Tabitha Shoars sent this email message to Health Impact News on December 4, 2015:
TO ANYONE THAT HAS POSTED OR TALKED ABOUT THE SHOARS CASE
I (Tabitha Shoars) am writing you regarding my case “The shoars Family” here in Arizona. On August 14th 2014 until June 2015, I Told my story about how truly Corrupted my case is here in Arizona and due to unconstitutional gag order that was placed on me in December 2014 which I didn’t know about until Jan 16th 2015 I am here by having to inform you that any information that you or anyone you know that has been put on the internet about my case needs to be taken down immediately. I’m also hereby having to inform that my case is confidential and is No longer to be talked about by anyone or NO longer able to be posted anywhere on the internet PER the State of Arizona. I also having to inform everyone that I am NO longer able to talk about my Case to NO one any more.
Sincerely Tabitha Shoars,
Tabitha N Jeff Shoars
Health Impact News chooses to exercise our 1st Amendment rights. Numerous attorneys have stated that such gag orders are unconstitutional.
The judge issued a gag order on the parents forbidding them to talk about the case. Story here:
by Terri LaPoint
Health Impact News
The unthinkable happened to a family in Arizona. Their three-year-old daughter mysteriously collapsed while her parents were away from home, and she died shortly after. As horrible as that tragedy was, Khloe’s death was only the beginning of the devastation to the Shoars family. Child Protective Services immediately came in and took away all seven of their other children, placing them in various foster home settings around the area.
The children now don’t have their parents, or even each other, as they try to grasp what has happened to their sister. None of the children, ranging in age from 2 to 9 years old, have been placed with family or friends, and they cry to come home. They don’t understand what has happened, and neither do their parents, Jeff and Tabitha Shoars.
“It’s like a bad nightmare you can’t wake up from,” says Jeff.
No charges have been filed against anyone, yet the state of Arizona has already begun the TPR process, Termination of Parental Rights.
Khloe’s Story: Beautiful Daughter Born in Troubled Circumstances
Khloe has been described a “bubbly, bouncy, giggly” little girl who was a huge blessing to her family. Jeff says that this is “way too soon for her to be out of our lives.”
Khloe’s life began under very difficult circumstances. Her mother Tabitha was sexually assaulted by two men when the family lived in Minnesota. The men went to prison, but Tabitha found that she had become pregnant from the attack. She says that abortion was never an option for her, and together she and Jeff made the choice to give life to the baby that had been conceived.
Tiny Khloe only weighed a pound and a half when she was born prematurely, at just 27 1/2 weeks. She had a brain hemorrhage at birth, and she was in very serious condition at the same time that her mother suffered a placental abruption. While the doctors fought to save Tabitha’s life, Jeff, who has always been terrified of needles, never hesitated when the baby needed a blood transfusion, promptly volunteering to donate blood for Khloe.
The doctors allegedly told the Shoars that she would grow out of the brain hemorrhage condition, and despite Tabitha’s requests, no further testing was ever done on Khloe to monitor the situation. Like the rest of the Shoars children, Khloe was fully vaccinated, and always got the annual flu shot.
A Family that Loved Her
Khloe captured the hearts of her family from the very beginning. Even though she was conceived from assault, Jeff says that he “always considered her mine,” and he vowed to always protect her. According to Tabitha, “she came from a bad situation, but she is our blessing.”
When the Shoars learned Tabitha’s attackers were about to be released from prison, they decided to move cross-country in March 2014, settling in Avondale, Arizona, a city just outside of Phoenix. Leaving the fears for their safety behind, they found that life was going well for the big family with lots of kids, until that one horrible night in August.
These are the pieces that Tabitha and Jeff have been able to put together of the events that occurred.
A Terrible Accident
On the afternoon of August 14, Jeff and Tabitha left together at about 3:30 pm, leaving their children in the care of a babysitter whom they trusted. The young man, in his twenties, has been described as being “like a big brother to the kids,” and he had a history of playing with and caring for the children, both with and without the parents’ supervision.
She didn’t have much of an appetite for dinner that night, although her family reports that she usually eats seconds. After dinner the kids were playing outside, and Khloe fell and hit her head on the ground. Her siblings and the babysitter found no mark or bump. She went to bed early, which her mother says is what she would do whenever she had a headache. Tabitha also reports that she had a headache a few days before, but they thought nothing of it, since it went away.
After Khloe went to sleep that night, she woke up with a high-pitched scream, then she was crying. The babysitter ran in to her to see what was wrong. He says that he thought at the time that she must have had a nightmare. He helped her get out the bed where she had been asleep with the younger children, and walked her to the kitchen for a drink of water. He reports that she was wobbly on her feet, but he thought that she was just sleepy. After she sipped some water, she collapsed in the hallway, with her eyes rolling back in her head and gasping. The babysitter called 911. Her lips were turning purple as he was trying to do CPR.
When the police arrived before the paramedics, the first officer on the scene moved him out of the way and squeezed her. She threw up, but remained unresponsive. Later, the medical reports would show kidney damage on the side of Khloe where she was squeezed.
Jeff and Tabitha were about 45 minutes away in a Phoenix suburb when they got word that their baby had collapsed. By the time the frantic parents got home, there was police tape surrounding their house. Tabitha was directed to go to the Phoenix Children’s Hospital, and Jeff stayed behind to check on the other kids and talk to the officials at their home.
What this mother found at the hospital was “every single parent’s worst nightmare.” The doctor told her that Khloe (who had been admitted as a Jane Doe) had bleeding and swelling of the brain and kidney damage, and that she was unresponsive. She was on life support.
Tabitha says she was distraught and tried to get answers, but there were none to be had. She wanted to know what happened, but the doctors reported that nothing showed up in her blood work. “There was no bruises, scars or marks, or signs of anything! She wasn’t bitten, she wasn’t stung, she wasn’t shaken NOTHING.”
CPS Removes Remaining Children from Home
When Jeff arrived at the hospital, he told his wife that CPS was taking the other kids for 72 hours, because it was “protocol for them to investigate.” At the time, they were fine with that because they needed to focus on Khloe. None of their family lived in Arizona, and Tabitha and Jeff didn’t question the actions of CPS, which seemed reasonable to them at the time.
As the day progressed, it became clear that it was only the life support machines keeping their little girl alive. Tabitha says that CPS didn’t even want to let the other children come to the hospital to say goodbye to their sister, but that the doctor insisted that CPS let them come.
Tabitha tearfully described to me the most heart-rending day of her life, as she had to let go of her baby Khloe. Jeff choked up as he told me, “I adored her and I loved her more than anything.” They lay with her in the hospital bed as her heart stopped and she let go of this life.
And yet, they still haven’t had a chance to grieve the most difficult thing a parent could go through, because CPS didn’t bring their other children back to them. Even now, they only get to visit a few hours a week.
No Charges Filed, but Children Not Returned
Understandably, there was an investigation. The babysitter was originally arrested, then released. The parents have been investigated. The police are allegedly calling this a homicide investigation; however, to date no charges have been filed against anyone. The investigators allegedly do not appear to be looking at the babysitter any more.
Jeff says that they still don’t know the answer to the big question: “what happened to Khloe?” It’s kind of like Sherlock Holmes trying to put together all the pieces.
Health Impact News spoke with Tabitha’s sister-in-law Lisa Shoars R.N., who said, “The symptoms that were described to me definitely seem to be consistent with a brain aneurysm, from what I’ve learned in nursing school.”
An autopsy was performed, but the results have not yet been released. The Shoars are hoping that the autopsy will help to fill in the pieces. The Shoars are concerned about the fact that they were told that the autopsy was completed, but that the medical examiner is waiting for the police report before releasing the autopsy. Supporters have told Tabitha and Jeff that this is not the usual order of things.
They report that all of the doctors say there were no signs of abuse. A rape kit was done, and it came back negative. Tabitha says that she does not believe that the babysitter hurt Khloe, and the family’s thinking is that their little girl died from tragic natural causes.
Reasoning Behind Why Children were Removed from Parents is Not Clear
Family and Child Advocate Steven R. Isham M.A., L.B.S.W., recently met with the Shoars and has reviewed the available records. He expresses concern that there are a number of issues with the state of Arizona’s treatment of the Shoars family. Among his findings are the following:
- The court documents and child protective services documents misrepresent and conflict with the facts. There is documentation that has been added to reports that did not occur. There seems to be documentation of threats made to the children by the Foster Parents, and by CPS workers to elicit certain behaviors and language.
- I was unable to discover in the records or through conversation exactly what the accusations are that drew the conclusion of imminent harm and immediate removal of the children from the Parents and from the Grandparents.
- Concerns for the children:
Medications not provided in state care
Long absences from school
Holidays and Family milestones ignored in state care
Multiple separation anxiety provoking events in state care with no evidence of accompanying support services for those many events
Separated from original home
Separated from Parents
Separated from Grandparents
Separated from siblings
Separated from schools
Children told to address Foster Parents as Mother and Father causing confusion and distrust in these already traumatized children as listed above.
Placed with Hispanic families with cultural differences causing anxiety with language, foods, clothing, and a variety of other cultural items
- It is reported that one child was told by Foster Parent that biological Mother was in heaven with deceased sibling. It is reported that child was shocked and confused when he saw the biological Mother at the next visit.
- It appears that the Parents and Grandparents participation has already been discontinued if it ever was actively sought during the reunification process.
- It does appear that Parents and Grandparents have actively participated in every condition asked of them. There is nothing that shows they have not fully participated when asked to do so by the court or by Child Protective Services.
Arizona CPS: Presumed Guilty Until Proven Innocent
Despite the fact that there have been no charges filed, and the autopsy has not even been released, Arizona’s Child Protective Services appears to have condemned the Shoars without a trial, deeming them guilty until proven innocent. A caseworker allegedly told the family that the accusation is neglect, because the parents allegedly failed to protect the children from abuse by the babysitter.
There is a hearing scheduled for January 16. This hearing is reportedly about three things:
- TPR – to determine if the state will terminate parental rights to the Shoars seven living children. The Shoars have been told that at least one of the foster parents wants to adopt some of her kids, the kids who have parents who love them. It is unclear if this is the same foster parent who makes the children call her “mom.”
- to determine if the grandparents may be awarded custody. Currently, two of the children are in a group home, and two others are in a non-English speaking home (the Shoars report that all of their children speak only English).
- a pre-trial conference
Tabitha says that she is worried sick about her children and scared for their safety. She has heard horror stories about what happens to kids in foster care, and wants desperately to protect them from that. The Shoars are concerned because their children have reportedly been sick quite frequently since entering foster care.
“The CPS is traumatizing our kids.” They reportedly cry and beg their parents to let them come home, but their parents are powerless to do anything.
The Shoars have named a star after their little girl, who would have turned 4 on December 19. The star “Khloe Madison” is in the Sagittarius constellation. “This star shines for you in your memory.” Tabitha hopes that knowing that there is a star in the sky looking down on them in their sister’s name will somehow bring comfort to their other children.
A Family Torn Apart During Time of Tragedy
Jeff and Tabitha want answers, but more than anything, they want their kids back, these children whom they love “more than anything in the world.”
Tabitha says, “I want my kids to know that I will always fight for them.” The Shoars have suffered the tragic unexplained death of one of their children. How cruel to have to suffer the loss and separation from the rest of their children.
Mr. Charles Flanagan is the Director of DCS/CPS in Arizona. He may be reached at 1-602-542-5844. Concerned citizens might want to ask him how his agency can think that it is acceptable to attempt to terminate parents’ rights when no charges have been filed against them, and there are allegedly no signs of abuse.
Newly elected Governor Doug Ducey can be reached by phone or email here.
For those who want to follow the Shoars family story and support them in their struggle to get their kids back, there is a Facebook page set up:
Freedom and Justice for the Shoars Family. #justice4shoars
The next court hearing is on Friday, January 16, at 9 am at the Family Courthouse at 3131 West Durango, Phoenix. The family welcomes people to come to the courthouse in support.
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