The Dayton Daily News has covered Makayla Norman’s case extensively. Beginning in October 2011, reporters plowed through hundreds of pages of police reports and state records and spoke with local, state and federal officials to determine what happened to Makayla and how a helpless 14-year-old — kept alive through a state-run and taxpayer-funded program — could have died from medical neglect and starvation.
DAYTON — A Trotwood doctor has become the fifth person charged in the starvation death of a severely handicapped 14-year-old girl.
Prosecutors on Wednesday charged Dr. Margaret Edwards with three counts of failing to report abuse or neglect in the death of Makayla Norman. Edwards was Makayla’s doctor from July 2010 until the child’s death on March 1, 2011. Edwards treated her in July and October of 2010 — the last five months before the teen’s death. All three counts are first-degree misdemeanors, punishable by up to six months in a county jail.
The charges were filed in Montgomery County Juvenile Court.
A phone message left for Edwards was not immediately returned Wednesday.
Edwards was required by law to report abuse and neglect, according to Montgomery County Prosecutor Mathias H. Heck, Jr.
“As with the other defendants, this defendant utterly ignored her responsibilities and failed to report the obvious signs of neglect of Makayla,” Heck said.
Makayla weighed 28 pounds at her death, her body covered with filth and open bedsores, her hair and eyebrows infested with lice, her diaper and colon filled with feces. Stricken with cerebral palsy, Makayla could neither speak, move, nor feed herself.
Police and prosecutors claim Makayla was abandoned by her mother, her nurse, the nurse supervising Makayla’s care and the nurse/social worker in charge of overseeing the taxpayer-funded program that kept Makayla with her family — all with the consent of her mother.
Edwards, 50, earned her medical degree in 1992 from the Wright State University School of Medicine, according to state records.
State Medical Board of Ohio officials said Edwards’ license is still active and has no disciplinary history, though they will be watching this case.
“This is a situation the medical board is interested in and if she has a conviction that can be grounds for action by the medical board potentially at a future time,” said medical board spokeswoman Joan Wehrle.
It was not immediately clear how often physicians have been charged under the Ohio law that requires them to report suspicions of child abuse or neglect. A 2008 study published in the journal Pediatrics of over 400 California doctors found doctors did not report more than one-quarter of injuries to children they believed could be classified as “likely” or “very likely” caused by abuse. Many responded they believed such reports did more harm than good, often because they were either familiar with the family or they were not wholly satisfied they could attribute the injury to abuse, though they suspected it.
A Dayton Daily News investigation found Makayla was caught in an extensive bureaucracy where officials say fraud is a massive and growing problem, and where regulators are swamped with allegations each year. Government officials say they are reviewing their systems to determine how she got lost.
“Makayla shouldn’t have suffered … she couldn’t get help for herself,” Common Pleas Judge Mary Katherine Huffman said at the May 17 sentencing of Makayla’s mother, Angela Norman, to nine years in prison for involuntary manslaughter and child endangering.
The nurse who was supposed to provide Makayla’s care faces some of the same charges as Angela Norman. Mollie E. Parsons, 42, of Dayton, a licensed practical nurse who was hired by Exclusive Home Health Care of Dayton to care for Makayla eight hours a day, six days a week, is charged with involuntary manslaughter; failing to provide for a functionally impaired person, a fourth-degree felony, and a misdemeanor count of tampering with records. Parsons remains in jail on $250,000 bond, awaiting an Aug. 27 trial.
Also previously charged in the case are:
- Kathryn Williams, 42, of Englewood: She was to monitor and supervise the care provided by Parsons. She is charged with failing to provide for a functionally impaired person and a misdemeanor count of failing to report child abuse or neglect.
- Mary K. Kilby, 63, of Miamisburg: She was a surrogate of the state Department of Job and Family Services responsible for seeing Makayla continued to qualify for the state-administered Medicaid program, and that Makayla was receiving the taxpayer-funded care. Kilby also is charged with failing to provide for a functionally impaired person and a misdemeanor count of failing to report child abuse or neglect.
Williams and Kilby are free on $10,000 bond awaiting their Sept. 24 trials.
Makayla’s death has triggered a wrongful death lawsuit by the child’s father against the three nurses, Angela Norman, Job and Family Service, Dayton-based Exclusive Home Care which hired both Parsons and Williams and Cincinnati-based CareStar Inc. which hired Kilby.
The ripples extend all the way to Columbus and Washington, D.C.
Both state and federal authorities have launched investigations into possible Medicaid fraud that could bring more charges against some of those involved.
Josh Sweigart contributed to this report