DCFS Probes Family Of 12-year-old Drug Overdose Victim, Reports Say

Ten children live in a South Side home that has been investigated by DCFS nine times.

An agency looked into reports of assault, sexual abuse, and the child’s subsequent death in August of this year.

Dcfs Probes Family Of 12-year-old Drug Overdose Victim, Reports Say
Dcfs Probes Family Of 12-year-old Drug Overdose Victim, Reports Say

New information has been unearthed by CBS 2’s Chris Tye about the morning in the summer when Joel Watts failed to awaken, raising further suspicions about the family’s care for the children and prompting speculation about possible motives.

Both Joel and his sister were born due to the use of illicit substances. He’s the tenth DCFS-monitored child to pass away in the past 11 months.

Updated information on what occurred that morning in the family home on August 19 was obtained by CBS 2 under the Freedom of Information Act.

At their house in Roseland, Joel, his brother, and their mother stayed up until 6 o’clock in the morning watching films on YouTube. On that Friday afternoon of the summer, Joel walked to his room, and no one would ever see him again.

His mother discovered him unresponsive at 11:52 a.m.

They showed there at 1:46 in the afternoon, Chicago time. Joel was located, the police reported “on his bed, with drug paraphernalia close at hand on his left. White froth was flowing out of his lips, and there was a piece of tin foil on the floor beside his bones.”

Alcohol and fentanyl were found in Joel’s system, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s report. His passing was officially ruled an accident caused by an overdose of opioids.

However, “mother named the accused offender” and “allegations of death by neglect” are mentioned in the DCFS report. It is mentioned that the mother is pregnant, the report says.

When Joel was a newborn, DCFS recorded that his mother “was substance abused by the mother…”

Previously, DCFS had reported a case four months previously in which “the father… was listed as the accused perpetrator” and “high risk of sexual abuse” toward another kid.

DCFS had warned a month earlier, “7-year-old Joel broke his leg and needed surgery. The mother was identified as the suspect.”

Up until Joel’s death in August, there were nine visits to the house over the course of six and a half years, all red flags for a social system that never removed the children from the care of their parents.

A DCFS safety plan has placed the other children with relatives. We checked with the Chicago Police Department and the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office and found that neither of their parents had been arrested or charged.

The DCFS program’s shortcomings have emerged as a political hot potato. Though he has been found in contempt of court a dozen times, Illinois Governor JB Pritzker continues to support DCFS Director Marc Smith.


Scroll to Top