Grandmother says little boy who was drowned endured prior abuse

Date: 2010-06-18

Chris Miinor

ANDREW, IOWA - The grandmother of a Jackson County four -year- old who drowned in a bathtub says several calls were placed to the state child abuse hotline over the past year, but were ignored.

"The Department of Human Services was called many times", said Diane Haylock on Friday from her home in Maquoketa. "It shouldn't have happened. DHS was involved many times, why didn't someone get him out of there?"

Collin Holdgrafer died Saturday at the apartment of his adoptive parents in Andrew, Iowa. Now, they're charged in connection with his death. Danielle Holdgrafer is charged with first degree murder, accused of intentionally holding the four year old's head underwater in the bathtub.

Her husband, Andrew Holdgrafer is charged with felony child endangerment, accused of not doing anything to help the child. They are the aunt and uncle of the boy, who legally adopted him after his biological mother, Andrew's sister, was sent to prison on drug charges.

The boy's grandtather Don Holdgrafer and his wife say they called DHS twice after being cut off from seeing Collin and his half-brother, both adopted by the couple, who had three biological children of their own.

"I never got to see them. In the store, they'd never have those kids with them, not those two, never. This just hurts something terrible, it just ain't right", Holdgrafer said after exiting the apartment where Collin died. "They were locked in their bedroom. The lock was on the outside, they'd lock them in there. Nobody else".

Haylock says she was active in her grandson's life until about a year ago, when she too was abruptly shut out of the boy's life. She says she made repeated phone calls to try and schedule a visit, and was finally told by Danielle on her answering machine that it would be best if they sever ties. She says she didn't know what was going on, but has now found out several calls of concern had been placed to DHS.

"Numerous times. By grandparents, a teacher, a neighbor. He's been tortured for at least a year. Locked in his bedroom", Haylock said, her lip trembling. "They let me in his life. They were wonderful people at the time. Then in 2009, they were acting different, she was losing weight".

Neighbor Heather Sagers says she allowed her child to play with the Holdgrafer kids all the time, and never noticed anything out of the ordinary. Except that she rarely saw Collin and his half-brother.

"Their own kids were always out back playing and nobody ever really saw the other two. It's sad, I guess you never really know what happens behind closed doors", Sagers said.

Collin was the biological child of Jodi Holdgrafer and Haylock's son, who did not have custody. But Diane, who has photo album after photo album filled with pictures of Collin, was not going to give up trying to be a part of his life.

Now, it's too late.

"He was an angel. He did nothing wrong. This little boy should not have died. This little boy should have been saved."


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