The family of Adrian Jones — the 7-year-old boy who suffered brutal abuse and whose remains were found in a pigsty in 2015 — has filed a lawsuit against several defendants including the Kansas Department for Children and Families.
The 55-page petition was filed Wednesday in Wyandotte County District Court.
“Unlike many other abused and neglected children whose abuse occurs under a veil of darkness and secrecy, A.J.’s mistreatment was the repeated subject of a seemingly endless series of reports and hotline calls to social workers and social service agencies in both Kansas and Missouri,” the lawsuit reads.
DCF spokeswoman, Theresa Freed, said the agency hasn’t been served with the lawsuit and therefore can’t comment.
DCF secretary Phyllis Gilmore, the state of Kansas and several state of Missouri agencies and employees are also named in the suit. Plaintiffs include Adrian’s grandmother Judy Conway, his biological mother Dainna Pearce and his sister Keiona Doctor.
The court document outlines 10 hotline calls made to DCF and Missouri’s Department of Social Services that led up to Adrian’s “horrific, unimaginably gruesome death.”
In August 2011, DCF removed Adrian from his mother’s custody and placed him with his father Michael Jones. A hotline call received by DCF in December 2011 alleged that Michael Jones had guns all over his house, in reach of the children, and that Heather Jones, Adrian’s stepmother, was observed high on drugs. Another call that month led to a DCF investigation where Adrian’s siblings said Heather Jones would take Adrian into a bathroom and “choking sounds would occur.” A forensic interview found that Michael Jones hit his children on the head. He also pulled down their pants and spanked them.
According to the lawsuit, DCF’s response was to have Michael Jones sign a document promising to keep the children safe and not allow Heather Jones to have contact with the children.
In January 2012, Michael Jones admitted to DCF that Heather could visit their home. DCF took no action, according to the petition, and another hotline call was received alleging Michael Jones spanked his kids “until their buttocks were bleeding.”
In December 2012, Adrian Jones was assessed at Family Service and Guidance Center in Topeka. Michael Jones reported his son was wetting the bed, stealing and hoarding food, picking at sores on his body and lighting fires. The lawsuit describes these as “behavioral characteristics of trauma responses in preschool children who are victims of child abuse.”
The family moved to Missouri sometime between December 2012 and March 2013. Additional hotline calls were received in Missouri. When a Missouri caseworker interviewed Adrian in July 2013, he reported his father “kicks him in the head on the top and back, and a ‘bone’ comes out,” and his stepmother “throws him on the floor and is mean.”
Missouri’s Department of Social Services determined Adrian was a victim of neglect by a preponderance of evidence and wasn’t safe. Instead of removing him, the agency opted to provide intensive in-home services.
On Aug. 1, 2013, the couple told caseworkers they were moving to Kansas. A Missouri caseworker made a hotline call to DCF alerting them of the family’s history of abuse and lack of cooperation.
When DCF contacted the couple, they said they lived in Missouri.
On Feb. 25, 2014, Missouri’s DSS received the ninth hotline call. The caller reported Adrian was locked in his room and vulnerable to abuse. In investigating the call, a caseworker observed “suspicious marks” on Adrian, who said that he was forced to stand in a corner and do jumping jacks and pushups all day. She also observed lines on his wrist. They were from having his arms and legs taped as punishment, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit alleges that DCF knew the Jones’ were living in Kansas because the agency filed an action to collect child support.
It also alleges that DCF received several hotline calls reporting photos of Adrian being tortured that were posted on Heather Jones’ Facebook page, “but failed to properly respond.”
Adrian Jones’ remains were found in a pigsty at the family’s Wyandotte County residence in November 2015.
The lawsuit contends that DCF had knowledge Adrian was in danger and breached its duty.
Michael and Heather Jones pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and won’t be eligible for parole for at least 25 years.
In May, DCF released more than 2,000 pages of documents detailing their involvement with Adrian Jones. Records maintained by DCF documented the hotline allegations and included investigation reports indicating Adrian had been shocked with a Taser, malnourished and that the couple knew he was nearing death when he could no longer sit or stand.
The lawsuit requests damages in excess of $75,000.