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13-178 Sheriff Gualtieri Announces Results Of Administrative Investigation And Review of CPID Policies and Procedures Initiated Following The Death Of Elizabeth Holder (See Press Release 13-019 For Additional Information)

Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office
Inspections Bureau
-Administrative Investigations Division
Investigative Operations Bureau
-Child Protection Investigations Division

Pamela Wilson (Terminated)
Age: 54
Date of Hire: 07/25/1983

During a news briefing on August 16, 2013, Sheriff Bob Gualtieri announced the results of the Administrative Investigation; and the agency’s review of policies and procedures surrounding the removal of children by the Child Protection Investigations Division and their timely health screenings.

The investigation and review was launched in January of this year following the death of 5- year-old Elizabeth Holder, who died on January 19, 2013 while in Foster Care - after being removed from her home by Sheriff’s Child Protection Investigators.

The Administrative Investigation resulted in the termination of CPID Family Support Worker Pamela Wilson for intentionally omitting and misrepresenting the facts of the case during the investigation; and for failing to enter notes pertinent to the removal of 5-year-old Elizabeth Holder.

The review also resulted in various policy and procedural change recommendations that have now been implemented.

The AI and review were completed and Wilson was terminated on August 13, 2013.

The investigation was conducted through the Administrative Investigations Division at the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office.

On January 11, 2013 5-year-old Elizabeth Holder was removed from her home located at 2381 Gulf to Bay Boulevard, Lot 419 in Clearwater by a Child Protection Investigator of the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office after the child was found wandering around the mobile home park unattended. Her mother was arrested for child neglect and transported to the Pinellas County Jail. (Additional details are on news release 13-019).

Holder was placed into foster care immediately after the removal. Family Support Worker (FSW) Pam Wilson was assigned to the case and tasked with the responsibility of completing the mandatory 72 hour health screening and the supervised mandatory 72 hour visitation by the parents. The health screening should have been completed by January 14, 2013. Holder passed away on January 19th.  An autopsy revealed the child died from Endocardial Fibrosis with a contributory condition of Tonsillitis.

According to investigators numerous factors contributed to Holder not receiving the mandatory health screening within 72 hours of her removal. During the investigation, it was further determined that the mandatory 72 hour health screening did not occur in a timely manner in other cases. Investigators say none of the other cases are known to have resulted in harm to any child. It was undetermined whether the failure to have Holder medically screened contributed to her death.

The Sheriff’s Office review determined various factors leading to the untimely health screenings to include: lack of clarity as to who is responsible to ensure the 72 hour health screening requirements, who is responsible for the supervision, training, and the lack of an adequate mechanism for documenting the completion of such screenings. Sheriff Gualtieri advised that each of these aspects/problem areas have been addressed at this time and that new procedures and protocols had been put into place to clarify each of these concerns and ensure that screenings are completed in a timely fashion in the future.

The Administrative Investigation conducted on this case also resulted in the termination of FSW Pam Wilson, for intentionally omitting and misrepresenting the facts of the case during the investigation; and for failing to enter notes pertinent to the removal of 5-year-old Elizabeth Holder. Investigators say Wilson omitted and misrepresented information as to why she had not entered the information into the system in a timely manner.

As a result of the internal affairs investigation, Wilson was terminated effective August 13, 2013.

Press conference video:

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