Report: McArdle received parenting classes, services from mental - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Report: McArdle received parenting classes, services from mental health provider

BUNCOMBE COUNTY, NC (WIS) -

The Buncombe County, N.C., Child Protective Services department was involved in Gabriel McArdle's life starting the day after he was born in 2011.

Gabriel was born Dec. 30, 2011, and died Dec. 30, 2014, after an incident in a vehicle in Newberry County. The Newberry County Coroner Craig Newton found marks on Gabriel's body that he connected to abuse. It was at this time, he contacted Newberry law enforcement. Ultimately, Gabriel's 21-year-old mother Theia McArdle and her 27-year-old live-in boyfriend Richard Bowman were both charged with homicide by child abuse.

Child Protective Services first met Theia and Gabriel McArdle on Dec. 31, 2011, after they received reports of allegations concerning neglect and injurious environment. That case was closed with services recommended to Theia for mental health services to address issues impacting child safety; however, the family was referred to prevention services, according to the seven-page case file released to WIS on Wednesday after filing a Freedom of Information Act request.

It was only five months later on May 30, 2012, the agency received another complaint for neglect, injurious environment and improper supervision. That case, too, was closed and services were recommended to the young mother that included individual therapy and parenting classes.

Almost three months later on Aug. 21, 2012, a report was made against the mother that again included neglect, but this time there was a reference to substance abuse. This case was also closed without services recommended after the social worker could not find any information to validate the allegations.

It was not until allegations made on April 24, 2013, that the social worker discovered reason to remove Gabriel from Theia's care.

A child medical exam showed bruising on the child's face and ear that are consistent with a fingerprint, the report said. A pediatrician also said Gabriel was behind on his shots and missed his four-month, nine-month and 12-month wellness checks. There was also a violent incident between Theia and her boyfriend at the time.

WIS obtained court documents that showed on May 11, 2013, Theia was in a relationship with Bowman and he was charged with assault by strangulation after injuring Theia.

Gabriel was taken from Theia's care and placed with his assumed father and his wife, the report said.

“We would return a child home once those safety issues that have been identified in the assessment have been mitigated,” said Angela Pittman, Social Work director for Buncombe County office.

The case went to Family in Home intervention on May 15, 2013. It was later confirmed by DNA testing that the assumed father was not Gabriel's biological parent, so the child was placed with another person while Theia was working to fix the safety issues at hand.

“There were barriers to the child returning to the mother, including her not accessing services for several months and several boyfriends that were in and out of the mother's home and life,” the report said.

Theia had untreated mental health issues, according to the report, so she was given a comprehensive clinical assessment and medication management. In addition, she was recommended to receive anger management treatment to prevent impulse control related to hitting Gabriel, as well as parenting classes.

During the time the agency was investigating the family, Theia was arrested on July 1, 2013, for misdemeanor child abuse for hitting her child in the face with an open hand, according to court documents.

“The Department was aware of the mother dating several men throughout the case,” the report said. “At the time she was dating a boyfriend, his criminal history was checked and the social worker advised her that her child could not return to her home if he or any other person with significant criminal history moved into her home.”

It is a common practice to get background checks when putting all the pieces together in a child investigation, Pittman explained.

"So a criminal record, especially if there are violent offenses on it, that is absolutely always a piece of information that we look at when we are doing an assessment and when we are working with family ongoing,” Pittman said. “So if those behaviors as criminal behaviors would impact the child in a negative way or impact child safety, we consider those in our decision making."

Gabriel was slowly returned to Theia's home by May 27, 2014, and the case was closed Aug. 15, 2014.

Pittman cannot speak to the exact circumstances involved in the McArdle investigation with her agency nor whether they named Gabriel's father. However, in the report WIS received, there is a reference a paternal grandmother being one person interviewed by the Buncombe County agency, but no further details were provided.

It was around October 2014 that the McArdle's and Bowman moved to Enoree in Spartanburg County, where they were soon after both charged with criminal domestic violence by the Spartanburg County Sheriff's Office.

The day of Gabriel's death, the couple and the child were in Newberry while Theia worked as an escort.

Theia and Bowman are currently being held in the Newberry County Detention Center in the death of Gabriel. They are expected to appear in court in February.

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