ROUND ROCK, TX — A little girl was confiscated from her loving parents because they smoked marijuana, and given away to a foster mother who put her into a coma and killed her. Alexandria “Alex” Hill, age 2, succumbed to her injuries after being “thrown to the ground.”
“We never hurt our daughter. She was never sick, she was never in the hospital, and she never had any issues until she went into state care,” said the girl’s father, Joshua Hill, to KVUE.
Alex was seized by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Service (TDFPS) after her parents were accused of smoking marijuana while the girl slept. She was taken into state custody in November 2012.
Mr. Hill said that she was put into more than one dangerous foster home.
“She would come to visitation with bruises on her, and mold and mildew in her bag,” Mr. Hill told KVUE. “It got to a point where I actually told CPS that they would have to have me arrested because I wouldn’t let her go back.”
The girl’s final home was with Sherill Small, a foster care contractor in Rockdale, Texas. The TDFPS trusted Ms. Small enough to take custody of multiple children displaced by the agency.
On the evening of July 29th, 2013, Mr. Hill got an urgent call to come to the local hospital. When he got there, he found that Alex was in a coma. The girl had suffered traumatic head injuries after being thrown to the ground. She was also bruised on her buttocks, arm, and chin, and had so much hair ripped out that she was “nearly bald.” Alex died 2 days later.
“I was blown away to find out she was in a coma,” Hill told KXAN. “That’s not what you expect, especially when your child is in state custody for ‘safety,’ and now they’re suffering more injuries and more harm than they ever have in their entire life before that.”
Mr. Hill was 4 months away from getting his daughter returned to his custody. He spoke out in an interview, shown below:
This tragic case illustrates a widespread injustice perpetrated regularly in the United States in the name of child welfare. Healthy, happy children are commonly stolen from loving families who have never once caused them harm. Once in the care of the state, they are traumatized by familial separation, forcibly drugged, and placed into questionable situations with complete strangers.
As was the case for Alex and her family, the state intervention comes without a trial, without a conviction, and without due process for the parents. The state’s accusation of “neglect” (a loosely defined term) can result in armed agents of the state forcibly enter a home to abduct the child — ostensibly for his or her “safety.”
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Sherill Small was charged with the murder of Alex Hill. In November 2014, she was convicted and sentenced to life in prison without parole.
Although she claimed that she “does not shake babies,” a jury found the evidence against Mrs. Small to be overwhelming.
Alex’s mother, Mary Sweeney, has chronicled updates on the case on a Facebook page, “Justice 4 Alex Hill.”
The Texas DFPS was not found to be at fault for placing Alex in the home of Sherill Small. After numerous complaints statewide, and ten Texas children killed in state care in 2013, the Office of the Inspector General became involved, and found that the meddling bureaucracy was often dishonest and reckless in its placement of children.
Although new rules imposed in 2014 make it more difficult to be a foster parent, the agency itself remains dangerously powerful and unaccountable when it comes to snatching children. In 2013, over 30,000 children in Texas spent time in foster care — many for absurd reasons such as parents using marijuana. A major overhaul of child welfare agencies is needed in Texas and across the country.