by Tara Servatius
Meck Deck blogger
A probation officer under investigation in the horrific death of 2-year-old Shanna Lanham has resigned.
Lanham is alleged to have died in the care of her drug addict mother and boyfriend, who was a sex offender. A family member of Jason Wells, the boyfriend, contacted the officer via Facebook after getting nowhere with him on the phone when she tried to report the abuse. What is mind-boggling here is that family members were reaching out to Ogg after they were unable to get the Gaston County Department of Social Services to take action. (The department investigated in response to reports, but took no action for reasons that aren’t clear.)
Kim Wells, Jason Wells’ cousin, provided Eyewitness News on July 31 with a Facebook email exchange between herself and Officer Ogg.
She told Eyewitness News she called Ogg several times but her messages weren’t returned, so she found him on Facebook. She wrote things including “I don’t know if that baby is eating;” “Shanna is strung out on crack and Xanax;” “Addison her daughter doesn’t have any clothes;” and “Please help Addison.”
“Why wouldn’t you be concerned about an infant not eating? And drugs being used in front of them? Why would you not go check?” Kim Wells said last month.
In the Facebook exchange, Ogg responded one time, asking Wells how she knew about the alleged drug use.
Clearly, this family was desperate. And that is the problem. This is a family that had already gone through DSS. The agency investigated in this case, but failed to remove the child. This would be the same DSS system whose representatives explained that an internal review of the Lanham case would occur, but that no one would be held responsible for the child’s death.
Such reviews are conducted to make beneficial changes, not penalize anyone for mistakes, according to DHHS spokeswoman Lori Walston.
“It’s more of a lessons learned situation,” she said.
Unfortunately, the DSS system across the state operates like this, and gets to hide its mistakes behind state privacy laws that shield them from ever having to tell the public the full story of what happened in these cases where children die. State lawmakers MUST demand an independent outside investigation with no involvement from state or local DSS officials and they must do it before another child dies.
If the family hadn’t saved the Facebook exchange with the probation officer, no doubt he’d still be at his job. Because WSOC took it public, he was forced to resign. I can only wonder what is in the DSS files in this case.