Failed to Death: Angel Deherrera

5:49 PM, Nov 11, 2012   |    comments
Angel Deherrera
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Age: 4 yrs.
Born: May 24, 2004
Died: Feb 6, 2009
Location: Colorado Springs
Suspect in death: Manuela Tooker, foster parent

They would receive three more before the 4-year-old was found dead in the backyard Feb. 6, 2009.

Before the Denver Department of Human Services placed Angel in Tooker's Colorado Springs foster home, child-protection workers received an allegation that Tooker dragged a child down a set of stairs. Caseworkers closed the investigation as "inconclusive" because there were no visible injuries on the child, according to a state and county review of Angel's death.

An allegation that Tooker threw cold water on a suicidal child was also deemed inconclusive. The review does not say how caseworkers came to that conclusion.

Angel and his two siblings were placed in Tooker's care beginning in April 2008. The two had been removed from their parents' home because of the couple's drug use and continuing domestic violence.

About two months later, the El Paso County Department of Human Services received a report that Angel's school-age sibling was punished with a belt after he kissed another child in the home, the review said. No visible injuries were found on the child, and the assessment was closed as inconclusive.

A second report of bruises on Angel's sibling's back was not assigned for investigation. Child-protection workers said that any evidence of the bruises would be gone by the time the assessment was opened.

No one was watching Angel while he played outside on a trampoline. Tooker sent the little boy out to play while she prepared lunch. He did not come in when she called him 30 minutes later.

Tooker found Angel on the trampoline, hanging lifeless with a cord around his neck.

The coroner determined that he became entangled in the trampoline's net and died of asphyxia.

After Angel died, Tooker's foster home was closed.

Read the Fatality Review

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