A memorandum, regarding Marissa Kennedy was released by Maine Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Jeanne M. Lambrew on Feb. 21. The memorandum can be found in its entirety immediately after this story and attached as a PDF.
“Now that there have been convictions for murder in the death of Marissa Kennedy and the sentences have been imposed, there is no longer a risk of jeopardizing the criminal investigation or proceedings,” wrote Lambrew. “As such, the Department is disclosing statutorily allowed summary information regarding the involvement of Maine’s Office of Child and Family Services (OCFS) in the life of Marissa Kennedy.”
The Feb. 25, 2018, depraved indifference murder of then-10-year old Marissa Kennedy at the hands of her mother and stepfather captured international attention. Her death, which came after multiple reports were made to DHHS, led to community outrage nationwide.
Julio Carrillo pleaded guilty to depraved indifference murder in August and was sentenced to 55 years in prison. Sharon Kennedy (formerly Sharon Carrillo) was tried by a jury before being found guilty Dec. 18, after nine days of testimony. In early February Sharon was sentenced to 48 years in prison, though her attorneys have said they plan to appeal the conviction.
For many Maine residents, Marissa’s death, along with the Dec. 2017 beating death of four-year-old Kendall Chick, also at the hands of a caregiver, became painful examples of the failures of Maine’s Child Protective Services, and the children who suffer as a consequence.
“The tragic death of Marissa Kennedy, along with that of Kendall Chick, sheds long-overdue light on Maine’s child welfare system,” the memorandum reads in part.
The memorandum begins by explaining state and federal laws regarding the confidentiality that is typically required for cases involving DHHS. It is noted that there is an exception with state and federal laws in the case of child fatalities resulting from abuse.
The full case regarding DHHS’s involvement with Marissa Kennedy has also been provided to the outside entities authorized under statute, including the Maine Child Welfare Services Ombudsman, the Office of Program and Government Accountability and the Maine Child Death and Serious Injury Review Panel.
According to the recently released details, DHHS had over 20 contacts with Sharon Kennedy and Julio Carrillo regarding Marissa, starting in October 2016 and through Feb. 23, just two days prior to Marissa’s death.
A common thread throughout the visits is Julio’s discomfort with the family being separated, or with Marissa speaking to counselors or social workers apart from her family. Most of the referrals to DHHS came from employees of the schools Marissa attended during her brief life.
Marissa’s frequent unexcused absences are common in the report, with the earliest contact with Maine’s DHHS coming after Marissa missed over a week of school.
Julio Carillo reportedly told school officials that Marissa had been getting mental health treatment. School staff told DHHS they saw none of the problem behaviors reported by Julio. According to the report, the Department determined it was not necessary to send this report on for further formal child protective assessment and no further action was taken.
By Sept. 1, 2017, DHHS received a report from a mental health clinician that Marissa had been hospitalized three times in the previous six weeks for behavioral issues, in addition to being seen in the emergency department seven times. The reporter also told DHHS that while hospitalized Marissa showed none of the alleged concerning behaviors, and that Sharon and Julio were not following through with services and referrals, or responding to calls from services referred during their hospital visits. Neither Sharon or Julio were able to provide a reason for their lack of follow-up, according to the report.
During the agency’s final visit to the home, made by social worker Deb Webber, who testified during Sharon’s trial, Marissa visibly bruised and seated beside her mother on a couch. It was revealed during Webber’s testimony that although she had asked Marissa a single question during the visit, Marissa never spoke.
Webber also testified that Sharon and Marissa were already seated next to each other on a basement sofa when she arrived at the home, it was later learned that Marissa had been carried downstairs to the basement ahead of the Webber's visit because Marissa had lost the ability to walk or support herself in a seated position.
“Marissa was next to Sharon and appeared tired. She had a bruise and small scratches on her left eye. The worker [who is not identified in the report, despite testifying in open court], observed bruises on Marissa’s arm. Julio told the worker that Marissa had been seen by crisis [services] due to self-harming behavior. The worker tried to speak to Marissa, but she appeared tired and fell asleep during the meeting,” according to the notes included in the memorandum.
“Julio blamed Marissa’s presentation on her emotions,” and the family completed paperwork for referrals to a new case management provider for Marissa before Webber ultimately concluded her visit.
Just two days later, Marissa Kennedy was dead. The victim of battered child syndrome and injuries sustained over the months of physical torture inflicted upon her by her mother and stepfather. The injuries Marissa sustained included bleeding on the brain, a lacerated liver, and severe bruising and lacerations, among other injuries inflicted on her.
According to the memorandum, after DHHS was notified of Marissa’s death they opened an assessment and “substantiated allegations against Sharon and Julio for emotional abuse, neglect, and physical abuse of Marissa, and a threat of physical abuse and neglect of the two younger children in the home.”
The two younger children in the home, both fathered by Julio, along with a third child born while Sharon was behind bars have been placed with family and reside in New York, where Sharon and Julio are from.
Commissioner Lambrew ended her remarks by alluding to changes made to DHHS procedures and policies following Marissa’s death, and adding that the agency still has far to go.
“While we have further to go, we are on a path to reform and progress. We maintain our commitment to transparency and learning from the past as we strive for a system that promotes safety, stability, health, and happiness for all Maine children and families.”
Maine Department of Health and Human Services
11 State House Station
109 Capitol Street
Augusta, Maine 04333-0011
Tel.: (207) 287-3707; Fax: (207) 287-3005
TTY: Dial 711 (Maine Relay)
Janet T. Mills
Jeanne M. Lambrew, Ph.D.
FROM: Jeanne M. Lambrew, Ph.D., Commissioner
SUBJECT: Marissa Kennedy
DATE: February 21, 2020
Under state and federal law, child protection services’ information is generally confidential. These laws protect the privacy of children and families receiving services from the Department, those who report allegations of child abuse and neglect, victims of domestic violence, and others. These laws also ensure the integrity of any ongoing investigations.
State and federal laws make an exception in the case of child fatalities resulting from abuse. In those cases, the Department may disclose certain categories of otherwise confidential information. Still, the Department must abide by confidentiality protections even in instances where child welfare information has been made public through other means, including through the prosecution of criminal cases.
Now that there have been convictions for murder in the death of Marissa Kennedy and the sentences have been imposed, there is no longer a risk of jeopardizing the criminal investigation or proceedings. As such, the Department is disclosing statutorily allowed summary information regarding the involvement of Maine’s Office of Child and Family Services (OCFS) in the life of Marissa Kennedy.
The full case file detailing the Department’s involvement with Marissa Kennedy has been
provided to outside entities authorized under statute to review confidential information, including
the Maine Child Welfare Services Ombudsman, the Office of Program Evaluation and
Government Accountability and the Maine Child Death and Serious Injury Review Panel.
The tragic death of Marissa Kennedy, along with that of Kendall Chick, sheds long overdue light
on Maine’s child welfare system. While we have further to go, we are on a path to reform and
progress. We maintain our commitment to transparency and learning from the past as we strive
for a system that promotes safety, stability, health and happiness for all Maine children and
Child’s Name: Marissa Kennedy
Child’s Age at Time of Death: 10 years
Child’s Caregiver(s) at time of death: Mother, Sharon Carrillo and step-father, Julio Carrillo
History of Reports to Child Protective Services and Actions Taken in Response:
• On 10/17/16, the Department received a report regarding Marissa Kennedy. The reporter
worked in Marissa’s school and called to report that Marissa had been absent from school
five days that were unexcused. The reporter indicated that Julio Carrillo, the child’s stepfather, told the school that Marissa was missing school to receive mental health
treatment. The reporter said that school staff had not seen any of the behavioral issues
reported by Marissa’s step-father. The Department determined it was not necessary to
send this report on for further formal child protective assessment and no further action
• On 12/6/16, the Department received a report regarding Marissa Kennedy. The reporter
worked in Marissa’s school and reported that Marissa had had several more unexcused
absences. The school’s truancy protocol had been started but there were concerns that the
family was not returning phone calls and Marissa was continuing to miss school. The
caller also reported that school personnel had been to the house to meet with the family
on several occasions regarding truancy. Neighbors told school personnel that they were
glad school personnel had come, because the neighbors had heard a lot of yelling in the
home. Also on 12/6/16, an additional report was received from a mental health clinician.
The clinician expressed concern for the family based on the reported behavioral and
mental health issues of both Sharon and Marissa. Based on the information contained in
the two reports, an assessment was opened by the Department. A third report was
received on 12/7/16. The reporter was the same clinician who had made the report a day
prior. The clinician reported that both Marissa and Sharon were seen for crisis
evaluations. The clinician reported that the crisis evaluation for Sharon recommended
inpatient services, but no bed was available. The clinician also indicated that Julio had
become upset during the crisis evaluation because the family was separated, and because
the provider was recommending hospitalization for Sharon. These reports were
determined to be appropriate for assessment and an assessment was opened.
o During the assessment, a different clinician called to report that she had been
seeing Marissa due to mental health concerns. This clinician reported an incident
where Julio accused the clinician of forcing Marissa to speak with her alone. The
clinician reported that both Marissa and Sharon seemed upset when Julio made
o On 12/9/16, the caseworker interviewed Sharon, Julio, and Marissa as well as
observing the younger child in the home.
Sharon discussed her mental health and resulting concerning behavior in
the home. Sharon indicated she had an appointment for medication
management and counseling
Julio discussed the impact of Sharon’s mental health on the children. He
indicated Marissa also experienced mental health issues.
Marissa reported no worries about her home or family. The caseworker
reported that she was smiling and happy during the interview. Marissa
stated that if something worried her she could talk to her parents.
Julio and Sharon signed releases for Marissa and Sharon’s medical and
mental health providers.
o On 12/12/16, the caseworker sought to obtain records regarding any interaction
the family may have had with child welfare officials in New York (where they
resided before moving to Maine in the summer of 2016). On 12/30/16 that search
returned a result from New York that none of the family members were known to
child welfare staff in New York.
o The caseworker spoke with multiple providers and school personnel during the
course of this assessment:
A referral was made to Public Health Nursing. The family had at least one
visit with the assigned nurse in early January of 2017.
On 12/12/16, Marissa’s case manager indicated that Julio dominated
conversations and wanted the family kept together for any discussions.
On 12/15/16, school personnel reported continued concerns regarding
truancy. School personnel reported that the parents had told them that
Marissa often missed school due to medical appointments.
On 12/15/16, Marissa’s clinician reported that there had been a meeting
with Julio and Sharon to discuss individual therapy for Marissa. After the
meeting, the family talked amongst themselves and Marissa told the
clinician that she did not want to see the counselor and did not want to
meet with the provider by herself. Sharon then stated that she and Julio
had decided to move Marissa’s care to a different provider.
Also on 12/15/16, Sharon’s providers stated that she had terminated all her
services with them, but Marissa’s case manager was still assigned.
Providers reported that they were concerned that Julio didn’t allow
Marissa to meet alone with any provider.
o The caseworker visited again with the family on 12/16/16. Sharon reported having
a new primary care physician and Julio reported the family planned to begin
family counseling at the new doctor’s office. The caseworker discussed with the
family the importance of Marissa attending school.
o On 12/20/16, the caseworker talked with Julio, who said the family had attended a
meeting with the school the day before to put into place a plan to address
o On 12/30/16, school personnel spoke with the caseworker and reported they were
concerned about Marissa during the school break. School personnel confirmed
that Sharon and Julio had met with them on 12/19/16 but reported that Sharon and
Julio were not genuine in their desire to engage with the school and ensure
Marissa attended school.
o On 1/4/17, Marissa’s case manager spoke with the caseworker and reported that
Marissa was still engaged in case management but had missed several
appointments. The case manager also reported Marissa had missed a 1/3/17
appointment for medication management.
o On 1/4/17, the caseworker visited with Sharon and Julio (Marissa was at an
afterschool program). The family confirmed that Public Health Nursing was
coming to the home later that week. Sharon and Julio reported that Marissa
seemed to be doing better.
o 1/10/17, the Public Health Nurse assigned to the family called and spoke with the
caseworker. The nurse indicated that Sharon and Julio were open to Public Health
Nursing and that the nurse observed no major concerns during the initial visit.
o 1/12/17, the Department sent a closing letter to the family stating that the
assessment was being closed with no findings of abuse or neglect. The letter
expressed concern that Sharon’s mental health, if not addressed, could cause the
Department to become involved again.
o On 4/4/17, a report was added to this closed assessment. The reporter worked at
Marissa’s school and called to report that both the school and Marissa’s primary
care physician were concerned about the family. Marissa had continued to miss
school and discrepancies were noted in the family’s explanations for her absences.
Julio had reported that Marissa was hospitalized, but her doctor was not aware of
any hospital admission. School personnel also reported they had been to the home
and talked with neighbors who said they were worried about the family but did
not want to share additional information.
• On 4/4/17, the Department received a new report from Marissa’s mental health clinician.
The clinician reported that on 4/3/17 the family came for Marissa’s intake appointment
with the provider. During the appointment, only Julio spoke. He reported mental health
concerns about both Sharon and Marissa. The clinician wrote a note excusing Marissa
from school for the time of the appointment (the morning of 4/3/17). On 4/4/17, the
school spoke with the clinician and reported that Marissa had missed all day on 4/3/17
and was again absent on 4/4/17. The clinician then asked the police to perform a welfare
check. The police reported back that Marissa was at home and Julio told the police that
Marissa was sick. The clinician was concerned that Julio had lied to both the school and
the police. This report was assigned to an OCFS prevention worker.
o On 4/5/17, the prevention worker spoke with school personnel who reported
ongoing concerns regarding absences. They also reported that Marissa told school
personnel that she was not supposed to talk to them. Additionally, school
personnel reported that on 4/5/17 staff had spoken to Marissa, who said she felt
safe at home. When Sharon came to the school to pick Marissa up that day, the
school staff indicated that Marissa wished to stay for an afterschool program.
Sharon said she needed to discuss this with Julio and school staff went to get
Marissa. School personnel reported that Marissa then talked with her mother and
they subsequently both ran from the school and got into a car with Julio.
o On 5/16/17, the Department received a new report from Marissa’s Primary Care
Provider about concerns regarding medical neglect. The provider reported that the
Julio and Sharon indicated that Marissa had significant behavioral and mental
health needs. Julio and Sharon were saying they needed services to address these
needs but were not following through and were instead taking Marissa to the
o On 5/17/17, the Department received a report from Marissa’s mental health
clinician. The clinician reported that on 5/16/17 Julio cancelled Marissa’s
appointment saying they were going to the Emergency Room due to Marissa’s
mental health. The clinician reported no record of an ER visit on 5/16/17.
o On 5/17/17, the Department received a report from an officer from the Bangor
Police Department. The officer reported that police had been called to conduct a
welfare check on the children. The individual who requested the welfare check
stated that they could often hear a male yelling. The officer was not able to make
contact with the family.
o On 5/18/17, the Department received a report from the same reporter who
requested the welfare check. The individual reported she had heard the mother
screaming and the father telling her to “shut up” and calling her “retarded.”
o On 5/31/17, the Department closed the prevention matter due to a new report
• On 5/26/17, the Department received a new report from school personnel who reported
that Marissa had 29 unexcused absences. The truancy protocol had been followed and
expectations had been set with Julio and Sharon. Marissa then missed 19 additional days.
This report was determined to be appropriate for assessment and an assessment was
o On 5/30/17, the Department gathered local police department records regarding
the family. Police had been called twice regarding reports of family fighting in
2016. They conducted a welfare check on 4/4/17. On 4/24/17 a neighbor reported
yelling in the home. When the officer arrived, Julio told him they had just
received an eviction notice and Sharon was upset, according to police records. On
5/16/17, police attempted to conduct a welfare check on the children but could not
locate the family. On 5/24/17, the police received a complaint of Julio punching a
child in the leg and yelling at her while in the family vehicle. Police responded
but the family had left by the time they arrived. The police spoke with the
complainant, who said Sharon was crying and Julio abused Sharon and Marissa
on a regular basis. The complainant also reported that everyone in the building
was afraid of Julio.
o On 5/31/17, the caseworker called and made two unannounced visits to the
family’s home. Sharon called back later that day and a plan was made to meet
with the family on 6/1/17, and for the caseworker to interview Marissa at school
first and then meet with the rest of the family at home. Soon after that call, Sharon
called back to report that Marissa had a “nervous condition” and wouldn’t talk to
those she didn’t know. Sharon requested that she and Julio be present for the
interview. The caseworker explained the need to talk privately with Marissa.
o Also on 5/31/17, a new report was received from the individual who requested the
previous welfare check by police. She reported that several days prior, police had
been called to the home due to a neighbor witnessing Julio hitting Marissa twice
in the leg while in the car. She reported that Sharon was also in the vehicle. The
reporter stated that she wanted to make sure this information was reported to the
Department. The caseworker called the reporter and discussed concerns about the
family. The reporter reiterated that she had heard Julio yelling and family
o On 6/1/17, the caseworker met with Marissa at school and the rest of the family at
Marissa reported she didn’t feel comfortable without her parents there.
When the caseworker tried to discuss this further with Marissa, Marissa
stared at her and provided no response. The caseworker observed Marissa
to be shaking at times during the interview. The caseworker asked Marissa
what Julio and Sharon had told her about the interview and Marissa said
she “didn’t know.”
After the interview, the caseworker spoke with school personnel, who
reported the truancy agreement was not being met and that Marissa’s
parents had not allowed her to participate in field trips all year. School
personnel also reported that the family had requested a different school for
the following school year.
The parents were interviewed separately.
Sharon reported concerns regarding Marissa’s mental health. Sharon said
Marissa’s absences from school were due to Marissa’s appointments. The
caseworker asked for a release to talk to Marissa’s primary care physician
and Sharon said she’d have to ask Julio because they make all decisions
together. The caseworker asked why Julio and Sharon did not permit
Marissa to participate in field trips and Sharon stated that they were
worried about Marissa passing out due to low weight. Sharon denied
withholding school as punishment. Sharon was asked about reports that
there was fighting and yelling in the home on a regular basis. She stated
that she would sometimes yell, scream, and curse. She also stated that she
knew it was not right to do this in front of her children. Sharon expressed
concerns regarding her own mental health. Sharon stated that she planned
to find a doctor to meet her needs.
Julio denied hitting Marissa and said he was unable to identify why
someone would report that to police. He discussed Marissa’s mental health
which he stated made her difficult to manage. Julio denied any physical
discipline but said that he would hold Marissa during a tantrum to calm
her down. He attributed Marissa’s absences from school to appointments
and said that the school also pulled Marissa out of class to talk about
things she did not want to discuss, causing Marissa to want to avoid
attending school. When asked about field trips, Julio reported that Marissa
had conflicting appointments or didn’t want to participate. He did admit to
yelling after confronted with multiple reports of a male yelling in the
home but denied any domestic violence in the home.
Julio and Sharon discussed with the caseworker that they were being
evicted from their apartment and were looking for a new place to live.
After the interviews, the caseworker noted no findings or signs of danger
but “a lot of worries about DV by Julio” due to numerous reports of him
being controlling and yelling, and not allowing Marissa and Sharon to
meet with providers alone.
o On 6/2/17, the caseworker spoke with an assistant for the children’s Primary Care
Provider. Marissa was up-to-date on vaccinations but in need of a well child
checkup. The doctor had noted concerns about medical neglect, as the family was
not following up on the doctor’s recommendations for mental health services for
o Also on 6/2/17, the caseworker spoke with Sharon’s father. He reported he hadn’t
had much contact with the family since they moved to Maine. He reported that
Marissa and Sharon had lived with him and his wife for many years and they
helped raise Marissa. He reported Marissa had become very cold to them when
they saw her. He also reported that Julio was very controlling and wouldn’t let
Sharon speak with him and his wife unless Julio was monitoring in the
background. The caseworker told Sharon’s father that there was not currently a
reason for the Department to have an open case with the family but that the
assessment period was 35 days. The caseworker also relayed that Marissa
wouldn’t talk to the Department or school personnel. The caseworker stated that
Marissa was otherwise performing well in school. Sharon’s father reported he
would be in Maine in two weeks and was willing to meet with the caseworker if
o On 6/5/17, the caseworker called to check on the referral for case management
services for Marissa. The provider reported that they would be reaching out to
o On 6/7/17, the caseworker spoke with Julio, who said Marissa was experiencing a
mental health crisis. Julio reported he believed this was due to Sharon’s father and
stepmother sending Marissa messages.
o On 6/9/17, school personnel reported to the caseworker that Marissa had been
sleepy all week. Sharon told the school it was due to a new medication and
provided information about the medications that Marissa was taking. Both the
school and Marissa’s Primary Care Provider had concerns about whether the
medication list provided by Julio and Sharon was accurate and school personnel
had advised Sharon to verify the medications and doses with the hospital due to
o On 6/12/17 and 6/13/17, the caseworker spoke with Marissa’s Primary Care
Provider regarding concerns about Marissa’s medications. The provider also
reported concerns regarding the family’s dishonesty about which providers
Marissa was seeing.
o On 6/12/17 and 6/13/17, the caseworker reached out to the family to follow up on
the caseworker’s 6/7/17 call with Julio. The caseworker made contact with Julio
on 6/13/17 and Julio told the worker that he and Sharon were at home and the
caseworker could come to the home to meet with them that day.
o On 6/13/17, the caseworker met with Julio and Sharon. Julio reported Marissa had
been harming herself due to attempted contact by Sharon’s stepmother. Julio
reported he had gotten a court order against the stepmother due to harassment.
Julio reported they were waiting on medication management services for Marissa
and had missed the first appointment with Marissa’s assigned case manager. Julio
attributed Marissa’s sleepiness at school to mental health issues that disturbed her
sleep. Julio stated that the family was being evicted from their apartment due to
excessive police calls to the home, which he attributed to Sharon’s mental health.
Sharon did not speak during this meeting.
o On 6/16/17, the caseworker spoke with Marissa’s assigned case manager who
reported she had met with the family that day. The caseworker explained the
Department’s concerns regarding domestic violence; Julio not allowing Marissa
or Sharon to speak privately with providers; and about inconsistencies in their
statements about services, appointments, housing, etc. The case manager reported
demeanor. The case manager also reported that Sharon did very little talking and
didn’t want to sign any releases.
o On 6/20/17, the caseworker spoke with Julio to get an update on their eviction.
Julio reported they were able to negotiate an extension to 7/31/17 as long as there
were no more noise complaints.
o On 6/26/17, the caseworker received a message from Julio reporting that Marissa
was in crisis and requesting the caseworker come to the home. The caseworker
viewed the message on 6/27/17. The caseworker had learned from the case
manager that Julio and Sharon were trying to get Marissa placed for inpatient
mental health services. Julio and the caseworker spoke again on 6/28/17 and Julio
reported he thought Marissa needed inpatient services. Julio requested that the
caseworker talk to Marissa about the possibility of being hospitalized if her
behavior continued. The caseworker declined and advised Julio to call crisis
services for assistance. The caseworker also encouraged Julio to reach out to
Marissa’s case manager. On 6/29/17, the caseworker told Marissa’s case manager
that the plan was to assign the family to the Alternative Response Program (ARP).
The case manager reported she had to close Marissa’s case due to being unable to
complete the assessment within 30 days. The case manager reported that the
family had cancelled 3 appointments but that a new referral would be made to
resume case management. The case manager reported Julio had called on 6/28/17
regarding Marissa and that he had been given the same recommendation (to call
o On 6/29/17, the Department sent a letter to Julio and Sharon stating that their
assessment would be closed. The assessment was closed with no findings of abuse
or neglect, but the letter expressed ongoing concerns regarding Marissa missing
school and the failure to follow up on medical and mental health care for Marissa.
The letter stated expectations for the family which included mental health services
for Marissa and following all provider recommendations, as well as obtaining
mental health services for Sharon to address conflict in the home. The letter also
indicated that the caseworker planned to make a referral to ARP for ongoing
monitoring and support.
o On 7/5/17, the Department received calls from the hospital and Marissa’s case
manager reporting that Marissa had been hospitalized but Julio and Sharon
wanted her discharged because they had been evicted and were moving back to
New York. The provider was aware that the Department had been involved with
the family. The caseworker explained that the Department was closing the
assessment and had no objection to discharging Marissa to her mother’s care. The
caseworker then tried to call Sharon twice on 7/5/17, but the call could not be
o On 7/12/17, the Department spoke with Marissa’s case manager who reported that
the hospital social worker had called her to report that Julio and Sharon were
seeking a refill of Marissa’s medication and had taken her to the ER on several
occasions seeking medication for Marissa.
o There are no further entries in this assessment.
• On 7/10/17, the Department received a report from the hospital that Sharon and Julio had
brought Marissa to the ER for each of the previous 5 days but left before a plan could be
made or services could be offered. The reporter also relayed concerns that the family had
been evicted from their home. This report was referred to an OCFS prevention worker
and there is limited information in the record until 9/7/17, which indicates one visit and
many phone calls were attempted without reply. The record indicates that the family had
moved to Stockton Springs. Multiple signs of risk with the family were noted and the
family did not respond to the OCFS prevention worker’s attempts to make contact.
• On 9/1/17, the Department received a report from a mental health clinician who stated
that Marissa had been hospitalized 3 times in 6 weeks for behavioral issues. Marissa had
also been seen in the ER 7 times. The reporter stated that while hospitalized Marissa
displayed no concerning behaviors, which indicated that Marissa could safely reside at
home with the appropriate services. The reporter further stated that Sharon and Julio were
not following through with services and referrals or responding to calls from referred
providers and had not appeared for several appointments when Marissa was discharged
from the hospital. Julio and Sharon were not able to provide a reason for their lack of
follow up. This report was referred to ARP.
o On 9/5/17, the ARP worker spoke with Sharon, who said she would call the
o Also on 9/5/17, a new report was received and added to the ARP record. The
reporter was a mental health provider for Marissa who said she had written
permission speak with Sharon’s stepmother regarding Marissa. The stepmother
had expressed concern that Sharon and Julio were not giving Marissa her
prescribed medication. The stepmother stated that the family appeared to be
having difficulty parenting three children due to Sharon’s intellectual impairment.
She expressed that Julio appeared to be paranoid.
o On 9/6/17, the ARP worker sent a letter to the family asking for a call by 9/12/17.
The ARP worker also conducted an unannounced visit to the home with no
o Also on 9/6/17, ARP and the Department received notification that Marissa had
been discharged from hospitalization with the recommendation that the family
receive in-home services. Julio and Sharon had agreed to in-home services.
o On 9/18/17, the ARP worker conducted an unannounced visit to the home with no
o On 10/3/17, a clinician working with Marissa stated that Marissa had been
hospitalized 4 times since July of 2017 and that Julio and Sharon did not follow
up with recommended outpatient and in-home services. The reporter stated that
both parents participated in family counseling when Marissa was hospitalized,
and that Marissa was diagnosed with autism.
o On 10/4/17, the ARP worker called Sharon and left a message.
o On 10/9/17, a clinician at a mental health agency reported that she was supposed
to meet with Julio and Sharon on 10/9/17, but Julio called and cancelled due to
illness. In the background, the clinician heard screaming. The clinician asked
Julio if everything was alright and Julio said that Sharon had been in crisis. The
clinician reported that she told Julio to call police or take Sharon to the ER to be
evaluated. Julio agreed to take Sharon to the ER.
o On 10/10/17, the ARP worker called Julio and left a message.
o A 10/11/17 entry indicates that ARP closed the case due to the client refusing
• On 10/18/17, the Department received a report from police that Sharon was struggling
with her mental health and threatening to kill herself while holding a large knife. The
younger children were reportedly present in the home. Police stated that Sharon was at
the hospital waiting to be evaluated and that she was two months pregnant. This report
was referred to ARP.
o On 10/20/17, ARP staff went to the home and met with Julio and the two younger
children. Julio reported Sharon had had a “bad tantrum” and was hospitalized as a
result. Julio reported Marissa was receiving treatment in a residential program.
Julio reported that there was a plan in place to setup case management and
counseling for Sharon. During this meeting Julio accepted ARP services. Both of
the younger children were observed and appeared safe.
o On 10/26/17, ARP staff met with Sharon and discussed services. Julio was at
work during the meeting, but Sharon called him briefly to discuss housing. Julio
indicated he planned to call a shelter. Sharon signed all paperwork and releases
requested by the ARP worker. She said she had an appointment the next day to set
up a new Primary Care Provider and mental health services. Sharon also stated
that the family planned to engage in Targeted Case Management (TCM) for
Marissa and case management for Sharon. Sharon stated that she and Julio had a
strong relationship and that Julio was very supportive of her. She reported no
history of domestic violence. Both of the younger children were observed and
o On 11/13/17, the ARP worker tried to call Julio and Sharon, but the number
appeared to be disconnected.
o On 11/16/17, the ARP worker again tried to call Julio and Sharon, but the number
appeared to be disconnected.
o On 11/27/17, the ARP worker made an unannounced visit to the home. Julio came
to the door and said the family had just spent 12-13 days in a shelter but had
moved back into the home. The ARP worker reported to the family that she had
called the case management provider and asked to speak with the provider that the
family had referenced and was told no one worked there by that name. The family
corrected the ARP worker and said the case manager worked for a different
agency. The family signed a new release for that agency. Marissa was home from
her inpatient placement and spoke briefly with the worker. The family reported
Marissa would be returning to school the following day.
o On 12/6/17, the ARP worker met with the family. ARP records indicate that Julio
and Sharon reported that Marissa and Sharon were both receiving case
management through a different provider and that they planned to also receive
counseling through that provider. A release was signed for this provider. The
family reported Marissa had been to the ER twice over the previous weekend. The
family reported that Marissa calmed down while there and was sent home. Julio
indicated that the case manager was doing a referral for Home and Community
Treatment (HCT) services. Both of the younger children were observed and
o On 1/4/18, a new report was made by a medical provider within Sharon’s Primary
Care Provider’s office. The reporter stated that Sharon had been hospitalized on
1/3/17 for suicidal ideation.. The reporter had met with Julio and Sharon at the
hospital and was told that the children weren’t present for this incident.. The
reporter stated that she wasn’t aware of any abuse of the children but wanted to
make sure the Department was aware of the concerns given the ages of the two
youngest children and the fact that Sharon was pregnant.
o On 1/9/18, the ARP worker called to schedule an appointment with the family.
Julio scheduled the appointment for that afternoon, but then rescheduled to
o Also on 1/9/18, the ARP worker called the case management provider for Sharon
and Marissa as the ARP worker had received no response to a faxed release
seeking Sharon and Marissa’s records. The case manager reported she didn’t have
Sharon or Marissa’s name on her caseload list.
o On 1/11/18, Sharon called to report that she had an appointment on 1/12/18 and
couldn’t meet with the ARP worker.
o On 1/12/18, Sharon’s counselor called the ARP worker to report that Sharon had
been discharged due to cancelling one appointment and failing to appear for two
others. The provider reported that Sharon had cancelled her appointment that
morning and the ARP worker reported that Sharon had cancelled a meeting with
ARP in order to go to the counseling appointment. The provider reported that
Sharon had only attended two sessions since 12/15/17.
o On 1/19/18, the ARP worker went to the home and no one was there. Julio texted
the worker and reported they were running late from an appointment. The ARP
worker’s meeting with the family was rescheduled to 1/24/18.
o On 1/24/18, the ARP worker met with the family. The family reported Sharon had
been discharged from mental health services. Sharon reported she had obtained a
case manager, but Marissa had not yet begun Targeted Case Management (TCM).
The family completed a referral form for TCM. Julio reported that Sharon
continued to struggle with her mental health. The ARP worker completed a plan
with the family with goals regarding TCM and HCT for Marissa and Child
Development Services (CDS) for the younger children. The parents signed a
release for the ARP worker to make a CDS referral.
o On 2/2/18, Julio called the ARP worker to report Sharon was experiencing mental
health challenges. Julio was advised to call police or crisis if needed and to speak
with Sharon’s case manager.
o On 2/5/18, the ARP worker referred the two younger children to CDS.
o On 2/21/18, the ARP worker talked to CDS. CDS had done an evaluation on
2/20/18 for both younger children. There were concerns that one of the younger
children was mimicking Sharon’s behaviors.
o On 2/23/18, the ARP worker met with the family. Sharon, Julio, and Marissa were
present. The two younger children were reportedly sleeping and were not
observed. Marissa was next to Sharon and appeared tired. She had a bruise and
small scratches on her left eye. The worker observed bruises on Marissa’s arms.
Julio told the worker that Marissa had been seen by crisis due to self-harming
behavior. The worker tried to speak to Marissa, but she appeared tired and fell
asleep during the meeting. Julio blamed Marissa’s presentation on her emotions.
Sharon reported they were still waiting on case management for Marissa and
counseling for Sharon. The family completed paperwork for referrals to a new
case management provider for Marissa. The ARP worker discussed extending
ARP services and the recent CDS appointment.
o On 2/24/18, the ARP worker received a text from Julio indicating he planned to
call crisis services for Sharon. The ARP worker replied and asked to be kept
o 2/26/18 – ARP closed the assessment because the Department became involved
due to Marissa’s death.
• On 2/25/18, the Department received a report that Marissa was found deceased in the
home with what were believed to be traumatic injuries. The younger two children were in
the home when EMTs and the police arrived. The medical examiner determined
Marissa’s death to be the result of homicide. The Department opened an assessment and
substantiated allegations against Sharon and Julio for emotional abuse, neglect, and
physical abuse of Marissa, and a threat of physical abuse and neglect of the two younger
children in the home. The Department was granted custody of the two younger children,
as well as a third child born while Sharon was incarcerated awaiting trial for the death of
• Sharon and Julio were subsequently indicted and charged in the depraved indifference
murder of Marissa Kennedy. Julio plead guilty to the charge in July of 2019 and was
sentenced to 55 years in prison in August of 2019. Sharon was tried in December of 2019
and convicted of depraved indifference murder.
Erica Thoms can be reached at email@example.com