Report: Baby had drugs in his system days before he died
Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009
By Shavonne Potts
Lab tests showed a baby boy had drugs in his system when he was born Nov. 30 at NorthEast Medical Center in Concord.
Hospital officials summoned Department of Social Services workers, and Social Services did not release the child from the hospital until another relative of the baby’s parents agreed to serve as “primary caretaker.”
The baby, Tanner Chapman, was released from NorthEast on Dec. 5, and two days later, the boy was found dead in his Rockwell home.
A Rowan County grand jury Tuesday indicted Tanner’s parents, Bryant Chapman and Amber Revis, both of 134 Wingate Lane, Rockwell, on a charge of involuntary manslaughter. Rowan County Sheriff’s deputies arrested them Wednesday.
Barbara Sharpe, a program administrator with Social Services’ Children’s Services Division, discussed her agency’s involvement in the child’s death Thursday. State law requires Social Services to disclose its involvement in cases of a child’s death or serious injury.
Sharpe gave this account:
Tanner tested positive for marijuana and benzodiazepine, generally used as a tranquilizer.
Sharpe said the hospital contacted Social Services. Sharpe supervises case management and investigations.
“Anytime a child tests positive or the mother of a newborn tests positive for drugs, they call us,” she said.
The baby was born Nov. 30, and the hospital notified Social Services on Dec. 1.
Sharpe said she had no records that showed Amber Revis tested positive for the same drugs.
“They may or may not have tested the mother,” she said.
Although no records indicate whether Revis had drugs in her system, Sharpe said the only way for a newborn to test positive, “the drugs had to come from the mother.”
According to policies established by Social Services, if a child tests positive, “we don’t let the parents take the child home” immediately, she said.
Eventually, the child can go home with the parents, but first, Social Services finds a “safety resource person.”
Sharpe said this person can be a relative or friend of the family. The person must assume responsibility for the infant and monitor the parents any time they are around the child.
“They take care of the child, monitor the parents, but be there at all times to make sure the child is safe,” she said.
In this case, the safety resource person was a relative of Bryant Chapman. Sharpe did not provide that person’s name, but said she was an aunt.
Before releasing an infant from the hospital, the safety resource person is thoroughly screened, including a drug test and criminal background check. They also check specifically on the state sex offender registry.
“If all that checks out, then we say this person can be the primary caretaker of the child,” she said.
Social Services workers also visit the home, whether the primary caretaker’s or the parents, where the child will be living. In this case, the primary caretaker agreed to stay with the parents.
The infant left the hospital Dec. 5.
Sharpe said “we were told” the safety resource person stayed at the home after going home with Tanner. She added, however, that authorities informed her “that there was some inconsistency about whether the aunt was at the home.”
Sheriff’s Department officials have not confirmed whether the safety resource person was at the home around the time of the child’s death.
Following the Sheriff’s Department investigation of Tanner’s death, Sharpe said two other children, a 6- and 9-year-old, were removed from the Rockwell home. The Department of Social Services conducted its own investigation and removed the children, a girl and boy.
“Drugs were found in the home, and we determined that this might be an injurious environment,” she said.
Sheriff’s officials have not commented on anything found in the home.
At this point, Social Services is trying to determine if they should leave the older children with relatives, Sharpe said.
No autopsy results have been released on the infant at this time.
A Post reporter telephoned Myra McDaniels, Chapman’s sister, for comment Thursday, but she hung up the telephone.
Revis’ grandmother, Carol Brown, who lives in a suburb of Tulsa, Okla., said her granddaughter has always been a loving person. Brown added that the whole situation is devastating to the family.
“It just doesn’t jive with what we know of her,” she said from her home in Broken Arrow, Okla.
Brown said Revis loves all of her children.
She said Revis was trying to get her life back together, hoping to attend school after giving birth to Tanner.
“She always wanted to get into the medical field,” Brown said.
When asked about her granddaughter’s current state of mind, Brown said she is “scared to death and terrified.”
“She said, ‘Grandma, I would never hurt Tanner’,” Brown said.
She said Revis did not have a stable relationship with her parents, and as her grandmother, Brown was always her “stable rock.”
Brown said she and her husband always wanted the best for their granddaughter.
“We are praying that it will be found that there is no wrongdoing,” she said.
Contact Shavonne Potts at 704-797-4253 or firstname.lastname@example.org.