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State watchdog agency investigating how CPS handled Kharisma Richardson case

kharismarichardsonpicture.PNG
State watchdog agency investigating how CPS handled Kharisma Richardson case

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - It's been nearly three months since little Kharisma Richardson was found dead on what was supposed to be her fourth birthday. No one has been charged but police have ruled the toddler's death, a homicide. Now, the state Office of the Children's Ombudsman is investigating how Child Protective Services handled the case.

The director of the state-run office says she's looking for any red flags that could have prevented little Kharisma's death.

While the director couldn't specifically talk about Kharisma Richardson because it is an open case, she did say she's noticing some disturbing trends when it comes to children dying at the hands of their parents.

On Easter weekend, Richardson's family was planning to celebrate the fourth birthday of the toddler. Instead of celebration on Douglas Avenue, tragedy emerged from the home.

911 calls from Kharisma's mother, Daveeta Walker, tell the story.

"Today,I went to check on her, it's her birthday, and she like purple she's not moving," said Daveeta Walker on 911 tapes Newschannel 3 obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request.

No one has been charged and now the Children's Ombudsman's office is taking a closer look.

"If it's a child death case, we want to know--was there something that could've been done to prevent the death of this particular child," says Orlene Hawks, director of the office.

Hawks says her office will determine if Child Protective Services properly followed procedures in the month's leading up to Kharisma's death.

"At this point, we can't say that there were any violations. We can't say that something should have or could have been done on the surface. You know everyone is upset and anytime there is a child death, especially at the hands of a parent, we should be concerned," says Hawks.

Hawks says her office will present an unbiased investigation to see if there were any red flags.

Neighbors, who are familiar with the home on Douglas Avenue say the red flags were there. They told Newschannel 3 they heard loud bangs coming from the home.

The I-Team has also uncovered new 911 calls made from 1131 Douglas in the year leading up to Kharisma's death.

On one call, the downstairs neighbors says she heard loud fighting coming from the apartment above her.

On another call, a woman in the apartment said her sister was yelling and hitting her in front of her children.

"What I can say is that as an office, this is shocking that this continues to happen," says Hawks. "That children are continually dying when there's been some CPS involved."

Child Protective Services has removed Kharisma's three brothers from the custody of their mother, Daveeta Walker.

Walker was pregnant at the time of Kharisma's death.

While it's too late for little Kharisma, Hawks say another tragedy may be prevented.