Age 2Warrensville Heights, Cuyahoga CountyFeb. 17, 2010
Alexandria Hamilton was burned to death in a bathtub by her mother, Tyesha Hamilton, at an Econo Lodge in Cuyahoga County, where they were living along with Alexandria's three siblings. Her mother claimed she started to place the toddler in a bath and didn't realize it was too hot until the girl screamed and was immediately removed. State records show Alexandria was burned over 80 percent of her body, leading a hospital staffer to call the mother's story "bull crap."
Her death occurred less than a year after the four children were returned to their mother. The children had been removed from Tyesha Hamilton's care in 2007 and placed with foster parents Kathi and Ollie Coffey of Euclid.
"This is not a case where I would say we screwed up or failed to follow through," Cuyahoga County Children and Family Services Director Deborah Forkas told the Cleveland Plain Dealer after Alexandria's death. "We were very involved with this family for a long period of time and so were many other providers."
But the agency returned the children to Tyesha Hamilton's care over strong objections from the Coffeys. The couple felt she wasn't ready to take on four kids full-time, including Alexandria, who they had cared for her entire life. They didn't think she'd complied with the care plan and feared she would be overwhelmed. "I think the system failed," Ollie Coffey said. He thinks children's services just wanted to close the case and didn't do enough to track how the children were doing after they were reunited with their mother. Tyesha Hamilton was required to secure housing as part of her case plan. But 11 months later, the family was living at the Econo Lodge.
"She was just as pure as they can be," Ollie Coffey said of the baby he raised for 18 months. Tyesha Hamilton was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison for murder and is currently housed at the Dayton Correctional Institution.