Sen. Mike Thibodeau calls on Governor for investigation into DHHS following girl’s murder
AUGUSTA — Senator Mike Thibodeau, R-Winterport, has requested an official investigation into Maine’s Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), after it reportedly failed to act on reports about possible child abuse in the case of murdered 10-year-old Marissa Kennedy.
Kennedy, who was allegedly beaten multiple times a day, every day for months, died Feb. 25, at her home in Stockton Springs. Her mother and stepfather, Sharon Carrillo, 33, and Julio Carrillo, 51, were arrested the following day, both have been charged with depraved indifference murder.
The letter was sent to Governor Paul Lepage today, March 2, noting that it has been widely reported that DHHS had been notified about suspected abuse of Marissa Kennedy. Thibodeau wrote that the people of Maine deserve to know if this information is accurate and if so, what actions were taken to address the situation.
“It is important the people of Maine understand what happened and what we can do to prevent this from happening again,” he said.
There has been widespread outrage over the case, with many questioning how such horrific abuse could go undetected for months.
Though the case is being examined due to statutorily-required reviews, Thibodeau implored LePage to look into the matter “as best you can,” going on to say, “I believe this incident is of such significance that any investigation should include your personal attention.”
Thibodeau noted the deep caring Mainers have for the children in the state, and that although he has great confidence in the staff at DHHS, the recent reports of its alleged failure to act have shaken the public’s trust in the agency.
Beyond investigation into the possible failings in the case of Marissa Kennedy, Thibodeau said he believes there would be “great value” in reviewing the policies and procedures that are in place and to take steps to improve upon them as needed. Thibodeau wrote that LePage’s personal attention in the matter will help assure the public that reports of child abuse do not fall on deaf ears and that they are taken very seriously.
Thibodeau ended his letter by stating, “it is unconscionable that Marissa Kennedy’s life was taken away, and we must ensure this does not happen again. Marissa’s story must not be in vain. I thank you for your attention and offer my help in any way possible.
Should legislation be necessary to improve child protection laws, Thibodeau asked that LePage please bring forward a bill and that he would work to see it ends up on LePage’s desk for approval.
Following Thibodeau’s call for an investigation, Maine Democratic Party Chairman Phil Bartlett called on the rest of the Republican gubernatorial field, Ken Fredette, Garrett Mason, Shawn Moody, and Mary Mayhew, to publicly state whether they back Thibodeau’s call for an investigation, saying:
“The people of Maine deserve to know that their government will always take the proper and necessary steps to protect children across the state. In the case of 10-year-old Marissa Kennedy, it appears that DHHS utterly failed in its responsibility to do that.”
“Republicans across the state, but especially those who want to be our next governor, should be standing up to back Mike Thibodeau’s call on Governor LePage for an investigation. Understanding what happened is central to determining where DHHS went wrong and will allow lawmakers and the governor to take the steps necessary to ensure that no report of child abuse goes ignored again.”
Erica Thoms can be reached at email@example.com