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In re Involuntary Termination of Parent-Child Relationship of B.P.

Court of Appeals of Indiana

March 11, 2014

In the Matter of the Involuntary Termination of the Parent-Child Relationship of B.P., C.P., and D.P., the minor children, and A.H., the Mother, and J.P., the Father: A.H. and J.P., Appellants-Respondents,

Editorial Note:

These opinions are not precedents and cannot be cited or relied upon unless used when establishing res judicata or collateral estoppel or in actions between the same party. Indiana Rules of Appellate Procedure 65(D).

APPEAL fro THE WAYNE SUPERIOR COURT. The Honorable Darrin M. Dolehanty, Judge. Cause Nos. 89D03-1306-JT-5, -6, and -7.

ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT (Mother): CRAIG C. PARKER, Parker Law, LLC, Richmond, Indiana.

ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT (Father): J. CLAYTON MILLER, Jordan Law, LLC, Richmond, Indiana.

ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE: GREGORY F. ZOELLER, Attorney General of Indiana, ROBERT J. HENKE, DAVID E. COREY, Deputy Attorneys General, Indianapolis, Indiana.

KIRSCH, Judge. FRIEDLANDER, J., and BAILEY, J., concur.




A.H. (" Mother" ) and J.P. (" Father" ) appeal from the involuntary termination of their parental rights to their children B.P., C.P., and D.P. In so doing, Mother and Father each contend that their due process rights were violated by the juvenile court's inclusion in its termination order findings of their lack of participation in services during their incarceration on pending criminal charges, and by finding and concluding that the Wayne County Department of Child Services (" WCDCS" ) had a satisfactory plan for the care and treatment of the children.

We affirm.


The facts most favorable to the juvenile court's decision reveal that Mother and Father were the biological parents of C.P., born on February 22, 2008, D.P., born on April 23, 2009, and B.P., born on July 14, 2010. On February 5, 2012, Richmond Police Department Captain Neal VanMiddlesworth was sent to Mother and Father's home. While there, Captain VanMiddlesworth observed emergency medical technicians and other law enforcement officers present at the house, as well as other members of Mother's and Father's family. Mother, Father, and two or three other children were also present in the home. The EMTs were working with an infant later identified as K.H., Mother and Father's youngest child. The EMTs carried K.H., who was deceased, out of the home.

Captain Van Middlesworth testified that, had the children remained in the home, he would have contacted the local health department because of the condition of the home. He described the conditions in the home as deplorable and trashy. In particular, he observed used food containers, the odor of urine and feces, feces smeared on the wall, and dirty diapers in view.

Almost contemporaneously with the report to law enforcement, the WCDCS received a report that the condition of Mother and Father's home was possibly unsafe. WCDCS received a second report pertaining to the family, this one involving K.H.'s death. As a result of this report, WCDCS family case manager Megan Beck (" FCM Beck" ) went to Reid Memorial Hospital where she observed K.H. FCM Beck described K.H. as deceased, small, pale, with sunken and loose skin. K.H.'s bones were prominent and portions of his skin had deteriorated. FCM Beck spoke with family members at the hospital and was told by Mother that K.H. had received regular medical care throughout his life and that it was typical for K.H. to be isolated in his bedroom for the entire day.

FCM Beck then visited with K.H.'s siblings, C.P., D.P. and B.P. who were in the care of relatives. FCM Beck observed that the children appeared clean and were dressed appropriately, but were small in size for their ages. FCM Beck then went to Mother and Father's home. There she observed fecal material smeared on the window, the wall, and in the carpet, a dirty diaper that was full, a plate, food wrappers and containers, and trash on the floors. The kitchen was cluttered and dirty, and piles of clutter, clothes, and other items were located throughout the home.

WCDCS filed a request to take the children into custody, which was granted on February 6, 2012. The children were taken into protective custody and the emergency custody order included findings that leaving the children in the home would be contrary to their welfare as their sibling, K.H., appeared to have died as a result of neglect and that the residence was not fit for human habitation. The emergency custody order was filed, and child in need of services (" CHINS" ) proceedings instituted on behalf of the children. At the detention hearing, the juvenile court made the children temporary wards of WCDCS, and the foster placement which was already in place, was approved for continuation by the juvenile court.

At a placement hearing held in the three CHINS cases, the juvenile court rejected Mother's proposed placement of the children with a relative and entered an order for the continuation of the foster placement, which could not be changed without prior approval from the juvenile court. Amended CHINS petitions were filed with respect to each of the children, and a fact-finding hearing regarding those petitions was held on March 26, 2012. Several witnesses testified at the hearing including FCM Beck, a detective from the Richmond Police Department, and the pathologist who performed the autopsy on K.H. The three children were each adjudicated as CHINS, and the order contained findings supporting the adjudication, including but not limited to, the following: 1) that K.H. was born weighing eight pounds and seven ounces, but at the time of his death at approximately four months of age, he weighed six pounds and eight ounces; 2) the cause of K.H.'s death was dehydration due to starvation; 3) Mother and Father were incarcerated and charged with K.H.'s murder; 4) there was human or animal feces in the home with some spread on the walls of the home; and 5) the children had both speech and behavioral problems that had improved since their placement in foster care.

The juvenile court entered a dispositional order on April 20, 2012 granting wardship of the children to WCDCS and maintaining the children's placement in foster care. Mother and Father were ordered to notify the WCDCS case manager of any changes in address, household composition, or contact information, and to execute the releases necessary for WCDCS to monitor Mother's and Father's compliance. Included in the juvenile court's periodic review hearing order entered on August 24, 2012, the parents were required to participate in parenting instruction and counseling made available to them in the course ...

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