DYERSBURG, Tenn. (AP) — The state Department of Children’s Services has been found liable in the deaths of a teenager and her foster father and the injuries to her foster mother after the biological father went on a shooting rampage.
Dyersburg resident Susan Randolph told The Tennessean (http://tnne.ws/14n0BzY) that she and her husband, Todd Randolph, agreed to temporarily take in the 15-year-old daughter of neighbor Chris Milburn at his request on July 30, 2009.
Susan Randolph said Chris Milburn told her husband there was an accusation of inappropriate touching. Randolph said she thought that perhaps there had been some misunderstanding between Chris Milburn and his daughter, and she was never told the extent of the allegations.
It came out in court that Stevie Milburn had reported that her father had given her a black eye that kept her out of school for a week, a burst lip, a smack in the face, a punch in the face with a closed fist and a whipping with a belt. She also said he sexually assaulted her.
DCS also learned of an earlier domestic violence charge against Chris Milburn and a prior DCS report that included the notation that Milburn “acts like a pedophile and dominates his child.”
Stevie Milburn went to stay with the Randolphs on a Thursday. Over the weekend, the Randolphs became increasingly concerned about Chis Milburn’s behavior.
Susan Randolph said Chris Milburn seemed to think he could see his daughter at any time and under any circumstances, but the couple had not been given clear instructions about it. They repeatedly tried to call the caseworker’s cell phone, but she did not answer and her voicemail was full.
By Sunday afternoon, Stevie Milburn told the Randolphs she did not want to see her father any more. That evening, Chris Milburn came walked over, shooting Todd and Susan Randolph outside the house before going inside and shooting his daughter. He later fatally shot himself in a nearby field.
In a November ruling that was unsealed last week, a judge ordered DCS to pay $875,000, the maximum allowable under the law.
The court findings included that the caseworker had checked “no” to a question on the temporary protection agreement about whether there had been serious physical harm to the child.
The caseworker acknowledged later that she completed most of the required paperwork on Aug. 3, a day after the shootings, but backdated her signature to July 31. Her supervisor also backdated the paperwork, according to Randolph’s lawyer.
Susan Randolph says if she and her husband had known about the seriousness of the allegations or that it was their job to keep Chris Milburn away from his daughter, they would not have agreed to take her in.
Randolph said she is glad the actions of DCS in this case are finally public. After the agency lost in court, the judge ordered the records unsealed, but the state appealed.
“The whole point of going forward with this was to get the truth out,” Randolph said. “Because it was made clear in the beginning that this was being swept under the rug as just a terrible thing that happened to us but that could not have been avoided. But we knew that to be a lie.”
DCS directed questions to the state attorney general’s office, which did not respond to the newspaper