Swain County, NC-- The Swain County Department of Social Services (DSS) and a specific social worker are under investigation by state officials. The investigation stems from a visit to the home of a 15-month-old girl five months before she died on January 10.
According to the Asheville Citizen-Times, who has been following the case for months, the case worker found no evidence of abuse despite a complaint the girl had fallen from an unbuckled car seat down a set of stairs.
The paper is reporting that the Social worker under investigation is Craig Smith. A warrant obtained by the Citizen-Times states that Smith later falsified his records after Aubrey Littlejohn died to show he had called the hospital to make sure she was examined for injuries from the fall. Witnesses claim DSS received numerous reports detailing abuse of the child but failed to take action, investigators said in the search warrant. The reports included allegations that the child had no food and that the home had no heat.
Investigators said they believe the toddler died in the middle of the night after being strapped into a car seat for 12 hours the previous day. She was given little to eat or drink, according to court papers. The child's family on Wednesday disputed those allegations. NC State Bureau of Investigation agents on Tuesday searched the county's Department of Social Services office as part of an investigation into the child's death. They seized records, computer hard drives and mobile phones.
Smith did not immediately return a message left at his office on Wednesday.
Justin Greene, the department's attorney, talked to the paper and said DSS is cooperating with authorities. "We are taking the allegations very seriously," he said. He would not specifically discuss the allegations in the SBI search warrant though he did say the matter was being handled with an internal investigation.
Click on Asheville Citizen-Times to read the full indepth report on this story and see copies of the search warrants.