A dead girl's paternal grandmother said Wednesday she warned officials at the Oklahoma Department of Human Services a week ago that her granddaughter, Olivia Scroggins, was in danger of being hurt. She said she doesn't know if they took any action to save the child. "They're not right,” Tynia Berry said of the child-welfare agency, sighing and shaking her head at her home in Spencer, "They're not right.” George Johnson, spokesman for DHS, said confidentiality laws prevent him from discussing actions DHS workers may or may not have taken, unless criminal charges are filed. Tynia Berry, 46, was fearful because Olivia, who was 23 months old, had stopped wanting to go home to her mother since her mother had a new boyfriend. "Strange things had been happening the last two or three months,” Tynia Berry said. Olivia is now dead — police say the girl was physically abused and murdered — and Tynia Berry and the girl's great-grandmother, Lola Berry, are left wondering why DHS didn't prevent it. Tynia Berry said Wednesday that Olivia would still be alive if DHS workers had taken the child from her mother, and added she notified DHS Aug. 16 after Olivia left with her mother screaming, "No. No. No.” Those were the last words she heard her granddaughter say. She said DHS workers have not told her if they acted on her complaint. On Monday, Olivia died at St. Anthony Hospital in Oklahoma City. It appears she had been beaten to death and sexually abused, Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater said Tuesday. Olivia's mother, Wendy Scroggins, 22, and her boyfriend, Kerry Joe Smith, 21, remained jailed Wednesday night on murder complaints. They lived together at an apartment at 3317½ N McKinley in Oklahoma City. Prater said he expects it will be at least Monday before a decision can be made on the filing of criminal charges. Police investigators are interviewing family members and trying to establish a timeline for Olivia's injuries, he said. On the day Olivia died, officers noticed her brother with signs of trauma similar to Olivia's, police said. That 9-month-old boy was treated for his injuries and placed in protective custody. The Oklahoman is not identifying him since he may be a sexual assault victim. A doctor said the baby boy's injuries included tears in the back of his throat, an ulcerated bottom lip, a burn on the back of his head and infection on his genitalia, confidential DHS records show. Tynia Berry and Lola Berry, 79, have cared for Olivia on weekends since she was about 2 months old. The girl's father is in federal prison.
‘The life of the party'Tynia Berry described Olivia as a smart, energetic, strong-willed daredevil who loved to jump off the couch on to pillows on the floor. Tynia Berry called her "Livi” for a nickname. Olivia had already learned to count to 10 and say her ABCs, Lola Berry said. She was always laughing and chasing her great-grandmother and grandmother. "Olivia was the life of the party,” Lola Berry said. "She was the center of attention.” Tynia and Lola Berry last saw Olivia on Aug. 15. Scroggins "yanked” Olivia from her, Lola Berry said. Lola Berry said Olivia did not want to go home with her mother that day. "You could see fear in the little girl's eyes,” Lola Berry said. "We tried to keep her but her mother took her anyway,” she said. "She said she was a good mother. I knew something was wrong.” Lola and Tynia Berry first noticed something was wrong about six weeks ago when they noticed bruising on Olivia, Lola Berry said. Lola Berry said their fears grew when Olivia came to visit a couple of weeks ago with a bruise on her cheek, but Olivia "couldn't tell us what happened.” She said more bruising followed, to the point that she told Tynia Berry to take a camera the next time she went to pick Olivia up from her mother. Lola Berry said she never observed signs of sexual abuse, even though she examined Olivia every time she changed her clothing. The alleged sexual assaults may have started this past weekend, Lola Berry said. Tynia Berry said she tried to pick up Olivia Saturday from her mother but no one would answer the door.
Olivia's fatherThe dead girl's father is Chaz Deon Berry, 25. He is serving a five-year federal prison term for possession of crack cocaine with intent to distribute and being a felon in possession of a firearm. Chaz Berry pleaded guilty last January to carrying a Smith & Wesson .45-caliber semi-automatic handgun while attempting to distribute 14.04 grams of cocaine. He and 20 others, including several members of the Walnut Gangster Crips gang, were indicted by an Oklahoma City federal grand jury last October, accused of participating in a scheme to distribute more than 30 kilograms of crack cocaine and 1050 tablets of ecstasy.
Other child deathsOlivia's death is the most recent of several child deaths that have happened in Oklahoma after DHS reportedly has received allegations of abuse or neglect. •Lola Berry mentioned the Kelsey Smith-Briggs case, which led to changes in Oklahoma law. Kelsey, 2, died Oct. 11, 2005, at her home near Meeker after months of suffering broken bones, bruises and other injuries while DHS and the court supervised her care in response to abuse complaints. •In March, 3-year-old William Barnard of Oklahoma City drowned in a bathtub two days after he was returned to his parent's home upon the recommendation of a DHS child welfare worker. Oklahoma City police officers had removed William and two siblings from the home just three days earlier, citing squalid living conditions. •Police are still investigating the Aug. 11 death of Declan Stewart, 5, of Edmond. Declan died from blunt force trauma to the head suffered about a month after he was returned to his mother's home over the objections of an aunt who had been caring for him. Declan had been removed from the home a year earlier. Contributing: Nolan Clay, Staff Writer
Olivia ScrogginsOn Monday, Olivia died at St. Anthony Hospital in Oklahoma City. It appears she had been beaten to death and sexually abused, Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater said.