Loophole in Child Safety Law Placed 4-Year-Old in Hands of Suspected Killer

By Murray WeissColby Hamilton and James Fanelli  on January 11, 2014 9:46am

MIDTOWN — The law let him down.

Little Myls Dobson — the 4-year-old who was allegedly starved and tortured by his dad’s transgender girlfriend in a Midtown apartment — fell through the cracks because of a loophole in the child protection law.

Currently, there is nothing on the books that requires NYPD officers to notify child welfare workers when they arrest a suspect who is the primary caregiver of a kid, according to those familiar with the case.

Myls’ dad, Okee Wade, who had sole custody of the boy, handed his son over to Kryzie King on Dec. 18, a day before NYPD officers picked him up on a New Jersey warrant stemming from bank fraud charges.

When officers asked Wade, a convicted felon, if he had any children, he told them that a friend was caring for Myls, sources said.

Since officers had no reason to doubt him and Wade had never been flagged for child abuse, the officers weren’t required by law to notify the Administration for Children’s Services that they were taking the boy’s father away, sources said.

“Are we obligated to do something more? No,” a police source told DNAinfo New York, adding that officers routinely ask parents whether they have children after an arrest, and give parents time to use the phone to make last-minute arrangements for their care. "Unless we have a feeling that he's keeping something from us or we know something more about his background, there's nothing we have to do.”

Unless the child is in the home at the time of the arrest, the source said, police do not intervene if a caregiver appears to have made sufficient arrangements.

ACS wasn’t required to check on Myls either, even though the agency had removed him from his mother’s care three years earlier.

In 2011, ACS workers had accused Myls’ mother, Ashley Dobson, of neglect and recommended a family court judge give custody of him to Wade, a convicted felon. Under the custody conditions, ACS monitored Wade and Myls for a year, but the supervision ended September 2012.

Dobson said at press conference Friday with her mother, Faye Bennett, that she saw the child on a weekly basis, but had no way of knowing that Wade had left the child with King. She said that she last saw Myls at the end of November. Bennett claimed she reached out to ACS when the boy could not be found, but child welfare authorities deny that.

A city official who spoke on the condition anonymity said that from Dec. 18 until the day Myls died, no one — including the boy's relatives — inquired with ACS about his location or expressed concerns about his safety. Without any alerts, ACS had no cause to act.

The agency acknowledged the limits of the law in a statement Friday afternoon.

"Unfortunately, once ACS' involvement with a family has concluded, the agency no longer has oversight authority," ACS spokesman Michael Fagan said. "As instructed by the mayor, we are launching a thorough review of the case to learn what happened and might have been done differently to serve the child welfare needs of the little boy."

The gap in the system proved fatal for Myls.

While in King's care, Myls was burned with lit cigarettes and a heated oven grate, whipped with belts, and starved for weeks inside King's $3,200-a-month apartment at The Ritz Plaza, police sources said.

The abuse culminated Tuesday night when King admitted to locking the boy outside on her balcony to freeze in 9-degree weather for over an hour, wearing only underwear and a T-shirt, according to police sources.

The following morning investigators found the boy unconscious in a bathtub. The emaciated toddler had lost nearly 25 pounds and was covered with burns and lacerations on his body, prosecutors said.

King was arraigned Friday in Manhattan Supreme Court on charges of assault and reckless endangerment. Prosecutors vowed to charge her with murder pending the results of an autopsy.

Public Advocate Letitia James said she'd fight for reforms that would prevent such mistakes moving forward.

"There is nothing more horrific than the death of a child... we must act with the highest sense of urgency to address the gaps in our system that allowed this to happen," said James.

Myls' death ended a short, tragic life, relatives said. Aside from an abusive mom, his father had been in and out of prison, including a three-and-half-year stint for attempted armed robbery, according to court records and family members.

The boy's paternal grandmother, Gloria Wade, was still struggling to grasp how the smiling toddler's life ended so brutally. 

"I'm not going to sugarcoat my son. I feel my son and Ashley failed him. If they did the right thing, Myls wouldn't be where he is. It's sad," she said.

Additional reporting by Janon Fisher, Aidan Gardiner, Gustavo Solis and Katie Honan.

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