DHHS reveals it received reports about Marissa Kennedy's abuse before her death

(WABI)
Published: Feb. 24, 2020 at 4:35 PM EST
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Documents released by the Department of Health and Human Services reveal the agency had almost two years of interactions with Marissa Kennedy's family before the young girl's murder.

Sharon Kennedy was sentenced Friday to 48 years in prison for killing her daughter.

Her ex-husband, Julio Carrillo, is serving 55 years for his role in the the child's death.

Throughout both trials, many witnesses spoke of reports they had made to Child Welfare Services on the Marissa's behalf.

Shortly after Sharon Kennedy was sentenced, DHHS revealed 25 different reports had been made to them on behalf of Marissa Kennedy in the 16 months leading up to her death.

The summary shows countless meetings and discussions took place between the family and DHHS caseworkers and details reports made by school staff and neighbors.

The department opened two official investigations while Marissa was alive, but it was the investigation *after* her death that confirmed the brutal abuse she suffered at the hands of her mother and stepfather.

DHHS received multiple reports from those with concerns about Marissa Kennedy.

Six came from her school, 15 were from mental health and medical professionals, two from police, and two from neighbors.

The first report came in October 2016 when a school employee alerted DHHS to five unexcused absences.

Julio Carrillo told the school Marissa was absent because she was receiving mental health treatment.

School staff say they had not seen any behavioral issues from the child.

DHHS determined no further action was needed at that time.

The 12-page document shows Julio Carrillo and Sharon Kennedy had frequent contact with caseworkers, case managers, school employees, mental health clinicians, and others.

Neighbors had called reporting yelling at the home of Marissa Kennedy.

The report shows the family repeatedly reported false information about reasons for Marissa's absences.

It is documented that Julio Carrillo refused to allow Sharon and Marissa to speak for themselves or alone with caseworkers or treatment professionals.

For 16 months, the department had opened multiple investigations into the family and closed them.

In February 2018, Marissa was murdered, and only then did the department confirm the abuse.

Maine DHHS Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew released a statement saying the deaths of Marissa Kennedy and 4-year-old Kendall Chick in December 2017 "shed long overdue light on Maine's child welfare system."

She says, "while we have further to go, we are on a path to reform and progress."

Director of the Office of Child and Family Services Todd Landry, recently spoke with TV5 about progress being made.

He says, "We are committed to doing everything that we can to make sure that those tragedies that occurred don't happen again. While there are no guarantees in this or any other business, we're going to continue to be transparent, open and work with our partners so that we can get the best outcomes possible for kids and families."

Tuesday and Wednesday, we have a special report that looks further into issues with DHHS.

An annual report by a child welfare watchdog was just released detailing problems within the department.

TV Five also sat down with the Director of the Office of Child and Family Services to talk about recent changes that have been implemented at the department and if they are enough to keep something like this from happening again.