MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) UPDATED: – Family members of a murdered 2-year-old boy are pointing fingers at the State of Tennessee, saying not enough was done to protect the child.
19-year-old Jarrod Wright is charged with first degree murder in perpetration of aggravated child neglect, first degree murder in perpetration of aggravated child abuse, aggravated child abuse, and aggravated child neglect.
According to the police affidavit, 2-year-old Jakobe Chaffin was taken to Le Bonheur the afternoon of December 23, 2019, with a several abdomen injury. The doctor said the injury was caused by “blunt force trauma” to the toddler’s stomach.
A social worker called police, and investigators interviewed Wright.
According to the affidavit, Wright admitted he would discipline the boy by making him lie on a bed with his feet on the floor, back up. He said he would sit on the boy’s back and hit him in the buttocks with his shoe. According to the report, Wright said when the boy squirmed, he would put more weight on his back, and that “may have pushed his body into the metal bed frame.” According to the report, Wright admitted to doing this three or four times in the week leading up to the trip to Le Bonheur.
The boy died early the morning of Christmas Eve.
Family members told the Local I-Team they filed abuse reports, but nothing was ever done.
The uncle of the child said he personally called the Department of Children Services ten times: twice in Georgia where the family first lived, plus eight times in Tennessee after the child and his parents moved to Memphis. He said nothing was ever done.
“The system definitely let us down. The system definitely failed Jakobe,” said Corey Hayes via a Facebook messenger interview. “I filed a total of 10 cases because each time I filed a case, the case would automatically get closed. So I was wondering how would they close the case when they haven’t even seen the children,” said Hayes.
Chaffin said one case worker told him that at one point, someone went to the house, but no one would answer.
In another instance, Hayes said he was told, “his case sat for months on an empty desk for someone who no longer works for the agency, is what I found out.”
“He was a beautiful kid. He had a lot of things to do on this earth and his life was cut short by his father. That hurts,” said Hayes.
Hayes said he plans to do whatever he can to hold the state accountable.
“The ball was dropped multiple times in this situation. I just hope they do something internally to fix this so where this doesn’t happen every again. I wouldn’t wish this feeling on anyone,” said Hayes.
Hayes said two younger children were taken into state custody after the 2-year-old’s death. He said both had injuries from abuse.
The child’s funeral is Friday.
No bond has been set, and Wright is due in court January 8th.
The Local I-Team has asked the Department of Children Services about the family’s claims that their abuse reports went unanswered.
We received the following statement:
The death of a child is heartbreaking and tragic and to learn that it may have been at the hands of an adult, or even a parent, is unthinkable. While state law prohibits us from commenting on specific details, even the release of a name, I can confirm that DCS has opened a case into the death of this two-year old boy and had opened two previous investigations and in both instances made extensive efforts to try and locate the family. This agency will continue to do everything we can to help police and prosecutors as they work to ensure that justice is served for this child.– DCS Commissioner Jennifer Nichols