Cory Bradley McLaughlin case

July 4, 1997, paramedics went to the North Carolina home of 45 year-old Eddiesenior McLaughlin and found 4-year-old, adoptee, Cory Bradley McLaughlin, severely beaten. He was pronounced brain-dead at the hospital not long before he was taken off life support. Both of his little hands and one foot were burned. There were bruises on his back, stomach, legs, and a lump on his forehead.

On April 8, 1999, McLaughlin pleaded guilty to felony child abuse and second-degree murder. She used a computer keyboard to beat the boy to death. Mrs. McLaughlin said she was disciplining Cory for hiding her rings. She was sentenced to only 7 - 10 years in prison followed by 5 years probation.

During a search of McLaughlin’s home, detectives found a contract between the adopter and Michael, an adoptee who’d been removed from the home. In the contract, he promised not to rub his eyes, scratch himself, tear holes in his clothes, write incorrect words, enter rooms without permission, watch movies, play outside, or play with toys. He also promised to pay back Mrs. McLaughlin for any damages to her belongs while he lived there.

Eight-year-old, Michael, had been removed from the home one month before Cory’s death by Social Services after he revealed that Mrs. McLaughlin had forced him to drink rubbing alcohol. The adopter was in full agreement with the removal saying that she could not handle the boy without her husband. She had always complained that Michael was a problem for her. Nevertheless, they left Cory at the mercy of this woman. If they had been his real parents instead of adopters, I’m sure all children would have been removed from the home along with Michael.

McLaughlin’s husband was stationed in Bosnia at the time of these incidents. Michael is currently living with another member of the McLaughlin family.

McLaughlin’s lawyer stated that the adopter has “psychological difficulties” and blames the abuse on “mental illness.” McLaughlin was diagnosed with paranoid and schizotypical personality disorders, with traits of obsessive compulsiveness by psychologist Thomas Harbin. Why was this couple allowed to adopt children?

According to the report of an investigation into Cory's death, the Department of Social Services did not accept information provided by the community as a formal report of abuse or neglect in the case of the McLaughlins. It is implied in the report that social workers intervened on behalf of the couple because they were adopters. It is also stated that social workers were confused about how to respond to the allegations of abuse because the children were adopted.

The report did not make any recommendations about failures in the adoption system.

The director of Social Services, Chip Modlin, said there had been no allegations of abuse against Cory. After family members, friends and teachers said that they did warn Social Services about their suspicions and signs of abuse, Modlin then said that every allegation of abuse made about Cory was investigated.

The foster family who had Cory before he and Michael were both adopted by the McLaughlins in 1996 is suing the Cumberland County Department of Social Services for an undisclosed amount of money. The lawsuit purports to seek money for Cory’s “brothers and sisters.” I cannot imagine who these “brothers and sisters” might be since Cory was adopted. I hope the foster family doesn’t think they are entitled to any money from Cory’s death.

It is difficult to investigate CPS failures because child protection laws require confidentiality. When Cory’s records were ordered to be released, it was only the second time a Superior Court judge ordered the release of such records. Then the lawyer for the county held up release of the records asking for an agreement that only certain people will be able to see them.

“They hide behind confidentiality laws so much that nothing ever gets changed. All they have to do is close up the records and say they can’t name the social worker,” said Cory’s former foster caregiver. I want to add that they also do this in cases where foster families are abusive to the children in their care.

The foster family had cared for Cory since his birth. If he was relinquished, I wonder if this is what his mother wanted for her son when she chose adoption.

Ironically, the McLaughlins live on Einstein Drive.

This case shows how the entire system: social workers, court officials, foster care, and adoption has failed to be in the “best interest” of children.

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A few missed details ...

Actually Micheal was Cory's real brother their sisters were also adopted by Connie McLaughlin, their uncle. That is the only reason the foster family chose to not adopt Cory themselves. So that Cory would be with his siblings and his family. I assure you if the foster family had an indication of Eddiesenior's mental illness they would have not allowed Cory to go into that household. The money from the lawsuit was indeed intended for his brothers and sisters. So you may want to do a little more research before you insinuate that the foster family was not looking to Cory's best interest.
Here is an article from "The Fayetteville Observer" originally published on Sunday, August 17, 1997 in the Local & State category about the march they organized after the passing of "Cory's Law".

MARCH TARGETS CHILD ABUSE
Sunday, August 17, 1997

By David Sinclair

Staff writer

Letsie Generette couldn't hold back the tears as she thought of the pain and torture her 4-year-old nephew endured in the last months of his short life.

But the hardest thing for family members to accept is that Cory McLauchlin's death might have been prevented.

They don't want that happen to another child.

About 70 people marched in silence from the Department of Social Services building to Rowan Park where a ceremony was held to remember Cory. The rally was called ``Justice for Cory.'' Marchers want more to be done to protect children.

``I miss him so much,'' said Allison Bryant, 26, one of Cory's cousins who marched. ``He was such a sweet child. He was always smiling. I hope what we are doing today will make a difference.''

Cory's adoptive mother, Eddiesenior Jones McLauchlin, 45, was charged July 4 with beating him to death. There were other signs of abuse, including burns to his hands from scalding water, and bruises on his stomach, back and head.

Just two months earlier, social workers removed Cory's 8-year-old brother, Michael, from home because of suspected abuse.

But despite warnings from family members, friends and teachers, Cory remained in the home.

``If DSS heard our cries, Cory would probably still be alive today,'' Generette said as the march began. ``The last thing I told them was that if you don't so something, Cory will die. And now that precious little boy is gone.''

Chip Modlin, the county's social services director, said every call about Cory being abused was investigated. He said there was no legal reason to remove him.

``Just because you suspect something is wrong is not enough,'' Modlin said. ``Cory wanted to stay with his mother. This was unpredictable. It is unfortunate. I hope this will focus more attention on the problem. It is a whole community problem.''

The state is sending a review team to Cumberland County on Wednesday and Thursday to determine whether the county's child protection system failed in the weeks leading up to Cory's death.

Tom and Clara Wright, who were Cory's foster parents for two years, helped lead efforts to get state law changed. A measure, sponsored by Sen. Tony Rand, requires social workers to investigate the welfare of all children in a home where a child is removed because of abuse.

Some people who participated in the march say other children should be removed automatically, until the investigation is complete.

``If you're not fit to parent one child, you're certainly not fit to parent other children,'' said Lisa Stewart, a teacher at E.E. Miller Elementary School where Michael attended.

Stewart said she contacted social workers with concerns that Cory was possibly being abused. Others did too.

``It's sad enough if we didn't know,'' Stewart said. ``It is a real tragedy when we all knew.''

During the time that the abuse was occurring, the boy's adoptive father, Connie McLauchlin, a Fort Bragg soldier, was in Bosnia.

Connie was not at the march. His bother, Rev. Allen McLauchlin, said Connie is still grieving, but is getting stronger emotionally.

Steve and Rosemary Buerger and their daughter Jessica, 4, and Chelsea, 6, marched. They wanted to take a stand for children.

' 'Every child deserves a fighting chance,'' Ms. Buerger said. ``Cory didn't have a fighting chance. We can't let this happen again.'' Former DSS Worker.

Another Detail: Foster Family Received No Money

The adoptive father was named to receive the money. Check the records.

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