To watch PBS's story on Logan's case visit:http://vimeo.com/63064156
In the past two years of following Ayla's case, I was surprised I never did a story on Logan Marr's case. The two stories are very different but both very tragic and heartbreaking but there are some similarities to the case at least in regards to DHHS.
On January 31, 2001 5 year old Logan Marr was found slumped on the floor of her foster parent's unfinished basement still attached to the high chair she was placed in. According to her foster mother Sally Schofield, she had placed Logan in the high chair in the basement so she could scream and vent her frustration. It was her belief Logan had fallen over and bumped her head. It soon became apparent to police that Sally Schofield, former DHHS Caseworker, had forcibly restrained Logan who had instead died of asphyxiation not a traumatic head injury.
So how did Logan get into Sally Schofield's care and end up dead and how does this case have anything to do with Ayla? Logan's case exposed DHHS and their Child Protective Services program as well as what part they played in Logan's death. Supposedly 10 years after Logan's death Maine CPS and DHHS program has become a standard for other states and underwent a major overhaul to prevent cases like Logan's from ever happening again but here we are with Ayla's case. Trista is leaving her options open to sue DHHS for their part in Ayla's disappearance. Is DHHS again at fault for another child who is at the very least missing and widely thought to be dead? What responsibility does DHHS hold in Ayla's case if any?
Logan Marr was born October 14, 1995 to Christy Marr. Christy was young and had no prospects. Her only relationship was with her mother, Kathy Baker, and that was turbulent and dysfunctional. Her mother frequently contacted DHHS and reported Christy for being too immature to properly raise Logan. Finally DHHS decided to check in with Christy to make sure Logan was being cared for properly. At the time the DHHS case was initially opened it was coincidentally opened out of the Lewiston, Maine office. The same office that responded to the fight between Jessica and Trista Reynolds and got involved in Ayla's case. The video above shows live footage of Lewiston so you can get an idea of how Lewiston looks.
DHHS did an assessment and found that Logan was not abused. They also felt that Christy was doing a good job parenting Logan with only a few small areas to work on. They decided to focus instead on her unhealthy relationship with her boyfriend and how he was an admitted drug user. They worked out a service agreement with Christy.
Christy worked to keep Logan away from unsavory people and alienated herself from those in her life that could pose a threat to Logan. During this time, her mother Kathy, started dating a man who had been convicted of having inappropriate relations with a teenager. Christy was warned she would need to cut ties with her mother or risk losing Logan. A while later and with a lapse in judgment, Christy had someone babysit Logan at her mother's house. Her mother was no longer with that man and he was no longer living there but he ended up showing up at the house while Logan was there and a neighbor called DHHS to report it. DHHS immediately stepped in an removed Logan.
At two and a half years old Logan was removed from her mother's custody and DHHS retained custody of Logan. Based on DHHS policy at the time DHHS worked towards family reunification and their first priority was to fix issues in the home so the families could stay together. They only sought to remove children if there was an immediate threat of harm. Before DHHS could remove a child their claims had to be vetted in court but DHHS had the key voice and parents weren't even notified of any court procedures to be able to defend themselves.
If Ayla had been ordered to have been removed from Trista's custody, they would have taken her immediately and not waited until after she entered rehab so I don't believe there was any order from DHHS to remove Ayla from Trista's custody. Had Trista not attended rehab then I suspect they would have moved to take Ayla. Trista reportedly agreed to have Justin take Ayla and even mandated that Justin leave Portland and go live with his mother so Ayla had a more stable environment to live in. Should DHHS be held liable for what happened to Ayla when Trista made the call that she go to Waterville? It has been said that Jessica had previously lost her children to DHHS, if DHHS didn't give an ultimatum and threaten to remove Ayla how could they justify allowing Trista's kids to live in the same home with Jessica if she was deemed unfit? How could Jessica care for Ayla and Baby Ray while Trista was in rehab if she was deemed unfit to care for her own kids? More importantly though, why were Jessica's children removed and was the DHHS worker unfairly targeting the Reynolds and setting unfair demands and ultimatums?
Christy became pregnant again and DHHS issued another ultimatum to Christy-
Christy complied with DHHS mandates and did what was asked of her. She attained housing and only had contact with her mother through video. In March of 1999, Logan was returned to her. In June the case was officially closed. Christy had a hard time after regaining custody and had no one to lean on for support. She sought out her father whom she had accused of sexual abuse but later recanted years prior in Florida. For nine weeks she went to live with his new family and Logan and Bailey, her new daughter, thrived. After awhile Christy had a hard time living by her father's rules and returned to Maine. She met and married Paul. Someone reported that Paul hit Christy in front of Logan. It was never confirmed but new DHHS caseworker, Allison Peters, acted immediately and went to the home the next day with police officers and removed the two children. It appears at that time DHHS focus had switched from family reunification and gave parents less time to fulfill DHHS requirements to get their children back. As part of a government program, DHHS was offered financial incentive to remove children from their biological parents and place them into adoptive homes in order to keep them safe regardless of whether or not it infringed on the rights of the parents. Christy was given 6 months. She immediately divorced Paul and did everything DHHS required of her.
During this time, the foster parent that had Logan complained of her anger and outbursts. She had her evaluated at Spurwink for signs of previous physical or sexual abuse. They found no evidence of either. An incident happened between Logan and her current foster mother and she was immediately removed from the home. No one will discuss what happened. DHHS contacted Sally Schofield, who was a DHHS caseworker in Bangor, and asked if she would be open to taking the two girls even though it is against DHHS rules for a DHHS employee to take a child that is in DHHS custody. Shortly after Sally took the girls, DHHS started tapering off Christy's visits and started refusing to transport her to see them. When Christy was able to see the girls, Logan told her that she didn't like Sally and that Sally had hurt her and her sister. She had squeezed their faces and wrapped them in blankets when they were bad. Christy was not allowed to ask questions of Logan or acknowledge what she was saying. DHHS witnessed these exchanges and did not act. Their own rules state that all foster homes must be checked in on at least quarterly and any reports or indications of abuse or neglect be thoroughly and immediately investigated. DHHS did none of this. Did DHHS policy state that children being sent to live with the other biological parent must have their homes checked out quarterly or did this not apply because it was not a foster home? Regardless, there was an indication of possible abuse and DHHS never followed up on that report even though a doctor even noted that the explanation for Ayla's broken arm did not make sense with her injury.
In an email Allison Peters stated that Christy was still up to her old tricks and making it easier and easier for DHHS to terminate her parental rights so Sally could adopt the girls even though Sally had expressed concerns about her ability to parent Logan and the difficulties she was having. A month later Logan would be dead.
After a missed visit because of a blizzard, Sally claimed Logan was not herself and needed to vent. She put her in a highchair in an unfinished part of the basement and allowed her to scream at will. She claims she was not restrained, free to leave at any time, and was continuously checked on. She said Logan quieted so she went to check on her and found her in a heap on the floor. Police later found that she had been duct taped. Sally was sentenced to 20 years in prison for manslaughter.
DHHS was not found liable for anything and Allison Peters received a one month paid suspension. It was then that DHHS was under public scrutiny and many who had problems with them stepped forward. DHHS has the power to make and break their own rules and are not accountable to anyone. Their meetings and files are secretive as well as their processes. After Logan's murder the system went through an overhaul but now ten years later, how much has it really changed? It is unlikely Trista will ever succeed in a case against them but if they are in anyway culpable for Ayla's disappearance they should be held accountable or at the very least the public should demand that permanent changes be made so this doesn't happen to another child.
Part two will look at specific changes made to CPS policy and examine what has really changed and what remains the same.