Child welfare had no contact with family of baby girl who was allegedly raped, murdered
GLOUCESTER CITY — The state's Department of Children and Families had no contact with the family of a 2-year-old girl authorities allege was raped and killed by her mother's boyfriend, according to a report.
NJ Advance Media this week quoted an email by department's commissioner saying the agency hadn't provided services to Ariana Smyth or her family either before or after her death.
Authorities allege not only that Michael Disporto, 22, of Manahawkin sexually assaulted the baby and tried to cover up his crimes, but that mother Amber Bobo, 26, repeatedly passed up chances to get the child help at Disporto's urging.
Disporto has been charged with first-degree murder and sexual assault. Bobo has been charged with second-degree endangering the welfare of a child.
Teri Susan, a close friend of Ariana’s grandmother, told New Jersey 101.5 last week at least 300 people attended a “celebration” of Ariana's life in Barnegat, while about 1,500 people participated from other locations.
Participants were asked to either wear blue or wear something from the Disney movie “Frozen,” which was Ariana’s favorite, according to her cousin, Destiny Hughes, who also helped organize the event.
"Ariana was like a granddaughter to me and we are all suffering really bad," wrote another close friend Tawnya Rankin, in an email to New Jersey 101.5.
Ariana's father has not spoken publicly about his daughter's death, but in Facebook posts urged people to take part in the life celebration, and thanked a large community of supporters.
"She was an amazing baby and has made me the person I am today," he wrote in one post. "Just want everyone to know that she really loves everybody that was in her life and she appreciates the love and support that everyone has been showing me and my family."
A horrific death
A probable cause statement filed in the case tells a troubling story of Bobo’s discovery of Ariana’s severe injuries to her full body, including her genital area, allegedly at Disporto’s hands. And it details how, at Disporto’s urging, Bobo allegedly kept declining to get the baby medical care.
According to the statement, emergency personnel responded to a South King Street home to find the 2-year-old, only identified by authorities as A.S., had bruises on her head and was unconscious in her mother’s arms.
“She had obvious injuries to her head and face,” it said.
It also describes an account Bobo gave to detectives. The day before, she’d picked up the girl from her father, accompanied by Disporto, the statement says. That night, Disporto — who’d only been dating Bobo about two weeks — took the child to a nearby park because “he wanted to get to know her better,” Bobo said, according to the statement. Disporto and the girl returned after just 15 minutes, it says.
Disporto then took the child to watch fireworks, but Bobo stayed home, too tired to go out, she reportedly told detectives. They were gone for another 30 minutes, the statement says.
Bobo put the child to sleep in her bedroom, and joined her at about 11 p.m. — they always slept together because only one room had air conditioning, the statement says.
Bobo awoke at 7 a.m. to find the child no longer in bed, but sleeping on the coach — where Disporto had been — wrapped in a blue blanket, the statement recounts her saying. She went back to sleep for a while, but when she awoke again and returned to the living room, she unwrapped the child and found she was wearing a different outfit than before, the statement says.
She saw bruises on both sides of the child’s forehead, but Disporto denied knowing anything about them, the statement says. He then claimed they happened when the child fell in the park, it says.
While Bobo wanted to take the child to the hospital, Disporto talked her out of it, and said they should put ice on her bruises and let her sleep, the statement says.
At 11 a.m., Bobo prepared to bathe the child, and found more bruises on her back and genital areas — bruises she’d missed when Disporto, at his own request, changed the child earlier, the statement says. She questioned Disporto again, and he convinced her not to take the child to the hospital, worried about what people would think, the statement says.
An hour later, the couple took the child to the Deptford Mall — in a hat Bobo said was to conceal the bruises — where she began vomiting, the statement says.
Two hours later, they returned to Bobo’s residence, where the child began vomiting more, the statement says. Still, the couple bathed and dressed the child, and returned to Deptford to shop more, the statement says.
It’s only when they returned home again that Bobo laid the child on the couch and then later in the air conditioned bedroom. Whens Bobo checked on her, she found the child had vomited a third time and her eyes were rolling into the back of her head, the statement says. She was completely motionless, it says.
“Bobo told Disporto she wanted to take A.S. to the hospital,” the statement says. “Disporto opined that A.S. was ‘just tired.’ When Bobo insisted on making sure A.S. was okay, Disporto said, ‘I’m never going to see you again,'” the statement reads.
Bobo finally called 911 at 6:04 p.m., the statement says.
The child was transported to Cooper University Hospital, where she was diagnosed with a subdural hemorrhage and cerebral edema, requiring immediate brain surgery, according to the statement. The baby had bilateral bruising and swelling to her labia, a complete fracture of her right humerus, bilateral pulmonary contusions and urine and blood in her abdomen.
In examinations at noon and 6 p.m. the next day, she had no brain activity. Life support was cut off and she was pronounced dead at 6:26 p.m., the statement says.
An autopsy conducted July 6 determined the cause of death was blunt force trauma to the head.