State agency knew toddler who died of overdose was in danger

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by Craig Cheatham / News 4 and Dan Greenwald / KMOV.com

KMOV.com

Posted on April 24, 2014 at 6:39 PM

Updated Friday, Apr 25 at 7:09 PM

(KMOV.com) – News 4 has learned that authorities were told multiple times about the danger a St. Francois County boy who died from a morphine overdose was in.

Carson Swyers, 2, died of a morphine overdose in 2013. News 4 obtained his file that was kept by the Missouri Division of Social Services (DSS) and learned that it had received several complaints from those who were concerned about Carson’s wellbeing. Carson was being cared for by his mother, Lacey Ketrz, who is an alleged drug dealer.

DSS first received a complaint in May 2012, when Carson was 6 months old. State investigators determined that he was not in danger.  More complaints that Carson was being neglected poured in one year later but an investigator came to the same conclusion because Carson’s mother denied that she had a drug problem.

In July, 2013 a state case worker investigated and determined Carson was at risk of being neglected but because Lacey denied allegations that she was using drugs, the investigation was closed. Carson died a few months later.

An autopsy determined that there were amphetamines, meth, opiates, and a lethal dose of morphine in his system. 

After he died, a DSS investigation determined that Carson was “a victim of neglect” and that his mother was to blame for her son’s “lack of supervision, unsafe conditions, unsanitary living conditions, and inappropriately giving him drugs.”

DSS told News 4 it does not have the authority to order drug tests and that if it did, the results would not be public. Prosecutors are looking into the case to determine if charges will be filed.

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