EDMOND — A dead boy's mother has said she left her son with her boyfriend Saturday to go to the store and later found him injured in a laundry hamper, according to secret Department of Human Services records. Declan Stewart, 5, died at a hospital after he suffered injuries Saturday evening. Edmond police are investigating the circumstances of the death, and Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater said again Wednesday the death is suspicious. The state medical examiner said the boy died from blunt force trauma to the head. The secret reports confirm the boy was taken away from his mother, Janet L. Stewart, last year "due to heinous and shocking allegations of abuse by” her. He was returned to his mother about a month ago, the reports show. An Oklahoma County special judge allowed the return after the mother completed a treatment plan, sources told The Oklahoman. The boy's aunt, Jennifer Stewart, 27, told The Oklahoman she cared for Declan for more than a year after he was taken away from his mother. She wiped away tears as she spoke, sitting on the porch of her Oklahoma City home. She said Declan was reunited with his mom July 3, despite her objections. "I told the DHS worker, ‘I don't think she's ready,'” Jennifer Stewart said. "I objected (to reunification) throughout his whole time here.” She described her sister as "somebody who makes bad decisions.” The aunt said she knows little about the steps her sister took to persuade DHS and a judge to return Declan. "It's all kind of just a mystery to me,” she said. "They didn't tell me very much.” Janet Stewart's boyfriend, Marcus Clancy, told his children the boy was trying to get binoculars from the top shelf of a closet and fell and hit his head on a bed rail, according to the DHS reports. His three girls, Taylor Clancy, 11, Hannah Clancy, 7, and Ashlynn Clancy, 5, were placed in protective custody at DHS-run shelters after the boy's death. "There are concerns of threat of harm to Taylor, Hannah and Ashlynn by their dad,” one report shows.
Familiar caseThe tragedy has similarities to the high-profile case of Kelsey Smith-Briggs. Kelsey, 2, died at her home in Meeker in 2005 four months after a judge returned her to her mother's care even though the mother had been suspected of abusing her. Janet Stewart, 29, and Marcus Clancy, 30, could not be reached for comment. "Declan was severely injured,” the DHS records show. "His mother, Janet Stewart, stated she left Declan with Mark Clancy while she went to the store. When she returned, she found Declan in the laundry hamper with multiple bruising and contusions.” Declan was placed in protective custody on Jan. 9, 2006, the same day he was hospitalized for dehydration and bruising to his bottom, thigh, back and right shoulder, police reports show. The boy then was 3.
InvestigationOn Saturday, emergency workers responded to a report Declan fell 3 to 4 feet in his closet and hit his head at 2001 Hardy Drive, according to an Edmond Fire Department incident report. "Declan Stewart was admitted to Children's Hospital ... Declan was diagnosed with a subdural hematoma,” according to the DHS records. "In addition, Declan had a large reddish purple bruise on his left arm, above his elbow on the outside of his arm. Declan also had ... broken blood vessels on his stomach, bruising on the insides of both knees as well as swelling, a laceration on the back of his head, a bruise under his left eye, a bruise in his left arm pit. "Declan further had a bruise on his left scrotum,” the DHS records show. "This bruising did not appear to be new. ... Declan sustained similar injuries when he was placed into protective custody ... He was home with his caregivers one month before he sustained fatal injuries.” Clancy's three daughters were visiting their father for the weekend, according to the records. The girls' paternal grandparents were given guardianship of them in June 2005, according to court records. The grandmother, Susan Clancy, "said Declan was not abused by her son but somebody hurt him,” according to the DHS reports. No one has been arrested. Glynda Chu, Edmond police spokeswoman, said Wednesday afternoon, "We're not investigating Janet Stewart and Marcus Clancy. We're investigating the circumstances surrounding the death of Declan. We are waiting to determine if the death was a homicide.” Prater said Wednesday, "We believe the incident is suspicious. We are awaiting medical examiner's reports and Edmond police department reports.” DHS officials have declined to discuss their involvement in the case because of privacy laws. They can reveal some limited information if someone is charged. Clancy currently is on probation after he pleaded guilty to marijuana possession, records show. The boy's aunt said when she first got Declan last year, he clung to her. She said she didn't know if it was because he had been abused or because he had been in a shelter. More recently, he was "like any other happy kid,” she said. "He loved being around people. He loved Spider-Man and candy. He was very energetic,” she said.