Child fatality review board investigates Salem, Mo. child’s starvation death

Authorities name 10 year-old Josie Abney adoptive parents as her killers.
Published: Nov. 25, 2020 at 10:13 PM CST
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Authorities are taking a closer look at the circumstances surrounding the death of a Dent County child.

Prosecutor Andrew Curley says that a child fatality review board was established the very day 10 year-old Josie Abney was buried.

The panel will consist of seven people; the county prosecutor, coroner, a law enforcement officer, a representative from Missouri Department of Social Services, Children’s Division, one from juvenile court, a provider of health services and a emergency medical services provider.

Last month, The panel discussed the information currently available. They requested additional information to review at a future meeting.

Josie Abney weighed less than 40 pounds when she died.

Major Leonard Pavin with the Dent County Sheriff’s office said, “This is on a scale I’ve never seen. It’s hit us all hard. It’s hit the sheriff’s department hard. It’s hit the community hard.”

The child’s adopted parents, Susan and Randall Abney are charged with abuse or neglect of a child in her death. Court documents show on October 3, deputies were called out to the Abney’s house due to the girl being unconscious. When officers got there, they noticed the girl was very thin. The Abneys said she had not been eating much in the previous week. The girl later died at the hospital.

The crime outraged the small community of Salem.

“Social services system has failed. Whoever is in charge of that, whoever is the head of that up in the capital needs to get on it and get on it fast,” said Karen Wallis.

Jimmy Decker said, “It breaks my heart to see a child fall through the cracks. It’ breaks my heart.”

A search of the Abney home found a child lock on the refrigerator, and no food accessible to the child.

Doctors told investigators she so dehydrated that they couldn’t draw her blood.

Investigators also noticed bruising on the many parts of the girl’s body.

“Hopefully she can look down and see that she was loved by strangers,” said Wallis.

Decker, “If there’s going to be anything good that comes out of a death of child, we’ve got to start somewhere. We don’t want this to happen again anywhere.”

Curley tells us the panel will meet again once Josie Abney’s final autopsy report is released. The group will then make recommendations to the Missouri Department of Social Services, Children’s Division on ways to prevent this from happening again.

Randall and Susan Abney are still being held on $500,00 bond each.

Their preliminary hearings are scheduled for January 21, 2021.

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