More than a week after 5-year-old Ta’Naejah McCloud died in the hospital from severe physical abuse, one of the child’s guardians tells News 5 she was never notified about Cuyahoga County’s open abuse and neglect investigation until after the girl's death.
Shabrina McCloud had shared legal custody of the girl, who moved with her former girlfriend Tequila Crump, 27, from Virginia to Ohio in May of 2016.
McCloud told News 5 in a phone interview that the first time she was contacted by Cuyahoga County Children and Family services was two days after Ta’Naejah’s death, asking to confirm her social security number.
“I had no idea,” McCloud said. “If I had known about the allegations I would have brought her back to Virginia.”
Witnesses to the abuse first contacted family services in October of 2016. According to a county spokesperson, the allegations were investigated but were found “unsubstantiated, ” and a case was not opened.
It wasn’t until more allegations of abuse surfaced months later that social workers decided to open a case on Feb. 10.
Social workers visited the home eight times in five weeks since the case was opened, according to records. The visits took place at the home, at a case appointment or at a medical appointment. A case plan was then developed because of allegations of neglect and abuse.
According to a spokesperson, there was “not enough evidence for the court to order removal” of the girl during that time.
During that period, Jennifer Paisley, Ta’Naejah’s preschool teacher and the school’s family service worker, told ABC affiliate WSET that they did have contact with Cuyahoga County case workers.
But Paisley said they were assured that the girl was in no danger. “She was safe and she was protected. She was in a safe environment and she was protected. That was on the 9th,” Paisley told WSET.
But just eight days later Ta’Naejah was admitted to the hospital with breathing problems and died four days later.
That day both her mother and Crump’s girlfriend, Ursula Owens, 36, were charged with felonious assault in connection with the girl’s death.
According to court documents, the women "did inflict serious physical harm to a five-year-old child that resulted in seizure, brain injury and subsequently death.”
“It could have been prevented,” Paisley said. “I mean, they were there to protect her and they didn’t and they had an out.”
There was no word Wednesday on further charges against Crump and Owens in light of Ta’Naejah’s death.