Brevard Sheriff Ivey Arrests Woman for Animal Abuse, berates DCF

In a video posted to Facebook on Friday, Brevard County Sheriff walked Kristin Willoughby into the Brevard County Jail on charges of Animal Abuse and Child Neglect

Sheriff Ivey said that thanks to a concerned citizen and a quick response by the BCSO Animal Enforcement Officers, the child and pets are all now safe from harm and recovering.

The case started on November 23rd, when complaints came into Deputies about Willoughby at a room at the America’s Best hotel in Satellite Beach. Ivey said Deputies could smell urine before entering the room. Willoughby had three dogs in a metal crate, two other dogs, along with five cats, with urine and feces throughout the room, where a 6 year old child also lived in the hotel room.

Kristin Willoughby is being held at the Brevard County Jail on a $60,000.00 bond

Ivey said during the video that Florida’s Department of Children and Families “what a useless group that was. zero they did on this case.”

Ivey said “DCF needs to get their act together” Sheriff Ivey said in the video

Problems with the Department of Children & Families

While the child in the story above was placed into the care of her grandparents, some children involved with Florida’s Department of Children and Families, (DCF), are sometimes placed with foster parents who have been disciplined by DCF for unsafe conditions, and the most horrifying, the numerous deaths of children placed into foster homes by DCF as of the result of the foster parents who DCF approves to be a foster parent

According to an article from Florida Today, in the past two years, Brevard has seen a total of 12 confirmed child homicides, with six in 2020 and six in 2021, according to statistics from the Brevard medical examiner.

In at least four of the cases, the Department of Children and Family Services had conducted previous investigations into reports of abuse of the child, records show.

Only one child homicide case was confirmed in 2019, according to the medical examiner, with zero cases in 2018. The medical examiner reported four confirmed child homicides in 2017.

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2021 child homicides

Athena Blevins, a Titusville toddler, drowned Feb. 14 after she reportedly fell into a pool while her mother and her mother’s boyfriend were sleeping, police said. She was discovered unresponsive in the pool at about 1:30 p.m. Her mother, Amanda Paige Davis, and the mother’s boyfriend, Charner Leon Williams IV, were both charged with aggravated manslaughter.

Jameson Nance, a West Melbourne 3-year-old, died June 11 with numerous injuries. His mother, Erica Dotson, and her boyfriend, Joshua Manns, were indicted by a grand jury in July on charges of first-degree murder, aggravated child abuse, aggravated manslaughter of a child and child abuse.

DCF was called at least twice prior to Jameson’s death regarding injuries he suffered, Dotson’s arrest warrant shows. DCF first investigated following a broken leg Jameson suffered in 2019, which was reported as the result of him tripping over his biological father’s leg, the affidavit shows. They were called again on March 25 due to concerns of non-accidental trauma, when he reportedly tripped and fell off a curb while walking and suffered a second broken leg.

It was not immediately known what actions DCF took regarding either broken leg.

Following Jameson’s death, DCF went to his daycare on June 14 and found he had suffered “suspicious injuries.” An affidavit stated these injuries were “not fully investigated or properly reported to DCF.”

Jameson had an injury on his face June 2, his last reported day at daycare, which his mother said was the result of a duck attack. It’s not known if daycare workers called the police or used the Child Abuse Hotline to contact DCF regarding the injury. State law mandates that suspected cases of abuse be immediately reported to police or to Florida’s state DCF.

Charlotte Rockey, a toddler living on the Melbourne/Palm Bay border, was found unresponsive July 28 in a trailer where her mother, her mother’s boyfriend and their friend lived. The mother, Melissa Lehman, was arrested Nov. 23 and charged with aggravated manslaughter of a child and child neglect with great bodily harm.

Joy King-Castro, a 4-year-old foster child, died at Arnold Palmer Hospital Aug. 25, two days after she was pulled without a pulse from her foster mother’s bathtub. The medical examiner found she died as a result of brain bleeding caused by blunt force trauma to the head and strangulation. There was no evidence of drowning. 

The foster mother, Lakeisha Mitchell, is facing charges of first-degree murder, aggravated child abuse with great bodily harm, neglect of a child and child abuse.

A DCF investigation found that Joy’s biological mother’s boyfriend was physically abusing Joy and her three sisters, and the siblings were removed from the home in January, court records show. Joy was shuffled around homes through Brevard Family Partnership, a Brevard nonprofit that partners with DCF to manage the county’s child welfare system.

Joy’s final foster parent, Mitchell, had been investigated in April for child abuse allegations involving two other foster children, records show. The children were removed but Mitchell was not charged. Joy’s case worker, Kirsten Larson, said that a Critical Incident Rapid Response Team had determined Mitchell should not have more children placed with her. However, Mitchell was given a corrective action plan that required her to watch videos. A week after she completed the plan, Joy was placed in her care.

Noah Godleski, a 12-year-old Palm Bay boy, was found dead Oct. 22 by Palm Bay police, who said he was “tortured” by his father and the father’s girlfriend leading up to his death. Police reported there was evidence he had been dead for some time when they found his body. Jason Godleski and Samarial Dubose face multiple charges, including aggravated manslaughter against a child.

Palm Bay Police Chief Nelson Moya said they found evidence of charges and allegations against Dubose, including a possible arrest in 2013 for child abuse of Noah, a possible 2018 allegation out of Massachusetts of child abuse and/or neglect and a confirmed March 2020 allegation through DCF of child abuse against Noah by both Dubose and Godleski.

Palm Bay police were not contacted as part of the 2020 case and have learned that the case was closed out as unfounded, Moya said.

They also found that Noah was removed from school in March of 2020, though they were unaware of the reason.

There has been at least one other confirmed child homicide this year, though no arrests have been made. This brings the total number of confirmed child homicides for 2021 to six.

There was also one arrest made this year in the death of Takhari Williams, a 9-month-old boy, who died Nov. 15, 2020. The medical examiner listed the cause of death as battered baby syndrome with negligence and complications. His mother, Shanquila Beckham-Williams, was arrested Nov. 16 and charged with manslaughter of a child.

Palm Bay police discovered during their investigation that DCF had been called on Beckham-Williams at least six times, Moya said. DCF did not alert Palm Bay to three of those incidents, Moya said.

Between May and October of 2020, DCF responded to calls about neglect allegations five times, with one of those calls involving a bruise to Takhari’s face, Moya said. Palm Bay police were involved in three of those five calls. During the first four calls, it was either determined that Takhari was not in danger, or DCF failed to gain contact with Beckham-Williams, Moya said. During the fifth call, which Palm Bay police was not involved in, DCF mandated a child protective team examination of Takhari. However, Beckham-Williams failed to show up on three separate appointments for the examination and never rescheduled.

DCF was also called Nov. 3 last year about a criminal allegation involving Beckham-Williams and another child. Palm Bay police were not involved, Moya said.

Takhari’s death is one of six child deaths in 2020, according to statistics provided by the Brevard County medical examiner. In all but one of these deaths, arrests were made.

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