An oversight agency on Wednesday reported another instance of a young girl dying of abuse after DHS decided not to take her away from her drug-using mother.
“I'm saying, there's a lot more that could have been done here,” said Lisa Smith, director of the Oklahoma Commission on Children and Youth.
Smith said the latest death spotlights the urgent need for the state of Oklahoma to re-evaluate how it deals with the issue of substance abuse by parents and the safety of children.
The Department of Human Services has come under intense scrutiny this year because of child deaths, allegations of open meeting violations and complaints about its governing commissioners.
Ahonesty Hicks died of a brain injury May 3, a day after she was abused in an Oklahoma City apartment, police reported. She was 17 months old.
Police reported her mother's boyfriend confessed to pushing Ahonesty, shaking her violently and sitting her down hard on the floor.
The boyfriend, Deandre R. Wells, 21, is charged with first-degree murder and child neglect. He said he was frustrated with Ahonesty for getting in his way while he was giving his newborn son a bath, police reported. Ahonesty's mother, Tiffany D. Hicks, 21, was at work at a fast-food restaurant at the time.
Wells was on probation for a drug offense and already had an older child in DHS custody, according to DHS records obtained independently by The Oklahoman.
About the case
The oversight agency reported DHS first got involved with Ahonesty when the mother gave birth March 15 to a boy. Both the mother and boy tested positive for PCP — an illegal drug.
The mother claimed to have unknowingly smoked cigarettes laced with PCP, the oversight agency reported.
DHS records show she would not identify who gave her the cigarettes. “She said she didn't need any trouble with her,” those records show. She said her problem was “being around the wrong people.”
She also said she would be living with her own mother until she found suitable housing for herself and the children.
DHS workers decided not to have the baby — or Ahonesty — picked up.
The oversight agency reported DHS became involved again when the mother and boyfriend had a domestic dispute inside a moving car March 29. Ahonesty and the baby boy were in the back.
DHS records show the mother claimed she was driving, and Wells became enraged and kicked the car out of gear. She told DHS workers she was trying to get the children out when Wells climbed into the driver's seat and sped off, nearly hitting her and taking the children with him.