The infant found dead on the floor of a D’Iberville apartment in May starved to death while living in a home that was already under investigation by state child-services workers.
Officials with Mississippi’s Child Protective Services, the child welfare division formerly part of the Mississippi Department of Human Services, confirmed the findings to the Sun Herald on Thursday.
CPS Director of Special Investigations Tonya Rogillio said the child, 10-month-old Alyssa Kirk, died of malnutrition and dehydration as a result of being starved.
The child’s welfare was cause for concern weeks before she died. The home came under investigation by CPS on April 17 after caseworkers from the agency’s Harrison County office received reports of neglect on the part of the child’s father.
The caseworker in charge of the investigation under-reported the severity of Alyssa’s condition, CPS Director David Chandler said.
“Our employee did not indicate the child was as malnourished as she actually was,” Chandler said. “We are ready to assume any responsibility the agency may have for not protecting that child.”
Police and emergency personnel responded to the Landmark Apartments complex shortly after 4 a.m. May 4. American Medical Response EMTs found Alyssa’s lifeless body on the floor of the apartment where she lived with her father, two siblings and her grandparents.
The grandfather first noticed Alyssa unresponsive and called 911.
While he waited for first responders to arrive, the grandfather told the 911 operator that his son became hysterical and ran out of the complex, D’Iberville Police Capt. Marty Griffin said in a May 4 interview.
Authorities found the father, Paul Kirk, had hanged himself in the stairwell of an adjacent building. AMR and fire personnel immediately began life-saving procedures but were unsuccessful.
Alyssa’s two siblings, ages 2 and 5, have been removed from the home and placed in foster care.