Before 15-year-old Linda Tucker died of a drug overdose during a family reunion this summer, child welfare services had fielded numerous complaints alleging her mother's inability to care for the teenager and her four siblings.
Among those were allegations that Doris Sharrane Rigsby, 33, of Waukomis was using methamphetamine.
Tucker died June 25 at a convenience store near Lake Carl Blackwell in Stillwater. Authorities say she had been injected with 10 times the lethal dose of methamphetamine.
Prosecutors are holding her mother responsible.
Rigsby is charged in Payne County District Court with first-degree murder. Also facing murder charges are her boyfriend, Jeffrey Alan Phillips, 30, of Enid, and their alleged drug dealer, Heather Lynn Gaddis, 30, of Tulsa.
Tucker's brother, Joseph Logan Tucker, 17, told authorities he bought the methamphetamine at his mother's request, and that he, Rigsby, Phillips and his sister used the drug at the reunion.
Payne County District Attorney Rob Hudson has said he considers Logan Tucker a victim, and that the teenager is assisting with the investigation.
Upon Tucker's death, child welfare workers intervened and a deprived juvenile case has been opened. Family members say the four children are living with relatives. Their mother remains in jail.
This week The Oklahoman received a response to its inquiry from the state Department of Human Services concerning prior investigations connected to Rigsby and her five children.
Child welfare officials reported there were nine calls to DHS on behalf of the children from October 2008 to March 2010.
The allegations include:
• The children were unsupervised, abandoned and not attending school regularly.
• The children had a disruptive home life and were staying in a hotel or scattered among relatives.
• There was no running water in Rigsby's home, and she was using methamphetamine.
• Rigsby and the children's father were using illegal drugs.
• One of the children had been arrested for marijuana possession.
Sheree Powell, spokeswoman for DHS, said all the claims were investigated by a child welfare specialist. There was never an effort to remove the children from Rigsby's care, because there were no substantiated allegations of abuse or neglect, she said.
Being a drug user wouldn't have warranted intervention either, she said.
"Just because someone is an illegal drug user or an alcoholic doesn't mean they're a bad parent," Powell said. "In every case we have to determine whether it interferes with their ability to care for their children before we could recommend any type of action."
Many of the complaints to DHS were delinquency issues that are not within child welfare workers' authority to do anything about, Powell said.
She said police were involved in some instances and never reported to DHS any suspicions of abuse or neglect.
"We're saddened any time a child is lost, but there is no way a worker could have predicted what was going to happen," Powell said.
Family members say Rigsby's five children were raised by her stepmother, Linda Tucker, until she died of cancer in April 2007.
Tucker, for whom the 15-year-old Linda Tucker was named after, was a detective at the Cushing Police Department. Her area of expertise was dealing with troubled children and families, Police Chief Terry Brannon said.
"It would be hard to find a better mother than Linda Tucker," Brannon said. "She took in all those kids and loved them like they were her own."
Brannon said the children thrived under Linda Tucker's care.
"Little Linda was a cheerleader, and I remember how proud she was of her," Brannon said of his former co-worker. "There's no doubt in my mind Little Linda would still be alive if Linda were still around."