Failure to Protect
homelogan marrcaseworker fileschild policydiscussion
transcript

Failure to Protect:
The Taking of Logan Marr

Produced by
Rachel Dretzin
Barak Goodman

Written by
Barak Goodman

    [home video]

    CHRISTY MARR: Where'd that Logan girl go! Anybody see her?

    LOGAN MARR: [laughs]

    CHRISTY MARR: Hey!

    NEWSCASTER: Police want to know how 5-year-old Logan Marr died-

ANNOUNCER: In her 5 years of life, Logan Marr lived in three foster homes. In the last, she died.

    NEWSCASTER: Little Logan was in the custody of her foster parents, Dean and Sally Schofield.

    POLICE OFFICIAL: There are unanswered questions and-

ANNOUNCER: Logan's death has wrecked the lives of two women, the mother who gave her birth but was deemed unfit to raise her-

    CHRISTY MARR: The system is failing again, once again, this little girl.

ANNOUNCER: -and the mother who sought to take her in but did not keep her safe.

    NEWSCASTER: What's most shocking about this case is that Sally Schofield had worked for the DHS in the Division of Child Services for years.

    NEWSCASTER: She was considered a perfect candidate.

ANNOUNCER: Between them is Maine's Department of Human Services, which has had to answer troubling questions about its handling of the case.

    WOMAN: This is not an isolated case; it's an isolated case because someone died.

ANNOUNCER: Why did the department separate a child who had never been abused from her mother? Did they miss signs that she was in trouble? What does the short life and sudden death of a little girl reveal about the shrouded work of one state's child protective system?

JOHN HOCKENBERRY: Right now in this country there are about 600,000 children living in foster care, removed from their homes after allegations of abuse or neglect. That's a population roughly the size of Baltimore. Yet taking a child remains one of the most closely guarded exercises of government power.

Tonight FRONTLINE begins a special three-part series focusing on this decision, how it is made and what are the consequences. Coming up in Part 1, the story of one little girl named Logan Marr and the series of decisions that led to her tragic death in foster care.

Next week, in Part 2, FRONTLINE goes inside one state's child protective system and follows stories found in the normally secret files of a group of caseworkers. Directly after that, we will convene here at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism to talk with experts and ordinary people who have been caught up in this system.

First, Part 1, The Taking of Logan Marr.

NARRATOR: The story of Logan Marr begins here. It's a poor neighborhood, like most of the places in this state where child protective cases begin. A phone call to the state's Department of Human Services warned that an infant girl living in this building with her teenage mother might be unsafe. A DHS caseworker was sent to investigate.

CHRISTY MARR: Logan was still in her crib. And I had just gotten up, and I had just put out my first cigarette. And I walked to the door, like, "Who is it?" She's, like, "Diane Sanborn, Department of Human Services." I'm, like, "Yeah? What do you want?" "We need to talk to you." So I opened the door. And she wanted to look in my cupboards and she wanted to look in my fridge, and she wanted to see Logan. So I brought Logan out of her room.

NARRATOR: Caseworker Diane Sanborn's notes from that day:

    [scrolling on screen] "Logan is a very beautiful child, with brown curly hair and big brown eyes. Logan did not appear fearful of her mother and, in fact, because I was a stranger, was more attached to her."

NARRATOR: Christy asked Sanborn who had made the report.

CHRISTY MARR: She wouldn't tell me who had called. And I said, "I think I know where you got it." And she wouldn't confirm it, but she wouldn't deny it, either. So it was one of those things.

INTERVIEWER: Who was it?

CHRISTY MARR: My mother.

NARRATOR: Christy and her mother, Kathy, had had a stormy relationship. Shortly after giving birth to Logan, Christy had moved into her mother's small apartment. The two fought constantly over how to raise the baby.

CHRISTY MARR: I used to stand up for myself. She used to get so mad, you know, and- "Well, then you need to leave"- you know, one of those attitudes. Then I'd leave, and she'd call the state.

NARRATOR: Caseworker notes on Kathy's phone call.

    [scrolling on screen] "Kathy has always been concerned that Christy is too immature and troubled to be a good parent to Logan. Kathy said Christy screams and hollers at the baby all the time. Kathy said the other day, Christy was left alone with the baby. When Kathy returned, Christy was crying and said "I can't stand this" and ran out the door."

    **SHALEIGH ANTHONY, Caseworker: [on the phone] Hello. My name is Shaleigh Anthony from the Department of Human Services.

    CASEWORKER: Now you got a case on the grandmother?

    ROBIN WHITNEY, Caseworker: But you do have some concerns about her ability to protect.

NARRATOR: Kathy's phone call was one of over 15,000 reports of suspected neglect or abuse fielded by Maine's DHS that year. Many of these reports must be investigated by child protective workers, some just out of college.

    **SHALEIGH ANTHONY: The baby fell out of the bed, and I didn't know whether that would be "inadequate care and supervision" or "threat of physical abuse".

NARRATOR: In cases where there is an imminent risk of serious harm, caseworkers will immediately seek the removal of the child. More often, they will first try to fix whatever is wrong inside a family. In Christy's case, despite her mother's charges, the agency at first found little to fault in her mothering of Logan.

CHRISTY MARR: I was never accused of being an abusive or an unfit mother. I just had things I had to work on, is what they- how they claimed it.

NARRATOR: What Christy had to work on was what DHS considered an unhealthy relationship with a boyfriend who had admitted using drugs. The department told Christy that she would have to follow a new set of rules.

DHS service agreement:

    [scrolling on screen] "Christy will not allow anyone to live, reside or stay over until this person has been screened and approved by the Department of Human Services. Christy will submit names of people or person with whom she is or plans to be intimately involved, and shall not allow any contact between that person and Logan until assessed and approved by DHS."

NARRATOR: As the months passed, records show, Christy tried to live by the agency's mandates, but she became more and more resentful.

CHRISTY MARR: Somebody else was running my life. I was just a person following rules. It wasn't my direction, it wasn't my thoughts, my opinions, it was theirs. It made it really hard to have your own life personal. Angry? That goes without saying. I think it was more hatred.

NARRATOR: But things for Christy only became tougher. Not only were her own relationships under scrutiny, soon so were her mother's. Kathy had married a man named Mitch, whom DHS had been told, falsely, had been convicted of sexually assaulting a teenage girl years before. As long as Kathy and Mitch remained together, DHS warned, Christy would have to stay away or risk losing custody of Logan.

Christy tried to keep away from her mother, but she had few other sources of emotional support. Inevitably, she ended up drifting back.

DHS caseworker notes:

    [scrolling on screen] "Christy is missing Kathy very much and missing the companionship of that relationship. She says that she is lonely and does not feel that she has a lot of friends."

NARRATOR: Then Christy made a costly mistake. One day, she left 2-year-old Logan with a babysitter at her mother's house. Mitch, who had previously moved out, showed up outside. He was spotted by a neighbor, who called DHS. Citing Christy's failure to protect her daughter from the threat posed by others, the department immediately sought custody of Logan.

CHRISTY MARR: They went to court, and they got an order saying that I was allowing my daughter around unsafe people. I'll take some- some of the blame, sure. If I wasn't there, it wouldn't have happened. But at the same time, he wasn't supposed to be there.

NARRATOR: DHS affidavit requesting Logan's removal:

    [scrolling on screen] "Despite the Department's involvement with Christy since June 1996, Christy continues to demonstrate recidivism under scrutiny, a clear sign that Christy is unable or unwilling to make the necessary changes to provide a home free from threat of sexual and emotional abuse. The department is asking for custody of Logan Marr to be granted to the State of Maine's Department of Human Services."

NARRATOR: Hearing of the department's plan to take Logan, Christy took her daughter and fled, heading south towards Boston. But she realized her efforts to flee were futile and returned the same day. By the next morning, two caseworkers had come and taken 2-and-a-half-year-old Logan. She was now in the custody of the state of Maine.

    JEAN LEONARD, Caseworker: [on the phone] You know, who knows, we- what will happen between now and when the hearing is set, but at this point, we are still going to ask for custody.

NARRATOR: The removal of a child from a home deemed unsafe is the most emotional aspect of a caseworker's job.

    MELISSA DUMONT: [on the phone] That's why when you asked me if you could visit with Mom again, I said no, because Mom, you know, isn't going to be a part of your life anymore.

NARRATOR: Though any decision to take a child must be vetted in court, the caseworkers themselves have the key voice. It is often an anguishing choice between protecting a child and destroying a family.

SALLY SCHOFIELD: Sometimes we'd have to go, you know, at night and get them. I've removed kids who were sleeping in their beds, you know, because that was the safest time to go and get them.

NARRATOR: Sally Schofield was a well-regarded caseworker in the Bangor office of DHS. Over time, as she participated in more and more removals, she began to feel distanced from her clients.

SALLY SCHOFIELD: I remember more than once having a birth mother tell me, "Well, go ahead and take that kid. That's all right. I'll have another one," and being astounded by that- I guess the audacity to make that comment.

And I would think, you know, "If anybody took my children, how in the world could you not cry? How in the world could you not lose it? How do you function? They're taking your life, your being. How do these parents not feel that?" And my first supervisor used to tell me that's why they're clients, and we're not.

NARRATOR: By the fall of 1998, Logan and Christy had been separated for three months. Christy seemed unable to make the changes necessary to get her daughter back. She was pregnant again, skipping mandatory counseling sessions and leaning on her mother more than ever. The department issued an ultimatum. If Christy hoped to regain Logan and keep her new baby, she would have to end her relationship with her mother once and for all.

November 9th, 1998, service agreement:

    [scrolling on screen] "Christy will sever all contact with her mother and demonstrate that she is able to maintain herself separately from her mother's negative influence. Christy will participate fully with the Department of Human Services, understanding this is the last attempt that the Department is willing to make to reunify Logan with Christy and that custody of her second child will also be in jeopardy."

NARRATOR: To get Logan back, Christy, now a 21-year old single mother of two young girls, would have to go it alone.

    [home movie]

    CHRISTY MARR: This is the girls' closet, so you have the little toys. Then we'll

venture out here-

NARRATOR: Christy moved into a new apartment with her new baby girl, whom she named Bailey.

    [home movie]

    CHRISTY MARR: There's Bailey, wide awake, as always. Say hi!

NARRATOR: She communicated with her mother only by videotape.

    [home movie]

    CHRISTY MARR: Please remember me and the kids love you. We think about you all the time, even though we can't be together.

NARRATOR: Christy's efforts to stay away from her mother reassured her DHS caseworker. After seven months, satisfied that Christy had changed, the department returned Logan.

CHRISTY MARR: I remember March 24th, she was home. She was back in my custody, and they closed the case in June.

    [home movie]

    CHRISTY MARR: [to Logan] Go give sis a kiss. What a good girl!

INTERVIEWER: And what did they tell you when they closed the case?

CHRISTY MARR: That I had accomplished everything that I needed to, to become a stable and a safe environment for my children to be together with me.

NARRATOR: But Christy had paid a heavy price to regain Logan. She had cut herself off from the only lasting adult relationship in her life. Now completely on her own, responsible for two young girls, Christy went looking for her father 1,000 miles away in Florida. He had become alienated from the family after an ugly divorce in which Christy had accused him of molesting her, an accusation her father denied and which she later recanted. Putting the past behind her, Christy and her girls moved in with her father and his new family. For a while, things were good. With something approaching a normal family life, Logan appeared to thrive.

LYDIA BAKER, Christy's Stepmother: Never once did I have a problem with her here- no throwing herself down on the ground, no nothing. I mean, she was a typical little girl. Got mad cause something didn't go her way? Yeah. A tantrum? No. They just needed a life that was stable. She didn't have one, and she had it here, you know, for the nine weeks that they had lived down here.

NARRATOR: But Christy chafed under her father's rules. Her attempt at reconciliation soon failed. After nine weeks in Florida, she headed back to Maine. It was the dead of winter and Christy had no job, no home and no prospects. Then she made two fateful decisions. She moved back in with her mother and attached herself to another boyfriend of questionable character, a convicted burglar named Paul. Before long, they were married.

Learning of Christy's trip to Florida and her new relationship, DHS reopened her case. They assigned it to an inexperienced child protective caseworker named Allison Peters. Peters received a tip, never confirmed, that Paul had hit Christy in front of Logan. She moved quickly, arriving unannounced at Christy's door with two police officers and a court order to remove her girls.

CHRISTY MARR: There was a knock at the door. It was 11:30 in the morning. And I remember them walking in. Yet they didn't have the door- my hand on the door, and they just walked right in!

NARRATOR: Allison Peters's notes:

    [scrolling on screen] "I took Christy aside and explained what was going to happen. She was very upset. I asked her to try to remain calm for the children's sake."

CHRISTY MARR: And I'm, like, "You can't do this." She goes, "Oh, yes, I can, and I'm going to." Logan started screaming, "No, Mommy! Don't let them take me! Mommy, please don't let them take me!" I told her it was going to be OK. She's, like, "No, Mommy! Don't make me go!"

    [scrolling on screen] "Christy helped us dress the kids and helped us put them in the car. She was appropriate in reminding the children that they knew me and they would be OK with me."

CHRISTY MARR: I carried them all the way out to the van. I was- I was surrounded by two cops and two caseworkers. They slammed the door and took off.

NARRATOR: The girls were driven to a foster home two hours away. It would be the last time that Logan would ever live with her mother.

As Christy was struggling with the loss of her girls, DHS caseworker Sally Schofield had begun to think about adopting a little girl of her own. She had two boys, one from a previous marriage. But she had always longed for a girl.

SALLY SCHOFIELD: I sort of felt like if I had 12 children, they'd probably all be boys, so I'd never get a girl. So we decided to pursue adoption.

NARRATOR: DHS discourages its caseworkers from adopting children from within the system, but Sally was determined to be an exception. She enrolled with her husband in a mandatory training program for adoptive parents, where her experience as a DHS caseworker immediately set her apart.

SALLY SCHOFIELD: I think probably the general consensus was that I was some sort of know-it-all, you know, because I would say, "Well, you know, I think that maybe we ought to look at this piece," if something came up or whatever. And the instructors, clearly, were looking to me for clarification or for answers. And although I didn't notice it, my husband was noticing that there were certain people in the class who were just, like, "Oh, great. Here she goes again."

NARRATOR: In her years at DHS, Sally had developed great confidence in her own ability to handle children. When a pre-adoption assessment made some critical comments, Sally complained so loudly that the authors removed the offending language.

Sally Schofield's pre-adoption assessment:

    [scrolling on screen] "When asked how she would deal with a child in a very challenging parenting situation - for example, a child who is out of control and not following the rules - Sally said she couldn't imagine a situation in which a child of theirs would be that far out of control."

    **CASEWORKER: [on the phone] Well, we don't have a home for him yet, a definite home. So until we do, he'll be with you.

NARRATOR: Sally picked a good time to pursue adoption. In an effort to rescue kids from the limbo of foster care, the federal government had begun offering states like Maine financial incentives to place children in adoption. Also, biological parents were given less time to turn their lives around before losing their children permanently. The new legislation reflected a philosophical shift in child protective work, which for decades had emphasized keeping families together. Now the focus was on keeping children safe, even at the expense of the rights of their parents.

[www.pbs.org: Examine the new policies]

For Christy, the clock was running out. By July, 2000, her girls were still in foster care. Christy had only eight months left to prove herself or face the likelihood of losing her daughters for good. Determined to get her girls back, Christy divorced Paul, worked two jobs and attended mandatory classes and therapy sessions, riding for hours in DHS vans to get to them.

CHRISTY MARR: It was just hard to keep up with things sometimes. It felt like I was dragging all the time. I didn't know when it was going to end. Well, where is the end to this? You do everything and you do everything, but it doesn't seem like there's an end.

NARRATOR: While Christy struggled to prove herself, 4-year-old Logan was beginning to show the effects of separation from her mother. The department had placed the girls with a new foster mother named Mary Beth Anderson. According to parts of Mary Beth's journal, Logan asked her from the start when her mother would "get her back."

    [scrolling on screen] "April 16th. I told her I didn't know, that Mommy had choices and needed to make the right decisions so they would have a safe home."

    "April 21st. Logan asked at breakfast if I thought her mommy was going to get her back. She told me a story of how the cops came to Grandpa's house and said they would take her away, and Mommy cried. She says cops are bad."

NARRATOR: That month, Logan was seen by a therapist five times. The therapist listed the themes in Logan's play as, "Mommy and Daddy fighting, Mommy and Daddy losing their baby, big sisters taking care of little sisters, and someone took me away, but I don't know why." The little girl who had seemed so happy in Florida only a few months before was now in obvious pain.

NARRATOR: Mary Beth Anderson's journal:

    "May 10th. Logan's outrage is still bad. The child has anger by the ton. Logan pushes and pushes, and if I don't react, pushes further with whining and screaming, "No!" and punching with closed fists and kicking."

    "May 24th. Logan started right off with `Do you think my mommy will get me back?' My pat answer is, `I don't know.' She didn't get a reaction from me, so she escalated by talking loudly and non-stop about her mom right next to me."

NARRATOR: By July, Mary Beth was having trouble coping with Logan. Concerned that she might have been abused sometime in the past, she brought Logan for an evaluation to the Spurwink Clinic. Despite extensive examinations, Spurwink counselors could find no evidence of any abuse, physical or sexual. Instead, they recommended that Logan receive counseling to cope with the separation from her mother.

Then, the night before Logan's first day of kindergarten, something happened. There was a physical incident between Mary Beth and Logan, an incident both Mary Beth and DHS refuse to discuss. Whatever took place in Mary Beth's home, DHS moved quickly to find a new foster placement for the girls.

They turned to one of their own, Sally Schofield. Department rules normally bar caseworkers from becoming foster parents to children within the system. Nevertheless, just a week after the incident in Mary Beth's home, Sally received a call from caseworker Allison Peters.

SALLY SCHOFIELD: Allison told us that, you know, the girls were beautiful little girls. They didn't have any issues. They didn't have any behaviors. They had to move the girls, and they were heading for TPR and-

INTERVIEWER: Termination.

SALLY SCHOFIELD: Right

NARRATOR: Terminating Christy's parental rights would free the girls to be adopted.

SALLY SCHOFIELD: The plan was that they would be freed for adoption. So at the time that the girls needed to move, the department wanted to find a family that would take them now, and then, ultimately, down the road, adopt them, so they wouldn't have to move again.

INTERVIEWER: And that was you.

SALLY SCHOFIELD: Right.

INTERVIEWER: Did you get the sense, when Logan was brought to you, that she was a difficult little girl? Did anybody tell you she was a difficult little girl?

SALLY SCHOFIELD: No. Actually, what we were told was that they didn't have any behavioral problems and there were no known emotional problems.

NARRATOR: The girls moved in with Sally in early September, 2000. She took to them immediately.

SALLY SCHOFIELD: You know, we fell in love with those girls probably that first weekend. These were our children, and we didn't treat them any differently than we did the boys. I mean, they were our children.

NARRATOR: While Sally sought to win the girls' trust, DHS cut back Christy's visits with them. She would have to provide her own transportation, though she didn't have a car. She was not allowed to know Sally's address, last name or occupation.

SALLY SCHOFIELD: We never met. The plan for visits was that I would get there early and drop off the girls and then leave, so she wouldn't even be able to identify the vehicle the girls got into. And then at the end of the visit, the visit supervisor would leave the birth mom in the room, bring the girls out to me and then go back. And once I'd left the parking lot, she would then allow the birth mother to come out of the building. So that was the plan.

NARRATOR: Discouraged, Christy began to falter. She missed classes and counseling appointments. At one point, she stormed out of a meeting with her DHS caseworker.

INTERVIEWER: You knew you might lose your kids. How could you not go to every single thing that they wanted you to do?

CHRISTY MARR: I was tired, very tired. I was losing faith and hope. Why bother? What's going to come out of this, anyway? You know, they're going to try to take my kids, and they're not going to, you know, give them back, and they know it. Why- why are they doing this? Why am I fighting so hard? No matter how hard I'm fighting, what would be the point? I'm going to lose in the end, anyway.

[www.pbs.org: Read the interview]

NARRATOR: In a fit of pique, Christy quietly remarried Paul, the man whose presence had led to the removal of Logan and Bailey, in the first place.

INTERVIEWER: Did you think they wouldn't find out?

CHRISTY MARR: I knew they'd find out. I think I- I didn't want to tell them because I wanted to do it out of spite, because that's how much I hated them.

NARRATOR: In December, Sally sent a Christmas card to her family and friends.

SALLY SCHOFIELD: [reading] "Seasons greetings to you all. I hope this Christmas finds you in good health and even better spirits. On September 1st, we had two little girls join our family. They are just darling, as you can see, and have settled in rather nicely. I'm still waiting for it to hit me that we now have four kids."

INTERVIEWER: Though not rich herself, Sally was able to give Logan things that Christy had not- swimming lessons and dance classes. But Logan didn't seem happy.

SALLY SCHOFIELD: I remember one day Bailey was upset because she couldn't get down and play during supper. She was having a problem with that, and Logan was trying to comfort her and said, "Well, don't worry, Sister. Maybe our next home, you won't- we won't- they won't have that rule." And she said that very matter-of-factly. And I said, "Well- well, sweetie, where do you think you're going?" She goes, "Well, you know, in our next home." Definite survival skills. She had to know everything that went on and why. She thought she was a parent. She thought she had to take care of Bailey and herself.

    [home video]

    LOGAN: No, no! Like this! Like this!

    DEAN SCHOFIELD: No, no, Logan! Let's just let her be.

NARRATOR: By the time she arrived at Sally's, Logan was in her third foster home in four years of life. Sally would be the fourth woman to assume the role of mother.

SALLY SCHOFIELD: I really think that there was a lot of turmoil inside of her. And she would have these moods where she was terribly confused. When she would come home from the visits, she would start talking about something that her birth mom had said, or say, "Oh, Mommy- I mean, Sally- I mean, Mommy- I mean, well"- she was struggling.

NARRATOR: According to DHS' own notes, Logan seemed especially upset during her visits with Christy.

Visit supervisor's notes:

    [scrolling on screen] "October 12th. Logan kept telling Mom throughout the visit that she was her favorite person in the whole world. As the visit was ending, Logan ran to Mom and said, "I want to go home with you." Christy said, "That's not possible. And you have a lot of things to keep you busy, like swimming and dancing lessons."

    [home video]

    CHRISTY MARR: You're rich! Show me! Wow! What are you going to do with all that money?

    LOGAN: I'm going to pretend somebody's going to buy- me!

    [scrolling on screen] "October 30th. Logan tells Christy, "I don't like Sally." Christy replied that Sally seemed like a very nice lady, did many nice things for the girls and dressed them beautifully. Logan burst into tears, and Christy held her and told her that she would always be there for her."

    "December 7th. Out of the blue, Logan said, "Do you know what Sally looks like?" Christy said, "Yes, I have seen her." Logan said, "I don't like her."

SALLY SCHOFIELD: Then she started with the tantrums. I mean, things like normal temper tantrums, kids- you know, they get mad and they scream and they cry, and they, you know, stomp off to their room or whatever. Those are normal temper tantrums. She really had rages. She would scream at the top of her lungs that she didn't need parents, she didn't need us, she could take care of herself. She'd always done it. She didn't need parents for anything.

She would destroy her bed. She would kick the wall. She would beat on the wall with her arms. She would thrash around. She was out of control.

She- she was- I don't know. She was responding to something, but not the situation at hand. And as a parent, your first response is, "Oh, what is going on? What is this about?" And then, almost the very next feeling is, "Who did this to my baby? What did they do? Why, at 4 years of age, is she in so much pain? What's happened to her? What demons is she dealing with?"

NARRATOR: Suddenly, all the confidence which Sally had accumulated as a parent and a DHS caseworker seemed to vanish.

INTERVIEWER: You had these years and years of dealing with difficult children. Where did that training go?

SALLY SCHOFIELD: [laughs] The thing about dealing with difficult children is that there's a world of difference between book knowledge and actual experience. And there are all kinds of people who know all kinds of things about attachment disorder and children with attachment issues and all kinds of other special needs that children have. But until you've lived with those children, you have no idea what it's like.

CHRISTY MARR: So when they said that she was raging and she was throwing things and- that- that wasn't Logan. That was not Logan. And it didn't make sense to me, and it didn't- I'm, like, "All right, I can understand temper tantrums." I mean, yeah, she's got them when she don't get her way. But it wasn't often. And these people are saying she had one every time she saw me. Well, what could be the reason she was doing it after she saw me? Maybe because she wanted to come home.

NARRATOR: In mid-October, Christy had a visit with her girls. As a DHS supervisor watched, Christy reportedly became alarmed over some discoloration on Bailey's behind, which later turned out to be diaper rash.

Visit supervisor's notes:

    [scrolling on screen] "I told Christy that her concerns would be noted. Christy then told Logan that if anyone does anything she doesn't like or doesn't feel right, she should tell her. She told her that she could tell her mother anything and Christy would never get angry with her."

NARRATOR: A few weeks later, according to a news account, caseworker Allison Peters sent Christy a letter chastising her for voicing her concerns. "Logan does not need to distrust her foster home, nor any of the individuals caring for her," Peters wrote. "You could have very well left Logan with a sense of fear and distrust." She ended the letter with a warning: "Help make your visits a positive experience for Logan and Bailey so that they will continue."

CHRISTY MARR: She would beg and fight with me at the end of the visit not to go back. I didn't know why. You know, she would tell me things and- but I couldn't really discuss them with them or comment on them or ask her questions.

INTERVIEWER: Like?

CHRISTY MARR: She would tell me that the foster parents would wrap her and her sister up in blankets and grab her face. And you know, she said that she would get in trouble sometimes. I'm, like, "You want to talk about it?" She goes, "No, I don't want to talk about it."

NARRATOR: On December 18, Christy had her Christmas visit with her daughters. In a roomful of gifts, she waited.

CHRISTY MARR: And I remember going in that room and just waiting with the camcorder. I could hear them coming down the hall - here they come - because it was my mom's Christmas present because she couldn't be there to see the kids.

    [home video]

    LOGAN: Mom!

    CHRISTY MARR: What?

    LOGAN: What are you doing?

NARRATOR: While a DHS visit supervisor sat listening, Logan told her mother that Sally had hurt her.

    **LOGAN: Mommy? Just so you know- you know Sally, my birth mom?

    CHRISTY MARR: No, I'm your birth mom. You mean your foster mom?

    LOGAN: She did this to me, and I cried. And it hurts me.

    CASEWORKER: What did she do to you?

    CHRISTY MARR: Oh, I'm very sorry.

    **LOGAN: And she did it to my sister, too.

CHRISTY MARR: It- still it stunned me, what would make a 5-year-old stop opening Christmas presents on that day to say what she did to me about Sally grabbing her face, making her hurt and her sister- on her sister, too.

INTERVIEWER: What did you think when she said that?

CHRISTY MARR: I didn't know what to think. I believed her, though. And I just- I wanted to ask her so many questions. Why? What happened. I went to say something, and I got a look from the supervisor, like, you know, head shaking, "No, don't go into detail." And so I kind of- just kind of had to bite my tongue. And it's, like, "Well, let's try not to worry about that. Let's try to have a good Christmas."

    [home movie]

    **CHRISTY MARR: Well, why don't you sit down, and we'll have a good Christmas. And let's not think about that right now, OK?

INTERVIEWER: But you couldn't ask her.

CHRISTY MARR: Couldn't ask her. No.

    [home movie]

    LOGAN: Mommy, I love you!

    CHRISTY MARR: You know what? I love you!

    Whatever you guys got here today, you guys are more than welcome to play with. That is the whole purpose of having Christmas together. That way, we can spend it together.

    LOGAN: But not at my home.

    CHRISTY MARR: No.

NARRATOR: In early January, 2001, during another supervised visit, Logan again told her mother that Sally had handled her roughly, wrapping her up in a blanket. And again Christy was signaled not to pursue the matter. DHS's own rules require caseworkers to visit every foster home quarterly and to promptly investigate any complaint of physical abuse. Allison Peters did neither. Peters declined FRONTLINE's request for an interview.

By January, Sally had quit her job as a caseworker and DHS had decided to pave the way for her adoption of the girls, despite clear and repeated warnings that she was having a difficult time dealing with Logan. On January 8th, just five days after Logan's last allegation, Allison Peters emailed Sally, "Christy is still up to her old tricks, so she continues to make termination of parental rights easier and easier to get."

In late January, Christy wrote what would be her last letter to her daughters.

CHRISTY MARR: [reading] "Dear Logan and Bailey, my sweet little ladies. I think of you so much and often, it seems hard to believe you girls have been gone so long now. In a month or so, I stand a chance to lose the both of you forever. It's been no picnic, but this is not your fault. It's mine and mine alone. From what I understand, you girls have things I couldn't or didn't know how to give to you. But I'm trying to learn, and I hope some day you will forgive me for messing up your lives. Please don't forget me. When the day comes you need me or want me, you'll find me. I love you girls forever and always. Love always, Mom."

INTERVIEWER: You had given up.

CHRISTY MARR: I had given up. I couldn't do it anymore. I was hurting too much. I was too tired. No matter how much everybody says, "Don't give up, Don't give up, you've got to keep fighting," they weren't walking in my shoes. They didn't know what I went through day in and day out. Maybe if they did, they'd know- you know, getting pressures from different ends of the world. Just too tired, too frustrated.

NARRATOR: Logan never heard Christy's letter. Christy had hoped to give it to her on their next visit, scheduled for January 31st. There was a blizzard that day. Sally called her babysitter to tell her that Logan's visit with Christy was off.

SALLY SCHOFIELD: When I got home, I don't know, a little before 3:00, I guess, Logan was asleep. And when she woke up about, I don't know, a half hour, 45 minutes later, she woke up raging. And I went in and- and asked her what was going on. And she just- I mean, she just wasn't even responsive to my questions. I mean, it was like she didn't even know. She couldn't- couldn't even tell me. She just wasn't herself. I asked her if she needed to scream, and she said yes. I said, "OK, well, then, let's put you some place where you can scream.

[www.pbs.org: Read the interview]

NARRATOR: Sally put Logan in an unfinished portion of her basement in a high chair.

INTERVIEWER: She was free to get out of that chair?

SALLY SCHOFIELD: Absolutely.

INTERVIEWER: How long was she there?

SALLY SCHOFIELD: Must have been over an hour. I kept going down to check on her, see if she was OK, see if she needed to go to the bathroom, if she was done, you know, did she need something.

NARRATOR: At one point, Sally says, she left Logan in the basement to start cooking dinner.

SALLY SCHOFIELD: So I went upstairs and put pork chops and baked potatoes in the oven and might have been up there three minutes. And I came back, and she was quiet. And I said, "Are you done?" And she didn't answer.

NARRATOR: Sally would later say she found Logan lying in a heap on the floor, still confined to her high chair. She wasn't breathing.

    **SALLY SCHOFIELD: My 5-year-old hit her head. She's not breathing.

    911 OPERATOR: She's not breathing at all?

    SALLY SCHOFIELD: No. I tried CPR, and I can't find a pulse.

NARRATOR: Logan was rushed to Maine General Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead. That night, the police came to interview Sally Schofield.

    [police interrogation]

    SALLY SCHOFIELD: I went down to the bottom of the stairs and I said, "Logan are you done?" And she was on the floor, still in the high chair. My first thought was, "Oh, my God," you know, "she hit her head and she knocked herself out." So I picked her up and I took her out to the bottom of the stairs and laid her down. And I- at that point, I was just- my heart was racing so hard, I couldn't tell if it was her pulse or my fingers. So I was- at that point, I was sure that what had happened was she had somehow managed to get herself tipped back and hit her head, you know, and kind of knocked herself out or whatever.

    NEWSCASTER: Police want to know how 5-year-old Logan Marr died. Emergency crews were called to-

    NEWSCASTER: Logan was in the custody of her foster parents, Dean and Sally Schofield.

    NEWSCASTER: -where she was pronounced dead upon arrival.

    POLICE OFFICIAL: There are unanswered questions and-

    NEWSCASTER: Detectives say there were inconsistencies in Sally Schofield's story.

NARRATOR: In a subsequent search of Sally's home, police found evidence that raised doubts about her story. Strewn amid boxes in the dank basement were clumps of duct tape, some 40 feet in all. Police tests revealed that the tape had been looped repeatedly around Logan's body and head and across her mouth. Tufts of Logan's hair could be seen stuck to the tape. An autopsy revealed that Logan had not died from a blow to the head but from asphyxiation.

Less than 48 hours after Logan's death, detectives confronted Sally with the new evidence. At first, Sally said that Logan had tangled herself in the duct tape, but her story soon crumbled.

    [police interrogation]

    1st DETECTIVE: There are some things that we are able to see from the medical examiners. There are some conclusions that we can come to so far. We can see that she was fully duct-taped in that seat and that the duct tape went all the way around the seat. Is that what you recall seeing?

    SALLY SCHOFIELD: I honestly and truly don't remember. I mean, I didn't pay attention to it. It was just- I didn't pay attention to the details.

    1st DETECTIVE: And that's one thing that does surprise me, that she would be able to do that, to duct-tape herself into the seat. And that's why I'm coming to you today to say, Sally, that if you put her to secure her in that seat, it's very important, at this point, that you tell us that.

    2nd DETECTIVE: We know that a 5-year-old girl isn't going to take duct tape, and especially in the ways you described it. So you didn't just tape her in at all, just one roll to keep her there-

    1st DETECTIVE: To keep her [unintelligible]

    2nd DETECTIVE: It's- it's there. We have the evidence that shows it's there.

    SALLY SCHOFIELD: No. She was talking about the duct tape, and I said, "What were you trying to do?"

    2nd DETECTIVE: See, Sally, it's there, though. That's the thing.

    SALLY SCHOFIELD: The thing is that she made some [unintelligible] comment, and I said, "What were you trying to do, tie yourself in?" And she said, "Yes." So I said, "Like this?" And then I did it.

    NEWSCASTER: They arrested Schofield this morning and brought her here.

    NEWSCASTER: What's most shocking about this case is that Sally Schofield had worked for the DHS in the Division of Child Services for years.

    NEWSCASTER: She was considered a perfect candidate.

NARRATOR: On March 8, Sally was arrested and charged with "depraved indifference murder" and manslaughter. A prosecution affidavit alleged that she had taped Logan to her high chair and taped her mouth shut. Shortly after, DHS came to the home of their former caseworker.

SALLY SCHOFIELD: The department took my children the next day.

INTERVIEWER: Did they warn you that that was going to happen?

SALLY SCHOFIELD: They called me at 6:30 that night to say, "We're on our way with a petition. We're going to take your kids."

INTERVIEWER: Did you know where they were going to go?

SALLY SCHOFIELD: No. I told them that I would leave the house, that they didn't have to take my children. "We'll have family come in here and stay with the children. You don't need to remove the children." "Nope, we're going to remove the children."

SALLY SCHOFIELD: The baby had never gone more than 12 hours without seeing me, and he had never even spent the night anywhere without us. And they took him, and we weren't allowed to see him for 10 days. And he was sick and he was tired, and he cried and he cried, and he kept calling for Mommy and Daddy.

NARRATOR: Christy did not see Logan until the day of her funeral.

CHRISTY MARR: She was partially dressed because I wanted to dress her for the last time. I figured I was the first one to dress her in this world, wanted to make sure I was the last. I remember I always had a knack for buying the wrong size shoes. I bought the wrong size shoes even for her funeral. They had to cut them. I was trying to gently put them on her feet, and he says, "You're not going to hurt her."

NARRATOR: In June, 2002, Sally was tried for the death of Logan. In her interviews with FRONTLINE, taped before the trial, she would not discuss the circumstances of Logan's death, but she denied having intentionally harmed Logan.

INTERVIEWER: You maintain that what happened was unavoidable.

SALLY SCHOFIELD: It was certainly unforeseeable. Not planned. There was absolutely no intention of anything. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think that anything would happen to Logan.

NARRATOR: Sally waived her right to a jury trial. A judge concluded that she had not intentionally killed Logan and dismissed the murder charge, but he found her guilty of manslaughter and sentenced her to 20 years in prison.

No formal disciplinary action was taken against any DHS employees in connection with Logan's death. Allison Peters testified at the trial but was never asked about her failure to respond to Logan's complaints about Sally. She was placed on paid administrative leave for a month and has since left DHS.

Following her sister's death, 2-year-old Bailey was moved to her third foster home. For the next year, Christy battled DHS to get Bailey back. Finally, in February, 2002, Bailey was returned to Christy for good. Almost a year-and-a-half after her daughter's death, Christy says she was told that Maine DHS had officially closed her case file.

While the outcome of the Marr case was exceptional, many have worried that the sequence of events leading up to Logan's death was all too common.

    **MAN AT HEARING: The system is broken. It's broken. It's broken.

NARRATOR: State lawmakers have conducted two separate investigations of DHS. Dozens of people emerged to complain of mistreatment at the hands of the department.

    2nd WOMAN AT HEARING: They forced me to take him to the hospital for a shaken-baby exam. And all of the tests came out negative, and yet they still kept my child, based upon I didn't hurt him this time but I might in the future.

NARRATOR: -of a secretive process with little review or oversight.

    2nd MAN AT HEARING: People who aren't accountable to anybody probably are going to make some mistakes. That system must be penetrated.

NARRATOR: Throughout the controversy, DHS maintained a public silence about the Marr case. Citing confidentiality, senior DHS officials have refused FRONTLINE's requests for an interview and declined to respond to written questions about the case. But in part to counter the impressions left by the story of Logan Marr, DHS made FRONTLINE a rare offer: to observe their normally confidential child protective system from the inside.

In January of 2002, a FRONTLINE crew moved into the Bangor field office of DHS for more than three months-

    **SHALEIGH ANTHONY, Caseworker: Just as soon as you left the case, they moved on the farm with the sex offender.

NARRATOR: -where we followed caseworkers as they made difficult calls under pressure-

    **FATHER: I want to see my son, and my son wants to see me, and-

    CASEWORKER: Yeah, that doesn't mean it's going to happen.

NARRATOR: -and talked to families caught up in the system.

    **MOTHER: I could call and say you beat one of my kids. Does that make it true?

NARRATOR: Next week, Part 2 of our look at Maine's Department of Human Services, a portrait of caseworkers in action.

Failure to Protect:
The Taking of Logan Marr

WRITTEN BY
Barak Goodman

PRODUCED BY
Rachel Dretzin
Barak Goodman

EDITOR
Pamela Scott Arnold

FIELD PRODUCER
Muriel Soenens

ASSOCIATE PRODUCERS
Rachel Dawson
Justin Vogt

CAMERA
Jim Helling

SOUND
James Demer

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Dick Kane
John Cameron
Rob Whitehurst

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Ed Bilous

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Will Lyman

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Michael H. Amundson

SOUND MIXER
Jim Sullivan

PRODUCTION ASSISTANTS
Amy Baxt
Hugh Boren
Eileen McGuigan

ASSISTANT EDITORS
Elizabeth Leliaert
Joaquin Perez

INTERN
Vanessa Bertozzi

ARCHIVAL FOOTAGE
WMTW-Channel 13, Portland, Maine
WABI-Channel 5, Bangor, Maine

SPECIAL THANKS
Marilyn and David Schofield

» FOR FRONTLINE

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ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT
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CONTRACTS MANAGER
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WEBSITE ASSOCIATE
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PRODUCER
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DESIGNER
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A FRONTLINE coproduction with 10/20 Productions, LLC.

c 2003
WGBH EDUCATIONAL FOUNDATION

FRONTLINE is a production of WGBH Boston, which is solely responsible for its content.

ANNOUNCER: This report continues on our Web site, where you'll find out more about Logan Marr, her mother and the child protection system, the audiotape excerpts of the police interrogation of Sally Schofield, an interview with the program's producer about this story. And find out on the Web site if this program will be shown again on your PBS station. Then join the discussion at PBS on line, pbs.org.

Next time, the investigation continues. They can save a child-

    CASEWORKER: You're helping them, even if they don't realize it.

ANNOUNCER: -and destroy a family.

    FATHER: I want to see my son, my son wants to see me.

    CASEWORKER: Well, that doesn't mean it's going to happen.

ANNOUNCER: When should parents lose their rights to raise their own children?

    CASEWORKER: Even these kids that are horrendously abused, they still love their parents, and their parents still love them.

ANNOUNCER: In Part 2 of a special series, FRONTLINE goes inside the foster care system to investigate The Caseworker Files.

Educators and organizations can purchase a tape of this program by calling PBS Video at 1-800-PLAY-PBS. [$59.95 plus s&h]

Partial funding for Failure to Protect is provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, making grants to improve the health and health care of all Americans.

FRONTLINE is made possible by contributions to your PBS station from viewers like you. Thank you.

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