Christie Reacts to DCF Involvement in Camden Decapitation Case
New concerns are being raised about Jersey’s long-embattled child-welfare agency after a woman who was being monitored by the Department of Children and Families (DCF) went berserk this week and decapitated her 2-year-old son, then stabbed herself to death with a knife.
Officials at the Department of Children and Families say DCF staff had been providing counseling to Chevonne Thomas for some time, and they were also visiting members of her family on a regular basis, to offer support to the woman and her young son Zahree.
During this evening’s Ask The Governor program, Governor Christie said “I’m saddened by the incident – but I don’t know that we have any evidence that red flags were ignored in this case. What I’ve seen so far is that DCF was very involved in trying to make sure that the appropriate counseling was being given and monitoring was being done…the bottom line is we can’t be there 24 hours a day – and I think all of us have to understand that government can do the very best it can but we cannot be overseeing parents with their children 24 hours a day either.”
Christie went on to say “the federal monitor has said…things have improved significantly over the last 2 and a half years at DCF…and I have great confidence in Commissioner (Alison) Blake and what she’s doing each and every day for us – making that Department better – but when things like this happen it just sickens you.”
Authorities rushed to the Camden row house where Thomas and her child lived after receiving a bizarre 911 call from the woman, who said she had not taken her dose of Prozac the way she should have. Thomas then announced her boyfriend had killed her son, but she quickly changed her story, saying “you know what, I did it, I’m lying, I’m lying, I’m lying, I did it.”
When police arrived they found the toddler, and his mother dead.
Thomas lost custody of her son briefly in 2010, after she admitted she smoked marijuana laced with PCP, then blacked out in a park while the baby was left alone in a car – but charges of child endangerment were ultimately dropped.
The Department of Children and Families – which continues to investigate the incident – has been under the supervision of the federal monitor for several years, following a series of high-profile tragedies involving children who were starved and killed by parents that were being supervised by Agency fieldworkers.