NEWARK, N.J. – New Jersey officials will try to explain how a 7-year-old died and his two brothers were found starving despite years of complaints about their care to the state's child welfare agency.
Gov. James E. McGreevey ordered a review after the two brothers were found starving and emaciated Saturday in the basement of a Newark home. McGreevey planned to release the findings Friday.
On Sunday, police returned to the home and discovered the mummified body of the third brother, 7-year-old Faheem Williams, in a purple plastic storage bin.
The case has sparked outrage at the Division of Youth and Family Services, which had investigated complaints about the family but closed the case last year.
The agency first visited the Williams home in 1992. The siblings' older brother, Fuquan Williams, is now 11 and in a treatment center in New York. Officials did not substantiate allegations that the home was filthy.
On later visits they said they found three cases in which the boys' mother, Melinda Williams, had neglected at least one of the children. The officials did not substantiate allegations of abuse.
A case worker and supervisor involved with the case have been suspended with pay, and both could be fired. Their names have not been released.
Officials from the state's human services office, which oversees DYFS, said systemwide shortcomings at DYFS were found during the review, particularly in the sharing and use of information. Human Services Commissioner Gwendolyn Harris said people had made mistakes in the handling and closing of the case.
The review has triggered concerns among the workers' union. Its president, Hetty Rosenstein, has said she is concerned employees would be used as scapegoats.
Police arrested a go-go dancer on Thursday who was allegedly in charge of caring for the boys. Sherry Murphy, 41, faces three counts of child endangerment.
After an extensive search by authorities, she was found in the apartment of a Newark man who called police after recognizing her from news reports.
Jean Claude Dessources said he had not known Murphy before, but agreed to let her stay with him after he met her on the street and she claimed she was new in town with nowhere to stay.
Dessources said Murphy admitted she knew the children, but said she didn't abuse them.
Murphy was being held Thursday in the Essex County jail on $250,000 bail. No charges have yet been filed in Faheem's death, which was ruled a homicide by the prosecutor's office.
Melinda Williams told authorities she left the children in Murphy's care last March when she entered jail on an assault conviction, and that she could not find them when she was released in August.
Williams remained in critical condition in a Bronx hospital Thursday. She told authorities she was struck by a car while hurrying to see the boys in New Jersey after being notified by a relative.
Raheem Williams, 7, and his brother, Tyrone Hill, 4, remained hospitalized Thursday in fair condition.
On Wednesday, a friend Williams was arrested on charges he had sexually abused one of the boys.