Police Called To Del City Home 30 Times Before Children Died In RV Fire

Wednesday, March 9th 2011, 11:08 pm
By: News 9

Dana Hertneky, News 9

DEL CITY, Oklahoma – News 9 has learned police made dozens of visits to the Del City address where Christopher and Stephanie Dunham lived before that RV fire that resulted in the death of their three children.

The Del City Police Department said it is not commenting on any part of the Dunham case, but DHS said this is vindication because if police were out there that many times and didn't think those children were in danger, there's no reason to expect state DHS investigators could have anticipated what would happen either.

The report shows Del City police were called to the home 30 times since 2002. The complaints ranged from domestic disturbances to a suicide attempt in September 2010, to rape and child molesting two days later.

Sheree Powell, a spokesperson for DHS, said law enforcement can remove children from a home if they believe they are in immediate danger. Law enforcement is also required to report any suspected abuse.

"If they're called out to a home ten, 15, 20 times and they're not seeing abuse or neglect, they're not reporting it to DHS, then obviously there's nothing to report," said Powell.

A DHS report shows the state agency was called about suspected abuse at the Dunham household a total of five times since April 2008. But when investigated, there was no proof the children were being physically harmed and like with police, Powell say a high volume of calls is not cause for further investigation.

"We have a lot of people who tend to use the hotline for domestic situations: ex's squabbling over custody, (or) making accusations against each other," said Powell.

DHS also said all of its reports are passed on to the District Attorney for his review.