The Death of Logan Marr

As I have said many times in the past, I keep a list of cases in which to look into to blog about and most generally when I come across a name on the list I have forgotten, if I ever really knew, what the case was about.  The names can come from anywhere, an ad I found on the Internet, a story from a television show or the news, or just a name I came across while researching another case.  Often, and this is such a case, I do not even remember where it was I obtained the name or why.  

Before I tell the story of Logan Marr I feel I have to tell the story of Angela Palmer.  It was said that the death of Angela Palmer so impacted the way workers for DFS handled cases in 1984 in Maine that by the time Logan Marr died in 2001 those old policies were still in place.  In time Logan Marr's death then also changed the way cases were handled in Maine, yet let us hope that over time they have found a middle ground and did not go as far as they did after Angela Palmer's death.  

On October 24, 1984 the police were called to an apartment for a complaint of loud music as well as the smell of smoke.  When they arrived at the apartment and the door was opened they found the apartment full of smoke and was met by a woman named Cynthia who immediately stated "I did not do it, he did."  They began investigating where the smoke was coming from and discovered it was coming from the kitchen area.  What they found next left some of the first responders so shook up they were unable to continue working in their field.  Inside the smoking oven was the body of 4 year old Angela Palmer.  The other occupants of the home were Angela's 5 year old sister, Sarah, her mother, Cynthia and Cynthia's boyfriend John Lane.  This case obviously outraged people when they discovered that there were drug and other issues involved and DFS had not really done a whole lot.  Apparently the state agreed and an overhaul was done of the system.  The problem is it seems is that they went extremely the other way and they became one of the leading states in removing children and placing them in foster care.

By 2001 Maine was considered to be in the top five states who removed children from their homes and placed them in foster care as well as fewer of those children were being placed with relatives than the national average.  This means that more children were being taken from their homes and placed with strangers than nearly all the other states.  We have all heard the stories, one after another, about how DFS is so overworked and case workers are overwhelmed with cases to the point they cannot adequately monitor all of their cases. Well the case of Logan Marr was one of those cases and while the death of Logan Marr not only was preventable and tragic it also brought changes once again to the DFS and as of 2011 at least they were considered to be the model for other states to look at.  

Let me start by saying I would think that being a DFS worker would be a difficult job, especially in this day and age.  You generally have the well being or lives of children in your hands.  You have to absolutely know where that line is in which a child is being neglected or abused and when they are not in serious danger.  When a child is removed from their home, it is often tragic for the child and they go through a multitude of emotions, whether they are openly expressed or not.  There are obviously children that are being abused but there are also cases in which maybe they are not getting the best care they could or should have but maybe the parents just need some guidance... guidance that DFS workers know how to get and provide, although it seems many do not.  We all know that parenting does not come with a manual and while there are obvious things that we know are dangers to children and they should not be around there are other little things that can be fixed with help.  

Logan Marr first came to the notice of DFS when her maternal grandmother, Kathy, made a call to them.  I have to be honest and say I am not sure what she was really thinking by making the call.  A a grandparent myself now I have to often remind myself that I did not have the patience that I do now with my children.  I can absolutely say that I yelled and hollered more than I should have or as was likely warranted.  Kathy probably had good intentions when she made the call but it sounds like even then there was no real danger.  Kathy's daughter, Christy, had given birth to Logan as a teenager.  I could not find an exact age but by the reports I am guessing she was 18 or 19 years old at the time. It seems that in her call she just basically said that she was concerned for Logan's well being because Christy was immature and that she yelled too much.  DFS workers went to Christy's house and although they said that Logan was not in danger and they did not see anything wrong really they did give her some guidelines to follow.  One of them, which I found odd, since they claimed to not see anything wrong, was that any overnight visitors Christy had were to be approved by DFS.  She had admitted that she was dating a man who was an admitted drug user so this may have prompted this, although who really just volunteers that information?  The big thing was that DFS had also gotten a report that Kathy's husband had been convicted of sexually assaulting a teenager many years earlier. Some reports say that this was not true and apparently DFS did not look into it and simply went by what they were told.  This was irresponsible in my opinion but that is just my opinion.  At any rate, having this information the DFS worker also told Christy that she would need to cut her relationship off with her mother as long as Kathy remained with her husband.  Kathy apparently may have had her faults it seems but she was the one person in Christy's life she could apparently count on and be guided.  It does not seem that at that point DFS offered Christy any sort of resources and despite finding nothing pointing to abuse they put tight restrictions on her.  Christy however seemed to be following them.  Then in August of 1998 Kathy's husband had moved out of her home and Christy had taken Logan to her home.  She had left Logan with a babysitter there but while she was gone Kathy's husband apparently showed up and DFS was notified by a neighbor, who apparently must have known the issues.  DFS immediately filed to take custody of Logan.  Christy's first instinct was to flee but she thought better of it and the following day DFS took custody of Logan.

At the time that DFS took Logan she was two and Christy found herself pregnant again.  At this point DFS gave Christy more guidelines to follow in order to get Logan back and keep custody of her new baby, but at least this time they offered her resources too.  She was offered counseling, parenting classes,  and job training.  She was also allowed to stay in a group home until she gave birth to her daughter, Bailey.  Once again however she was told to have no physical contact with her mother.  She was apparently allowed to communicate with Kathy through video and that is how they maintained some sort of a relationship.  So, seven months after the state took Logan they returned her to Christy.

Then it seems that Christy reunited with her father who was living in Florida. Her parents had divorced when Christy was young and apparently it was a very nasty divorce.  At some point Christy accused him of molesting her but recanted and nothing seemed to come of it. Now, in 1999, she was willing to try to have a relationship and she and the girls moved to Florida with him.  That only last apparently about two and a half months and she was back in Maine.  It seems that Kathy was now officially divorced or either DFS figured out they were wrong and when she came back she moved in with Kathy.  Then she married a man named Paul who had been previously convicted for burglary (although this is all I know about this, I have no details on the situation or any jail time).  Once again DFS got a tip that they never bothered to confirm it seems and they showed back up at the door.  First apparently they weren't happy that she had moved around often, they did not like that her husband was a convicted felon, then they had heard a story that Paul had supposedly hit Christy in front of Logan.  They showed up at the door with police officers and a court order to take both girls.  They were placed in a foster home two hours away.

Once again Christy seemed to do whatever she could to get her children back, including divorcing her husband.  In the beginning it seemed that DFS was helping her by providing things like more job training and even transportation for supervised visits with the girls.  She was even working two jobs and seemingly doing everything she could or was supposed to do.  In the meantime Logan, who was now four years old, began having issues seemingly directly related to her separation from her mother and began her own counseling.  Nothing in all the research I read ever indicated that Logan had ever suffered any sort of abuse in any way while under her mother's care.  However, although DFS seemed to not want to discuss it Logan had issues with her first foster family and was moved to a knew one. During this time DFS supervisor, Sally Schofield, the mother of two boys had decided she wanted to adopt a little girl.  She heard about Logan and Bailey and discussed bringing them into her home. Despite it being against state rules apparently by September of 2000 she was allowed to do just that. She would later say that it was her impression that the state was moving to terminate Christy's right and this may explain why suddenly despite all of her efforts to get her children back Christy suddenly had her visitations scaled back and DFS stopped providing the transportation for those visits.  It seems that there was a hearing scheduled for February of 2001 to terminate her rights and pave the way for Sally and her husband to adopt the girls.  Until then however, Sally was still working for DFS and Christy was still having some supervised visitation as long as she could get to the visits on her own.  It does seem that once Christy began to realize that it seemed nothing she did would get her children back she did not do as well.  Once they cut back on her visits and filed for a hearing to terminate her rights she remarried her ex-husband Paul and did not do as well, but I cannot say that this attitude lasted long, but I will say she could hardly be blamed it seems.  Honestly, what was the point in following all of their rules and guides and still getting no where?

On at least two of her visits after the girls had moved in the Schofield house Logan had indicated to Christy that things were not going well and that Sally had hurt her and her sister.  With a caseworker in the room Christy was not allowed to question Logan on these allegations and was instructed to redirect her.  Neither were these allegations looked into per state law.  By January of 2001 Sally had stopped working for DFS so it would allow her to adopt the girls when Christy's rights were terminated.  A visit with Christy was scheduled on January 31, 2001 but due to a snowstorm Christy was unable to keep the visit.  This would be the last day that Logan was alive.

On the evening of January 31, 2001 Sally Schofield called 9-1-1 to her home.  Her first claim would be that Logan had awoken from a nap and was having one of her tantrums.  She indicated that she had calmly asked Logan if she needed a safe place to yell and when she indicated yes, that she and placed her in the basement in a high chair to do so.  She claimed that Logan was in the chair for about an hour but that she would periodically check on her.  On her last check the high chair, with Logan still inside was on the floor to which she called 9-1-1 because she was unresponsive.  Logan was taken to the hospital where she was later declared dead.  The officers responding to the call were suspicious right away of Sally's story. They searched the area of the unfinished basement in which Sally said Logan had been and they found over 40 feet of duct tape crumbled in a corner.  There were blood smears on the tape as well as some on the walls and there was hair attached to the duct tape. Sally quickly changed her story and admitted to wrapping Logan to the high chair with the duct tape and an autopsy would later confirm that the cause of death was asphyxiation.  

Of course Sally was arrested and charged with murder.  She waived the right to a jury trial and asked that her fate be decided by a judge alone.  Of course as we see over and over and over again with defendants her lawyers attempted every thing they could to justify or blame others for her actions.  One of the big things they used was that Sally had used training she had received while working for DFS for "Attachment Therapy" (from here known as AT). She of course also had experts in AT discuss that the methods she used were standard in this therapy.  The problem with this was two fold.  First AT is considered for children that have been abused by their parents and of course the defense and their "experts" were quick to blame Christy for Logan's problems, of which there was absolutely no proof she had ever been abused. And secondly, despite what I have read about AT, there is no way that even if tying a child to a chair is considered not only legal but therapeutic, that tying them to a high chair (where it is literally high), covering their mouth to the point they could not breath and then leaving them alone could in any way be normal behavior.  So even if Sally was using supposed technics  she obviously did not use them correctly and anyone who would argue that she did would not be credible in my opinion.  

In the end the judge found her innocent of murder but did find her guilty on the lesser charge of manslaughter and sentenced her to 20 years (3 suspended) with 4 years of probation that would prevent her from being around children under the age of 12.

Christy did attempt to bring civil suits against DFS itself and individuals.  As far as the state agency and their employees, she had to get court approval to sue to which she was denied.  However, throughout the investigation several things were discovered.  First and foremost, as I mentioned above due to the fact that Sally Schofield worked for DFS she was not allowed to not only adopt children in the system but apparently foster them.  Not only that, but had it been legal for her foster children, by state law she and her husband were required to do training and be licensed as such, of which they did not do.  They did not receive a monthly stipend as foster parents do but they did receive child care and medical expenses and a clothing allowance for the children.  It was also discovered that the allegations made by Logan against Sally in the two visits with Christy were not investigated, nor had a case worker had their tri-monthly visit as they were required.  Then again, many kids in the system were not getting those visits every three months.  The state also failed to formally discipline any of the DFS workers that were involved in the case.  

After Logan's death her sister Bailey was moved to another foster home for a short time and by the next year was returned to Christy's care to which she apparently remains without issue.

Maine DFS obviously had to address the issue of Logan's death and of course, like many it seems their first course of action was to defend themselves.  First they reminded residents of the death of Angela Palmer.  This was quite obviously a scare tactic on their part I am sure. They had to explain how and why they were one of the leading states in removing children from their homes and placing them in foster care.  However, it seems that when it came down to the specifics of Logan's case they had very little to back themselves.  People asked just what was the reason Logan was removed from her mother and were those reasons enough.  They asked why it was better to have the state pay for Logan's care and terminate her mother's rights rather than provide her with the tools and resources she may have needed.  Then of course they were asking why Sally Schofield was allowed to bring the children in her home when it was against the state mandate and the ultimate question was what did they plan to do about all of this. 

Well to give them credit... they answered, at least most of those questions, or at least the most important of those.  As I said in the beginning, Logan's death caused a complete overhaul of the DFS system to a point in which they went from one of the worse state agencies to one of the best and one that is often called a model for other states to look at.  It is very sad that it took this tragic event to make this happen but at least some good came out of it.  I can honestly say though that my fear would be that they would lose their middle ground.  Apparently they were lacking when Angela Palmer was killed by her mother's boyfriend and they became so diligent that they not only created more work than possible for the people they employed, they also seemed to go overboard in judgement.  They should not be scared to remove a child who is being abused or neglected but they should also be aware the issues that arise from taking children who are not or could benefit more in different ways.  Let us just hope they continue to be a role model for other agencies.


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