Sunday, 3 July 2011

FILICIDE: Arizona: Jennifer Jansma called CPS for help

June 25, 2011, The Arizona Republic : Laurie Roberts

The call to the Child Protective Services hotline came in on Aug. 3, 2004: a mother was thinking of killing herself and her young son.
Within a day, CPS decided the boy was in no danger.
Instead of doing an actual investigation – things like pulling her psychiatric records or contacting the boy's father – the case manager and his supervisor decided that what the mother really needed was better coping skills.
And so, after three months of working with a parent aid, CPS pronounced the mother a much improved coper and closed the case.
Almost three years to the day later, Jennifer Jansma tried to kill herself and succeeded in killing her 8-year-old son Jordan – exactly as she'd described that she would.
Now, the state is asking a judge to toss out the father's lawsuit, saying there's no proof that CPS fell below “the appropriate standard of care.”
This was the appropriate standard of care?
Explains a lot, doesn't it?
Jansma had brought her son to Phoenix from Colorado early in the decade, after splitting with her boyfriend, Woody Drummond, who has since changed his name to Iacovetta. The couple had had a turbulent relationship and a bitter custody battle. A judge gave Jansma custody but ruled that Iacovetta must be promptly informed of major decisions about the boy's health or welfare.
On Aug. 3, 2004, 26-year-old Jansma put 4-year-old Jordan in respite care and checked herself into a mental hospital, explaining that she was thinking of killing herself and her son with an overdose of morphine.
A day later, she was back home when CPS came calling. Jansma, who had morphine on hand to deal with pain from an amputated leg, explained that she was overwhelmed by her son's behavior problems. The boy had recently been kicked out of preschool for spitting on teachers and punching children.
After a thorough investigation – read: a chat with Jansma and another with Jordan and his respite care provider – CPS found no evidence that the boy was at risk.
Of course, they found no evidence of risk. They didn't go looking for any.
They didn't contact anyone about Jansma's mental illness, despite knowing that she was bipolar and suffered from depression and was a client of Value Options, which at the time provided services to the seriously mentally ill in Maricopa County.
They didn't contact CPS in Colorado, despite Jansma telling them that authorities there had been called to check on Jordan.
And they didn't make any attempt to contact the boy's father, despite finding his name in their own computer system.
Instead, they referred Jansma to a non-profit agency that provided a parent aid to help her with coping and parenting skills. After 31 visits, CPS closed the case on Dec. 3, 2004.
Three years later, Jansma drugged her son with allergy medicine and adult sleeping pills then covered his back with patches containing Fentanyl, a drug more powerful than morphine.
Jordan was dead by the time they were discovered in a Tucson Holiday Inn. She is now serving 25 years in prison.
Woody Iacovetta sued the state in 2009, contending his son would still be alive had CPS notified him about Jansma's 2004 threat. Iacovetta told me he would have immediately filed for emergency custody.
“They cost him his life,” Iacovetta said. “Had they just stepped up to the plate and contacted me and made me aware of these problems. She didn't tell me about it. My son, he didn't know what was going on.”
The Attorney General's Office, which is representing CPS, declined to comment. Assistant Attorney General James Bowen has asked Superior Court Judge Edward Burke to dismiss the case. He says CPS did its job.
“CPS has neither the means nor the manpower to conduct extensive manhunts for absentee parents,” he wrote. “Because CPS could not substantiate any abuse or neglect and did not seek to place (Jordan) outside his home, there was no reasonable purpose to consult a father who lived hundreds of miles away in another state and who had a history of domestic violence.”
Actually, I can think of three reasonable purposes for CPS to pick up the darned phone and call the child's father.
1. The law requires you to conduct “prompt and thorough investigation”.
2. Maybe the story that Jansma, the mentally ill woman who killed her son, told about Iacovetta wasn't quite the whole story. You might have found that Jordan's father and grandmother had long been worried about his safety.
And 3. It just might have saved a little boy's life.

1 comment:

  1. Woody, In Memory of25 June 2012 at 18:53

    Now this evil woman is trying to find FINANCIALLY STABLE OLDER GENTLEMEN to be her pen-pal. She is evil, I hope that no one ever lifts a finger to write to her or to make her life any easier than it already is. She gets out in twenty-one more years, her son will not be alive in twenty-one more years.