State told of abuse week before girl died

Posted on: Tuesday, July 26, 2005

State heard of abuse week before girl died

Advertiser Staff Writers

A relative of 5-year-old Talia Williams told state child welfare officials that the girl was being abused a week before her death, but officials said yesterday that they could not intervene because the report lacked enough information to locate the child.

Chasidy Taijeron, a cousin of the child’s stepmother, Delilah Williams, told The Advertiser that she spoke to a social worker by phone on or about July 8.

Taijeron said she made the call – anonymously – after her cousin repeatedly told her in telephone conversations that Talia was being beaten almost every day by her father, Naeem Williams, for wetting herself.

“This could have been prevented,” Taijeron said yesterday.

But Derick Dahilig, spokesman for the state Department of Human Services, said that intake workers were given Talia’s name, but not an address or a phone number and they were not told Talia lived on a military installation.

Although Taijeron provided the child’s name, Dahilig said her account of the alleged abuse was much less severe. The report, he said, was that the girl’s stepmother would swear at her and sometimes force her to sleep on the floor.

Taijeron was supposed to call back with additional information but did not, Dahilig said.

Another problem, Dahilig said, was that the state was told the child’s last name as “William” instead of “Williams.”

Dahilig said DHS tried to locate the child by running variations of the name through two department databases: one for children in protective foster custody and another for families applying for various forms of state assistance. Nothing turned up, he said.

“We tried to do everything possible,” Dahilig said. “In order for us to assign this for an investigation, we need some place to start.”

Taijeron, a 22-year-old pre-school teacher and childcare provider from Killeen, Texas, rejected the state’s explanation, saying, “That is a lie.”

She said she provided human services with the names of the child, her stepmother and father, and the branch of the military in which he served. She said she did not provide them with a phone number because one was not requested.

Previously, DHS said it had received no reports in the case, and launched an investigation about whether the military had failed to notify the state of abuse allegations the Army received.


Delilah Williams was charged with murder in connection with Talia’s death. Talia’s father, Naeem Williams, who is a Schofield Barracks soldier, is being held by military authorities in “pretrial confinement.” Talia was taken to the hospital July 16 after emergency medical personnel were called to the family’s Wheeler Army Airfield apartment and found her unresponsive. She was pronounced dead after being taken to the hospital.

Talia’s death came after what has been described as months of daily beatings, and her body was removed from a blood-spattered apartment.

Taijeron said she told DHS that she could hear Talia “screaming” in the background during her telephone conversations with Delilah Williams.

“If they did something about this, my cousin would have been put in child abuse counseling, not charged with capital murder,” said Taijeron in a telephone interview. “I didn’t want my cousin Delilah to get thrown in jail and have her 4-month-old baby taken away from her.”

After learning on July 17 that Talia was dead, Taijeron said she spoke with the supervisor of the social worker she originally contacted and was told “they did not act because the information I gave was inaccurate.”

The cousin never saw Talia get hit, and declined to comment whether Delilah Williams had said she beat the child.

State human services officials spent two hours yesterday piecing together what happened. The fact that the call was originally anonymous was not a factor, DHS said.

Lillian Koller, director of the department, said she was surprised to learn an anonymous complaint had been made.

“She must feel horrible,” Koller said of Taijeron. “If she made the call, then she called before this horrible, horrible thing happened to this child. She was the one who could have provided the information which could have caused this to be prevented.”

State social workers were unable to respond because Taijeron did not call back, Koller said.

Taijeron said that Delilah Williams worked as a program coordinator in the administration office of the Directorate of Community Activities’ Child and Youth Registration Office, a youth activities program operated by the military. The Army yesterday said she did not have direct contact with children. The Army did not say anything else about the nature of her position.


A detention hearing for Delilah Williams is scheduled for today in U.S. District Court.

Her court-appointed attorney, Alexander Silvert, said he plans to complain to the court about what he called his lack of access to military witnesses. Silvert said when he attempted to contact potential witnesses, he had been told to direct all questions to the Army’s Criminal Investigative Division.

“We’re cut off before we can get them,” he said yesterday. “I’m sure the U.S. attorney has nothing to do with it, but if the military is doing it, it would be a concern. No one has the right to tell a witness not to speak with attorneys. It is one thing if they choose not to talk to us, but if they are not talking because they’re ordered not to talk to us, that’s another issue.”

Silvert said he has no proof that the Army is ordering witnesses not to speak with him.

In an e-mailed statement, the Army did not address Silvert’s complaint about access to witnesses. However, the Army said that it did not provide information to an official from the federal public defender’s office who went to Schofield on July 22 requesting information about the case.

“It is a matter of policy that we do not provide copies of ongoing criminal investigations until the records are public record,” said Maj. Stacy Bathrick, spokeswoman for the 25th Infantry Division (Light) and U.S. Army, Hawai’i, in an e-mail. “The appropriate process for the Public Defender to request information pertaining to the case is to submit a request in federal court.”


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