KANSAS CITY, KS (KCTV) - When Olivia was first reported missing, her family members told KCTV5 News they tried to save her by reporting their concerns about abuse to authorities. We now know just how many times someone called police to the home Olivia was living in before her death.
Tuesday night children held signs up during the protest that said, “DCF Failed Her.”
Some of the kids are close to Olivia’s age. She was just 3-years-old when she was killed. Those who knew Olivia say when she was staying with her grandparents and mother, she was a healthy child.
“She is so full of life. Those eyes, those cheeks just lit up,” Mindy Cartwright who was protesting for Olivia Tuesday night said.
They say her joy disappeared while living off Ottawa Street with her dad and his girlfriend while her mother was incarcerated. Relatives say her dad and girlfriend refused to let them see Olivia.
Since January 2017, someone called police to the home on Ottawa 21 times. Family members say Olivia lived in the home for about six months. Since February of this year up until Olivia’s death, police were called five times for a suicide investigation, juvenile abuse, to assist fire and EMT’s, an animal complaint and to check the welfare of someone inside the home.
“This is a situation where people had physically seen bruises on this little girl,” Cartwright said. “We want Dupree to enforce the death penalty. They deserve it.”
A large memorial sits near the woods where Olivia was found. Several witnesses say they saw Olivia’s dad and girlfriend back a vehicle up to the home on Ottawa hours before her body was discovered.
“Seven o’clock in the morning when you see a vehicle back all the way up to a gate that’s never opened in six years, opened? Something was weird,” neighbor Michael Sams said.
Protesters say they also want changes made at the Kansas Department for Children and Families to more thoroughly investigate reports of suspected child abuse.
“People said something. Nobody did anything. So, can your wife be held accountable Dupree? Let’s hold everyone accountable because the system failed that little girl,” Cartwright said.
Wyandotte County District Attorney Mark Dupree is married to Shanelle Dupree who is listed as the Kansas Department for Children and Families Family Services Kansas City Regional Director.
In a written statement D.A. Dupree said in part, “Mrs. Shanelle Dupree is the KC Regional Director, and because she is the wife of District Attorney Dupree, she has always been conflicted out of Wyandotte County child welfare cases, which includes this case as well. All Wyandotte County child welfare matters are handled by DCF Administration.”
Protesters plan to protest again Wednesday and Thursday before Olivia’s funeral services on Friday.
Secretary of the Kansas Department for Children and Families, Laura Howard, sent KCTV5 News a statement Tuesday night.
“My heart aches for Olivia, her family and the Kansas City community. The death of a child is a tragedy.
I know there is strong community interest in this case, and I understand the desire for more information. The Kansas City community should know that DCF has a comprehensive process for review of critical incidents in order to quickly identify any agency or contractor policy or procedural issue that needs to be addressed. We are currently working alongside law enforcement and in accordance with state statute, my agency will provide further information specific to the case.
My focus for the last 18 months has been on creating a strong child welfare system that protects children and supports families. Olivia’s death reinforces my and my agency’s commitment to continue this vital work.”