Child's death has relatives blaming DCF
CORAL SPRINGS, Fla. (WSVN) -- As the investigation into the death of a 4-year-old Coral Springs boy deepens, loved ones are stepping up and placing blame.
The exact cause of Antwon Hope's death has not been determined, according to the Broward County Medical Examiner's Office, Wednesday, but something his relatives are saying could shed some very disturbing light on the case.
Wednesday afternoon, a disturbing combination of stuffed animals, candles and evidence stickers marked the spot for stomach-turning trouble where the 4-year-old lost his life.
Speaking about the child's mother, 23-year-old Destene Simmons, relatives let it out and laid the blame, after, reports revealed, the mother of the little boy whose deceased body was found inside her Coral Springs apartment had a troubled relationship with her son.
Published reports said Simmons had displayed abusive behavior towards her son in the past and had lost custody of him. In addition, the report stated, Simmons attempted to suffocate the boy with a pillow last year, but had recently been allowed unsupervised visits.
Sharon Walker, the victim's grandmother, said, "When she tried to smother him before, they had no rights, and nobody checked on my grand baby. Nobody checked on him."
Trequila Johnson, the child's aunt, commented, "If they knew she tried to smother him before, why on Saturday, or whenever she had him, why DCF ain't check on him? Y'all know the history. Y'all should've went and checked on him."
The grandmother and aunt are taking shots at the Department of Children and Families, blaming the state-run service for allowing the child to be in the care of his mother before he was found dead Monday in the Coral Springs apartment the mother and son lived in.
Simmons was questioned about the death by detectives before they arrested her on an unrelated suspended license charge. She has since bonded out of jail.
Steeped in mystery and tragedy, Apartment 202 is now no longer occupied by Simmons. The Broward Sheriff's Office said she is currently in a mental health facility under the Baker Act.
Her family said she nearly killed Hope in the past, and they blame her mental illness. Walker said, "She would've never did it, but she's a sick person. A person can't help it when they're sick. I blame DCF because they knew she was sick, and they put him in her care knowing she was sick."
DCF has acknowledged to 7News that they have dealt with Simmons and her son before but would not elaborate.
Tuesday, investigators continued to comb the apartment where the boy's body was found. Meanwhile, the Broward County Medical Examiner's Office began its work to determine a cause of death. Now, a grief-stricken grandma is left with only the memory of her Antwon. "He said, 'Hi, Grandma Chere.' I said, "Hey, baby,'" said Walker, "I said, 'I love you.'"
DCF will not connect this case with abuse or neglect, as they await more information to make that determination, including the results of an autopsy from the ME.
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