April 26, 2021

How Can We Prevent the Unwarranted Death of a Child


In March a mother, Kaylee Messerly, and her 3-year-old child were found with frostbite needing amputations. A second child, of 18 months old was found dead due to accidental hypothermia.

The arrest warrant for Messerly quotes a physician describing the frostbite as the worst case they’d ever seen. The child had both feet amputated and Messerly lost her toes. Let’s take a deeper look at the tragic and unwarranted death of this child.

A Strom on the Horizon

According to the arrest warrant, Messerly told police she had gotten “disoriented and lost.” Her vehicle got stuck in the mud and she was unable to start the car. Messerly and her children waited in the car for four hours, hoping someone would pull over and help. The report reads,

After no one came along, she realized she probably had sat in the car too long, she decided to take her children and began walking towards what she thought was a house.  She stated it turned out that what she thought was a house, was not, instead it (sic) to be a pump house.  It soon became dark, then it started snowing.

Toxicology Findings

The report indicates a second person being present but their name is redacted from the statement. Investigators find Messerly’s lab results to indicate that she had methamphetamine, amphetamines, and THC in her system after her rescue.

Messerly, previously tested positive for meth when she gave birth to one of her children. The Department of Human Service in Moffat County did not file a Dependency and Neglect case at the time. Investigators also claim that DHS did not file a Dependency and Neglect case over Messerly’s incident last month.

Where is Colorado DHS?

Now you may be wondering, where is Colorado DHS for all of this? Clearly, there is some documentation on file about Messerly and her struggle. So why were the children in her care? According to the Colorado DHS, Dependency and Neglect cases are not criminal cases, rather civil court proceedings.

“Pursuant to Colorado Revised Statutes 19-1-303 and 19-1-307 the Moffat County Department of Human Services is forbidden to discuss any information regarding child abuse or neglect investigations except as indicated therein,” said Tia Murray, the Director of DHS in Moffat County.

Based on the information provided, it seems that Messerly’s children were in her custody because there was no formal charge of Dependency and Neglect. Even though Moffat County DHS was aware of Messerly’s meth use.

Lt. Chip McIntyre, a Moffat County Sheriff’s investigator reported that he filed a motion in Moffat County District Court to compel the Moffat County DHS to file a petition for Dependency and Neglect.

In Conclusion

In conclusion, the unwarranted death of a child is a tragedy. Privacy laws are in place to prevent discrimination and offer dignity to those going through personal struggles. Unfortunately, when it comes to the welfare of children, more thought and reform should be in place to prevent deadly outcomes.

Please continue to be an advocate for children and their families. Children experiencing neglect or abuse depend on the watchful eye of adults outside their home. They depend on other’s reporting, documenting, and following up on these reports.

Learn more about helping children in your community HERE.

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