Biological family not notified about child's death, investigation continues

Date: 2006-10-07

Biological family not notified about child's death, investigation continues

Oct 7, 2006
Bart Bedsole & Roxanne Carrillo

CORPUS CHRISTI - A young boy, [Andrew Burd, age 4] who died while in the care of his adoptive parents, was laid to rest on Friday. Funeral services for little Andrew Burd, were held at Seaside Memorial Park.

After family and friends paid their final respects, his casket was placed in a mausoleum. The four-year-old boy, who choked and then stopped breathing, after he was reportedly forced to drink salt water laced with cajun spices, died Tuesday night.

Police are treating his death as a homicide, because they claim his adoptive parents, Larry and Hannah Overton waited nearly three hours, before taking him to a hospital.

Court documents also said the boy had brain hemmorages that appeared to be a result of some type of trauma. No arrests have been made.

Andrew's biological family still lives in Corpus Christi. They found out about the death last night on TV, and called 6 News to verify that it was him. The boy's father and grandmother, who fought to get custody of Andrew a year ago, are extremely upset about what happened.

Andrew's biological father and grandmother found out what happened from watching TV. No one called them to notify them of Andrew's death. The boy's biological grandmother was appalled at the idea that it may have been intentional.

"How could you take something so innocent and so pure and destroy it? That's an unforgiveable act in my mind," said grandmother Bonnie Roy. She is particularly upset because she tried to take custody of Andrew after he was taken from his parents in November of 2004.

Child Protective Services performed an evaluation on her to see if she would be fit to take care of Andrew, but ultimately decided she was not. CPS said, "[Her] parenting practices demonstrates some positive aspects. However, she lacks understanding regarding the abilities and needs of a two-year old child. Her approach to discipline lacks basic application skills."

Which is somewhat ironic when you consider that spices taken as punishment is what may have lead to his death. Andrew's family believes it could have been prevented.

"Last year, when I fought for two years, he should have come to me, not somebody else. If he was here, he would be alive."

The Roy family has a lot of questions about how Andrew ended up with the Overtons. Although the "Spaulding for Children" adoption agency oversaw his care, he was still a ward of the state.

His death also raises questions, about who was ultimately responsible for his welfare. According to CPS, Andrew was removed from his biological mother's care back on November 18, 2004, and immediately placed him with a foster family.

Then, on June 16, 2006, CPS turned the child over to Spaulding for Children, who placed the child with Larry and Hannah Overton. CPS spokesperson Regina Garcia said, "I know that everyone was looking forward to this adoption, and it's now sad to know that this child has now passed and isn't going to have a life that he was meant to have."

She said the Department of Protective Services had contracted with Spaulding for Children child placement agency and they were responsible for finding Andrew a permanent home.

"We contract with Spaulding to do the background checks on the family and it is there responsibility to provide us with information, again what information they do receive from any sort of checks and training that they do, is provided to CPS," Garcia said.

Officials with Spaulding said they didn't see any problems, and placed Andrew with the Overtons.

The couple completed their adoption training. A background was done on the couple before placement, and the Overtons completed a 16-hour adoption preparatory class and home study, where a Spaulding adoption coordinator reviewed the family.

Officials told 6 News the visits continued when Andrew moved into the Overton's home during the six-month pre-adoption phase. The adoption agency said a coordinator made monthly visits to check on Andrew, as required.

In addition, a CPS case worker also visited twice to check on the child, although they can't comment on when they last visited little Andrew or how he was doing.

CPS and Spaulding both agree that they were both responsible for making sure that Andrew was safe and are saddened by what has happened.

The Department of Family and Protective Services said it's now investigating the Spaulding agency. It will look over Andrew's case file to see if there'd been any problems in the home.

As to who will be held accountable for Andrew's death, the District Attorney's office said it's just too soon to tell.


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