I know I called anonymously a few times.” Alexander says authorities “absolutely” didn’t do enough to protect Kerri. “They never went inside the house,” she said.
So did another neighbor, Debbie, across the street. “My family has called the police to check on those kids at times. I was scared for those kids.”
The neighbors said the children in the home often unsupervised. They heard screaming and at time witnessed physical abuse. Police reports indicate that even one of Kerri’s teachers notified DCFS of concerns.
These neighbors saw something, so they said something. But a child’s life is lost, and they are heartbroken that it wasn’t enough.
CBS 2 reached out to DCFS about the case. A spokesperson would only confirm that they had been in contact with the family prior to Kerri’s death.
A Kendall County judge set $250,000 bonds for both the mother and stepfather.