Questions are being asked after Monroe County, Georgia mother, Amanda Hendrickson, 33 and her boyfriend, Roderick Buckner 35 were this week indicted in the malicious beating murder of her five year old daughter, Heaven Woods. This just weeks after child services dropped its investigation into the family after a disturbing amalgamation of incriminating incidents.
At the time of the toddler’s discovery she had been found unresponsive at Buckner’s home on May 20, 2014 before being pronounced dead in hospital. An autopsy showed that the toddler died after suffering blunt force trauma to the abdomen.
The autopsy would also reveal reports WSBTV evidence of other injuries, some old and some new, which would corroborate a teacher and family members assertions that they had witnessed the five year old girl being mistreated by her mother.
Just three weeks before she died, one of Heaven’s teachers reported seeing Amanda Hendrickson kicking the little girl hard in the back and contacted the Division of Family and Children Services.
The agency launched an investigation but Hendrickson, Heaven and a family friend denied the little girl had been kicked and said she had bruises from falling.
It would later be disclosed that the teacher was never interviewed.
The DFCS would drop its investigation – even though it was the ninth complaint they had had about the family since 2009, according to the case summary obtained by The Atlanta Journal Constitution.
On one occasion, Hendrickson told the girl’s grandmother that she had a bump on her head because she had fallen into a coffee table.
In that report, the mother is said to have claimed that Heaven was autistic and would sometimes hurt herself when confronted about bruises in the shape of a handprint on her neck.
More questionable behavior would also come to the fore when the property manager of the couple’s home in Rome also reported seeing the mother drag the girl around on a harness ‘like a dog’.
Relatives also reported seeing Hendrickson lift the girl off the ground by her hair and said Heaven had a black eye around Christmas.
Posted incredulously the mother on facebook on the morning of the toddler’s death: ‘How do you get bruises to go away?’
Ashley Coursey, Hendrickson’s half-sister, told The AJC last year: ‘I wish I would have stepped up and done something.’
After the girl’s death, her maternal grandmother, Lisa Coursey, added to WSBTV: ‘I want the death penalty on both of them. If she did that to my granddaughter, she needs to rot.’
It also emerged that Heaven’s father Antony Woods had petitioned for primary custody of Heaven in 2012, adding that her visits with her mother should be limited because of violence towards the child.
In turn Amanda Hendrickson responded that Woods was the violent one.
The father continued his fight to see his daughter and petitioned the court in October 2013 and January 2014 to little avail.
The caseworker and their supervisor were removed from duties interacting with families while an investigation into their conduct was carried out.
Hendrickson was taken into custody last year and, while in jail, she gave birth to another daughter, who has now been placed into state custody.
She was initially charged with felony child cruelty but extra charges were expected to be brought, leading to Tuesday’s decision to indict Hendrickson and her partner for murder and aggravated battery.
Hendrinson and her boyfriend will be arraigned on April 16.
At present the couple have declined to tell how or why they mistreated the daughter to such a violent degree whilst the DFCS has been glaringly absent in any statements on the case.