Aubrey Kina Marie Littlejohn
September 2009 - January 10, 2011
Find A Grave Memorial

On January 10, 2011 at Cherokee Indian Hospital at 3:56 a.m., a beautiful little girl was pronounced dead. Aubrey Kina Marie Littlejohn was only 15 months old when she was left in her car seat for 12 hours and given only a few bites of a hot dog and sips of a soda before she died. Aubrey died alone, on a matters in the trailer she lived in with her family. Though the trailer had no heat, she was dressed only in a t-shirt.

The family of Aubrey says that they had told Social Workers many times that she was the child was being abused and neglected. Even with the reports and complaints being called in, the Swain County social workers saw no need to remove Aubrey from her horrible home, in fact, the people reporting the abuse said that they were never contacted back about the reports they were trying to make. Among the allegations were details of abuse, neglect, lack of food and heat and the home being inadequate to live in.

Aubrey was in the care, though not legally, of her great aunt, Lady Bird Powell. Aubrey's mother and other relatives had been trying to get her away from Lady Bird and were turned away. There were at least three people who went to the Swain DSS and asked them to remove Aubrey from the care of Lady Bird. Nothing was ever done.

Aubrey came to be in the care of her great aunt when her mother, Jasmine Littlejohn was sentenced to a 90 mandatory drug rehab in April of 2010. Since her own son, Hawk Rattler had died at the age of 18, Lady Bird offered to keep Aubrey while Jasmine was away in rehab. Lady Bird said it would help her to get over the death of her son. Aubrey was only six months old at that time and when her mother came back to get her, Lady Bird would not allow her to take her. Jasmine was arrested a short time later on charges of conspiracy to distribute marijuana and was being held as a Federal prisoner in the Cherokee County jail.

Oddly, Lady Bird had some children removed from her home on several occasions and each time, Aubrey was left behind by DSS. In November of 2010, a nephew was removed from the home and once again, Aubrey was left behind despite complaints that she was not growing properly and that she spent many hours strapped in her car seat, unable to crawl around or move much at all. One report read: "Reporter states that she is very concerned for the baby. Reporter states that the baby is one year old and seems significantly delayed. Reporter states she is always in a car set and is left in the car alone, even in the heat, while they run errands and drive around all day". Aubrey was also seen with bruises on her face in September. A call to DSS at that time finally initiated a visit by a social worker named Craig Smith. Lady Bird told him that Aubrey had fallen down the stairs and at first told him that she had been sitting in a car seat at the top of the steps and was not buckled in, so she fell when the seat was lifted up by Lady Bird. Then Lady Bird told him that she had been moving around and the seat had fallen:


"Lady Bird did not take the baby to the doctor because she stated that she did not
want DSS to be involved."
Craig Smith

Craig told Lady Bird that she needed to take Aubrey to the doctor. The visit never happened and Craig never bothered to do a follow up to find out if she had. In fact, Cherokee Indian Hospital has reported that at no time has Aubrey been seen by them even though later, an autopsy would reveal that Aubrey's arm had been broken.

Police had been called to the home of Lady Bird at least three times in a six month period. One time the call was for domestic violence, in June. In October, Police were called because of a drunk person who was causing some trouble. In November, a call came in to report three boys were missing. Those boys were found under a nearby bridge. Though Lady Bird had a criminal record that included child abuse when she allowed a five and nine year old to ride in a car that was being driven by a 14 year old and her criminal record also includes charges for assault, she was always allowed to keep Aubrey. Veronica Callahan, a neighbor, reported that children were running around all the time i front of the home, in the street and that at times Lady Bird would lock them out and they would sleep in a ten in the back yard. Veronica also said that the children were often unsupervised and that many vehicles could be seen coming and going at all hours of the night.

On the day she died, Aubrey had spent 12 hours in her car seat barely eating or drinking anything except the few small things that Lady Bird gave her while she, herself, ate at about 5:00 p.m.. Aubrey had not been changed at all during that time. At about 10:00 p.m., Lady Bird took Aubrey and laid her on a mattress, she was wearing only the t-shirt and a diaper. For whatever reason, Lady Bird was in the room and found Aubrey at about 3:00 a.m. and records show that a white truck with the flashers on was headed towards Cherokee Hospital with a child who was blue and reported to not be breathing. Lady Bird had called 911 and was supposedly hysterical:

"My baby's not breathing, oh my God, she's not breathing"

At 3:30 am Aubrey arrived at the hospital and due to previous DSS reports about previous narcotic exposure, she was given medication to counter anything she may have been exposed  Aubrey was blue in color and her temperature was only 84 degrees. Shortly after arriving at the hospital, Aubrey was pronounced dead.

After she died, Police searched Lady Birds home and found evidence that she had been using drugs, including pipes, pill grinders, straws and empty bottles as well as items which contained a white powdery residue.

Waynesville Lawyer David Wijewickrama was hired by Jasmine to sue the DSS in a civil case for failing to help her daughter when reports had been filed:

"I am absolutely disgusted and appalled with any social worker that would
have left her alone in that trail with the people who abused her and eventually
killed her. If a social worker wants to take a child they can take it just like that.
The statute is so broadly written it gives enormous power to law enforcement
 and DSS workers who do whatever they want, if they even think they need to.
They have the authority right then and there. Get the kids in the car and go"
David Wijewickrama

David said that he was very mad at the fact that DSS had done nothing and seemed to be covering up what they had failed to do by erasing evidence of the abuse and neglect that Aubrey had suffered. David added that he was stunned that based on the evidence in the files, no one had been arrested.

The Swain County DSS offices were eventually raided with the taking of records and computers after the allegations of a cover up in the death of Aubrey. District Attorney Mike Bonfoey said that an while no charges had been filed yet, there was an investigation going on.

Principal Chief Michael Hicks said:

"Our tribe made a decision to hire a private investigator to provide us with a
more comprehensive level of information in this case. We are unable to comment
further about this ongoing investigation but we remain committed to following
through to ensure justice is served in this case"

Carolyn Posey, the detective assigned to the case arrived at the hospital 30 minutes after Aubrey died and she
began her investigation. It was then that she discovered that there had been reports to DSS. Upon requesting the
reports, Carolyn found that the reports were not complete. Documents were missing and the pages which should
have been in numerical order, were not all there. Carolyn suspected that some of the documents may have been
falsified totally.

Craig Smith had written in his report that he had called the Cherokee Indian Hospital on September 24, 2010, in
reference to Aubrey falling down the stairs. Craig claimed to have spoken to a doctor. Detectives Carolyn Posey
and Daniel Cheatham, the private investigators who were hired to help in the investigation, interviewed the Dr who Craig claimed he had spoken to and that doctor said she had never spoken to Craig and had never seen Aubrey Littlejohn or examined her. When asked about this, Craig admitted that he made it up and that he had been told his supervisor, Candice Lassiter, to add it to the report. Craig also admitted to lying when in his report he had later added that the house had plenty of food, was clean and smelled like Pine Sol.

In May of 2011, the autopsy report was released and stated the cause of death as "Undetermined Sudden Death". In the report, it stated that the findings of the autopsy were nonspecific and that there was no evidence of significant acute physical trauma or infection. There were no drugs detected other than what had been given to Aubrey in the hospital during the efforts to revive her. The report could not exclude hypothermia as the cause of death.

As of the date of that report, no charges had been filed against anyone, for the death of Aubrey.


OBITUARY:

Aubrey Kina Marie Littlejohn, fifteen month old daughter of James and Lady Bird Murphy and Jasmine Littlejohn,
went home to be with the lord early Monday morning on January 10, 2011. She was preceded in death by an older brother, Khrystofer Kawk Rattler.

She is survived by two sisters, Marlene Queen of the home and Zoey Littlejohn of Birdtown; two brothers of the home, Rajur Rattler and Jesse Queen; grandfather, Henry Queen Littlejohn, Jr., grandmothers, Mary Alice Bradly and Henrietta Littlejohn; great-grandfather, Henry Queen, Sr.; great-grandmother, Kina Q. Littlejohn; aunts, Joni Martin, Ruth McCoy, Caron Swayney, Mildred Cisnerso, Anniie Cucumber; Special Aunts, "BooBoo" Marlene Toineeta of the home, Tina Curry and Elizabeth McGill,; uncles, John Marin, Henry Queen Littlejohn III, and Joseph Michael Murphy, and numberous loving cousins.

The family will receive friends at the Bethabara Baptist Church on Friday January 14, 2011, beginning at 11AM
where the body will remain until the service hour of 2 PM on Saturday January 15, 2011. The Rev. Bo Parris, Ray
Kinsland, and Pastor Eddie Sherrill will officiate. Burial will follow in the Sequoyah Cemetery on Locust Branch
Road.

UPDATE:

In February of 2103, Ladybird Powell, after pleading guilty to involuntary manslaughter, was sentenced by Judge James Down to serve at 12 years in prison.


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