Foster-care death in Wilson to get scrutiny

BY RANDY ELLIS AND MICHAEL KIMBALL Modified: November 26, 2008 at 2:32 pm •  Published: November 26, 2008
WILSON — A 5-year-old boy in foster care died Tuesday when a 13-year-old girl put into gear a sport utility vehicle she was warming up, running into the boy on a private driveway in Carter County, officials said.

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol identified the victim as John Gifford of Wilson, and said the accident occurred shortly before 11 a.m. The boy died at the scene of head injuries, the patrol said.

Juanita Havlik, the boy’s grandmother, called The Oklahoman after she was notified of the death. She complained about the care her son’s four youngest children have received since being taken into custody by the Department of Human Services.

The state agency took custody of John three years ago, said his father, Melvern Gifford, 40, of Midwest City. Gifford has five other children, two adults with a different mother than John. The other three, ages 11, 9 and 7, all boys, have the same mother as John and also are in state custody, Gifford said.

DHS took custody because of abuse and neglect allegations against Gifford and other allegations against the boys’ mother, from whom Gifford was divorced, he said. Gifford said allegations of abuse and neglect on his part were not true. Gifford said he has fought a constant battle to regain custody of his children.

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