HOUSTON (AP) — Six children who were fatally shot in their Houston home along with their mother and her husband were temporarily removed by Child Protective Services from the household in 2013 after allegations of domestic violence and a lack of supervision.
The children were placed in foster care in September 2013 when the agency filed a lawsuit to remove them from the home. They were returned about a month later after the suit was dismissed by a judge, Patrick Crimmins, a spokesman for Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, which includes CPS, said Tuesday.
Questions about the agency’s dealings with the family have arisen since the six children, their mother, Valerie Jackson, and her husband were killed Saturday. Jackson’s former domestic partner, David Conley, is charged with capital murder for their deaths, and the Harris County Sheriff’s Office has said problems between Conley and Jackson might have led to the shootings.
Court records show Conley, 48, had a history of domestic violence against Jackson, something Child Protective Services noted in its 2013 lawsuit.
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Crimmins said he couldn’t comment on why Juvenile Court Judge Glenn Devlin dismissed the lawsuit. Natalie Yates, Devlin’s court coordinator, said the judge can’t comment on the lawsuit due to confidentiality issues. Donna Everson, an attorney who was appointed to represent the six children, did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
According to CPS’ lawsuit, the children told authorities they were often left alone. On at least two occasions, then-7-year-old Caleb left the home and wandered around the family’s neighborhood unsupervised.
Another child, Nathaniel, told investigators “he gets whooped all the time.”
Killed in the shooting on Saturday were: Jackson, 40; her husband, Dwayne Jackson; and her children, 13-year-old Nathaniel; 11-year-old Honesty; 10-year-old Dwayne; 9-year-old Caleb; 7-year-old Trinity; and 6-year-old Jonah. Authorities say Nathaniel was Conley’s son from his relationship with Valerie Jackson, while the Jacksons were the parents of the other five children. All were shot in the head.
Conley’s court appointed attorney, Joseph Scardino, didn’t return a phone call seeking comment on the allegations Tuesday.
Court records show Conley had been charged at least twice with assaulting Valerie Jackson, most recently last month. They had recently ended their relationship.
Neighbors told reporters after the shooting that they had been concerned about the children.
“The little one, Jonah, he used to be on the street by himself with the other kids, cars driving by and everything and no adult supervision,” said Carlos Sanchez, 40, who lived across the street from the family.
Crimmins said in an email that although the children were returned to the home, Conley and Valerie Jackson were ordered to participate in counseling and random drug testing. That part of the case was dismissed in March 2014 after they successfully completed all court-ordered services, Crimmins said.
The agency conducted periodic visits and interviews with the children until the case was closed on May 27, 2014, he said.
This story has been corrected to show the first name of two of the shooting victims is Dwayne, not Dewayne.
Follow Juan A. Lozano on Twitter at www.twitter.com/juanlozano70