DCF Releases Timeline Of Trenton Duckett's Turbulent Life
POSTED: 4:43 pm EDT September 27, 2006
UPDATED: 7:56 pm EDT September 28, 2006
LEESBURG, Fla. -- On the one-month anniversary of his reported disappearance, the Florida Department of Children and Families released its chronology on Wednesday of all reports involving Trenton Duckett.
The 2-year-old boy was reported missing from his mother's Lake County apartment on Aug. 27, WESH 2 News reported.
The DCF records show that the boy's parents had a tumultuous relationship that often put the boy in the center of their fights.
The first entry on the timeline was recorded on April 6, 2005. DCF said it received a report from Sumter County that indicated that Melinda Eubank had threatened to harm Trenton unless Joshua Duckett went to her home to talk. The report alleged that Melinda had scars on her arm from cutting herself and squeezed Trenton so tight that he screamed.
For the next three months, the timeline reports on the growing violence between Melinda Eubank and Joshua Duckett, including an incident during which she allegedly dangled Trenton over water to provoke Joshua, but then the couple suddenly married in July 2005.
During his first two years of life, Trenton has been shuffled back and forth between his parents, his paternal grandmother, his maternal great-grandparents and into foster care.
The records also report on psychological evaluations of Melinda Duckett, and in December 2005, she was diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive personality disorder. But entry after entry indicated that there was "no psychological reason that would preclude Melinda from being a capable and loving parent."
Other entries documented violence against Joshua and Trenton. On Oct. 31, 2005, DCF received a report from Lake County that said "Melinda scratched Joshua during an argument in the car. She is also alleged to have threatened to kill Trenton and held a knife against his leg."
Melinda Duckett killed herself on Sept. 8.
Guardian Ad Litem Heather Morcroft said even young children like Trenton can suffer psychological damage from being bounced between relatives and foster homes, but getting them out of that situation permanently is tough.
"DCF can immediately pull a child out of the home if they think the child is in danger. Within two days, they have to go in front of a judge with evidence," Morcroft said.
In November 2005, that's what DCF did after Melinda Duckett reportedly threatened to harm her son with a knife.
And against DCF's objections, the judge returned Trenton to her.
"So often, a judge may feel compelled to return a child to a home when that judge's gut feeling may be, 'You know, I'm not sure this is the best idea but I have no choice,'" Morcroft said.
In the Duckett case, DCF documents obtained by the WESH 2 I-TEAM indicate that Melinda Duckett completed the DCF's case plan, underwent court ordered psychological evaluations and passed them.
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