DCFS report tracks deaths of metro-east children

News-DemocratDecember 10, 2013 

The Department of Children and Family Services Inspector General 2013 report shows one natural death of a child in Madison County was investigated in 2012. In St. Clair County, three homicidal deaths and one accidental death were investigated last year.

In 2011, there were seven deaths reported in Madison County. One was undetermined. Four were listed as accidents. Two were listed as natural causes. In St. Clair County, one case was listed as a homicide, two were listed as accidental, three were listed as natural.

In 2010, there was one suicide in St. Clair County and one accidental death. In Madison County, there was one homicide, one accident and one natural death.

Though the reports do not list children's names, counties where the cases occurred or names of those charged criminally in children's deaths, Belleville News-Democrat reporters were able to determine from the circumstances the names connected to one St. Clair County case investigated by the Inspector General in the 2013 report.

The case involved LeVada Brown, 5, and Yokela Smith, 4, who were shot to death by their mother, Yokiea Smith. Smith, 27, stated that she was having hallucinations in the days before she turned a shotgun on her two children. Brown's oldest son, then 8-year-old Xaveious Brown, escaped after the he wrestled his mother for the gun and it jammed. Smith, was charged with their murders, but she was later found unfit to stand trial.

DCFS intervened with the family in 2008, but the mother participated in services "minimally" and asked that her case be closed by the department, according to the report.

In the days before the shooting, Smith's mother called the department and asked for help in getting guardianship for the children because Smith was in prison for driving under the influence, battery and driving on a revoked license and without insurance. When a worker contacted the grandmother, she declined assistance. When Smith was released from the county jail, she regained custody of three children. The shooting occurred five days later.

In 2006, the News-Democrat published a series titled "Lethal Lapses" that reported that 53 children died while in DCFS care because caseworkers and supervisors failed to follow their own regulations and procedures.

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