Linda Kelley, 18, died in her family’s filthy, bug ridden Indiana home recently. Kelley, who was paralyzed from the waist down, had numerous festering wounds when she was found, with some sores so deep her bones and organs could be seen. The case is receiving widespread attention since it was discovered that a Department of Child Services (DCS) worker had been at Linda’s home just six days earlier and reported she was living in healthy conditions.
The dissonance between the DCS’s report and reality led an Indiana court to investigate if the department falsified reports about the Kelley’s home. Ultimately, the court ruled that there was no falsification, only “negligent oversight.”
“It was almost like a perfect storm,” DCS director Mary Beth Bonaventura said. “Nobody did the right thing for this child, or at least enough of the right things.”
The case worker overseeing Linda was Teresa Carter. Carter was working 28 cases at the time, which is well over the state’s legal limit of 17 active cases per worker. Carter told the court that on her last visit to Linda’s house, the girl was in good health and smiling. The living conditions in the Linda’s home were deemed acceptable. But just six days later, after Linda died, DCS workers walked into a bug-infested, trash-ridden house.
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Workers report the home was covered in dog feces. Cigarette butts, trash, and soiled adult diapers were scattered across the floor. The refrigerator was overrun with roaches. How did the home’s condition take such a drastic turn for the worse in just six days? That’s a good question – one that no one seems to have an answer to.
Carter says she was “shocked” when other DCS workers told her about the home’s condition. She refused to take complete blame for the girl’s death though, saying that Linda's parents and numerous home workers were also responsible. Carter lost her job with DCS due to the scandal, but is appealing her termination. She says her negligence resulted from being severely overworked, and therefore DCS is at fault.
"I was extremely overwhelmed at work," she said. "I couldn't sleep at night. I couldn't keep up ...If I had to say what the breakdown was, I'd have to say it's time."
The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department is investigating the details surrounding Linda’s death. No charges have been filed at this time, but that could change in the future.
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"It is still under investigation," Lt. Chris Bailey told the Indy Star in an email. "No charges have been filed at this point."