City Desk

Banita Jacks Case: Breakdowns, Lies, And Laziness

Yesterday, more than a year after Banita Jacks was arrested for murdering her girls, the D.C. Inspector General has issued its comprehensive report. The full report is available online and is a must read for anyone who actually thinks CFSA needs less oversight, less court involvement.

The IG's office provides a timeline of events. Here's what caught my eye:

  • May 1, 2007: A CFSA "Investigations Worker" and a D.C. cop visit the Jacks house. No one answers the door. But old junk mail is observed—the same junk mail from a previous visit—in front of the door. Also still at the door: a letter previously left by the CFSA worker.
  • May 2, 2007: The CFSA worker goes to the house. Again, no one answers the door.
  • May 16, 2007: Investigations Worker erroneously believes that the family has relocated to Charles County, Maryland. This came from another government worker. "Therefore recommends to his supervisor that the investigation be closed," the report states. "CFSA closes the case, and the Investigations Worker then sends a fax to Charles County Child Protective Services..."

By Aug. 25, D.C. Water and Sewer Authority disconnects service to the Jacks house; Washington Gas disconnects service as well. On Sept. 5, Pepco disconnects service.

On Jan. 9, U.S. Marshals begin eviction at the house, where they discover the bodies of Jacks' children.

The IG's office rips the CFSA worker:

The CFSA Investigations Worker told the team that had he been given more time, he might have been able to make contact with the family. The CFSA Investigations Worker recommended to his supervisor close the case 20 days after receipt of the hotline call to CFSA even though he had 30 days to complete the investigation.

Also looks like the D.C. police failed big time as well:

On April 30 between 11:54-11:57 a.m., an officer arrived at the Jacks house and tells the "dispatcher that he is available for assignment because 'there's an adult on the scene.' After being reminded by the dispatcher that the mother has withdrawn the children from school and has 'mental problems,' and that he is there to check on their welfare, Officer #1 says, 'The kids seem fine to me, ma'am.'

But there's a catch: The officer never sees the kids. According to the report, a police memo dated Jan. 13, 2008, states that when the officers arrived on the scene, the person that answered the door–presumably Banita Jacks–refused to allow them to check on the children.

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