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New York child aid officials missed signs that boy was at risk, review finds

By Ray Sanchez, CNN
updated 9:16 PM EST, Sat January 18, 2014
Myls Dobson, 4, was found January 8 unconscious and unresponsive on the floor of a bathroom of a luxury New York high-rise.
Myls Dobson, 4, was found January 8 unconscious and unresponsive on the floor of a bathroom of a luxury New York high-rise.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Review: Authorities missed signs in case of boy burned and beaten to death
  • Mayor Bill de Blasio: "We want to learn from this tragedy"
  • Child welfare official: "Should we have done something differently? Yes"

(CNN) -- On nine occasions, New York City child welfare caseworkers visited the home of 4-year-old Myls Dobson without even realizing that the boy's father was in jail, according to a review of the case.

The child later died after being tortured.

The boy's father, Okee Wade, 37, who has an extensive criminal record, was awarded custody of his son in August 2012 on the condition that the city Administration for Children's Services check up on the child for a year and contact the father's parole officer.

Caseworkers, however, never consulted the parole officer and never learned that Wade was jailed in connection with a fraud case during their visits to the Brooklyn apartment where he was staying with his son, a review of the case ordered by Mayor Bill de Blasio found. His partner at the time told caseworkers that he was working.

"We were told that the father was working, and was working very long hours, 16 hours a day, and that's why he wasn't available," Gladys Carrion, the head of ACS, said at the news conference with de Blasio on Friday.

She added, "Should we have done something differently? Yes, we should have."

The review revealed that the agency charged with protecting children missed signs that the boy was at risk.

"We can't look at a situation like this and say that business as usual is acceptable," de Blasio said.

Dobson died January 8 after his father was jailed again on another case and left the boy in the care of a Manhattan woman who, according to a criminal complaint, told investigators she starved, beat and burned him.

He was found unconscious and unresponsive on the floor of a bathroom at the woman's apartment at the Ritz Plaza, a luxury high-rise in the Hell's Kitchen section. Myls was later pronounced dead at a hospital.

2011 abuse allegation

Myls' family first came into contact with the ACS in January 2011, when the agency received an allegation of abuse against his mother, Ashlee Dobson.

The review found that caseworkers failed to learn that Wade was in jail from September 2012 to February 2013, despite visiting his home. At the time, Wade had custody of Myls and a family court judge has ordered ACS to monitor the child's well-being.

Carrion said that caseworkers reported that Myls appeared safe and healthy during the visits.

De Blasio ordered a review of all cases involving court-ordered supervision at the agency and said custodians must now get a family court judge's approval before supervision ends.

"It is very, very painful to know that this child went through such agony," the mayor said.

The review of the case found that the ACS "did not explore in detail" the allegations of abuse and did not seek an emergency removal of the child from the home.

Wade pleaded guilty in New Jersey on Thursday to a charge of second-degree racketeering in connection with an elaborate bank fraud scheme unrelated to the case that landed him in jail when caseworkers visited his home in 2012.

A judge ordered him released on his own recognizance last week until February 6 to attend his son's funeral, according to the state attorney general's office.

Wade had left Myls with a woman in Manhattan days before he was arrested, police said.

The woman, Kryzie King, 27, was indicted in connection with the boy's death in Manhattan criminal court Wednesday.

She has been charged with first-degree assault, first-degree reckless endangerment, endangering the welfare of a child and unlawful imprisonment. A prosecutor told the court that King also was being investigated on suspicion of murder and faced additional charges. The indictment will be unsealed on February 5.

In a statement after her arrest, King's attorney, Bryan Konoski, said: "My client is not charged with homicide at this time, and she is presumed to be innocent of allegations against her. I would tell everyone not to jump to any conclusions at this time."

Myls' mother, Ashlee Dobson, faced abuse and neglect charges in South Carolina and New York City before ultimately losing custody of the boy. Myls' parents are expected at attend his memorial service Tuesday night at First Corinthian Baptist Church in Harlem. De Blasio has been invited.

Myls' body was claimed from the morgue in New York on Wednesday, one week after his death.

In the final weeks of his brief life, Myls suffered unspeakable acts of neglect and violence, according to a criminal complaint.

The boy had burn marks and abrasions on his head, neck, face and testicles, court papers said. There were bruises and numerous marks made by an object on his abdomen and legs and wrists -- bruises consistent with being restrained -- lacerations to his fingers, abrasions to his armpit, and bruises and scars on his back. The child appeared to be malnourished, the complaint said.

King told police that Myls' father dropped the child off for her to watch on December 17 and that she was the "child's primary and sole caretaker" until the time of his death, the complaint said.

"We lost a child in a horrible manner," De Blasio said. "We want to learn from this tragedy and make changes as a result."

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