ATLANTA -- Just three days on the job, DFCS new interim director responded to questions about the death of a 5-year-old girl in Monroe County.
Bobby Cagle says his mission is to protect children from the evil in the world, and Heaven Woods' case history only reaffirmed his commitment.
Cagle couldn't answer direct questions, given the ongoing investigation. Heaven's mother, Amanda Hendrickson and her boyfriend are charged with murder. But Cagle says there have already been lessons learned from Heaven's death.
Even though DFCS had 20 days between the last report of abuse and Heaven's death, it appears the case worker only talked to one person outside of the immediate family. And there's no evidence the caseworker talked to the original person who witnessed the alleged attack. Cagle says as of today, that changes.
On May 1, a teacher reported information from a witness claiming to see Hendrickson kicking Heaven very hard in the back. Lisa Coursey, Heaven's grandmother, says the girl ended up at the hospital with a head injury.
"She had a bump on her head and Amanda said she bumped it on the coffee table," said Coursey.
There are other excuses for Heaven's injuries: she fell out of bed and off a scooter. At one point Hendrickson blamed the daycare. They too were investigated, but DFCS never found an injury and Heaven never complained.
There are at least nine reports in Heaven's file -- concerned teachers, neighbors or family members. But many of the reports were immediately screened out, written off as a way to bolster the father's custody case.
Cagle admitted that was a mistake.
"We have to go in each time with a fresh view and not have preconceived notions that guide our work," he said in a phone interview.
Just hours before Heaven died, Coursey says Hendrickson posted a question on Facebook, "How do you get bruises to go away?"
Hendrickson is pregnant with another little girl, due in August. Coursey has already decorated a room, hoping to win custody. On the wall, are pictures of Heaven and a promise she will know what happened to her sister.
"I just want to get to the bottom of this. There needs to be justice for Heaven," she said.
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