Oklahoma City girl dies from abuse after DHS left her with drug-using mom, report says

Ahonesty Hicks, of Oklahoma City, died May 3 of a brain injury, a day after she was abused in an Oklahoma City apartment, police reported. She was 17 months old. Her mother's boyfriend is charged with first-degree murder.
BY NOLAN CLAY nclay@opubco.com Published: October 13, 2011

She said he wrecked the car after leaving, and she eventually found the children at his sister's house.

Wells told police he was upset because he caught the mother smoking PCP in the car.

The oversight agency reported the mother was told she needed to protect both children from Wells. The oversight agency also reported the mother acknowledged that she “had no room for error” and she reported that she would do what she needed to do to keep the children safe.

Tiffany Hicks also told workers her mother would get guardianship over the children, records show. Tiffany Hicks' mother on March 30 signed a DHS safety plan promising to keep the children.

Instead, Tiffany Hicks and her children ended up living with Wells in an apartment, police reported.

“In Ahonesty's case, there were two separate times within a two-week time frame that the system could have responded more aggressively to ensure Ahonesty's and her sibling's safety,” said Smith, the director of the Commission on Children and Youth. “Assessing risk and safety is critical — critical — in matters such as these.”

Agency's response

A DHS spokeswoman, Sheree Powell, responded: “There was a plan in place to ensure the safety of both Ahonesty and her sibling. The safety plan involved the maternal grandmother where the mother and the children were to be residing. The worker documented visits to the grandmother's home on March 30, April 14 and April 20. Both children were observed to be safe and doing well. Another attempt was made to visit the home on April 27, but no one was home.”

The DHS spokeswoman also said that when relatives are willing to and capable of ensuring a child's safety, “that factors into the decision about whether to set up a safety plan or to recommend removal of the child.”

Tiffany Hicks returned home from work May 3 and found Ahonesty sluggish and cold, according to the report by the Commission on Children and Youth. Wells informed her Ahonesty had been throwing up.

She called a relative to take her and Ahonesty to a hospital emergency room then dressed Ahonesty and fixed the girl's hair, according to the report.

The relative came over several hours later and immediately called 911. Ahonesty died that night.

The newborn boy was placed into DHS custody after Ahonesty was injured.

Reportedly, the mother did not understand why, the oversight agency noted.


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