Records: Police received abuse report before boy's death
By Abuse report filed before killing
NORTH FORT MYERS -- Investigators received a complaint in December alleging that a 4-year-old boy was being abused, one month before his foster caretaker killed and buried the child, according to newly released records.
The body of James Thomas Cotter was found in a shallow grave last week by Lee County sheriff's investigators.
Deputies responded to the Dec. 3 abuse complaint but could not locate the boy's guardians, Steven and Linda Landry, according to sheriff's records and Department of Children and Families records released Tuesday. A follow-up was never done, the records showed.
DCF district administrator Mike Murphy said a clerk at his office received the complaint, then passed it along to the sheriff's office, in line with agency procedures.
Child protection investigators only respond to calls placed to an abuse hot line, Murphy said.
Sheriff's spokesman Deputy Larry King said the complaint they received was vague. It is not clear who made the complaint, King said.
Neither the deputy nor the clerk who handled the call can remember the complaint, officials said.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is looking into the child welfare agency's actions in the case, according to Steve Emerson, head of the Fort Myers office of the FDLE.
The child welfare agency has been under scrutiny for the case of 5-year-old Rilya Wilson, a girl under state supervision whose disappearance went unnoticed for at least 15 months.
The Landrys were charged with letting James die Jan. 4 after he suffered a serious injury in what Steven Landry has referred to as horseplay. Steven Landry has said he did not call emergency officials before the boy died. Steven Landry then wrapped James' body in a painter's tarp and buried him in the couple's yard Jan. 6, according to his arrest affidavit.
The couple later moved to Texas, where they were arrested by Colorado County sheriff's deputies during a drug investigation.
Steven Landry was transferred to Lee County, where he was charged with aggravated manslaughter and is being held in the Lee County Jail without bond.
Linda Landry is being held Texas on a child neglect charge, where she admitted standing by while the boy died and told police where they could find the grave.
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From the Times state desk
From the state wire