Abuse complaints made to DSS prior to child’s murder


FOX 46 Charlotte spoke with the director of the Department of Social Services about claims that it ignored complaints of abuse prior to 4-year-old Mariya Owen’s murder on Christmas Eve.

“I just knew something was going to happen to one of my girls,” said Anthony Owens Sr.

In an interview on Tuesday, Mariya Owen’s father told FOX 46 Charlotte that over the past two years family and friends filed several complaints of abuse to DSS.

RELATED: Father of 4-year-old girl killed on Christmas Eve speaks out

“My sister showed them physical evidence of all of them being abused.”

The children were in the custody of their mother Jenipher Fofana. The mother’s boyfriend, Demarcus Heath, was charged with Mariya’s murder.

FOX 46 Charlotte went to the mother’s apartment for her side of the story, but was turned away. Mariya’s father said the children’s mother gained custody of them in October 2016.

“I knew, once I found out that the judge gave her custody that something was going to happen.”

FOX 46 Charlotte asked the director of DSS about the claims of abuse and if anything had been done.

“Child welfare services can never disclose any of the cases in front of us,” said Peggy Eagan.

She said DSS has their hands tied by state and federal law. Eagan said anyone can make claims, but DSS can never confirm or deny them.

But as a matter of procedure, she said DSS responds to every call they get.

“We talk to the child if they’re old enough, we talk to the caretakers, we get collateral responses as well and do an assessment mandated by the state of North Carolina to determine the situation the child is in.”

FOX 46 Charlotte has asked police if there have been any prior calls to the apartment where the children lived. We are waiting for a response.

A source said Mariya’s twin and 6-year old-sister are now in foster care since her death.

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