Michigan 3-year-old tortured to death by mother's lover a day after CPS failed to remove her from abusive home
Child Protection Services checked on a 3-year-old and left her in the abusive home with her mother's boyfriend, who tortured her to death, a day later
A girl from Michigan was tortured to death by her mother's lover a day afer the Children's Protective Services checked upon her, police said. According to ABC 7, Samuel Lester Smart has been accused of torturing 3-year-old Trinity Chandler inside a home on Saturday, December 19, in Groveland Township. Prosecutors state that Smart is Trinity's mother's boyfriend. The mother was working an overnight shift at a nursing home when the ghastly incident took place. Last Friday, December 18, CPS visited the house and checked on the child. They apparently saw bruises on Trinity but did not move her from the home.
Ashley Brown, a friend of Trinity’s mother, told ABC 7 that she had reported the child abuse months earlier and sent photos of Trinity’s injuries to both CPS and the state police. “To me, it looked like healing from two black eyes. It was two,” Brown said, adding, "October is when I made a report with MSP, a couple of months prior I saw her with marks under her eyes. It was obvious abuse. They could have taken her somewhere safe until the investigation was over.”
Brown also mentioned that despite the documented abuse being reported months ago, CPS continued to leave Trinity with her mother, who, in turn, would leave the child with Smart. “Nothing was done,” Brown said. “She wasn’t taken. We hoped she would be, but we knew she wasn’t.”
According to a Michigan State Police investigator, a video taken a day before Trinity’s death showed her being abused. Tri-County Times also reported that Smart appeared at an arraignment on Tuesday, December 22, where he was denied bond. He has been charged with torture and first-degree child abuse. Charges could be changed once an autopsy confirms Trinity’s official cause of death.
“There have been multiple CPS investigations and reports between Mr. Smart and 3-year-old Trinity Chandler,” Det. Sgt. Walden with MSP said. “There is an active and open child abuse investigation by troopers at the Metro North Post, and CPS actually showed up to do a welfare check with Trinity on Friday. They observed injuries, but didn’t feel they had enough to remove her from that place at that time. Mr. Smart is the prime suspect in her death.”
Smart remains behind bars at the Oakland County Jail.
"We realize that anytime that there is a death in the community, especially a child, rumors and gossip start working its way through both traditional and social media," MSP said on Monday. "Please have patience as we continue our investigation."
Lynn Sutfin, a spokeswoman for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, said: "This is a terrible tragedy and MDHHS offers its condolences to the family and friends of this child. Our Children’s Services Agency is committed to its job of protecting children and families. By law, MDHHS cannot comment as this is an ongoing investigation involving law enforcement."
Trinity's grieving grandmother Christine Cunningham, who had been planning to buy Christmas gifts for her, said, "Why would he (Smarts) take her away from us? Why would he do something like that?"