Removed from her parent's home because they smoked marijuana while she slept, 2 year old Alex Hill was beaten to death by her foster mother
ROCKDALE, TX — The latest casualty in America’s War on Drugs is a two year old girl from Texas who died from complications of alleged abuse by her foster mother after being removed from her home because her parents smoked a little marijuana after she went to bed.
Two year old Alexandria Hill, better known to her parents as Alex, was removed from her parents’ home last November by the Department of Family Protective Services for “neglectful supervision” because her parents would sometimes smoke a little marijuana at night, after putting Alex to bed.
“We never hurt our daughter,” says her father, Joshua Hill, who admits smoking pot at night after his daughter went to sleep. “She was never sick, she was never in the hospital, and she never had any issues until she went into state care.”
“She was placed into foster care for neglectful supervision because her mother and I smoked pot at the time,” Hill says.
Alex was removed from her parents home last November, and was originally placed in the care of a foster home Hill says was dangerous.
“She would come to visitation with bruises on her, and mold and mildew in her bag,” Hill told ABC affiliate KVUE. “It got to a point where I actually told CPS that they would have to have me arrested because I wouldn’t let her go back.”
Hill says state officials listened to his concerns, and in January placed Alex in the care of 54-year-old Sherill Small and her husband in the city of Rockdale, about an hour northeast of Austin.
Hill, who was just a few months away from regaining custody of his daughter, received a phone call Monday that his daughter had been taken to a children’s hospital in Temple, Texas.
When he arrived at the hospital, he learned that young Alex was in a coma.
She never regained consciousness, and died on Wednesday.
Doctors at the hospital say Alex had hemorrhaging in her brain and eyes, and an autopsy shows she had blunt force trauma to the head.
“The most common cause for [hemorrhaging in the brain of] a younger kid is called Shaken Baby Syndrome,” said Dr. Brad White, a neurosurgeon with the Texas Brain and Spine Institute. “But just routine things around the house that kids can get into, whether they fall out of a crib or off a countertop, wouldn’t cause those types of hemorrhages.”
When Rockdale police interviewed Sherill Small, they found that the foster mother’s story kept changing.
“Originally, Mrs. Small reported that the child was running backwards and had fallen and this is how she had received the injuries,” said Rockdale Police Chief Thomas Harris. “A two year old child doesn’t run backwards and fall hard enough to get this type of an injury.”
Chief Harris says that Small also claimed they were playing ring-around-the-rosy and the girl fell while she was swinging her, and that Alex had been riding a bicycle and fallen off.
Harris says that on Thursday, Small finally told investigators the truth.
“She actually admitted that she had slung the child down on the floor,” said Harris, saying that Small told investigators that she raised Alex over her head and slung her down toward the floor twice.
“On the third time down she said she lost her grip and dropped the child,” says Harris, adding that it was the third fall knocked the toddler unconscious.
Police say that neither Small or her husband are employed, and were planning on fostering between five and six children as a source of income.
Small’s husband, Clemon Small, was not home at the time of the incident, and is not facing charges.
Another child living with Small, who is eight months old, was removed from the foster home on Monday, immediately after Alex was rushed to the hospital.
Small is behind bars, being held at the Milam County Jail on $100,000 bond. She is charged with criminal homicide, a first-degree felony.
According to a report on Reason.com, cases where children die in foster care are somewhat frequent occurrences, according to statistics that show children in foster care may be up to 10 times more likely to die than children in the care of their own parents.