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Public Guardian Blasts DCFS For Silence on Tate Thurman Case

Illinois DCFS

Cook County Public Guardian Charles Golbert said DCFS isn't being transparent about its potential involvement with the family of a 4-year-old East Peoria boy who died last month. 

"The response has been crickets," said Golbert. "And of course that raises my suspicion antennas even higher." 

Golbert said his office requested a timeline of agency involvement in Tate Thurman's life last week, but still hasn't received that information. In other recent high-profile child death cases like the A.J. Freund case in Crystal Lake, he said the agency has released that information readily.

"If, in fact, this was another case where DCFS had warning after warning, and red flag after red flag, and a child ended up dying because of very poor judgment and social work practices, that would need to be exposed," he said. 

Golbert said the current silence from the child welfare agency is the "antithesis" of the transparency promised by Gov. J.B. Pritzker and DCFS acting director Marc Smith into the agency's handling of cases.

DCFS hasn't replied to WCBU's multiple requests for a timeline or comment on this case. The agency was involved in removing two children from Thurman's home following his death. Thurman's infant sister was suffocated while co-sleeping with her parents in 2011. That death was ruled accidental. 

WCBU is reaching out to Gov. Pritzker's administration for additional comment. 

Lesli Jett, 33, of East Peoria faces murder charges in the case. She's being held in the Tazewell County Jail on $3 million bond. Tazewell County State's Attorney Stewart Umholtz said Thurman faced significant abuse before his death. 

Tim is the News Director at WCBU Peoria Public Radio.