Mitchell Samuel with mom on swing

Lisa Mitchell at a visit with Samuel, age 14 in this photo. The marks on his forehead and hand are from restraints used on him. Lisa reports that he frequently showed bruises and scabs from the abuse and restraints in state care. Source: Mitchell family.

Lisa was interviewed by Tammi Stefano on the National Safe Child Show:

Colorado Mom Loses Medically Kidnapped Son’s Childhood – Now Reveals State Corruption

by Health Impact News/ Staff

When 6 year old Samuel Mitchell had difficulties in school stemming from a brain injury at birth, his mother sought help. Eventually, Child Protective Services of Colorado decided that they could do a better job of caring for Samuel, and they seized him from his family and locked him away in a facility where they turned him into a medical guinea pig. He spent years being heavily drugged, and when his mother and the ACLU investigated and exposed some of the corruption, there was retaliation. Now, Samuel is 18, falsely imprisoned for charges with no evidence that a crime actually occurred, and his mother Lisa Mitchell is working to unravel and expose the years of harm done to her son.

This family’s story is just the tip of the iceberg of the horrific drugging of foster children and children who are hidden away in America’s institutions and mental health facilities. Samuel has a mother who is willing to fight for him and investigate the system to expose and change the nightmare life that children in his situation face, and he is still trapped in the system. How many children like him have no one to speak up for them?

But this is a people plundered and looted, all of them trapped in pits or hidden away in prisons.
They have become plunder, with no one to rescue them; they have been made loot, with no one to say, ‘Send them back.’

Which of you will listen to this or pay close attention in time to come?  Isaiah 42:22-23 (NIV Bible)

Lisa Mitchell and her son hope that you will pay attention.

Birth Trauma and Following the Vaccine Schedule – Health Problems Emerge

Samuel was born in Texas in 1997 and is the youngest of 4 children. Other than a bout with a giardia infection and medication to treat that, Lisa’s pregnancy was normal. However, during the birth, Samuel’s heart rate indicated signs of trouble. After a vacuum extractor was used, he was born blue with the cord around his neck twice. Having the umbilical cord around the baby’s neck is a fairly common, and usually harmless, occurrence in birth, but in Samuel’s case, he suffered some oxygen deprivation and brain injury. Numerous doctors later linked the birth trauma to his intellectual impairment.

He was fully vaccinated according to recommended pediatric vaccine schedule.

He was happy as a baby. By age 2, Samuel showed signs of cognitive and emotional difficulties. When he was 3, Lisa met with a therapist about concerns for her son.

Heavy Psych Drugs Given at Age 6

When Samuel was 6 years old and in school, it became apparent that Samuel needed help. He was having difficulty concentrating and was having angry outbursts. Lisa was shocked when the medical professionals she consulted prescribed 6 psychotropic drugs in one sitting. However, she reports that she was scared for her son, so she complied.

I did not know then, that was going to change my son’s life for the next 12 years.

Mitchell young Samuel school

Samuel Mitchell at age 6, already on 6 psychotropic medications. Source: Mitchell family.

Before he was 7 years old, psychiatrists had already diagnosed him with bipolar disorder, anxiety, and ADHD, and he began more than a decade of ever changing dosages and doctors’ experimentation with heavy-duty psychotropic medications. Medical records show that Samuel was on 5 to 6 medications at a time from that point on.

Family Moves to Colorado in Search of Better Care

Within 6 months of Samuel beginning the medications, Lisa reports that her son became “delusional, violent, aggressive, and suicidal.” At the time, Lisa did not connect the escalation of symptoms to the drugs, but believed that he was ill and needed more help.

Doctors treated Samuel with staggering cocktails of drugs, but his problems did not go away. They got worse. He qualified for Social Security Disability and went on Medicaid. His IQ has been tested several times reflecting a score of around 70, indicating borderline intelligence.

In 2005, Lisa packed up her family and moved to Colorado in order to be close to a children’s residential treatment program that she hoped would help Samuel. She and the children’s father had divorced in 2000, and he remained in Texas. Lisa left behind a beautiful home, but she had high hopes that Samuel would be helped in the new setting.

When the new treatment center “doped up” her son even more, Lisa questioned the doctors, asking why so many drugs were being given, but she says that her concerns were dismissed by “arrogant doctors.”

Child Protective Services Gets Involved

Things escalated one day in 2007. A therapist was transporting Samuel in her car for a routine visit home with his family. He reportedly became scared and had a meltdown in the front seat. The therapist put him in a restraint. During the process, he scratched her car. Lisa reports that the police came to the scene and charged her 10 year old intellectually challenged boy with 3rd degree assault.

Based on that incident, a Child Protective Services case worker from the Department of Human Services (DHS) got involved and appointed a GAL. Charges against Samuel were later dropped due to findings of his incompetency. But DHS already had a foot in the door, and as many families have reported to Health Impact News, once the state agency gets involved in a family, it is hard to get them out of their lives.

No Legitimate Reason for State to Seize Samuel, But They Did

Later that year, DHS seized Samuel from his family, for no other reason than that they believed they could do a better a job of caring for him. 

Weld County DHS also seized Samuel’s Social Security benefits. During the exchange of discovery in their federal lawsuit in 2015, Lisa learned that DHS had been submitting false information to the Social Security Administration for 8 years, stating that Lisa, as Samuel’s legal representative, approved of all such information. She did not even know about it.

In 2010 DHS filed a Dependency and Neglect order for Samuel without any accusations of abuse or neglect. Their rationale presented to the court was that, by DHS having custody, the state of Colorado could pay for his care. Lisa argued that Medicaid was already paying for his care, but to no avail. They seized Samuel without any legal grounds and placed him in a mental health facility. DHS reportedly used Samuel’s SSI benefits to abuse, neglect, and over-drug him for the next 8 years.

According to one court document:

The only reason why the Dependency and Neglect Action was initiated in this case was to provide Samuel with needed mental health treatment; there was no triggering event of abuse and neglect that Lisa allegedly committed.

According to Colorado’s Child Mental Health Treatment Act, children with mental health needs whose parents cannot afford their treatment must be provided mental health services, without the need to remove the children from the home. An earlier version of the law was in place at the time Samuel was taken, but this aspect was the same then as it is now.

Samuel’s removal from his home violated that act. It is clear to his mother that the state never should have seized Samuel from his family, but they did. The other children remained in the home. Lisa Mitchell has been fighting to get Samuel back ever since.

At no time since did Lisa ever lose her parental rights on paper, but in reality, she may as well have, because things happened to her son that she had no control over. She says that she could not protect him and she could not stop the drugging.

Samuel was housed in multiple facilities from 2007 to 2009. Then he was moved to a facility that was a 280 mile round trip drive away from their home. Despite the financial hardship, Lisa made the long drive almost every weekend from 2009 to 2015 in order to be able to visit her son.

Medical Guinea Pig

It has only been in recent years that Lisa has been able to put pieces together about what happened to her son since the state of Colorado seized him, and it is a very ugly tale of fraud, kickbacks to doctors, abuse, and experimentation, all at the expense of her son and others who are trapped in the system.

Mitchell young Samuel with mom

Samuel with his mom – happy at home before all the drugging started. Source: Mitchell family

Between 2003 and 2014, between the various psychiatrists and treatment facilities, Samuel has been prescribed more than 20 different drugs, including heavy psychotropics and antidepressants. Medical records include Seroquel, Zoloft, Wellbutrin, Adderall, Ritalin, Abilify, Tenex, Concerta, Lexapro, Clonidine, Trileptal, Valium, Strattera, Lithium, Risperdal, Topomax, Inderal, Ativan, Depakote, Celexa, Quetiapine, and Prozac. At most times, he was on 5 to 6 of these at one time, with ever-changing dosages and combinations. Most of these medications were prescribed to Samuel without Lisa’s informed consent.

Prozac is the only medication approved by the FDA for treating depression in children. All other medications are used off-label for that purpose. Yet, the New York Times reports that the makers of the drug, Eli Lilly, has faced multiple lawsuits dating back to 1990 for “gross negligence” for failure to adequately warn doctors that Prozac “may sometimes set off aggressive, violent or suicidal behavior.” It was Prozac that was the drug that prompted the first of the black box warning labels on psychotropic drugs for children and adolescents.

In 2003, the FDA began to alert doctors that children and teens taking an SSRI might be prone to thoughts of suicide. It added new warnings in 2004 and mandated that SSRIs carry a “black box” warning—so called because it is prominently placed in a black box on the label. 

In fact, the majority of the mind-altering drugs that Samuel was prescribed include black box warning labels by the FDA – the strongest warning that is issued by the organization.

According to Lisa:

It’s amazing that my child is still alive! He was a pharmaceutical guinea pig.

As we have previously reported here at Health Impact News, there are federal laws in place that allow the State to take custody of a child for purposes of using that child in drug experiments. Once a ward of the State, the child’s medical expenses are fully covered and no parental or insurance approval is needed. Therefore, even experimental drugs not yet approved by the FDA can be administered.


Medical Kidnapping in the U.S. – Kidnapping Children for Drug Trials 

All Foster Children in Colorado Heavily Drugged

The Denver Post investigated the drugging of foster children, like Samuel, in a series in 2012. They found that:

Foster kids in 2012 were prescribed anti-psychotics at 12 times the rate of other children on government insurance, which has raised alarms that the drugs are overprescribed to a vulnerable group. Source.


High rates of psychotropic drug use among poor and foster children didn’t occur by mistake, government investigators say. Court documents filed in health care false-claims lawsuits show that drug companies closely tracked the prescribing habits of doctors in the Medicaid program, which pays the health care of the poor, including foster children.

In Colorado, nine of the top 10 most prescribed drugs for foster children in the Medicaid program are psychotropics, according to the most recently available data. In contrast, for non-foster children, only one psychotropic is among the top 10 most prescribed drugs in Medicaid. Source.

Colorado is certainly not alone in this. All around the country, children in state care are much more likely to be prescribed these dangerous drugs.


Foster Care Abuse: Drugging Children Against Their Will

California’s Crisis: 1 Out of Every 4 Children in California’s Foster Care Prescribed Powerful Psychiatric Drugs

Kids in Foster Care 3 Times As Likely To Get Psych Drugs

“You’re worth a lot of money” – Prescribing Psychotropic Drugs is Big Money for Doctors

Whistleblowers have exposed the corrupt marketing tactics and illegal kickback schemes used by major pharmaceutical companies to target pediatric doctors and psychiatrists to prescribe the antidepressants and psychotropic drugs to children for off-label uses. While it is not illegal for doctors to prescribe drugs off-label, it is illegal for the drug companies to market them for off-label use. Safety and effectiveness studies are not done on medications for off-label use, so the patients prescribed these drugs essentially become guinea pigs for doctors to experiment.

Some doctors do more of this experimentation than others, and the payoffs can be huge. Dr. John T. Hardy, an adolescent and child psychiatrist, has treated Samuel Mitchell many times over the years, and has prescribed many dangerous drugs to him.

According to Dollars for Docs, a Propublica database where users can search to find how much money a doctor has been paid by pharmaceutical companies, Dr. Hardy is the top doctor in his specialty in the state of Colorado for payouts from drug companies. In a 16 month period in 2013-2015, he was paid more than $280,000 by pharmaceutical companies.

$110K of that was from the makers of Abilify, a drug that is linked to hypersexuality, compulsive gambling, and other obsessive compulsive behavior. There have been numerous lawsuits filed against Otsuka and Bristol-Myers over the psychotropic drug. Dr. Hardy received large sums of money from the manufacturer, primarily for promotional speaking, travel, and lodging.

When children in foster care are prescribed medications, the cost is billed to Medicaid. Thus, taxpayers foot the bill for some very expensive drugs, drugs which are not even supposed to be prescribed to children. Over the years, Samuel took between 10 mg. a day of Abilify up to 2 doses of 20 mg. per day. According to, Abilify ranges from $717 for a 30 day supply of 10 mg tablets up to greater than $2400 for a month’s supply of 2 20 mg tablets per day. The drug is reportedly one of the top drugs that psychiatrists in Colorado prescribe to children in foster care.

This is just one of the drugs that Samuel was prescribed while he was in DSS custody. Lisa Mitchell wants to know how much money was made by Dr. Hardy and others for prescribing these drugs to her son. She says that her son’s Guardian ad Litem (GAL) once told Samuel:

You’re worth a lot of money.

Sexually Abused in the Residential Facilities

The drugging was only part of the horrors that Samuel faced while he was warehoused in El Pueblo Boys and Girls Ranch from 2009 to 2015. Lisa reports that, on many occasions, Samuel had bruises, scabs, and other marks on his body from restraints used on him at the facility. She also reports that the controversial and dangerous “prone restraint” technique was used on her son. Prone restraint has been associated with a number of deaths, and is banned in Colorado with disabled children.

Lisa reports that people at the facility sat on Samuel, kicked him in the groin, choked him, battered and bruised him all over his body – that was just in 2012. He was bitten and assaulted numerous times by other children in the facility.

He was a mess, and nobody cared but me.

Mitchell Samuel with mom mountains

Samuel with his mom at a visit. He was 12. Lisa says that the medications caused him to gain weight. Source: Mitchell family.

Samuel was allegedly sexually assaulted under state care. Lisa said that, at one point his urine was orange, his scrotum was purple, and he was in pain before they got around to taking him for medical treatment. He was tested annually for several years for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases, yet Lisa still has not been able to get any records showing why he was tested. His mother questions whether or not this was Medicaid fraud (since Medicaid was billed for the tests), or if he actually has a sexually transmitted disease but they won’t tell her. To date, Lisa still does not know the answer to this question.

What she does know is that, at age 12, Samuel disclosed that he had sex with an older female who allegedly pursued him two years prior. That would have been at the previous residential facility when he was just 10 years old. There was never an investigation, and no one was ever charged.

Medical reports state that Samuel sometimes displayed anger issues. When he was 10, a therapist noted:

Samuel also gets easily upset when he feels he will never go home, or may have to go to a foster home. Samuel’s anger can result in verbal threats, rages, running away and physical acting out.

One report when he was 14 states that he had:

worsening behavior after he was told he cannot return home to mom ….

What did they expect? Instead of looking at this as normal responses to being held in captivity, the solution was to drug Samuel even more.

Solitary Confinement Stopped By ACLU Investigation

There were a number of times when Samuel spent time at one of the “reflection cottages,” which are drab, bare cottages where residents would spend time in solitary confinement, often for days or weeks at a time. According to Colorado law, no prisoner or patient is to be in solitary confinement for more than 2 hours at a time.

In 2013, the ACLU investigated allegations of cruel treatment of youth in the reflection cottages, and many of the allegations were discovered to be founded, based on inspections and interviews with some staff as well as former and current residents, including Samuel. The ACLU demanded that use of the cottages be suspended, based on their investigation:

Children are forbidden to speak with others and must ask permission to use the bathroom. Children are not allowed to go outside or provided opportunity for exercise.

Mitchell Reflection cottage photo

The rooms in the Reflection Cottages are bare, with only a concrete slab. Bedding was usually given out at the end of the day. Source.

The ACLU was able to get these solitary confinement cottages shut down, but the victory was short-lived. El Pueblo has reopened the cottages, asserting that their use was not abusive.

Retaliation for Exposing Corruption

It was in 2012-2013 that Lisa was able to obtain some of Samuel’s medical records and she started seeing just how drugged her son was. She hadn’t really put the pieces together before that, but when the pieces starting coming together, Lisa jumped into the middle of it, working to expose the corruption.

Whistleblowers were exposing the corruption of the drug companies targeting children with off-label use of psychotropic drugs. Lawsuits against the drug companies were being filed which exposed dangerous side-effects that had not been disclosed by the manufacturers. The Denver Post began investigating the drugging of children in foster care, and psychiatrists who were lining their pockets at the expense of these kids. The ACLU was investigating El Pueblo’s reflection cottages. All in all, it was a bad year for the mental health treatment center and psychiatrists.

That was when she says she believes that there began to be retaliation against Samuel and the rest of the kids who spoke with the ACLU and drew state scrutiny to bear on El Pueblo Treatment Center.


El Pueblo Boys and Girls Ranch Treatment Center. Source.

As Lisa learned more about the dangers of the medications her son was on, she realized that all the years of Samuel being drugged by the psychiatrists never helped him, but, in fact, the drugs CAUSED the problems. She demanded that he be taken off of the drugs. She wrote letters, contacted media, and talked with legislators. She has even been able to get laws changed in Colorado.

One therapist wrote in Samuel’s Medical Evaluation review that:

He states his ‘mother wants me to stop Prozac.’

In response, the therapist recommended:

Don’t stop Prozac.

Ironically, he also wrote that Samuel’s current diagnosis was “Oppositional Defiant Disorder.” Earlier that year, Lisa had written asking that he not be put on Prozac, but they did so anyway. She believes that it was out of spite.

Mitchell Samuel in car

Samuel at age 14. Note the marks on his face from restraints. This is the latest photo that Lisa has been able to take of her son, who is now 18. Source: Mitchell family.

When Samuel turned 16 in June 2013, the jurisdiction for DHS to hold him ended, but it took Lisa going to court and filing suit to get him released from their custody, custody which they never legally should have had in the first place.

But they allegedly did not want him to get out of the system. Lisa began to be afraid they were never going to let him go. Though no charges were filed against Samuel while he resided in residential treatment centers up until this time, charges suddenly began to be made against him.

Samuel began to face accusations of various charges of assault. Lisa reports that about half of those were self defense. Somehow, Samuel was persuaded to plead guilty to some of the charges. His mother says that he was lied to, that if he pleaded guilty, “they would take care of it.” Those cases are being appealed. All of the allegations occurred while Samuel was under the influence of mind-altering drugs, including the recently prescribed Prozac.

However, one bizarre charge of sexual assault remained.

Charges Pressed With No Evidence a Crime Actually Occurred

Not long before Samuel would have been able to go home with his family, he was accused of raping another boy in the facility. Samuel, who had just turned 16, denies any part of it. The alleged incident was not reported until the next day after it was supposed to have occurred. The boy was taken to the hospital for a rape kit. All tests came back negative for any presence of sperm or seminal fluid. The boy reported no pain or trauma. Later, the boy reportedly said he didn’t know if he dreamed it, or made it up, or what. He didn’t remember.

Nonetheless, prosecutors proceeded with charges of felony sexual assault. In order to take the case to trial, Samuel would have to be declared “competent” to stand trial, because it is illegal to sentence someone who is incompetent to jail.

Three different experts over the years have declared him to be incompetent. He has been incompetent and on disability since 2003. Lisa says that DSS “doctor shopped” in the effort to find someone who would declare her intellectually challenged son to be competent. They found one from the Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo who somehow declared that he was competent to stand trial. (That finding has again been reversed, but not before the damage was done.)

Before the trial, Samuel’s defense attorney filed a motion for the charges to be dismissed based on DNA evidence:

I am arguing that in the interest of justice as it effects Sam’s placement options that this case be dismissed now that the DNA results provide clear exculpatory evidence.

This is not a guaranteed outcome; this particular DA may not give up the fight without a trial even in the face of such clear evidence of Samuel’s innocence.

The charges were not dismissed, and the boy who had been drugged most of his life, had an IQ of around 70, and had been on disability for mental impairment since the age of 6, faced a trial in juvenile court.

Mitchell Samuel in TX school

Samuel Mitchell, drugged since age 6. Source: Mitchell family.

The prosecution’s opening statement began thus:

This is a juvenile sexual assault case with a lesser charge of sexual contact. The prosecuting attorney does not have any evidence of the charge ….

The court found Samuel not guilty of the felony charge in May 2015, but despite the lack of evidence that a crime even occurred, Samuel was found guilty of a misdemeanor sexual assault charge. His mother says that he cried his eyes out. She believes that the charges are retaliation for their participation in whistleblowing.

Samuel is currently in jail in his 10th month of his sentence of 0-2 years. They are appealing the verdict. If it is not overturned, Samuel will be required to register as a sex offender.

Finally No More Drugs – But Childhood Memories Lost

Lisa Mitchell has vowed to keep fighting for her son. The Dependency and Neglect case, through which DHS seized custody of Samuel absent any charges of abuse or neglect, was closed in August 2015.

Samuel is finally drug-free, and has been for about a year and a half. He is still mentally impaired, but Lisa says that he is functioning better. He is somewhat depressed, simply because of where he is, but he hasn’t had any discipline problems at all since he has been off of the medications. The drugs are not completely out of his system yet, but he is making progress. Lisa reports:

He doesn’t remember most of his childhood, because he was so drugged up.

He Can Sense God’s Presence Now

One of the greatest outcomes to Samuel of being drug free is his renewed faith. He prays and has been reading his Bible throughout this experience. But for many years, he told his mom that he couldn’t feel God’s presence. He now realizes that it was the drugs.

Since he got off of the drugs, now he says that he can feel God and sense His presence. He reassures his mother:

I know God’s going to help us, Mom.

Lisa’s voice broke as she told Health Impact News:

They even drugged God out of my child!

The Fight for Samuel Continues

Since Samuel was declared competent to stand trial, he had the right to request his own competency testing. In August, he participated in a Neuropsychological Screening Evaluation. The examiner evaluated Samuel and examined the previous competency/incompetency findings. He found that Samuel is, in fact, incompetent. He functions on about a 5th grade level, even without being drugged.

Lisa recently filed for guardianship of Samuel, and was granted unlimited guardianship. The court deemed Samuel “incapacitated.” She now has access to his medical records. She has been petitioning for years for his records, which were court ordered to have been given to her in 2012, but Lisa says they are still “hiding” some of the records. Samuel has also asked for his records, but his requests were denied as well.

Lisa vows to keep fighting for her son, and for other families. She says that many parents in similar situations blame their kids, but she now realizes that it’s the drugs which account for much bad behavior.

It’s the tearing down of the American family.

They want you to go away.

They want you to give up.

They want to make you do whatever they want you to do.

About corrupt social workers and corrupt psychiatrists, she says:

You can choose to give kids fraudulent drugs, and you can commit Medicaid fraud, but you will always have people like me who won’t stop till I see you in jail.

How You Can Help

There is a Facebook page set up for Samuel, called Denied Innocence: Free Samuel Mitchell.

Mitchell FB page

Lisa Mitchell states several goals that she would love to see happen:

  • She wants Samuel home.
  • She wants the governor to overturn the case.
  • She wants his records to be expunged.
  • She would like for the governor to investigate the drugging of children, the alleged Medicaid fraud, and the role of psychiatrists in all of this.
  • She wants to make it a felony to prescribe “off label” psychotropic drugs not approved by the FDA for pediatric use.
  • The Mitchells need a good attorney to step forward to help with the appeal. They have a court-appointed attorney, but she will likely not be able to get to their case for at least a year.
  • She proposes “Samuel’s Law” – which would mandate prison for state officials, including case/social workers, GALs, treatment center personnel and CEOs who abuse or fail to protect children in their care. After all, child abuse is child abuse and negligence is negligence.

Colorado’s governor is John Higgenlooper. He may be reached at 303-866-2471, or contacted here.

Representative Ken Summers represents the district where Lisa Mitchell currently lives. He may be reached at 303-886-2927, or contacted here.

Mike Kopp is the Senator representing her district. He may be reached at 303-886-4859, or contacted here.

Comment on this story here.

See Also:

The U.S. Foster Care System: Modern Day Slavery and Child Trafficking