Failed To Death:Lyberty Spencer

8:32 PM, Nov 13, 2012   |    comments
Lyberty Spencer
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Age: 4 yrs.
Born: Dec 3, 2004
Died: Oct 24, 2009
Location: Colorado Springs
Suspect in death: Denise Spencer, mother

On Oct. 24, 2009 - 10 days before her fifth birthday - Lyberty went out there with a jump rope. She ended up dead, hanging from a clothes line, the jump rope tied around her. The manner of death was ruled an accident.

The child's mother, Denise Spencer, and Spencer's boyfriend told investigators that Lyberty had been playing unattended in the backyard.

El Paso County child protective caseworkers had been warned five times about alleged violence and neglect in the home. In one instance, after officials at her school scolded Lyberty for hitting another child, Lyberty told them that her mother hit her all the time. Others alleged that Denise Spencer used drugs and failed to keep her children clean.

Once the mother told a child-protective worker investigating the home that she used 14 prescription medications because of a bad back and smoked marijuana.

During another home visit, Lyberty would not talk to the caseworker and did nothing but bark like a dog. The child protective staff decided after each allegation that the children should remain with their mother, a state review of the death said.

That review faulted the county's child-protective staff for not conducting thorough investigations and for failing to contact family members who could have then expressed concerns.

"It is not possible to accurately answer the assessment questions when the caseworker is unable to make contact with any of the family members to gather information," the review found.

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