SUMPTER TWP. (WWJ) – The police chief of Sumpter Township is defending his department in the case of a 4-year-old girl who was murdered, allegedly by her mother and her mother’s boyfriend.
Chief Eric Luke has confirmed reports that when police were called to the couple’s residence about a domestic assault two years ago, officers found a filthy home full of drugs and weapons.
So why wasn’t the child removed to safety? Reacting to reports that police dropped the ball, Chief Eric Luke spoke exclusively with WWJ Newsradio 950’s Zahra Huber.
“When we responded to that residence on May 20th of 2016, the 4-year-old victim was not residing at the location at that time,” Luke said. “As a matter of fact, she had been residing with her grandmother for quite a long time before that at another location in another jurisdiction.”
Luke said that there were, in fact, no children living in the mobile home at that time.
“Of course,” the chief added, “if we would’ve had a child, we would’ve did everything that we needed to do, in terms of notification to CPS and everything else, that there was a problem.”
Luke said Gabrielle Barrett did not move into the home with her mom, 24-year-old Candice Diaz, and 28-year-old Brad Fields until late this past summer; and Barrett’s younger half-sister had not yet been born in 2016.
Luke said the May 2016 incident was the only contact police had with Diaz and Fields prior to Barrrett’s murder.
“We never had reports whatsoever from any other law enforcement agencies, CPS, anyone notifying us of any issues with this, or requesting us to have any contact with Diaz, Fields or anything else to do with the residence on Green Meadow,” Luke said.
Barrett was pronounced dead at a local hospital shortly after she was found unresponsive and in cardiac arrest in a bathroom of the home on New Year’s Day.
The Washtenaw County Examiner ruled Barrett’s death a homicide after an autopsy found evidence of “multiple traumatic injuries,” including burns to various parts of the child;s body. The ME said the girl had suffered battered-child syndrome — meaning she suffered multiple injuries, at multiple sites, at multiple ages — saying in court papers that it was the “worst child death case” he’d seen in 27 years of practice.
Diaz and Fields — both charged with child abuse, torture and murder — were captured by U.S. Marshals in Georgia just over a week following the girl’s death. Luke said the couple has waived extradition and will be headed back to Michigan soon for an arraignment.
Barrett’s 1-year-old sister remains in the custody of Child Protective Services. Documents have been filed seeking to terminate the allege killers’ parental rights to the child’s younger half-sister.
The family of Barrett’s biological father, who is not accused in this case, has launched a GoFundMe page to raise money for the child’s funeral.
Sumpter Township is located in Wayne County, about 35 miles southwest of Detroit.