State: Day Care Provider Neglected Infant Who Later Died


TOPEKA, Kansas (WIBW) -- Almost a year and a half after an infant baby's death, a state investigation into a home day care facility found evidence he may have died because of negligence.

13 News has been following the story and spoke with his mother Wednesday.

Misty Durham says she feels a state investigation means some justice has finally been done for her son Caleb.

"I was amazed, because all year I've been standing up for my son and saying this is wrong and that I know it's wrong," Misty said.

Caleb died February 27, 2013 after he was found unresponsive, lying in a dog bed at Tara Johnson's unlicensed day care home.

The Shawnee County District Attorney's Office declined to pursue criminal charges -- but the Kansas Department for Children and Families investigated and recently released findings about what happened the day Caleb died.

The agency found evidence of physical and medical neglect, and lack of supervision by Johnson, for placing Caleb in the dog bed and leaving him with a friend, who was not an authorized care provider.

DCF also substantiated a medical neglect finding against the friend, Destiny McClusky, for failing to call 911 when she noticed Caleb was unresponsive.

The report states McClusky "did not...attempt to give assistance to Caleb in any way."

Misty says the new findings are a big step, but it isn't enough. She wants the DA's office to reconsider charging Johnson and McClusky.

"My son's dead a at the end of the day due to their behavior. There should be consequences to that. I believe any other parent would agree. I believe he deserves the battle."

DCF has forbidden Johnson and McClusky to work, reside or regularly volunteer in child care facilities regulated by the state and it stays on DCF's record for three years. Both have the right to appeal those orders.

A spokesman for the DA's office told 13 News Tuesday he is not aware of any plans to pursue charges in the child's death.

Former Shawnee County District Coroner Don Pojman could not find a medical explanation for Caleb's death.

Johnson's day care home had received numerous complaints in the past, almost all of which were unsubstantiated by the state.


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