Abuse, neglect were probed prior to 3-year-old's death

December 11, 2004|By GREGORY T. SIMMONS


In the eight months before 3-year-old Madyson King died from injuries she received in an October beating, the Washington County Department of Social Services had initiated four investigations into possible child abuse.

In that time, Madyson was shuffled through four different homes after her mother was arrested during a drug raid.

The fifth and final abuse investigation began Oct. 26, when Madyson was taken to Washington County Hospital's emergency room. She died Nov. 9.

Those details and others of the investigations were revealed Friday in a letter from the Maryland Department of Human Resources, which was in response to an inquiry by The Herald-Mail under the Maryland Public Information Act. The Department of Social Services is a subagency of the Department of Human Resources.


DHR officials said Friday they could not provide further details beyond what was in the letter of the cases involving Madyson because of state regulations.

Madyson's biological father, Scott E. Patterson, was charged in November in connection with Madyson's death.

Patterson, 26, of 330 N. Mulberry St. in Hagerstown, faces charges of second-degree murder, manslaughter, first-degree child abuse resulting in death, child abuse resulting in death and child abuse by a parent resulting in death, according to court records.

The letter from the DHR only named Madyson and Patterson, but court records and previous accounts bring other family members into the account of Madyson's last months.

March 10

The Washington County Department of Social Services began an investigation of alleged child neglect. At the time, Madyson was living with her mother, Jessica Hull; her stepfather, Michael Hull; and her half sister, according to the state's letter.

A report to social services workers alleged the Hulls were using heroin. The letter does not say who filed the report.

The Hulls denied to DSS investigators that they used drugs and did not show obvious signs that they were under the influence of drugs, the letter said.

Based on the available evidence, the department concluded the children were adequately cared for and found no evidence supporting neglect.

March 30

According to charging documents, police executed a search and seizure warrant at 441 N. Potomac St., Apartment 15, about 9:20 p.m. It was Michael and Jessica Hull's home.

Michael Hull, then 22, had three capsules of heroin in his pants pocket, according to charging documents. Jessica Hull, then 20, told police she had injected heroin earlier that day, according to the charging documents. Police also found what they believed was heroin, smoking pipes and hypodermic needles.

There were three children in the one-bedroom apartment when police arrived. One of them was Madyson, and the DSS began a second investigation, according to the DHR letter.

That night, Jessica Hull placed Madyson with Hull's grandmother.

On April 16, department workers found evidence supporting a finding of neglect.

David Engle, director of the county Department of Social Services, said Friday he could not talk specifically about Madyson's case, but usually when neglect is found, the DSS will try to find voluntary solutions to correct whatever led to the neglect. Those solutions could include putting parents in touch with drug, mental illness or employment counselors, or any number of social services.

Madyson, however, was not living with her parents. On April 19, she moved from Jessica Hull's mother's home to a home of another family member. On May 5, Jessica Hull arranged for Madyson to live with Patterson.

According to the DHR letter, DSS workers made visits to each home, and there was no indication of any problems.

Engle said Friday that, generally, those visits include safety inspections and background checks of the home's residents for any DSS or criminal history.

May 26

On behalf of Madyson, Patterson filed for a protective order against Michael Hull in Washington County District Court.

Hull "has threatened me because I won't let him see my daughter ..." Patterson wrote in the court papers.

In a following page, Patterson wrote that Madyson had "busted ear drums," implying Hull had caused the injury.

Because of that item, the DSS began its third neglect investigation into Madyson's life.

Madyson's pediatrician, however, said Madyson had been treated only for ear infections and there were no signs of maltreatment. Department workers found no supporting evidence for neglect, according to the DHR letter.

District Judge W. Milnor Roberts dropped the protective order June 3, citing a lack of evidence, according to court documents.

Sept. 1

The county department began its first physical abuse investigation. A report to the department alleged Madyson had bruises on her face. Police also were notified. The letter does not say who alleged the abuse.

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