Amy Dye led troubled life

Relates to:
Date: 2011-11-23

By Nick Tabor,

Whenever social workers asked Amy Dye’s adoptive mother, Kimberly Dye, about whether the little girl was suffering abuse, Kimberly said the girl was lying. Amy lied so much, Kimberly didn’t know what to do with her, she said. She told them she wondered whether Amy needed therapy.

The social workers’ reports, along with a stack of Amy Dye’s adoption records, recently became public record on account of a Franklin circuit judge’s ruling.

The records detail the events that led to Amy’s adoption and show the ways her relationship with her adoptive family changed. In some of the allegations of abuse, it is unclear whether Amy Dye was telling the truth about being abused at home during the four years before her older brother killed her.

But the records provide context to Kimberly Dye’s suspicion that Amy needed counseling. Experiences with her birth parents evidently left her with significant mental problems.

Open arms

In the spring of 2006, when Amy was 4 and social workers in Washington were searching for someone to adopt her, the little girl started receiving letters from her great-aunt and cousins in Todd County.

Kimberly, her great-aunt, was an office manager at a private investigation agency in Clarksville, Tenn. She was divorced and had two sons: Myles, 15, and Garrett, 12.

Kimberly had submitted an application to adopt the girl. Myles and Garrett had always wanted a sister, Kimberly told the placement agency. The boys had agreed to share a bedroom so Amy could have her own.

Myles was smart and responsible and liked to lead by example, Kimberly said. Garrett was sensitive and affectionate; he often gave hugs and kisses, she said.

Kimberly mailed Amy a little photo book with pictures of their home and their pets. She included cards with a photo of each family member. Amy kept them to look at periodically, a social worker reported. Kimberly also sent an Easter gift.

Amy had two older sisters and two younger siblings who lived in foster homes. Her mother, Sharmesha Muldrew, had a history of relationships with violent men.

Family members believed Muldrew drank and used drugs during her pregnancy for Amy. In 2004, when Muldrew violated a court order by living with a man who had abused her, the state took Amy away.

Amy lived with at least one foster family, then with her paternal grandmother, then with another foster family. Between her hyperactivity and her trouble sleeping, her grandmother couldn’t keep her permanently, she said.

She arrived at Kimberly Dye’s home in August 2006 and soon started kindergarten. Kimberly helped her catch up on learning about colors, numbers and the alphabet. The family took her on a vacation to Jamaica and got Amy her own kitten. When a social worker visited in December, Amy proudly showed the worker the decorations in her bedroom. She seemed very close to her new siblings, the worker noted.

Aftershocks

However, sometime during the first seven months, Kimberly began waking up to Amy screaming in bed. Kimberly would open the door and find Amy balled up near the headboard or footboard. Sometimes she was trying to protect her private parts. She would yell, “Stop!” and “That hurts!”

Kimberly told a social worker that while Amy was living with her grandmother, her father would climb a tree outdoors and sneak through her bedroom window.

Kimberly’s ex-husband, Chris Dye, moved back in with the family. Kimberly noticed Amy would address any woman as “mom” and any man as “dad.”

In March 2007, Amy started telling adults at school she was being abused at home.

A nurse at Amy’s school reported Amy had large bruises on her hips. Amy said Myles threw her across a bed and kicked her. On April 26, 2007, the nurse said Amy had fingerprint bruising on both arms. Amy said Myles had thrown her down and shot her in the arm with a BB gun. On May 2, 2007, the nurse reported skin on Amy’s face was broken and peeled off. Amy told the nurse Myles had squeezed her cheeks so hard her skin came off, and she said Kimberly threatened to spank her if she told anyone.

A social worker came and took pictures. Kimberly told the worker Amy suffered the injuries from playing in a gravel pile and rubbing gravel on her skin.

On May 18, 2007, the cabinet received a report that Myles had hit her on the head with a shovel. On Sept. 25, 2007, the cabinet received a report that Amy’s eye was bruised and swollen. Amy claimed both her brothers had hurt her. When a social worker called, Kimberly said Amy hurt herself by tripping on her shoelaces. Amy agreed she had fallen while running, so the cabinet took no action.

Kimberly told a social worker Amy evidently needed therapy. Amy told so many lies, no one knew when to believe her, Kimberly said.

Later in 2007, Amy accused Myles of sexually assaulting her. Myles told a social worker it wasn’t true, and it ruined their relationship, Myles said.

Amy had also accused a member of a former foster family of molesting her, said the Dye family’s attorney, Dennis Ritchie.

Conflicting accounts

Chris and Kimberly had talked about moving Amy to Utah, where she could live with her grandmother and attend therapy. Their work schedules made the trip impracticable, they told a social worker. But when Amy accused Myles of sexual assault, they made up their minds to take her there, Ritchie said.

Amy spent her entire first-grade year in Utah and attended therapy sessions three times a week.

When she returned, she had less trouble confusing strangers as “mom” and “dad,” Chris and Kim said. Her teachers for second, third and fourth grade noticed she seldom talked about her family or her home life. In her journal, she never mentioned abuse.

She came to school clean and well-dressed and she always had nice material belongings. She smiled all the time. She earned high grades and perfect attendance, and she had above-average verbal skills, her teachers said. She seldom got into trouble.

However, other people’s testimonies suggest her problems at home hadn’t gone away.

Amy often begged a classmate for food and pleaded to be adopted by the girl’s family, the girl’s mother reported. Amy told the girl Kimberly didn’t want her and she feared her biological mother was going to kill her “for telling on her.” Amy still came to school with scratches on her face and bruises on her knees, the mother said.

In 2010, Kimberly allegedly called her sister, Tammie Lopez, who lived in Mexico and worked in San Francisco, to vent about Amy’s behavior. Kimberly had walked past Amy’s room and smelled feces. Amy had been defecating on herself and stuffing her soiled underwear in the dresser. Kimberly allegedly told Amy that if she was going to act like a dog, she would be treated as one.

Kimberly made Amy put her clothes and toys in a shed, she allegedly told Lopez. She also made Amy stay outdoors that night, wearing only a jacket, though it was wintertime, she allegedly told Lopez. Garrett eventually let Amy back inside.

Garrett told a social worker this never happened.

Lopez said she offered to have Amy live with her, as she had offered several times before. She offered to pay for Amy’s plane ticket and passport. The Dyes refused her offer, though Kimberly had said she wanted to put Amy back up for adoption, Lopez said.

In January of this year, Chris drove Amy to a hotel parking lot and made her get out of the car, he told a social worker. He drove around the building so she couldn’t see him, then he circled around and picked her up. She was crying. Chris told her this is what would happen if she continued lying, he said.

Between October 2007, the approximate time Amy went to Utah, and the early months of this year, the cabinet did not receive any more formal complaints of her abuse.

A fence and a thicket

Meanwhile, Garrett’s behavior got worse.

He started smoking marijuana and drinking heavily. He got a DUI in Clarksville, Tenn. He went to a rehab program in Alabama. In the spring of 2008, he was caught bringing a gun to school. Later that year he started attending an alternative school in Mayfield.

He aspired to join the military after high school and later become a police officer.

On a Friday afternoon in February of this year, when Garrett was 17, he used Chris’ car without permission. As punishment, Chris made Garrett shovel gravel in the driveway. He made Amy, who was 9, join Garrett because she had stolen her friend’s juice box and pudding at school.

When they finished shoveling, Garrett told Amy to go inside. He said he’d take care of the shovels. Chris didn’t believe they were finished, so he sent Amy back outside, Garrett later told a detective. While Garrett fumed, Amy paced back and forth, chattering, he said.

This only made Garrett more upset.

He took a hydraulic jack handle and bludgeoned Amy's head four times. He didn't stop until she was dead.

Afterward he dragged her under a fence and laid her body beneath a thicket, he said. He sat outside for a short time.

Between 6 and 7 p.m., Chris and Kimberly called the kids three times to announce dinner was ready. Only Garrett answered. They searched the road for three miles in each direction, hoping to find Amy. When they gave up, they called the sheriff.

Police K-9s found Amy’s body.

While Chris and Kim searched, Garrett went to Myles’ house in Clarksville, Tenn., Myles said. Garrett seemed laid back. He stayed overnight.

The following day, a social worker met up with a detective at the Dyes’ home around 11:30 a.m. The family was away at church until 1 p.m. When the social worker introduced herself, Kimberly slammed the door and hurried Garrett inside, the worker said. She later told the worker to get off their property and stay out of the family’s business.

Limited options

A Kentucky State Police detective said Garrett confessed to the crime on that Sunday night. Garrett was taken to the juvenile detention facility in Bowling Green and was later certified to stand trial as an adult. Last month he pleaded guilty to murder, though he retained the right to appeal his conviction.

A judge is scheduled to assign his prison sentence this morning.

Chris and Kimberly Dye have talked about suing the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, said Ritchie, their attorney. They never heard about many of the formal reports of Amy being abused, Ritchie said.

Dr. Bill Pfohl, a psychology professor at Western Kentucky University, said he hadn’t seen enough evidence to comment on Amy Dye’s mental state. But in general, if a child stops complaining about abuse, as Amy evidently stopped complaining between 2007 and her death, there are two common explanations, Pfohl said.

Children are often susceptible to make false accusations if they’re questioned in a certain way, Pfohl said. Perhaps the reports ceased because they were false in the first place.

On the other hand, when a child suffers genuine abuse and complains about it, sometimes adults don’t believe the child. Eventually, to avoid being accused of lying, children keep quiet, Pfohl said.

“Kids who have been abused have few options, and younger kids have less,” he said.

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