Family members of a little boy who was tortured and abused are suing social workers in Missouri and the child welfare agency in Kansas for not ending the hell Adrian Jones lived through.
Adrian’s oldest sister, maternal grandmother and biological mother filed suit in both states saying child welfare workers took notes and filed reports instead of removing Adrian from his home where father Michael Jones and stepmother Heather Jones repeatedly beat and starved him. He died in the fall of 2015 and his body was fed to pigs.
“They (the agencies and social workers) meticulously investigated and carefully documented every violent kick, punch, slap and injury inflicted upon A.J. (Adrian) by his sadistic father and stepmother,” read the lawsuit filed in Jackson County this week, “and generated stacks of records and reports chronicling the ceaseless, stomach-churning abuse.”
Filed by Attorney Michaela Shelton, the suit — also filed in Wyandotte County — alleges that interventions consisted of having the father and stepmother sign a piece of paper “agreeing to stop torturing the child.” The suit likened that agreement to a “pinky swear.”
“As it turned out, that signed paper might as well have been A.J.’s death warrant,” the suit reads.
In Missouri, 10 state employees working for the Department of Social Services have been sued. In Kansas, the state and the Department for Children and Families as well as its director were named in the suit. Also named: the Family Guidance Center of St. Joseph, a Kansas City residential children’s home and workers at both.
Theresa Freed, a spokeswoman for Kansas’ DCF, said her agency had not been served the lawsuit and could not comment at this time. Freed referenced DCF Secretary Phyllis Gilmore’s previous statements on Adrian’s case.
“As the records reveal, DCF staff followed the family, as Michael and Heather Jones worked constantly to evade our intervention,” Gilmore said earlier. “Even when the Jones family moved to Missouri and was no longer within our jurisdiction, our social workers continued to make efforts to communicate with Missouri officials to ensure the family was provided with services and assessed.
“... Sadly, despite our efforts, this tragedy unfolded — the very worst possible outcome.”
A spokeswoman for Missouri’s DSS said the agency does not comment on pending litigation.
Adrian was 7 years old when he died. Yet records show in his short time that several social workers in Kansas and Missouri investigated repeated hotline calls and listened as the young boy talked of how he was beaten and neglected at home, by both his father and stepmother.
Michael and Heather Jones were both sentenced to life in prison. Under Kansas law, they’ll have to serve 25 years before they’re eligible for parole. Heather Jones also was sentenced to five years and eight months in prison for two counts of child abuse.
Adrian’s death in the fall of 2015 made national headlines. Detectives and prosecutors say the case was the most gruesome many had ever seen.
Officers were called to the Jones’ home on a domestic disturbance. While there, they learned that Adrian had been missing for awhile.
All authorities found in a barn near the Kansas City, Kan., home the family rented were some scattered remains. Prosecutors later said they believed Adrian essentially starved to death, and surveillance cameras in the home showed extensive abuse and torture, including the young boy being kept naked in a shower stall, forced to sleep outside on some nights and being shocked with a stun gun.
Within days of Michael Jones being arrested and charged — Heather Jones soon was arrested, too — The Star requested child welfare records from both Kansas and Missouri. Neither agency released information after the Wyandotte County district attorney’s office told the court it didn’t want anything shared until the case had gone through the courts.
Earlier this year, The Star obtained records from Missouri that showed Adrian had told a caseworker and a police officer in July 2013 that he was being hit, kicked and punched at home. Yet he remained with his family.
The Star also received 2,000 pages of records from Kansas that show the child welfare agency had extensive contact with the family for several years, including conversations with the young boy.
The lawsuit seeks $25 million in punitive damages.