PHOENIX (KSAZ) - It was a heartbreaking story: A mother accused of killing her two young children. Family members say they reported Brittany Velasquez to DCS, and investigators visited the mother's home twice in the months leading up to their deaths.
Police say Velasquez, 20, left her two-year-old son, Christopher, and 10-month-old daughter, Brooklyn, in a car all day long, resulting in their deaths. Now, relatives and even the Superior Police Department are wondering how DCS missed warning signs that may have prevented this tragedy.
Brooklyn and Christopher's deaths came two months after a DCS investigator said there was not enough evidence to prove neglect claims. An attorney says it's something he's seen before.
"They happen too often, too many times for too many years," said Jorge Franco. "Staffing, budgeting, experience, the caliber of candidates they can hire, and its a common pattern I see where you've got very young, very new caseworkers being given complicated investigations, and too many files to investigate."
In regards to the Velasquez investigation, DCS says it could only make decisions based on the available evidence, and it acted on good faith. FOX 10 Phoenix has asked repeatedly for an on-camera interview, but officials with DCS say the department could not accommodate the request.
By the way DCS worded its statement, Franco says it suggests a more thorough investigation could have been done. It's not known if the investigator on the Velasquez case interviewed relatives that didn't live with the children, or Superior police officers, before closing the case.
DCS policy does list specific conditions considered to be safety threats - it is up to the investigator to decide if what they see and hear- meets the conditions for emergency removal.
"In my cases, if the investigator had followed the procedures that were in place, the outcome would've been different, and children would've been saved," said Franco.
DCS officials say they are not able to give us an on camera interview until next week. Meanwhile, attorneys say if no action is taken after relatives report possible cases of child abuse or neglect, the best thing they can do is keep a close eye on the children, report and document instances of abuse or neglect, take photographs, and never give up.