Impatience Growing Over Slow Release Of DHS Report In Death Case

Wednesday, July 27th 2011, 8:27 pm
By: News 9

Adrianna Iwasinksi, News 9

SHAWNEE, Oklahoma -- Patience is running out across the state for the Department of Human Services to release its report on the death of a five year old girl under its supervision.

Serenity Deal was brutally beaten and found dead in her father's apartment.

On Tuesday, the speaker of the Oklahoma house blasted DHS for failing to release the public report in a timely manner.

And he's not the only one critical of the delay.

Since Deal's death, there have been countless questions about DHS's involvement in her care and placement and who was responsible for making those decisions.

"It's not just one or two people that make these decisions to return these kids. It's a whole host of people and if we are going to be making people accountable, we need to be making them accountable all the way up the ladder," said Marianne Miller.

Miller is a member of the state's merit protection commission which investigates state workers' claims and appeals. She is outraged it is taking the DHS so long to release the report. In fact, she corresponded with DHS worker Don Wheeler who worked on the Serenity Deal case just days before he committed suicide.

"They pushed him to this," Miller said. "They told him that he was going to be, that someone was going to pay, and he did."

While Miller said she doesn't understand why it is taking DHS so long to hand over its public report, a DHS spokesperson said they are still waiting on some court transcripts.

"We had requested those court transcripts more than a month ago from the court reporter in Pottawatomie County and we are still waiting on those," said Sheree Powell of the DHS.

Powell referred to a list of everything the DHS needs to have before they can release the report.

Miller isn't buying that excuse.

"I can request DHS records, get a court order for them, and have them in much shorter time," she said.

The DHS said they, too, are frustrated it is taking this long.

Oklahoma statute states DHS has 30 days from the date someone has been criminally charged to release that complete report to the public. It has now been almost two months and still no report.

Pottawatomie County District Attorney Richard Smotherman is also asking for DHS to hand over its findings.