Family says system failed Kayleigh Mae Cassell

Kayleigh Mae Cassell

FORT EDWARD, N.Y. (NEWS10) – A Washington County one-year-old’s death has raised serious questions about child safety and accountability.

The grandmother and great aunt of Kayleigh Mae Cassell said the system failed the little girl who died on Sunday. Kayleigh was found unresponsive in her Kingsbury family home Sunday morning. She was later pronounced dead at Glens Falls Hospital.

The Washington County sheriff and district attorney are not releasing any findings on Kayleigh’s autopsy. They said they are waiting until toxicology results are returned. The district attorney is waiting on toxicology results before filing any charges.

However, Kayleigh’s Great Aunt Robin Sorrell  and grandmother Donna Barnes said they called local law enforcement and Child Protective Services several times regarding fears of abuse inside the home Kayleigh shared with her two siblings, their mother, and their mother’s boyfriend who was arrested on an unrelated criminal contempt charge.

“We need to change the system,” Barnes said. “There have been too many deaths.”

Sorrell said a judge sent Kayleigh and her two siblings to live with her for several months with Kayleigh’s mother’s permission. However, on February 1, Sorrell said Kayleigh’s mother demanded the children be returned. Without legal custody, Sorrell was forced by CPS to return the children.

“I had no idea that something like this could happen,” she said. “If I did, I would have fought harder to do something. I’ve called so many times.”

Barnes said there was a welfare check made at the home by police the night before Kayleigh died, but during a press conference on Monday, the sheriff would not say if a check was made.

CPS refused to answer any questions about what they did or did not know.

Sorrell said she will petition the court to get custody of Kayleigh’s siblings who are currently with other family members.

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