There continues to be tremendous local interest in the murder, and the events leading up to that murder, of a 17 month-old boy who was beaten to death here in St. Pauls on Nov. 22, 2010. People want to know if everything that could have been done by local agencies to prevent the death of Nathaniel Reed had been done.
Now the state Division of Social Services is also asking that question. Although it is too late to help Nathaniel, answers may well prevent or lessen similar acts in future.
According to Lori Walston of the state DSS, “A child fatality review regarding the death of Nathaniel Reed has been accepted for review under the Child Fatality Review process.”
The state statute concerning fatalities says that “there is established in the Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Social Services, a State Child Fatality Review Team to conduct in‑depth reviews of any child fatalities which have occurred involving children and families involved with local departments of social services child protective services in the 12 months preceding the fatality.”
For the review process, the state Division of Social Services leads the review. They review records from all relevant sources (DSS, schools, medical records, etc ) to look at actions, decisions, and activities in the years prior to the fatality in detail. The rule of thumb, depending on the childs age, is to look at a five year period. The volume of the records determines the preparatory time that is needed for staff in the state office prior to the actual onsite review with the local team. The purpose of the onsite facilitated review and discussion is not to find fault, but to look for opportunities to improve the overall system, and is generally two days in length. A timeline of events is developed and analyzed in terms of the structure of the family and its interaction with the community and its resources. The team makes findings and recommendations which are released in a written report.
That report is addressed to the county director of social services in the county where the child had received services (or the bulk of the services, if more than one county DSS was involved) but it is a public document and is available to the public.
Following a thorough investigation into Nathaniel Reed’s death, James Robert Jordan, the boyfriend of Nathaniel’s mother, was arrested and charged with first degree murder by the SPPD on Dec.15, 2010. Nathaniel’s mother, Monica Ullom, was arrested and charged with first degree murder by the SPPD on Oct. 10, 2011. Both are being held without bond awaiting trial.