Missouri Social Services defends welfare check on 2 Kearney girls

It’s now clear that investigator walked right by the Jeep just hours before Ireland and Goodknight Ribando died. (KCTV5)

A spokesperson for Missouri’s Social Services is responding to KCTV5’s investigative department's concerns about the welfare check done on the morning of two young Kearney sisters' deaths.

It’s now clear that investigator walked right by the Jeep just hours before Ireland and Goodknight Ribando died. He admits he was looking for the girls but spent less than five minutes at the property and never specifically looked inside the jeep.

It’s possible this might have been a heartbreaking missed opportunity to save the young girls ages 7 weeks and 2 years old.

“This investigation is ongoing. Children’s Division responded timely and appropriately to a Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline report that the reported indicated was a non-emergency concern,” said Rebeca Woelfel with Missouri Social Services.

Court documents reveal a child welfare investigator responded to a welfare check between 9:30 a.m. and 9:40 .am. that morning. He told police he remembered parking behind a silver SUV and the lights were on. He believes the engine was running.

He reports that the front door to the home was open and a screen door was shut. He knocked loudly three separate times and eventually left the property. He told investigators he never looked inside the car because he didn’t want to be “prowling around cars” in a rural area.

The 911 call for help came less than three hours later.

It is clear this appears to be a hot car investigation from court documents and that the Jeep may have run out of gas turning the vehicle into an oven.

The mother told police she woke up and could not revive the girls. She indicates she slept in that silver SUV with the girls. She woke up and found her daughters unresponsive. She tried to give them water and add gas to the jeep so she could start it. She eventually ran for help but it was too late.

The National Weather Service reports the high temperature that day hit 93 degrees and it was 90 degrees at noon when the call for help was placed.

KCTv5's investigative department placed a thermometer inside a white SUV at similar temperatures to see how hot the vehicle would get. Within an hour, the car was 120 degrees. The temperature eventually climbed to 140 degrees and even beyond.

It is unclear what temperatures were inside the Jeep, and investigators have not ruled officially heat as a contributing factor in the young girls' cause of death. Autopsies and toxicology testing are underway. Final reports generally take 6-8 weeks.

Missouri Social Services won’t reveal concerns were reported in that hotline call. Just that it came in at 11 p.m. on July 3 and an investigator was sent to the property at the beginning of his shift the very next day.

The young girls will be buried today at Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Kearney. Memorial contributions may be made to any Community America Credit Union Bank FBO Goodknight and Ireland Memorial.

The mother of young girls is in jail. She faces domestic violence-related charges stemming from a July 3 fight with her husband.

She currently faces no charges in the deaths of her two young daughters. Earlier in the week, she asked a judge to lower her bond so she could attend her daughters' funerals. That request was denied.

Now, investigators want to know more about the Jeep.

Specifically, they are interested in the GPS information which would reveal where the Jeep was at different times that night and the morning.

Cars don't have black boxes like airplanes do, but any information from the event data recorder is obviously important in this investigation.

It could take about another month before a final cause of death is determined.

Copyright 2018 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.

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