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Brogan Duhon: Louisiana boy, 12, who died of malnutrition was 'half the size of what he should be'


By Kunal Dey

BATON ROUGE, LOUISIANA: The Southwest Louisiana community was shocked by the tragic death of a 12-year-old boy in October 2022, especially in the neighborhood where he lived. Brogan Duhon's parents are facing charges of second-degree murder after he died of malnutrition. He weighed just 28 pounds at the time of his death.

Jeff Davis Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Chris Ivey said in a press release that an autopsy conducted following Brogan's death at a children's hospital in Baton Rouge determined the cause of death as complications from malnutrition, while the manner of death was deemed a homicide. While some of the boy's neighbors in Jeff Davis parish had never seen him in person, others had no idea how old he really was.

We thought he was five'

“After he died we found out from other people he was 12,” one neighbor told KPLC-TV. “Some kid 12 years old, he’s half the size of what he should be, and I don’t know what goes on in that house over there,” another neighbor offered. “We didn’t know how old he was until after he died, we thought he was five.” Brogan's parents Adam and Jennifer Duhon were reportedly new to the area and kept to themselves. “They’re kinda new to the area, they lived in Cameron Parish, and I think Hurricane Laura and Delta forced them out, and they ended up settling over here on some family property," the neighbor added.

The child reportedly entered the custody of the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services in September 2010 and was adopted by the Duhon family in February 2012, which is when the agency's oversight ended. Brogan, however, was the subject of a “substantiated child welfare investigation” in August 2015. Officials said abuse allegations were validated and the family received services until March 2016. Authorities said the boy was not enrolled in Cameron or Jeff Davis Parish school districts at the time of his death. He was homeschooled instead.

Homeschooled and emaciated

Neighbors reportedly did notice Brogan was not going to school. “It seems strange, every morning the bus is there at seven o’clock, and everybody’s getting on the bus except him," one told KPLC-TV. “Why isn’t that kid going to school, well they said they homeschool him. Okay, what makes him so special that you homeschool him and you send your other kids to school?” Another neighbor recalled how packages for the Duhons were delivered to them by mistake in June 2022, and they remembered they had never seen Brogan at the time. “We didn’t even know that boy existed then," they said.

Speaking to KSLA, neighbors said they would rarely see the boy, but when they did he would ask for food. Roxanne Zaunbrecher said the boy kept saying his parents would keep him locked up and hadn't fed him in days. “He knocked on the door, I opened it and he told me that he was hungry,” she told the outlet, “So, he came in sitting and I fed him.” Zaunbrecher recalled one instance when  Brogan’s mother, Jennifer, paid her a visit after she fed him and seemed concerned if she had called law enforcement. “I didn’t call anybody you know, but next thing I know, she [Jennifer Duhon] was here and she asked me if I had called the cops or OCS,” Zaunbrecher said. “I said no, I hadn’t called anybody. But he was hungry. She goes ‘well I feed him’. I say ‘well I understand that’. But he ate, he was so hungry."

'I think we all failed that kid'

It's worth noting that no other neglect or abuse was reported in Cameron or Jeff Davis parishes where the family lived, but Brogan's death came just two months after Jeff Davis deputies performed a welfare check after they received a call. “It’s a horrendous crime that went on for years and I think we all failed that kid,” Jeff Davis Parish Sheriff Ivy Woods said in a statement. The sheriff acknowledged that people didn't want to get involved or clash with their neighbors, but insisted that someone needed to step forward in situations like this to save the boy's life. “You don’t want to know my thoughts,” Woods said. “I’m very angry. You know it’s the old saying, ‘if you see something, say something’. Call authorities. Just don’t be ‘well I’m going to mind my own business’. If you see something say something," he added.

2023 Feb 27