Autopsy for death of Eastern Cherokee girl still not public

Authorities in North Carolina still haven't released the result of an autopsy into the death of a 15-month-old girl who was a member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.

Aubrey Littlejohn died at Cherokee Indian Hospital on January 10. She showed signs of abuse and severe neglect , according to news reports.

The official cause of death, however, won't be known until the autopsy is released. Also pending is a toxicology report -- news reports have suggested that drugs may have been Aubrey's system.

The State Bureau of Investigation is investigating whether Swain County social workers failed to follow up on allegations of abuse and drug use within Aubrey's off-reservation home. Social workers are also being accused of falsifying records in her case.

The Smoky Mountain News said Swain County workers were told of abuse in the home of Ladybird Powell, who was Aubrey's caregiver, months before Aubrey's death. The allegations are turning up just now because Powell has moved to Jackson County and social workers there are trying to remove a boy from her care, the paper reported.

Get the Story:
Social safety net failed Cherokee baby (The Smoky Mountain News 4/27)

Related Stories:
County social workers excluded from Eastern Cherokee lands (3/22)
Eastern Cherokees consider taking child services from county (3/17)
Authorities investigating death of Eastern Cherokee baby girl (2/23)

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