Child's death a homicide

Date: 2007-04-19

Daycare license has been suspended

Austen Smith

Van Buren Township police continue to investigate the April 8 death of a 3-year-old foster child, staying in the care of a family who operated a daycare center.

James Earl Bradley was found unresponsive lying on the master bedroom floor of the home, located in the 42000 block of Sadie Lane, after a 911 call was made reporting that the boy was having seizures.

The boy was transported to Annapolis Hospital, according to Capt. Greg Laurain of Van Buren police, but emergency responders were told that he needed to be transported Mott's Children Hospital at University of Michigan, where he was later pronounced dead on April 13. He was on life support throughout that time.

Doctors at Mott reported that injuries on Bradley were consistent with closed head trauma, as if the boy had been struck or shaken.

On Tuesday, those reports were confirmed as the cause of death was officially listed as an injury to the head. Bradley's death now has been ruled a homicide, according to Donna Tokarczyk, administrative assistant at Washtenaw County Medical Examiner's office.

Foster parents Christine Woodward and Lasana Karva, both of Van Buren Township, were questioned by police the night of the incident. Woodward said that she had the flu and was downstairs, the couple's 10-year-old son was upstairs in master bedroom with Bradley at the time of the incident.

"(Woodward) stated that she was not around when the incident occurred," Laurain said. "She said her son was upstairs playing with the baby when he came down and said (Bradley) was having seizures."

On Friday, the Michigan Department of Human Services summarily suspended the license for the daycare operated by Woodward.

The suspension was the result of a recent complaint against the daycare facility, according to a press release. The April 11 complaint investigation found violations of the Child Care Organizations Act and administrative rules regarding caregiver and child care home family and indoor space.

Emergency action was taken to protect the health, welfare and safety of children under Woodward's care.

Maureen Sorbet, from the human services' department, said they are not releasing any more information about the complaint or the license suspension.

"(The daycare) is still under active investigation," Sorbet said.

She would not comment about any connection between the complaint, and the death of Bradley.

The suspension order prohibits Woodward from operating a family day care home at her current address, or any other address or location in the state.

Woodward also is required to inform all of the parents of children in her care that her certificate of registration has been suspended and that she can no longer provide day care. Woodward has held a certificate of registration to operate a family day care home since October 2, 2006., according to the press release. The certificate of registration was for six children.

For more information or to report possible child abuse, visit the DHS Web site www.michigan.gov/dhs.

Anyone with information regarding this case, is urged to call Van Buren police at 699-8930.

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