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Lawsuit Claims 2 Murdered Boys Were Unlawfully Placed in Foster Home

— June 24, 2022

A lawsuit was recently filed after two young boys were murdered by their foster parents.

A California mother recently filed a federal lawsuit after her two children with taken from her and placed with foster parents “who are now charged with killing them.” According to the mother, Ryan Dean, her children were “wrongfully taken from her” and placed in the state foster care system. Dean filed the wrongful death lawsuit on June 17 with the children’s grandmother, Dana Moorer. It names the foster parents, Trezell West and Jacqueline West, Kern County Human Services, and the California Department of Social Services as defendants.

Gavel with law books; image by wp paarz, via Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0, no changes.
Gavel with law books; image by wp paarz, via Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0, no changes.

What happened, though? It all began in 2016 when the older of the two children was abruptly taken from his home after he was hospitalized. According to the lawsuit, Dean returned home from work one day in 2016 and found the 3-month-old child crying. She took him to the emergency room where it was discovered that the boy “had two broken legs.” The boy’s father, Charles Pettus, claimed at the time that “he gave his son two baths that day and nothing else happened.”

Kern County Human Services was notified by hospital staff of the situation. The agency notified Dean that it would be “taking the child because it believed the child had been abused.” It’s important to note that Dean had no prior criminal record and no allegations of child abuse against her at the time.

Later in June 2017, Dean gave birth to another son. Soon after, however, a sheriff’s deputy took the newborn away after Human Services officials said “they like to keep siblings together.” From there, the brothers spent a few months with one foster family before being placed with the Wests in late 2018.

Not long after her children were placed with the Wests, Dean allegedly began to notice her sons were losing weight and her youngest son “had scratches on his face.” The suit states:

“In November 2018, Ms. Dean wrote a letter expressing her concerns about the lack of proper care her children were receiving while in the foster care of the Wests. No one ever provided a response to the letter.”

In an effort to get the boys back with their family, Moorer, Dean’s mother, “filed requests to have the children placed in her care, which were ignored.” She also “completed parenting classes and a psychological review in an attempt to get her grandsons but was denied.”

As a result, the suit alleges “state and county officials negligently placed the brothers in the Wests’ care, so as to directly and proximately cause the subsequent death of the minor children.” The suit continues:

“Officials denied the biological mother and grandmother’s requests to reunify with the children before they were killed.”

Tragically, the brothers were reported missing on December 21, 2020, and have yet to be found. In March, Kern County prosecutors confirmed that an investigation determined the children were deceased and the Wests “pleaded not guilty to multiple charges including two counts of second-degree murder.”

Dean’s suit is seeking $40 million in damages. When commenting on the matter, Dean said, “I just feel like I didn’t deserve this…I’m not a criminal. I don’t have a bad record.” Waukeen Q. McCoy, the attorney representing the family, also chimed in and said:

“Cinsere and Classic Pettus were murdered after being unlawfully taken from their mother as a result of an outdated foster care model that Congress described as having a perverse incentive to tear African American families apart.”


Lawsuit: 2 slain boys unlawfully placed with foster parents

Biological mother of 2 young brothers who died while in foster claims sons were unlawfully taken

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