WATCH: John Daly has the latest on the investigation and why charges have not been laid
A developmentally challenged child died in a Burnaby foster home on March 16, 2013 at the age of 21 months. Isabella Wiens had been apprehended from her mother, Sara-Jane Wiens, at the age of two months. The coroner ruled Isabella’s cause of death as undetermined. Since then, Isabella’s mother has been begging for answers.
“There is no investigation, no one is looking into this,” says Christopher Heslinga, a lawyer for Isabella’s mother. “She’s been given the runaround. RCMP tells her to talk to the Ministry, the Ministry tells her to talk to RCMP.”
“She was told it’s Sudden Infant Death Syndrome–SIDS–and, of course, we’re dealing with an almost two-year-old child, which is clearly not probable at all,” says Jack Hittrich, also a lawyer for Isabella’s mom.
On March 27, Minister of Children and Family Development Stephanie Cadieux addressed the situation – but only somewhat.
“I am not nor is anyone in the ministry allowed to speak about the details of any specific instance,” she said, but did admit she didn’t know why the ministry shut down the foster home where Isabella died.
WATCH: Minister on the hot seat after foster care death
The lawsuit cites the Coroner’s Report, which Global News obtained from CKNW, and the postmortem. They indicate six bruises and scratches on the child’s head; six bruises on her arms and legs; signs of recent healing fractures on the child’s left upper arm and wrist; and swelling of the child’s brain.
WATCH: Sara-Jane Wiens, mother of the BC baby who died while in BC foster care, speaks with Jill Krop on Unfiltered about the investigation.
The lawsuit says there’s no explanation.
“There is clearly a pattern of physical abuse,” says Hittrich. “It appears that whoever was in charge or was monitoring these foster parents, there was essentially no monitoring, no real review.”
Little Isabella was developmentally challenged as is her mother. Her lawyers say that just means a greater duty of care for the Ministry of Children & Family Development. With the lawsuit pending, the minister is guarded.
“Any time there is any kind of allegation of risk to a child, it is our duty to investigate that,” says Stephanie Cadieux, Minister of Children & Family Development.
The representative for children and youth in B.C. Mary Ellen Turpel-LaFond said in an interview Jill Krop on Unfiltered that she’ll be watching the proceedings carefully.
“This is one of those most disturbing cases particularly for a family because you find out your child has died, the cause is unknown,” Turpel-LaFond said.
“There were also injuries that the child had including maybe a fracture and bruising and the child had been in care virtually its entire infancy… My first real response is to support the family because this is one of those most difficult situations.”
Turpel-LaFond also indicated that if she learned anything about how the ministry did not take the child’s care seriously or the family seriously in the lawsuit, she would be following up. And that the family’s suit has “raised some serious concerns that echo the findings of my reports in prior investigations.”
WATCH: BC’s Representative for Children and Youth Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond speaks about the death of Baby Isabella’s death while in foster care.
-with files from John Daly