UPDATE | Scioto Co. Children Services executive director put on leave in connection with baby Dylan case

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SCIOTO COUNTY, Ohio (WSAZ/AP) -- UPDATE 10/10/19 @ 9:40 p.m.
Dr. Lorra Fuller, executive director of Scioto County Children Service, has been placed on leave following the case of a months old boy who was found dead in an Ohio well, a Scioto County commissioner says.

Dr. Lorra Fuller, executive director of Scioto County Children Service, has been placed on leave following the case of a months old boy who was found dead in an Ohio well

The state maintains that the agency mishandled the case.

Bryan Davis, a Scioto County commissioner, made the announcement Thursday night about Fuller. Davis explained that county commissioners did not make the decision, but they support the decision from the Scioto County Children Services Board.

Commissioners released the following statement:

"We hope that today's findings and subsequent actions by the SCCSB (Scioto County Children Services Board) will ultimately result in concrete and substantial improvements involving child welfare in our community. This is only the beginning. We will continue to press for outcomes that the community will support and that will ultimately renew the overall community confidence CPS needs in order to perform their important mission. Our children deserve better. As a community we must do better, and we will. We offer our help and support to the SCCSB and Children's Services in this endeavor. We ask for the community's patience, support, and prayers as we continue down this path."

The infant, Dylan Groves, was put in foster care when he was born with drugs in his system, but was returned to his father before he was found dead in Scioto County in June. Authorities haven't released a cause of death.

In a WSAZ investigation, we obtained a report from the Scioto County Sheriff's Office that details what happened in the last months of Dylan's life.

There have been vigils, protests and meetings held about the handling of Dylan’s case and if more could have been to save him.



UPDATE 10/10/19 @ 2:43 p.m.
The state says a children services agency mishandled the case of a months-old boy who was found dead in an Ohio well and whose parents have pleaded not guilty to charges including aggravated murder.

According to the Associated Press, new outlets report Ohio's Department of Job and Family Services recently informed Scioto County Children Services the state determined the agency didn't follow required procedures and must submit a corrective action plan.

Dylan Groves was put in foster care when he was born with drugs in his system, but was returned to his father before the 6-month-old was found dead in Scioto County in June. Authorities haven't released a cause of death.

In a WSAZ investigation, we obtained a report from the Scioto County Sheriff's Office that details what happened in the last months of Dylan's life.

There have been vigils, protests and meetings held about the handling of Dylan’s case and if more could have been to save him.

Children Services' director responded to the state that the agency hopes to initiate practices aimed at preventing such fatalities and defended its overloaded caseworkers.



UPDATE 6/25/19 @ 7:30 p.m.
Several important decisions were made in the case of 6-month-old Dylan Groves Tuesday afternoon.

The Scioto County Children Services Board went into executive session to discuss whether Director Dr. Lorra Fuller should be placed on leave per the Scioto County Commissioners’ recommendation that came last week, as well as their request for a third party review.

Dylan was found dead in a well on June 12 near his parents’ home in Otway. He was born addicted to drugs and was in the custody of Scioto County Children Services for his first few months of life. After being placed in the custody of a foster parent, Daniel and Jessica Groves regained custody of him after complying with CPS requirements.

Dylan's former foster mom, Andrea Bowling, was in attendance for today’s meeting and is still holding on to a piece of Dylan in her heart.

"It’s important for me to be Dylan’s voice because he didn’t have a voice and I am his voice. We bonded and we had a very close attachment and I will forever be his voice,” Bowling said.

After over 3 hours of discussion, the board made a decision. Fuller will remain in place pending a third party review by the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services that began Monday.

After the decision, Fuller said the board reviewed documentation in the case including staff, law enforcement and medical interactions.

"I just want to say that I am grateful for the board looking at all of the facts and making decisions made on fact and not emotion,” she said.

She says the board feels confident that they followed state laws when it comes to Dylan’s case.

Bowling is hoping that something like this never happens again and wants to see legislative change in the future.

"It is my goal to make a Dylan’s law where there are some changes made in the system where the reunification process is different especially for cases like Dylan where he was so fragile and needed extra care,” Bowling said.

In a pre-trial hearing on Tuesday afternoon, Daniel and Jessica Groves both waived their right to a speedy trial.

Their next trial date is scheduled for August 1.

UPDATE 6/25/19 @ 2:22 p.m.
Despite a request from county leaders, the director of Scioto County Children Services will remain in her position during an investigation into the death of a baby who was once in the agency's care.

Dylan Groves was found dead at the bottom of a well near his parents' home in Otway, Ohio the evening of Wednesday, June 12. The 6-month-old's parents are facing charges. They have both pleaded not guilty.

Deputies say Dylan was born addicted to drugs and was in the custody of Scioto County Children Services (SCCS) for the first few months of his life. After complying with SCCS requirements, Daniel Groves, 41, and Jessica Groves, 39, regained custody.

We've learned Daniel was on probation as well as out on bond for two different criminal cases when he got his son back. You can read more about his criminal history in our original story below.

In a letter one week ago, the Scioto County Commissioners urged the SCCS Board to place its director, Dr. Lorra Fuller, on administrative leave.

The SCCS Board had a meeting Tuesday. After meeting in an executive session, board officials released a statement: "At this time the Executive Director, Dr. Lorra Fuller will remain in place pending the result of the 3rd party review. We will be requesting a meeting with partnering agencies to better facilitate agency relationships to help promote the better welfare of our county's children. We as a board care very much about children in our custody and we are deeply saddened by Dylan Groves tragic death."

The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) will be the third party handling the investigation. According to SCCS officials, that investigation began Monday, June 24.

The ODJFS will review all cases handled by SCCS between Dec. 24, 2018 and June 23, 2019.

County commissioners gave WSAZ this statement Tuesday afternoon: "The Scioto County Commissioners will consider the outcome of today’s meeting and consider what further actions will take place. It is our belief that evidence regarding the Groves case suggests strongly the need for the actions requested. Regardless of the outcome, we thank the Children’s Services Board for considering our requests and will be in consultations with the Scioto County Prosecutor regarding next steps."

Andrea Bowling, who was Dylan's foster mom before the Groves regained custody, tells WSAZ she believes the system failed him horribly.

There was a protest outside the SCCS building Monday.

"Dylan didn’t have a voice, so if I have to stand up and be a voice for him then I’m going to and I just encourage everybody to stand with me and be a voice for those that don't,” organizer Stephanie Carter said.

In response to the protest, SCCS Director Fuller said in an email statement, "It is a horrible tragedy that happened and we hope to determine how tragedies such as this can be prevented in child welfare in the future. Without full knowledge of the case, I can understand why the general public is angry with the agency."

ORIGINAL STORY 6/20/19
The Scioto County Commissioners are urging the Scioto County Children's Services Board to place its director on administrative leave following the death of a baby who was previously in CPS custody.

Six-month-old Dylan Groves was found dead last week in Otway near the home of his parents: Daniel Groves, 41, and Jessica Groves, 39. The baby's body was in a well about 30 feet (9 meters) deep, according to deputies.

Investigators say Dylan was born addicted to drugs and spent the first months of his life under the care of Scioto County Children's Services.

The couple regained custody of him after complying with CPS requirements.

Commissioners sent a letter Tuesday to a chairperson of the Scioto County Children's Services Board that reads in part, "Considering the recent events surrounding the death of Dylan Groves, a child placed in CPS custody, and based upon what has been widely reported by the public, Scioto County Commissioners request and urge that the Scioto County Children's Services Board move to place Director Dr. Lorra Fuller on administrative leave until an independent third-party investigation of CPS procedures, policies and actions used and/or facilitated by Scioto County Children's Services can be conducted by the Scioto County Children's Services Board."

Dylan's body was found Wednesday, June 12, but deputies believe the child has been dead since the end of March.

We previously reported that Daniel was on probation for a misdemeanor theft charge when he was arrested in connection with the child's disappearance. He was convicted of theft in January 2019.

WSAZ confirmed Daniel's probation for the theft case was taken away Monday.

We also learned Thursday that while Daniel was on probation for that theft case, he was out on bond in a separate theft case. Before he was taken into custody for the baby's disappearance, Daniel was out on bond for two felony charges and one misdemeanor charge, including grand theft.

Court documents allege Daniel cut more than two dozen trees from a state forest valued at more than $29,000 between Sept. 17 and Nov. 14, 2018. He was arrested and posted a $5,000 bond on Dec. 10, 2018, but was not indicted on the charges until Feb. 14, 2019.

Scioto County Children's Services declined to be interviewed about this story on Thursday. We were told Director Fuller is out until Monday and a supervisor, as well as Board Chair Al Oliver, did not return messages.

We can't tell you if they were aware of the other ongoing criminal cases when Daniel regained custody or if they even check with the court system.

Late Thursday night, Fuller sent an email response:

"At this time the board has not responded to the commissioners letter. However they will hold a meeting on Tuesday to discuss the recommendation. They will also be determining if an outside investigation will be necessary. At this time the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services will be reviewing the case in question beginning Monday. The review will determine if Ohio law and rule that govern child welfare agencies were followed."

Investigators say Daniel stopped showing up for court appearances, home visits, and doctor appointments for Dylan. That's when CPS and the sheriff's office started looking for the child.

According to a preliminary autopsy, Dylan suffered skull fractures on both sides of his skull, a fractured left arm (broken radius, humerus and ulna), a left leg fracture, two broken left ribs, soft tissue hemorrhaging in his right chest wall, and a laceration to his left arm.

The parents are facing charges in connection with the baby's death. A Scioto County grand jury indicted the Groves on charges of aggravated murder, murder, kidnapping, endangering children, tampering with evidence, interference with custody, gross abuse of a corpse, and four counts of felonious assault. If they are found guilty on all counts, the pair could face life in prison.

Both Daniel and Jessica pleaded not guilty to all charges Monday.

Andrea Bowling, who was Dylan's foster mom before the Groves regained custody, tells WSAZ she believes the system failed him horribly. Scioto County CPS declined a comment last week, saying they are not able to comment until the investigation is over.

The commissioners' letter continues, "It is recommended this investigation include information obtained in regards to actions taken on behalf of any agent acting on behalf of Scioto County Children's Services before the child was placed with his father, during the time leading up to the point the child was reported missing, and leading up to and beyond the discovery of the death of the child. The investigation should also include any persons with knowledge of the events leading up to the death of the child and possibly beyond. The employment by the CSB of a person who has handled such delicate inquiries is highly recommended. We feel strongly that without such an investigation being handled by a third party, that the trust and confidence of the public at large and that of the Scioto County Board of Commissioners cannot be restored. We ask that you answer this request within 5 business days of receipt of this letter."


Jessica Groves, 39, and Daniel Groves, 41, are facing charges in connection with the baby's death.
Six-month-old Dylan Groves was found dead in a well in Otway near the home of his parents.
Jessica Groves, 39, and Daniel Groves, 41, are facing charges in connection with the baby's death.
Daniel Groves, 41, and Jessica Groves, 39, are facing charges in connection with the baby's death.