Jewell Ward

June 10, 2001 - February 24, 2008
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Michael Demesyeux

February 10, 2003 - February 24, 2008
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Innocent Demesyeux

  August 26, 2006 - February 24, 2008
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For years, the family of Leatrice Brewer had tried to get help for her children. Complaints went to Child Protective Services about drug use in front of the children and that she had threatened to kill her children. The family checked on her as often as they could and when she became increasingly out of touch with reality, they went to court to try and get custody of the children.

Unfortunately, it seems more and more impossible to get someone to help children and on February 24, 2008, at 8:55 a.m., Police were called the home of this 27 years old mother and what they found was horrible. Leatrice had drowned all three of her children and then laid them side by side on a bed. Jewell Ward was six years old when she was stabbed and then drowned, Michael Demesyeux was five years old when he was drowned and Innocent Demesyeux was only one year old when he was drowned.

Reports told a story of a woman with a very troubled past and with the pressure of working two jobs and caring for three children all alone, her sanity was becoming increasingly questioned by those around her:

"We knew she had slipped and me and the father of the youngest kids were trying to get Social
Services to get the kids. They just wouldn't take them away"
Maebell Mickens - Grandmother

At least two days before the children died, CPS was called to the home and that was their sixth visit in the past five years and Innocent Demesyeux, who is the father of the two boys said he had been trying for a year and a half to get visitation rights as well as custody of his children:

"I've been fighting to see them"

In 2003, Leatrice's family had made their first call to CPS shortly after Jewell was born:

"They came out, checked everybody and didn't find anything. It's not like she didn't feed
her kids or take care of them. You couldn't look at them and say they weren't cared for"
Debra Rogers - Cousin

Innocent had not seen his children in over a month and though he and Leatrice had been scheduled to go to court, she had refused to take drug tests and she had not shown up for court. Ricky Ward, the father of Jewell had been having the same trouble:

"Whenever I tried to get my daughter, Family Court wouldn't let me. The courts wouldn't hear me
out. I blame this on Leatrice Brewer and Family Court"

Neighbors said that Leatrice had neglected the children and often left them alone and when Leatrice was taken to the hospital to be evaluated her brother said:

"My sister's not crazy. She's not ballistic. This is a shock to all of us"
Robert McCord

Other family members said that Leatrice loved her children and they asked that people say prayers for her:

"If I had any idea that it was this bad for her, you know, I would have reached out and tried to intervene.
Jewell was amazing, a gift from God"
Suzanne Blissett - Jewell's Godmother

In the 18 months prior to the deaths of her children, Leatrice was said to have been more and more paranoid and she began to shut our her family, starting with moving out of her grandmother's house and then she started to say that someone on BET was talking about her children. Leatrice had also began to worry about not having enough money:

"Social Services didn't give her the money she was expecting and she just snapped"
Elijah Crawford - Pastor

Leatrice's family said they thought she had killed her children because she didn't want CPS to take them away from her.

In March, there was a service for the three children who all lay in the same white casket, all dressed in white. Jewell had her arms wrapped around Michael and Innocent and there were two small Angels just above their heads. There were hundreds of people there, including relatives, neighbors and friends.

Bottles of water and paper fans were passed out as well as boxes of tissues. A small stuffed animal was placed at the feet of the children just before the coffin was closed. Their grandmother spoke at their service:

"To my Angels, you are the most precious thing in my life. Jewell, I would ask you about your
mother and you would tell me what she did. And you know I would go after her. I tried to protect
you all, even though you knew the things wasn't right"
Maebell Mickens

Mourners had a range of emotions and there was much conversation about the responsibility they had all had in looking out for the children though no one spoke about the responsibility of CPS in the deaths of the children. Some must spoke about mercy:

"There is a thin line between sanity and insanity and I want the elected officials to think of that
when judging my granddaughter. When you judge, judge carefully. We can say she was doing
drugs, but maybe she was medicating the pain"
Reverend Myrtle Smith

At the funeral, Thomas R. Suozzi used a quote from the 1963 eulogy that Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave for some children who had been killed in a church bombing:

"We need to know, somehow, all of us failed to save these children. People will be held accountable"

Innocent had called a hot line and told them that he felt his children were not safe. CPS went to the home twice and when there was no answer, no one bothered to go back, a supervisor never made sure that someone made a follow up visit that Saturday and on Sunday, the children died. Thomas R. Suozzi, the Nassau County Executive said that the supervisor had been suspended without pay. Mr. Suozzi had begun his speech at the funeral with the words "The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away". Saford Pirotin, Innocent Demesyeux's lawyer said that it was offensive for him to have said that and that he was using the speech as damage control.

In February of 2009, Leatrice Brewer was in court before Judge Meryl Berkowitz and plead not responsible by reason of mental disorder or defect, there was not going to be a trial and sadly, there would be no jail time. Leatrice was sentenced to a maximum security psychiatric center. The plea had been agreed on by the District Attorney and the Judge after two different Psychiatrists evaluated Leatrice and decided that at the time she killed her children, she did not know what she was doing was wrong.

Innocent had filed a lawsuit against the State for not helping his children and was awarded $250,000. in a settlement. It seems Leatrice was in her right mind all of sudden when she requested that she be granted half of that settlement. New York state law says that criminals are not able to profit from their crimes, however, Leatrice had not been convicted of a crime, still, Judge Edward McCarty lll said that for her to profit from the deaths of her children after causing their deaths was repugnant to decency and in November of 2013, he denied her request to receive any money from the settlement.
There was another settlement in the amount of $100,000. for the death of Jewell.

Death occurred in the state of New York
This page was created on July 2, 2014

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