PHOENIX - New details have been released in the horrific death of three children in Phoenix.
A source tells ABC15 the mother, identified by relatives as Octavia Rogers, was on Spice. The drug, known as synthetic marijuana, can have psychotic effects on some users, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
The Arizona Department of Child Safety said it has history of abuse or neglect reports with the mother who allegedly killed her three children.
DCS said Rogers was first investigated in 2010. DCS received allegations of a child with a small abrasion on his head. Investigators were unable to locate any family members to question.
In 2011, DCS investigated a report of child neglect due to marijuana odor at the home. Rogers was referred to a family services program but she refused to attend.
This year, DCS checked a report the mother gave birth to a baby exposed to marijuana. The investigators determined the children were safe and referred Rogers for services. She decided not to participate in the program.
DCS Director Gregory McKay released the following statement: "When a child is murdered, it's common to ask if something could have been done to prevent such a tragedy. At DCS, we ask ourselves those questions because we take the responsibility of protecting children very seriously. But our powers are limited; we cannot predict the future; and people, can at times, do awful things.”
“The department has to show to a court that there is imminent danger – exigency,” DCS director McKay said. “In none of these cases, from 2010 to the 2016 case, did we, as a government agency, have the legal right to take these children away from their mother.”
McKay said the most recent complaint, involving the drug exposed newborn, had been substantiated, and the case had recently been closed. He said the caseworkers did visits and interviews and offered parenting and substance abuse services to the mother, Octavia Rogers. McKay says Rogers declined the help. He could not say how recently DCS had been in contact with the mom.
McKay stressed DCS is limited by law in how much they can intervene in someone’s life, if the children do not seem to be in imminent danger.
“We put in other family members.” McKay said. “We put in home safety monitors. We do what we can to mitigate those things keep families together.”
“Our caseworkers cannot foresee the future,” McKay said. “As said best by neighbors, family members, the police department in the last day, nobody ever could have predicted that this atrocity could have occurred or this woman would've done this thing.”
The Department of Child Safety maintains a list of incidents where children were killed or nearly killed as a result of abuse or neglect. As of May 25, the site reported 27 such incidents so far in 2016.