Children's Agency Dismissed Complaint About Baby Chance's Mom; Dad Had 7 Children Previously Removed from His Care: Records
Chance Walsh's remains were found on Oct. 15
Florida’s Department of Children and Families received a complaint concerning the well-being of Chance Walsh before he died, but chose not to investigate it, according to agency records obtained by PEOPLE.
A day after Chance was born, someone called DCF’s hotline to report that his mother, Kristen Bury, “may be using opiates,” the records state. But DCF workers “screened out” the call, or chose not to investigate it further, despite the fact that both parents had a history of involvement with the DCF.
Additional records obtained by PEOPLE show that Bury had two prior reports in 2002 and 2003. The records show that Chance’s father, Joseph Walsh, previously had seven children removed from his care between 2003 and 2008. The nature of the reports against Bury was not available.
In a statement, DCF tells PEOPLE: “At the time of the hotline call, Chance was in the hospital in the days immediately following his birth and the caller did not have firsthand knowledge of the allegation. Medical staff did not report any concerns of abuse or neglect to the department.
“As previously stated, DCF is conducting an internal quality assurance review regarding all interactions with the family to determine if any other actions could have been taken to prevent this tragedy.”
Bury and Walsh have been charged with child neglect and first-degree murder in his death. Police say that Walsh struck his son repeatedly prior to his death and that Bury did nothing to stop him.
After he died, Chance’s body was allegedly left to decompose in a crib in their North Port, Florida, home until his mother complained about the smell. The two parents then purportedly buried Chance in a wooded area near the home before fleeing the state. They were arrested in South Carolina earlier this month.
Police were first alerted that Chance was missing after his grandmother called authorities to report that she hadn’t seen him in a nearly a month. She also said that Bury and Walsh had allegedly told relatives contradictory stories to explain his absence – “including that the child was unharmed, that he died in [a car] crash and that they gave him to a woman at a hotel in Georgia,” police said.
Bury and Walsh were initially reluctant to cooperate with the investigation, according to authorities, though they eventually allegedly told authorities where to find Chance and what had happened to him.
This is not the first time a child of Bury and Walsh’s has died. The parents lost another son, Duane, in 2014. Duane was just 2 weeks old when he allegedly died of a kidney infection that resulted from a botched circumcision, a family friend told PEOPLE earlier this month. Authorities have not said whether they plan to reopen the investigation into that child’s death.
Bury allegedly told her stepmother that she “despised” Chance whenever she would look at him because he was not Duane and said it was “better that he was not around because she would have hurt him,” according to court documents.
Bury has pleaded not guilty to the charges against her, while Walsh has not yet entered a plea.
At a hearing Wednesday, a judge ordered that the couple have no contact with each other while the investigation continues.
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