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NJ Child Welfare Officials Faulted In Handling Slain Toddler’s Case, Says DYFS Commissioner

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Arthur Morgan, III (L); Tierra Morgan (R) (credit: Handout)

Arthur Morgan, III (L); Tierra Morgan (R) (credit: Handout)

TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) – Child welfare officials in New Jersey failed to connect concerns of child abuse and domestic violence in the case of a 2-year-old whose father is accused of tossing her to her death still strapped in her car seat.

Children and Families Commissioner Allison Blake on Tuesday released a review over how the agency handled the case of Tierra Morgan-Glover.

The girl was found dead in a creek in Wall Township on Nov. 22. Prosecutors said the toddler’s father, Arthur Morgan III, killed her during a court-approved visit by attaching a tire iron to her car seat to weigh it down before throwing it into the creek from an overpass.

The cause of death was determined to be homicidal violence, including submersion in water.

Morgan was later arrested on Nov. 29 by U.S. Marshals in California after receiving a tip he was staying with friends in the San Diego area.

Child welfare officials investigated the turbulent relationship between Morgan and the child’s mother four times in 13 months before she was found dead.

In Dec., the toddler’s great grandfather blamed the court system for not doing enough to prevent Tierra’s death.

“My granddaughter pleaded with these people not to allow an unsupervised visit. Yet in spite of her request it was denied,” the man said.

The girl’s mother, Imani Benton, said a case worker told the courts there was no reason to deny Morgan unsupervised visitation.

“I reached out to the Department of Youth and Family Services when he hit her and he admitted to hitting her and they still deemed him fit as a parent,” Benton said.

Blake now says caseworkers never consulted with the agency’s domestic violence liaison. They and supervisors also failed to follow-up on recommendations made by the special response unit which first investigated child abuse claims.

Morgan is charged with murder.

(TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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