WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Multiple chances were missed to save a 3-year-old Wichita boy before he was found encased in concrete, a former Kansas welfare official said.
Dianne Keech, the Department of Children and Families deputy director from 2013 to 2015, said the "point of no return" was when the agency failed to call 911 last April after receiving a report that Evan Brewer had hit his head while taking a bath and "had no pulse" before being revived, The Wichita Eagle reported.
The person making the report said Evan and his mother, Miranda Miller, were domestic violence victims and that someone would "take life from them" before "bringing them back." His mother's live-in boyfriend, Stephen Bodine, allegedly bragged about choking Evan and his mother and strangling the boy until he became unconscious, according to records that Keech reviewed after they were released earlier this month.
Keech said that instead of calling 911 and flagging the report to administrators as a "critical incident," it was placed on hold for six days. The case was closed April 28, records show. Evan's body was found in September, and Miller and Bodine are charged with murder.
"If they don't do the right thing there," Keech said, "It seals his doom. They never recovered from that point on."
Evan is the paternal grandson of former Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer, a Democratic candidate for governor this year. Evan had been the subject of a custody battle for months between his mother and father, Carlo Brewer, who had contacted state officials and local police over the welfare of his son. Too often, DCF took the word of the 3-year-old's mother that he was OK, said Keech, who served on the state Child Death Review Board during part of her DCF tenure and now works as a child-protection consultant.
Keech counted six separate reports of abuse that the agency received from July 21, 2016, to May 14, 2017, before Evan's death. Her analysis shows the agency failed to adequately address all safety and risk concerns with five of the six reports. She also found that DCF failed to collect all relevant information in at least four of the six reports.
"This is not Monday-morning quarterbacking," Keech said. "This is how cases should be handled in the moment. I am reviewing this case based on investigative procedures that used to be standard for the agency."
Shayla Johnston, a Brewer family spokeswoman and attorney, agrees with Keech that DCF failed. With anyone who looks at Evan's case, Johnston said, "you can agree that bureaucracy killed Evan."
DCF spokeswoman Theresa Freed said the agency could not comment on the case.
"Given the Brewer family's stated desire to pursue litigation against the Kansas Department for Children and Families, we are not in a position to address each point alleged," she said in an email.