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UPDATED: Family files suit against DHR for boy’s death

Published 3:17pm Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Relatives of a boy allegedly killed by his mother have filed suit against Chilton County Department of Human Resources employees, and DHR has subsequently brought the boys parents into the case.

Authorities have said Johnny Michael Campbell, 11, was shot by his mother, Ann Campbell, in June and died from the wounds.

The original suit alleges that DHR employees Trayce Cain and Jennifer Childress “received notification of suspected neglect and abuse of Johnny Michael Campbell … (who) was allowed to remain in the custody of his mother, Ann Campbell…and by doing so, affirmatively placed Johnny Michael Campbell in a position of danger that he would not have otherwise faced.”

DHR Director Marilyn Colson is also named in the suit, because of her role as a supervisor of the other two employees and as the administrator of child welfare programs in the county pursuant to state law.

The suit was filed on Oct. 11, and on Nov. 8 the defendants filed an answer, denying the allegations and questioning the court’s jurisdiction and the grounds on which the suit is based.

The plaintiff alleges DHR received information in April 2010 about instances of suspected abuse and neglect of the boy, including violence, arrests and abuse of controlled and/or uncontrolled substances. This allegation is also denied in the defendants’ answer.

The plaintiff demands damages against the defendants “in an amount to be determined by a struck jury.”

Several attempts to reach attorneys representing the family of Johnny Michael Campbell and DHR were unsuccessful Tuesday.

Names of family members bringing the suit were not included on information filed with the Chilton County Circuit Clerk. The plaintiff was listed as the “estate” of Johnny Michael Campbell.

In the counter-suit filed on Nov. 17, Cain, Childress and Colson wish to make Ann Campbell and Kevin Campbell, Johnny Michael Campbell’s father, liable for any damages against the DHR employees.

District Court Judge Rhonda Hardesty ruled in August that there was enough evidence to bring the criminal case against Ann Campbell before a grand jury. The criminal case is separate from the recently filed civil suit.

Police allege Ann Campbell shot another son, Bailey Mays, in the incident at the mobile home where the three lived. Mays was able to escape, and his injuries were not life threatening.

–Updated to include information about a counter-suit filed by DHR employees.

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  • mrjinlove0913

    I can see this from both points of view. This is a sad case. This child was living in a broken home and DHR was involved to a point.

    Many people are throwing darts at DHR, but I would have to say this time it is not DHR. The courts placed this kid in that home. The people who knew what was going on did not take enough action and the family who knew are just as guilty.

    DHR is OVERLOADED because kids these days are not being raised like in the 70′s and 80′s.

    The courts, DHR, and the family (including crazy mom) should ALL be held accountable.

    Unfortunately it sounds as if this family is money hungry. Money will not replace this child. The only thing that is honorable to do is report abuse, neglect and incidents where you are concerned. It is better to be safe than sorry.

    (Report comment)

  • fairygrandmother

    To everyone who believes that DHR doesn’t do their job…how many of you have read their job description? Because you did not get the result you wanted does not mean DHR negligence. The laws restrict what a worker can do. If you witness child or elder abuse in a home, daycare, or nursing home, notify the police. Be willing to give your name and contact information. Give as many facts to identify the children as possible. Last year I witnessed child abuse in a public place. Many others saw it including people who are required by law to report. I asked supervisors if they were calling police. When I learned that they had not reported the people were gone, I contacted DHR with the limited info I had. They could not proceed w/out more info. I spent 2 days getting the names and addresses of the adults and children involved and called DHR. I was later told by an employee of the institution where the incident took place, that the abuser returned later demanding to know who called DHR because he was being investigated AGAIN, (a repeat offender). You can not drag a partial story to the DHR alter and expect them to use a crystal ball to get facts and then violate laws to get the results you expect. If you make the call be sure you have committed to providing your name and call back info and be committed to testimony if needed. Call the police, notify the guidance counselor and others of the child’s school, call the child’s doctor. All of these people have a legal responsiblity to report and an emotional investment in the child…more eyes to watch for evidence. You are your brother’s keeper…the government can not solve the ills of society…it takes involved people. Get involved!

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  • njones

    the relatives that are suing…how many offered a home to the victim?

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  • crimsonforever

    What happened to integrity in journalism? It’s apparent that the writer did not try very hard to get all sides of this story. He stated that he tried Tuesday to get comments and published the story Tuesday afternoon. Not exactly trying too hard! As far as can be seen, allegations not proven to be true were the only things published. Where are the facts? And worst of all, the names of the minor children were published in the paper. I can only imagine the young survivor of ths tragedy trying to put his life back together only to have his name plastered in the paper. Shame on you Advertiser!

    (Report comment)

    • KKKAH…

      The young survivor you mentioned has witnessed his brother killed by his mother and has to re-live that everyday, he also has 2 young babies that will never know their family and has had to drop out of school and his mother is in jail when all this probably could have been avoided. I seriously doubt that his name mentioned in the paper really makes a difference to him!
      Praying for this family, especially Bailey.

      (Report comment)

  • reecie1

    We have been in a similar situation. At one time we were calling DHR monthly trying to have something done about children that were in an environment that involved drugs. This had been going on for at least 5 years. DHR did nothing until recently. Unfortunately, if the person is busted for having drugs in the home and they agree to be an informant, most times, all is forgiven. The kids remain where they are and nothing comes of it. Just recently, these children were taken out of the home and placed with the other parent but DHR is “closing” their case against the parent who was at fault so who’s to say that the children won’t go right back into it. It’s true you can go to court and fight but I don’t know of any lawyers that will do this for free and if you go in against a court order and take them I think that’s what the law calls kidnapping (whether you’re family or not). DHR should STAY involved for the sake of the children.

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    • crimsonforever

      First of all, DHR does not place custody with a parent. Only a court of law can do that. Also, do you really want DHR involved forever? Do you know how many children that would involve and the number of social workers who would need to be hired to monitor all of those cases? Not to mention the fact that having a government agency involved in a child’s lfe is not “normal”. And isn’t that a goal- if a child can be safe, keep life as “normal” as possible?

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  • peachlover

    Advertiser you should have reported this when this case was filed. You now fail to mention that in addition to filing motions to dismiss and answers the party defendants have moved to bring the MOTHER and FATHER into the case as defendants. Usual crappy reporting thats etierh short sided or lazy.

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  • freedomofspeech

    Its about time someone holds DHR responsible for placing children back in unsafe homes or for never removing them in the first place.
    We have personally contacted DHR before about an unsafe situation for a child and because there were no drugs involved we were told there wasn’t anything they could do, so the child remains there today. I pray for the situation everyday.

    (Report comment)

    • freedomofspeech

      In this particular situation mentioned above, they never even had a case worker go out and check it out, we were just blown off.

      (Report comment)

  • reecie1

    We have been in a similar situation with DHR. We called and called trying to get the children out of the home and even offered to take them into our home. DHR, the police dept and sheriff’s office all work hand in hand. If the parents are drug abusers and get caught if they will turn someone else in nothing is done. If you go in and take these children without the law being on your side you’ll go to jail for kidnapping. Everyone does not have a bucket load of money to hire an attorney to do this, that’s the reason we pay all these high taxes is so the local authorities are there to do what they should. The children I’m talking about are now out of the home but the case has been “closed” so who’s to say they won’t go right back in to the same situation. So don’t tell me that the family didn’t care enough because I know for a fact that sometimes the family cares and their hands are tied. Until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes don’t judge. Maybe having to pay for the wrong will wake DHR up and maybe,just maybe, hire some more workers.

    (Report comment)

  • Whatevs

    If they’re filing suit to bring about changes in the way DHR handles these cases then good for them. If they are filing suit for money then that’s wrong.

    (Report comment)

    • cc

      DHR is not perfect but their plate is more than full due to the combination of a monster drug problem combined with limited manpower, resources and the requirement to work within a legal framework. If these relatives were so concerned about the child’s welfare, why didn’t THEY do more in order to get the child removed from the mother. I think they smell tragedy cash. YMMV

      (Report comment)

      • Katherine Reece

        I wondered if they’d done anything personally to get the children away from their mother. I know one family who offered their drug addict relative “cocaine” (it was really a bag of something else) in exchange for the children.

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      • Whatevs

        Yeah, If I’m reading it right they said there are 3 DHR folks right now?? That’s not enough.

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      • freedomofspeech

        They could do more if every case worker gave it a 100 %.

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    • butterfly2010

      yes DHR does have a lot more than they can handle due to parents being selfish and irresponsible and continuing to bring children into the owrld that others wind up caring for….

      Which leaves them unable to focus on where reall assistance is needed.

      Yes more of them need to be involved in this case… I know several families who call and beg for help, call several times a week, get transfered to Supervisors who promise results and months go by and nothing is done…. workers do only what is necessay to get a case occupied and then they dont address it again yntil they are required to CLOSE it.

      This includes daycare abuse reports parent drug use domestic viollence……….. It is not taken serioulsly inless the law is orgianally involved and they call DHR to retrieve children.

      And this is what causes Tragegy. the cry for help is evident it is just sadly over looked….

      The other members of this family should have stepped up and did there part, and should not be looking for Tragedy money and they are responsible for the same negligence as they claim to be DHR’s.

      (Report comment)

      • freedomofspeech

        I hope they are after justice and not money. Their hands were probably tied, you just can’t take someone’s child and they may have not had the meins to care for these children either who knows? DHR should take every report very serious and not worry about the number of kids in foster care so much. I know their is always a shortage of foster parents and place to put these kids but there is always some place if you look hard enough.

        (Report comment)

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