Read more at: http://peacewomen.org/resource/isil-nationals-icc-states-parties-committing-genocide-and-other-crimes-against-yazidis This is a report that was submitted by Yazda and the Free Yezidi Foundation Supported by the Kurdistan Regional Government of Iraq on September 2015
Child dies while placed in foster care, family seeks answers
grandmother wants answers after the death of her grandson, who died after suffering injuries while in foster care.
Sheldon Nephi, 3, was transported by air ambulance to Primary Children's Hospital in July. According to Torrie Nephi, doctors at the hospital told her that his injuries appeared to be the result of abuse.
Torrie Nephi contacted UB Media after being told by officials that she has to wait six months for any kind of answer regarding the death of her grandson.
According to Torrie Nephi, on April 20, she had been excited to celebrate her grandson's third birthday, and gathered him into the car to go to the store to buy cupcakes. While getting ready to leave, Ute Family Services arrived at her home where she lives with her children and grandchildren.
“We were outside in the car because I was waiting for the other grandkids to get off the school bus,” Torrie Nephi said. “My son was out there working on his truck, (the mother) was in the house with the baby. (Ute Family Services caseworker) came and we were asking her what she was doing and she was saying, 'I came to get the kids.' She went right up to my front door and just walked right in and went into the bedroom and grabbed the little baby.”
According to the grandmother, the caseworker then walked out with Sheldon Nephi's younger brother, asking, "Where's the other one?” Torrie Nephi said her other son had told the caseworker that Sheldon Nephi was in the car at the time.
“She just opened up the car door, put him in her car and they just left,” Torrie Nephi said. “They didn't give me papers, no nothing on it...they just took them.”
Over the course of the following weeks, family members attempted to file papers to petition temporary custody of the children, though nothing was done to restore custody to family members or to turn the children over to the Tribe's Kinship Program, according to a statement written by Torrie Nephi.
After weeks of effort, the family was able to gain supervised visits to the boys, and Torrie Nephi said she attended several visits with the parents.
“They went the first two times themselves, as a family,” Torrie Nephi said. “I went, I think it was the third time, there were bruises, looked like bruises (indicating forehead area). I asked if they were bruises, they said 'oh, they are mosquito bites.' Every week we'd go. Then the next visiting, he had band-aids on his hands. We never did take them off to look, but then he had blisters on his fingers.”
Torrie Nephi said the suspicion of the children being hurt was reported by the family to Child Protective Services, and they were told nothing was filed on it.
“The mom was being sent to The House of Hope. She was supposed to get the kids within two weeks of being there,” said Ciana Appawoo, Torrie Nephi's niece. “They were supposed to ship the kids to her. That never happened, and then this thing happened. When this happened, when we found out Sheldon was in the hospital, his brother came back home.”
On July 18, the family was notified by telephone that Sheldon Nephi had been Life Flighted to Primary Children's Hospital after having been at Uintah Basin Medical Center for a full day. Torrie Nephi said the family was told by Ute Family Services that Sheldon Nephi was injured in a car accident.
According to the grandmother, Sheldon Nephi's doctor said the injuries were not the result of a car accident, but the result of abuse. According to a statement sent to UB Media from the Nephi family, the report of the automobile accident later proved to be false.
Sheldon Nephi was allowed to return home after the family was told he would not live from his injuries. He died on Aug. 4.
UB Media reached out to Heather Gardner with Ute Family Services and other Ute Tribe officials but were told we would have to talk to the Ute Tribe Business Committee.
After repeated attempts to contact officials with the Ute Tribe business committe, we were eventually put in contact with Jeremy Patterson, legal council for the Ute Tribe Business Committee. According to Patterson, there is no comment regarding the death of this tribal member because it is under active investigation at this time.
Sgt. Brian Fletcher with Uintah County Sheriff's Office said that Uintah County Sheriff's Office is involved with the investigation of the death of this child.
We have also reached out to the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Washington D.C., but our calls have not been returned.
This is an active and ongoing investigation and the story will be updated as more information becomes available.