Workers’ warnings unheeded before baby beheaded

Workers’ warnings unheeded before baby beheaded

By Dan Horn | Cincinnati Enquirer

CINCINNATI — Social workers checked on Jayniah Watkins at least 10 times and warned relatives to keep her mother away in the weeks before the child was found decapitated Monday.

Records requested by The Cincinnati Enquirer show that social workers with Hamilton County’s Job and Family Services recognized the danger Jayniah’s mother posed to the 3-month-old girl and made at least cursory checks on the child every week since the end of January.

But police and prosecutors say those efforts could not stop the girl’s mother, De’asia Watkins, from finding the girl at an aunt’s house in College Hill and beheading her on a kitchen counter top sometime late Sunday or early Monday.

Jayniah had been placed with the aunt, whose name has not been released, because Watkins was suffering from serious mental illness and the father, James Brown, had not formally established paternity and did not have custody rights.

Prosecutors say the aunt was warned the mother should not be alone with the child.

“The aunt was given specific instructions that neither mother or father could have contact with the baby at this time or reside in the home,” said Julie Wilson, spokeswoman for Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters.

Social workers became involved in the case after Jan. 25, when Watkins was hospitalized following an incident at her home in which police found her screaming and Jayniah crying loudly. According to court records, Watkins initially refused to hand over the baby and, after she did, passed out with her eyes open.

She was diagnosed with postpartum psychosis and hospitalized for three days. Investigators said Brown said she had been “acting crazy” and talking to demons.

Jayniah first was placed with Brown after that Jan. 25 incident, and Watkins was permitted to move back in with them when she got out of the hospital. She was not, however, allowed to be alone with the child and was told she could stay in the home only if she took her medication.

The College Hill home where Janiyah Watkins was found

The College Hill home where Janiyah Watkins was found dead. Her mother, Deasia Watkins, has been charged in connection with the death. (Photo: Amanda Rossmann)


Records show that social workers checked on Jayniah at least seven times while the child was in Brown’s care, usually at Brown’s house, for as much as 120 minutes and as little as 10 minutes.

After each visit, social workers determined Jayniah “appeared to be healthy and in good condition.”

The child was removed from Brown’s home after a March 6 court hearing, when a judge determined that Watkins had stopped taking her medication and had been seen breast feeding Jayniah, even though she’d been told not to because of the medication she was supposed to be taking.

At that point, records show, Jayniah was sent to live with her aunt in College Hill. Records show social workers saw Jayniah the day of that March 6 hearing and at least two other times after Jayniah went to live with her aunt.

Those two meetings occurred last Thursday at the aunt’s home and last Friday at the downtown offices of Job and Family Services.

Deters said Tuesday that social workers were not aware Watkins had moved into the aunt’s house until Monday morning, when police responded to a 911 call and found Jayniah dead in the kitchen.

Watkins, 20, was found in bed, covered in blood.

Prosecutors have said it’s unlikely they will seek the death penalty because of the severity of Watkins’ mental illness. She is charged with aggravated murder and is in the hospital, under guard.

Deters said Watkins has not spoken to investigators.

He said it’s unlikely the aunt would be charged in the case, but that decision won’t be made until the investigation is complete.



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