CHICAGO — Amaria Osby’s last minutes of life were horrifying.
“Momma stop!” the 8-year-old screamed as she watched her mother drink bleach last week, according to prosecutors. The child would be dead a short time later, found asphyxiated, with blood under her nose and froth around her mouth.
Amaria’s mother, Andreal Hagler is now charged with her daughter’s murder and prosecutors say she confessed to killing the girl.
Police said they found the mother high on PCP with a bag around her head when they arrived. Hagler told officers she felt her daughter didn’t love her anymore and loved her father more, according to prosecutors. She said she put the bag over Amaria’s head similar to how she had placed it over her own head, prosecutors said
Making matters worse, an investigator from the Illinois Department of Children and Family services had visited their Uptown apartment hours earlier due to an allegation of domestic violence and reported “no signs of abuse, neglect, or danger,” according to a DCFS spokesperson.
However, the child welfare agency is refusing to release records related to the investigator’s visit citing state law and statutes to protect Amaria’s privacy, despite the fact she is dead.
The agency said only Amaria, her representative or a person authorized to get the reports on her behalf is entitled to see the records.
“DCFS is specifically prohibited by the Abused and Neglected Child Reporting Act from releasing any information regarding reports of child abuse and neglect to anyone else,” the agency’s legal office wrote in response to a WGN Investigates public records request. “These statutes and rules are in place to protect the privacy of the children and families served by the Department,” the letter continued.
A DCFS spokesperson said the agency is working on a timeline of its involvement with Amaria to share publicly, as it has done in other high profile deaths of children in its care. However those timelines do not offer specific details from case reports and are merely a summation from the department’s public relations team.
“Child confidentiality laws are intended to protect vulnerable children not inept bureaucrats who harm children,” Cook County Public Guardian Charles Golbert told WGN Investigates. “The irony here is that there’s no longer any confidentiality to protect because Amaria is dead – killed by her mother the same day DCFS was in the home investigating a report of abuse or neglect.”
DCFS investigators closed a case months before 5-year-old AJ Freund was found murdered in his Crystal Lake home in 2019. Two workers were fired for their handling of the case and, in a rare move, later charged criminally charged for failing to protect AJ. AJ’s parents were charged with the boy’s murder and both pled guilty in the case.
A DCFS inspector general’s report in 2020 found 123 children had died within a year of becoming involved with the child welfare system in the previous fiscal year. Twenty-four of the deaths were rule homicide, 37 were accidental, 34 were deemed “natural,” 7 were suicide and the cause of death in 21 was undetermined