Girl's Cries For Help 'Fell on Deaf Ears'

Pr. William Officials Were Told of Abuse

By Jonathan Mummolo
March 9, 2009 / The Washington Post

Prince William County police, social services and school officials received numerous reports from people who saw firsthand that 13-year-old Alexis "Lexie" Agyepong-Glover was being abused and neglected by her adoptive mother in the two years before the woman allegedly killed her.

But Lexie was not removed from the home.

Lexie's school bus driver said she made several reports, the first when she saw marks on Lexie's wrists and forearms that looked as if she'd been tied up. She also told authorities that Lexie had a large welt on her head and tried to board the bus in her underwear. Another bus driver and her attendant told police that they saw Lexie's mother driving off with her in the trunk of her car.

In the weeks before Lexie was found dead Jan. 9 in an icy creek, neighbors said they reported finding Lexie hungry, wandering the streets wearing only a barbecue grill cover, physically injured and, above all, terrified of her mother, Alfreedia Gregg-Glover.

"We thought by making a police report, the police would get her out" of the home, said Marlene Williams, the school bus driver who, along with her attendant, Brenda Taylor, told police and Lexie's principal that they saw Lexie's mother drive off with her in the trunk.

"We don't know how much that little girl suffered," Taylor said. "Her cries fell on deaf ears."

Prince William police Maj. Ray Colgan said police would have taken action if they had found Lexie to be in danger. He said that when police were called about the trunk incident and the injuries seen by the neighbor, Social Services was notified and the incidents were investigated. He said the pending criminal case and privacy laws prevented him from giving too many details.

"As far as I know, I think we've done everything properly we could have done," Colgan said. "We will continue to review it, and if we need to make some changes, we will."

Jack Ledden, director of Prince William's Department of Social Services, and a school system spokesman declined to comment, citing confidentiality rules and the ongoing investigation. Gregg-Glover's court appointed attorney, John V. Notarianni, did not return calls for comment.

The Prince William Board of County Supervisors announced Friday that it has requested that the Virginia Department of Social Services review the county's response. The review will include all child welfare programs, including child protective services, prevention and treatment, foster care and adoption. Such a review is required by state law, but the board requested that the state accelerate the process. It is expected to take three months.

Gregg-Glover, 44, was indicted last week on charges of murdering her daughter and lying to police. She told police Jan. 7 that Lexie had run away, which sparked a massive search. Police say they later learned that she had dumped Lexie in the shallow creek in the Woodbridge area, still alive. Lexie was found dead two days later from drowning and exposure to the cold. Gregg-Glover was also charged with child abuse, the county's chief prosecutor said.

Prince William Commonwealth's Attorney Paul B. Ebert said the medical examiner's report "showed there were recent injuries and old injuries" to Lexie's body. "The recent injuries, coupled with the cause of death, certainly indicated it was a horrible death," he said.

When Gregg-Glover appealed to the media for help in finding her daughter, she said Lexie was mentally disabled, suffered from autism and other ailments, and acted much younger than her age. But several of Lexie's former counselors have disputed that characterization, saying Lexie was a smart, affectionate girl who had reactive attachment disorder, a condition that makes it hard to form emotional bonds and is sometimes found among abused and adopted children.

Those who sought help for Lexie in the years and weeks before her death are angry that no one helped the girl, who tried to tell people what was happening to her when she was out of earshot of her mother.

One afternoon in September 2007, Williams and Taylor were dropping off students at the Robert Day Child Care Center in Manassas when they noticed a frightened girl being marched out of the building by a stern woman. They took their eyes off the pair for a few moments, then saw the woman drive off alone.

"I think she put her in the trunk," Taylor recalled telling Williams. But, uncertain, they said nothing.

Two weeks later, they pulled into the day-care center and saw the same white Toyota parked outside with the trunk cracked open. Minutes later, they saw Lexie emerge from the building with Gregg-Glover behind her, fists clenched. She and Lexie walked to the back of the car, where the mother looked around and then opened the trunk, Williams and Taylor said.

"Lexie walks right over, climbs in that trunk," Taylor said. "She did not hesitate, like she had been doing it every day."

Horrified, the pair watched the car drive off and called their dispatcher. They went to a Prince William police station later that evening and gave written statements of what they had seen. They drew a diagram of the position of the cars in the lot, gave the tag number of Gregg-Glover's car and later told Lexie's principal, they said.

Police told them that they went to Gregg-Glover's house to investigate and that she denied the incident. Lexie did not speak up for herself, they said.

"Are you going to get her out of the home?" Williams said she asked police.

They told her that they had to "get their ducks in a row," she said, and when she left a message days later to follow up, police didn't call her back.

It was not the first time authorities were alerted.

In March 2007, Lexie's regular school bus driver, Nancy Frederick, said Lexie was getting off the bus when Frederick noticed marks on her wrists and forearms that appeared as if she had been tied up. Lexie told Frederick's attendant, Lissette Romero, that her mother had taken her on a trip to North Carolina and had bound her hands during the ride and made her lie on the floor the whole way, Romero said.

The following spring, Frederick said, Lexie boarded her bus with a large welt on her head.

Lexie told her, "I hit myself." Frederick asked her why, and she replied, "If I don't, my mom is going to hit me," Frederick recalled.

Lexie told Romero that her mother would order her to hit herself and that she would videotape it, Romero said.

Frederick and Romero said they notified Lexie's school, PACE West, about the welt on her head, and Frederick told officials at Prince William's Department of Social Services about the welt and the marks on her wrists. Officials told her that they would look into it.

"It didn't do any good," Frederick said.

In October, Lexie came to the bus on two occasions in her underwear, Frederick said. The first time, Frederick and Romero gave her a coat and blanket and called their dispatcher. Police went to the house but returned her to her mother after Lexie remained quiet.

"I said, 'Can't you do anything?' " Frederick said. "They said, 'Ma'am, we can't charge her with anything.' "

The next school day, Lexie came to the bus in the same condition, this time with Gregg-Glover close behind, videotaping the incident and ranting that she could not tolerate the girl any longer before taking the girl back inside, Frederick said.

"She said, 'I don't know what I'm going to do. She's ruining my life, and I want her out,' " Frederick said.

Shortly after that, Lexie was pulled out of PACE West, and Frederick never saw her again.

Troubling reports persisted into the weeks before her death, when Lexie ran away at least three times in December, only to be returned to Gregg-Glover, according to neighbors and officials. On March 11, because of her habit of running off, she was fitted with a locator bracelet, used to track endangered people, by sheriff's deputies, officials said.

On Dec. 2, about five weeks before her death, Lexie showed up outside neighbor Wes Byers's house early in the morning, as temperatures hovered near freezing. She told Byers and his wife that she had run away after her mother opened a quarter-size gash on her head with a stick, and she was wearing a tarp used to cover a grill, Byers said. She pleaded with him not to be sent home.

After clothing and feeding Lexie, who was famished, Byers called authorities. Police came to his house and took Lexie to a hospital, and Byers followed. Gregg-Glover arrived there, as did a county social worker. Lexie's mother told police that her daughter had a habit of hitting herself and she had the video to prove it, Byers said he was told by police. Lexie left with Gregg-Glover that day, he said.

In late December, sheriff's deputies tracking Lexie with the bracelet found her inside the house of her next-door neighbor, Jonah Seaman. Seaman said deputies found Lexie in red pajamas, hiding behind a Christmas tree in his living room, devouring a bowl of cereal she had taken from his kitchen.

"She looked terrified," Seaman said. "She looked really scared."

After reporting her missing one last time, Gregg-Glover positioned the tracking bracelet near a Manassas library to make police think Lexie had run off the day she disappeared in January, police said.

Two days later, a man out for an afternoon walk discovered Lexie's body.

Staff writer Josh White and staff researcher Meg Smith contributed to this report.



Previously noted...

In Barbara Hollingsworth's piece, called " The continuing foster care fiasco", the following comments were made about the probems within child placement practices and this particular case:

Despite evidence that removing children from their homes traumatizes them, millions are still being forced to live with strangers or adopted out like shelter pets. One activist recently told Congress that many children are sent to “clearly inadequate families” just so social service agencies “can ‘succeed’ by boosting their numbers.”

Children like 13-year-old Alexis "Lexie" Agyepong-Glover, who was dumped, still alive, into an icy creek in Prince William County and left to die. Lexie was never removed from adopted mother Alfreedia Gregg-Glover’s home despite numerous reports of abuse. She ran away three times in the weeks prior to her death, but the authorities kept bringing her back.
The reason is as chilling as the crime: The child welfare system had already “cashed in” on Lexie, and had no further interest in her.
Richard Wexler, executive director of the Alexandria-based National Coalition for Child Protection Reform, says Virginia collected a “bounty” of at least $4,000 for placing Lexie with the woman accused of killing her. Author of “Wounded Innocents,” Wexler says children are routinely abused by the very people claiming to protect them, and most foster children do not emerge from their ordeal unscathed.
“One recent study of [15,000] foster care ‘alumni’ found they had twice the rate of post-traumatic stress disorder of Gulf War veterans and only 20 percent could be said to be ‘doing well’,” Wexler says. “How can throwing children into a system which churns out walking wounded four times out of five be ‘erring on the side of the child’?”
Eighty percent of children in foster care are worse off than comparatively mistreated children who remain at home; only children placed in orphanages fare worse, and doing nothing actually does less long-term damage. An 80 percent failure rate should be enough to close down any government program, but social service agencies are rewarded with millions of dollars instead.
I'm beginning to wonder, too, how many are cashing-in on the RAD/Attachment Disorder labels so many fostered/adopted children are given these days.  After all, don't "special needs children" require out-sourced "special services", like "specialized therapists"?  [See how adoptees with RAD are treated when they are given Attachment Therapy: ]

and the flip side

the wrote a paper and they pat each other on the back and they have no more dead Candace's and what they do now is right... yet we still see more Alexis Glover's dead from RAD parenting... and more kids hurt, and more gov. money paying for it... and more kids who are probably drug babies or have autism treated this way...

and it is anything but loving

One-sided information

It's amazing.... isn't it?  The more people network and "share information", the more misinformed people can be.

It seems no matter how hard certain groups/people try, there will always be those who will believe what they want to believe.... period.

(So much for keeping "the child's best interest" a top priority.)

You want to know how I learned "loving treatment"?

I read the phrase, "Do onto others as you would wish them do onto you"

That simple phrase explained and described so much to me.

Would I ever treat my children as I was treated?  NOT in a million years.

Would I ever let someone do to my children as it was done to me?  Over my dead body.

What makes people do the things they do to parents and children?  I have no bloody idea.  I suppose that just proves just how much deceptive evil there really is in this world.

foster hell

I totally agree - I have a neice that was placed in foster care only to be molested and raped by the foster parents 19 yr old son. She became pregnant by the foster son but was told never to tell for they would go to jail. She was suddenly reunified with her parents only to be placed again in another foster home for being disobeidiant. This Foster home (her and her child was placed there) was raided for child pornography. She was again moved far from home and was raped by the foster mothers grandson. This foster home was selling drugs and had 2 convicted felons living in the home as well. Once this was reported to the courts she was immediately taken out of the system and sent home to her parents but they removed the baby to yet another foster home for no reason other than mother was molested. They have refused even a supervised visit with the baby and are now trying to terminate parental rights and have a date set for adoption proceedings! They are citing that it is in the best interest of the baby to stay with the foster family for he is attached and his mother has not visited --- yet, the court recourts and dcs records show the mother attempted to visit and continously denied, mother followed and complied to all of the case plan to include parenting classes, job, stay out of trouble, etc. The social worker never ever has returned a call - nothing. I am now trying to get custody of the baby.

absurdity of foster care...

My daughter was placed in foster care and molested by a 13 year old girl.  In court, the Guardian Ad Litim was shocked to find out about this WAY after it happened.  Why was she not told?  At least this mom knew enough to make copies and pass them around at court, step back and watch the sparks fly...  How many people are in this situation and don't know that they have the right to make people aware of abuse within the foster homes?  I'd say most people have no clue and this is so sad. 

What did I ever do to deserve this... Teddy

Pound Pup Legacy