DCF confirms a prior abuse investigation involving dead children
TAMPA — The family of two children who died Thursday was the subject of a previous abuse investigation, according to the Florida Department of Children and Families.
Kaden Warren, 5 months, and his sister, Dionna Ervin, 17 months, were pronounced dead at Brandon Regional Hospital on Thursday after their father took them to the emergency room around 3 p.m.
Michael Jon Ervin, 26, of 3807 Ridgeview Place in Valrico, is the children's father. He took them to Brandon Regional Hospital at 3 p.m.
Their mother, Enidlin Rae Warren, 24, lives at the same address, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.
Jan Gregory, DCF regional deputy director, confirmed that child welfare workers opened an investigation involving the children once before, but she couldn't give any immediate details about the case or its outcome.
The sheriff's Child Protective Investigations Division has joined the investigation into the children's deaths, a routine matter in cases like this that involve children.
Autopsies, which are expected to be done Friday, will determine how the children died.
No one was at the family's shaded, blue stucco house Friday, where news reporters gathered.
Neighbors said the family left the residence early in the morning, after the first television news truck arrived.
One neighbor who didn't want to be named said a deputy told him it appeared the children had been left in a hot car.
A Brandon woman who was at the hospital while her baby was being treated Thursday described a chaotic scene when the children arrived in the emergency room.
"It was a lot of commotion," Miraye Miller told Bay News 9. "They brought two stretchers in. It was doctors just like all around the stretchers and nurses on top of the stretchers on their knees with the babies giving them CPR."
Detectives interviewed the hospital staff and the parents to try to find out more about the circumstances of the children's deaths.
Shortly after 7 p.m. Thursday, a woman approached outside the hospital by a reporter said she was an immediate family member of the two children, but declined to comment. She was wearing a name tag identifying her as Rika Watson, and said she and her daughter were waiting for other people to join them. Soon after, the group went into the emergency room.
Two sheriff's deputies arrived shortly after and spoke with some of those in the party. The deputies left around 8 p.m.
No arrests have been made.
Pastor Nate Drayton of Unity Christian Church in St. Petersburg joined the gathered family members in the emergency room waiting area and asked the media to respect the family's privacy.
"They are still receiving information at this point," he said. "They just need some time to process and then they will be able to make a statement about this tragic event."
State records show Michael Ervin has been arrested three times, once on a marijuana possession charge, once on criminal mischief charges and the last for failure to appear in court. Records indicate he was never prosecuted.
Enidlin Warren, the children's mother, was arrested in 2007 on a charge of third-degree grand theft and false information to a pawnbroker. State records show she was not prosecuted, either.
Thomas H. Powers, who lives near the Ervin family in the Brandon East subdivision, said that up until two years ago there was a lot of activity at the house.
He said cars often came by the cul de sac in front of Ervin's home, and then Ervin would walk outside to them.
"This used to be like Grand Central Station," Powers said.
Powers said neighbors started keeping track of the license plate numbers of visiting cars and contacted deputies. The activity, however, died down about two years ago after neighbors approached Ervin's mother and homeowner, Valeria Ervin.
A spokeswoman for the sheriff's office, however, says records going back to 2007 show no calls for service to the home.
Newspaper birth announcements indicate Ervin has at least one other child, a 3-year-old.
Staff writers Robbyn Mitchell and Victoria Bekiempis contributed to this report.