1995 - February
A Grave Memorial
three short years
after the publicized settlement agreement made by the state of Utah and
Governor Mike Leavitt SHOULD have been protecting her, nine
old Breanna Loveless died a slow, painful, tortured death. Breanna
through nose and ear infections, diarrhea, facial bruises, broken arms,
a broken leg, a broken clavicle, many contusions and abrasions on her
among many other things.
Bobbie Dawn Wittison says, on February 21, 1996, she and her then
Travis Wittison put Breanna to bed at about 9:30 p.m. and then went to
apartment to play video games. They claim to have checked on Breanna
times during the hours that they were out of the apartment.
says he returned
to the apartment at about 12:10 a.m. and found Breanna face down in her
covered with several blankets. Travis said her lips were blue and she
not breathing. Paramedics were called and when they arrived, found
cold and rigor mortis had already set in and was advanced. Breanna had
been dead for at least two hours. The pattern of lividity showed that
had been on her back, not on her stomach as Travis had said. Travis
to say that she had accidentally died of asphyxiation, obviously, that
was not the truth.
that Breanna had suffered at least four weeks of torture at the hands
her mother and her mothers boyfriend. During the time she was tortured
her arms were fractured from being twisted and jerked as well as her
Breanna's collarbone was broken from a direct hit she took to it. On
body were over 30 bruises and of those, only two could have been
Most of the bruises were typical of abused children.
that her upper frenulum had been repeatedly torn and she had damage to
her lower gums typically seen when a baby is force fed. Her left ear
pulled away from the scalp and she had open sores that were said to
gone far beyond what would be typical diaper rash. Breanna's half
said that she spent most of her time in her crib and that the only
she was taken out was when she was fed or when they all went somewhere
Medical Examiner ruled Breanna's death caused by Pneumonia and the
of death was listed as undetermined. Bobbie Wittison had called the
Examiner no less than four times to try and convince him that Breanna
not died from abuse, that she had died from various diseases that were
discovered when she had read Breanna's medical records.
of murder and six counts of child abuse and Travis was convicted of
counts of child abuse. Each of them wondered how they could have been
in a case of a child dying from Pneumonia. Doctors Harry Wilson and
Kirschner were happy to shed some light onto that subject.
times, a Pathologist
is faced with a case of a dead child who has obvious injuries caused by
abuse, though none of the visible abuse is identifiable as a fatal
There are two groups these cases can fall into. One is those with
evidence of neglect or contributing disease process and those with no
factors that contribute to the death.
other is more
difficult. A child can show multiple injuries that are consistent with
abuse which was inflicted several days before the child died. The cause
of death can be Pneumonia or some other kind of infection, however, no
direct link is identified. Many of the children have been chronically
and injuries that have already healed or are in the process of healing
are clearly seen.
Pathologist can spot the relationship of the injury to the fatal
The abuse a child suffers can cause so much stress that their immune
is shut down or slowed down and their resistance to infection is
Deaths in children who are abused though none of the noticeable abuse
the actual cause of the death such as described above, are labeled
since the child would probably not have contacted the infection or died
if there had not been abuse in the first place.
at trial that in his opinion, Breanna would not have gotten pneumonia
she had not been abused and if she had not been abused, she would not
died. He said the cause of her death was child abuse. Breanna's death
one that fits into the definition of felony murder, in most states. If
a death happens as a result of a child being abused, in most states, it
is not necessary for prosecutors to establish the risk of death
with child abuse. All that they have to do is prove that the abuser
or knowingly was a participant
act of child abuse. This was the case with Bobbie and Travis. All that
was needed was for prosecutors to show that they abused and tortured
intentionally. It was not necessary to prove that they knew she would
from the abuse.
State Of Child And Family Services had been told about what was
with Breanna, yet, nothing was done to save her. Ricky Sanders,
biological father and his mother, Maradeen Sanders had taken Breanna to
the emergency room on January 12, 1996. Breanna had a severe nose
and constant diarrhea.
also suffering from a blistered diaper rash and she had bruises on her
face. Pamela Goodrich, a caseworker with DCFS said that their
were unfounded and didn't consider what she saw to be child abuse.
a month later,
Breanna was taken back to the emergency room. At that time she was
to have a broken clavicle, an untreated ear infection and numerous
and lacerations which were shown to be in different stages of healing.
Once again, Pamela Goodrich sent Breanna home with her mother. There
two days of regular visits into their home and then Bobbie refused to
Pamela into their home. Breanna would die that week.
against Bobbie and Travis for first degree murder and multiple counts
second degree felony child abuse. Rob Parrish, the prosecutor said that
DCFS could have prevented the death of Breanna. On May 15, 1998, a jury
took seven hours to deliberate and then found Bobbie and Travis guilty
of murder. Bobbie was also found guilty on six counts of child abuse
her sentence was a measly 1 to 15 years in prison. Travis was found
and sentenced to 0 to 5 years in prison. What the heck? Zero to five
for killing a baby?
was a preventable
death. There was clear child abuse but they didn't see it until it was
due to inadequate training, improper procedures and confusion"
a lawsuit in May against Bobbie and Travis, the Attorney General, the
Department Of Human Services which is the overseer of DCFS and finally,
against Pamela Goodrich. The amount he sued for was $5 million dollars
and he claimed that DCFS knew what was going on with Breanna and the
she was going through and they did nothing to stop it. HE'S RIGHT!
was found that
Bobbie Wittison had tested positive for drugs, which was in part
by the fact that she was was using prescribed drugs. However, papers
that she tested positive for opiate and Bensodiasopine. She explained
she was taking the pain killer Lortab and that was how she tested
for Opiates. She had no explanation for why she tested positive for
Even though she tested positive, Breanna was still released to her.
blamed for not telling the police about Bobbie testing positive for the
drug. A bigger picture paints the truth, Pamela CLEARLY knew
about how to recognize when a child was being abused. Pamela was also
of correct procedures of when a child could be removed from a home and
she was lacking in proper training. Pamela believed that the court had
to become involved in order for a child to be removed from a home.
March 5, 1997, Pamela Goodrich resigned from her position with DCFS.
said that the death of Breanna's was the very deepest sorrow that she
ever known. Pamela said in her letter to Governor Leavitt, that she and
her supervisor had both made written comments to ensure that the unit
worked in would be trained better on child protection services and
in the future. This came after the fatality review of Breanna's case
the when she received a new supervisor, the review of settlement and
suddenly became haphazard. When she went to the new administration
this, she was reprimanded for being a burned out social worker. In the
last line of her letter she said:
very wrong if that child's death did not serve as a lesson to our
caseworkers are well trained"
letter back, though not from the Governor. The letter was dated May 16,
1997 and denied any deficiencies in the department. The letter also
that it is important for all division employees to perform their duties
in a professional manner. Also in the letter it said that the
was committed to making sure
receive the training that they need to be competent in their jobs.
in that was a walk through system training program that would take
once a month for new and even more experienced workers.
saying that the increased number of fatality reviews prove that the
are not learning, not from the death of Breanna or the deaths of
who have died after her.
the case of Breanna,
protected documents, which are documents that are never meant to be
by the public, said that there was some confusion between Pamela and
Assistant Attorney General, David Tibbs. There was a failure of
between the two and each of them though the decision was up to the
The paper also
caseworkers feel that they are being second guessed a lot and are not
to make decisions on their own, they just leave it up to someone else.
In the case of Breanna and many other children, it costs them their
claims that Utah's DCFS is a role model for DCFS in other states.
since 1994, 49 children have died in Utah and the year before Breanna
brought on 20 of those deaths of children. This was while Mike Leavitt
was announcing the DCFS success of their new overhaul program. The
Center For Youth Law, which is based in San Francisco, filed a lawsuit
against Mike Leavitt and the state of Utah for their failure to protect
children in the foster system as well as children who were reported as
being abused and neglected.
says that even
with more money and a new director, the system is dysfunctional and
what they call "family" before protection of the children in their
Over five years after the U.S. District Court for Utah had forced Mike
Leavitt to come to an agreement with NCYL, the legal battle was not
NCYL wanted the settlement agreement to be extended for two more years
in order to keep Utah and DCFS under the watchful eye of the Federal
and attempt to stop the deaths of other children.
the Utah Attorney General, Jan Graham, wanted the agreement to be over
with on the expiration date. Mike Leavitt had gone on record as saying
that the San Francisco group was only after their $200. an hour fee:
spending our money to care for children, and we'd like not to spend our
money on lawyers"
had spent over
$100. million dollars over the four years prior to the death of
on DCFS. About half of that money comes from the federal government
the condition that Utah would operate their child welfare system
to the law. Reports said that about two decades after the Federal Child
Welfare And Adoption
1980, Utah was STILL out of compliance with federal mandates.
means that Utah is NOT caring for children who are in their
as foster children or other children who are at risk of being abused
neglected. Utah apparently had only 49% more administrators and 69%
case workers to show for
children are still dying. What are all of the new employees doing with
their time? NOT protecting children, that's for sure!
Sunday, Feb. 25, 1996 12:00 a.m. MST
Loveless, 9 months old, died February 22, 1996 at Delta.
May 22, 1995
at Delta to Ricky Lee Sanders and Bobbie Dawn Loveless Wittison. During
Breanna's short life she was truly the love of her sisters' lives. She
will be greatly missed by all who knew her. Survived by mother, Delta;
father, Hinckley; sisters: Jauna Janae Wittison and Crysten Wittison,
Delta; grandparents: Elaina Jackman, Lynndyl; Mike Loveless Sr., Salt
City; Claude and Meridean Sanders, Hinckley; great- grandparents:
and Carla Larsen, Lynn and Iva Dee Loveless, Sylvia Davis, all Salt
City; uncles: Russell Larsen, California; Mike Loveless Jr.,
Monday February 26, 1996 12:00 Noon at Nickle Mortuary, 190 South
Delta. Friends call at Mortuary Monday 11-11:45 a.m. Burial Delta
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Death Occurred in the
state of Utah