A’lona “Halo” Williams was 3-years-old when she passed away in June of 2018. But early last year, her grandmother Mikisha Vaughn noticed something was wrong and thought Halo may have been being abused.
“It just got worse and worse,” Vaughn told KHOU.
In January 2018, Vaughn said, Halo showed up at her house wearing a splint. Vaughn said Halo’s mother told her it was from a trampoline accident. But Vaughn didn’t believe it.
“The bruise was too bad, and her arm was swollen all the way up,” Vaughn said.
CPS reportedly got involved following that incident.
Three months later, Halo’s mother and CPS agreed to have Halo and her two brothers placed with her boyfriend’s parents, according to reports. However, this was a violation of CPS protocol since both have criminal records, including burglary and assault charges. They also allowed Halo’s mom, Vaughn’s daughter, to see the kids unsupervised after she was told not to.
During this time Halo’s injuries continued: “Her eye, her back, her leg, a lot of random places.”
Vaughn said she called Child Protective Services several times, but she kept getting an answering machine. But, she said she left messages saying things like, “Emergency. 911. You told me to call. I’m calling. Respond.”
But the agency didn’t act fast enough, according to Vaughn
Halo died in June 2018; with Vaughn holding her close as she said goodbye.
KHOU reports, the medical examiner’s report found evidence of extreme sexual trauma.
The doctor also reported there was severe damage to Halo’s intestines and her stomach was full of blood. Halo’s mother claimed it was from a car accident, but doctors said the injuries appeared to be from something far worse.
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“I just didn’t believe it. I just didn’t believe it. She’s just 3,” Vaughn said.
Vaughn said the call from CPS never came.
According to legal documents, an expert on abuse at Texas Children’s Hospital said she called CPS three times to tell them she felt Halo was being abused. Records show CPS was actively investigating. But Vaughn said it was too late for Halo.
“You are supposed to do something before, not after,” Vaughn said.
Attorney Mike Craig was appointed by the court to represent Halo’s two brothers in custody proceedings after she died.
Craig told the station that CPS is trying to put them in foster care, a move that may have saved Halo.
“The first thing that comes to my mind is that it (Halo’s death) was completely preventable. It’s clear that the system failed this vulnerable, defenseless child,” Craig said. “It (CPS) failed at intake. It failed at placement. The proper action did not take place in time to save this kid’s life.
CPS currently has custody of Halo’s brothers, but they have been living with Vaughn since March. She wants permanent custody.
“They deserve to be here, where they can be protected and loved,” Vaughn said.
The Houston Police Department has confirmed Halo’s case has been assigned to its homicide division.