CHICAGO (CBS) —She was six years old and died of a drug overdose this summer.
As questions linger over how Kerri Rutherford’s parents allowed her to swallow pills, new ones emerge over how many times state workers visited the troubled home.
CBS 2’s Chris Tye reports on the newly released timeline and the questions the state just isn’t answering.
Kerri Rutherford died in the back bedroom of her family’s home in Montgomery, Illinois, south of Aurora. Neighbors and teachers waived red flags. CBS 2 learned that for five years, the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) made regular visits.
In December 2015, credible evidence of abuse or neglect was found. The family was also offered services from DCFS but chose to decline, which they were allowed to do.
CBS 2 also learned DCFS investigated the household twice in 2017 for investigations later expunged. Four more investigations from 2018 through this past winter were all deemed unfounded.
Cook County public guardian Charles Golbert said ” there were a lot of red flags.”
Red flags but few answers. DCFS would not share any details on what kind of abuse was being looked at inside the home of James and Courtney Davidson, Kerri’s mom and stepdad. And whether the two awaiting trial on involuntary manslaughter charges complied with state DCFS guidelines.
“I’m asking DCFS to come clean. They should provide a detailed timeline,” Goldbert said.
The state said privacy laws preclude sharing such a timeline in the case. But in the AJ Fruend case, DCFS did. AJ’s body was found on April 24, 2019 and two days later, April 26t, DCFS released its timeline with his family.
“As we move forward,” DCFS wrote, “we will be fully transparent with the public as we seek to address any possible shortcomings in this incident.”
It’s been three months since Kerri’s death and no such timeline.
In fact, CBS 2 dug deeper into the administrative code that governs DCFS: “nothing contained in this section prevents the sharing or disclosure of records relating or pertaining to the death of a minor under the care of or receiving services from the (Illinois) Department of Children and Family Services.”
The state knows more than it’s sharing and isn’t precluded from sharing those details. So why not make it public?
“When they obfuscate and hide, there’s a reason. It’s because they messed up, and I suspect that’s what going on here,” Golbert said.
DCFS said it has discretion on it wants to share. And that what it saw was not defined as abuse, but neglect.