New report reveals child deaths

7 abuse or neglected-related cases in Lake
2010-04-01T00:00:00Z New report reveals child deathsBy Marisa Kwiatkowski - marisa.kwiatkowski@nwi.com, (219) 662-5333 nwitimes.com

Seven region children lost their lives to violence between June 30, 2007, and July 1, 2008, a report released today shows.

The Indiana Department of Child Services' annual child fatality report analyzed the abuse- or neglect-related deaths of 46 Indiana children during that time period. In Lake County, seven children were fatal victims of abuse. There were no Porter County children mentioned in the report.

Though the number of fatalities increased between fiscal years 2007 and 2008, so did the number of reports made to DCS, data show. Communication is key because DCS cannot prevent abuse or neglect it is not aware of. DCS Director James Payne asks families, neighbors and friends to recognize their roles in preventing child abuse.

The seven Lake County victims were:

-- Elijah Harris died July 28, 2007, just before his second birthday, of a skull fracture and untreated burns. His mother and stepfather, Dennis and Angela Burgher, were each charged with multiple felonies and pleaded guilty to felony neglect of a dependent.

-- Four-month-old Eternity Brame died Oct. 4, 2007, of blunt force trauma. Her mother's boyfriend, Christopher Washington, is accused of repeatedly punching the baby. Washington pleaded guilty to felony battery in return for Lake County prosecutors dropping murder and aggravated battery charges. He was sentenced this week to 35 years in prison.

-- An infant listed in coroner records as Baby Boy Burnette drowned Oct. 6, 2007, in Gary. His death was labeled a homicide and is unsolved.

-- Three-year-old Marshaun Smith Jr. died Oct. 30, 2007, of blunt force trauma in Hammond. His mother's boyfriend, Terrell Wofford, was charged with murder, neglect of a dependent and battery for Marshaun's death. Wofford's case is pending.

-- Thirteen-year-old Ci'Andria Cole and 16-year-old Michael Moore died Aug. 7, 2007, of gunshot wounds. Their stepfather, Kevin Isom, is accused of fatally shooting them and his wife, Cassandra Isom, at the Lakeshore Dunes Apartments in Gary's Miller neighborhood. His case is still pending.

-- Thirteen-month-old Josiah Shaw was fatally shot Jan. 28, 2008, in Gary as his mother was buckling him into a car seat. His mother was also shot, but survived. Josiah's death is unsolved.

To read the full report, go to www.nwi.com.

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month.

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