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Child welfare officials knew of abuse concerns before 7-year-old’s hospitalization, death

Mother, stepfather face Jan. 18 hearing on murder charges in fatal beating

Image

Steve Marcus

Dina Palmer wipes away tears as she waits to make a court appearance at the Regional Justice Center Thursday, December 6, 2012. Dina Palmer and Markiece Palmer, left, are accused of killing 7-year-old Roderick Arrington.

Updated Thursday, Dec. 6, 2012 | 6:06 p.m.

Markiece and Dina Palmer Appear in Court

Markiece and Dina Palmer, the couple accused of killing 7-year-old Roderick Arrington, appear in court at the Regional Justice Center Thursday, December 6, 2012. Launch slideshow »
Roderick "RJ" Arrington, a second grader at Roundy Elementary School, was allegedly beaten to death by his parents in late November 2012, according to Metro Police.

Roderick "RJ" Arrington, a second grader at Roundy Elementary School, was allegedly beaten to death by his parents in late November 2012, according to Metro Police.

A day before 7-year-old Roderick "RJ" Arrington wound up in the hospital with injuries from an alleged beating that ultimately caused his death, child welfare authorities were notified with concerns about the boy.

Clark County Department of Family Services, in a public disclosure form dated Wednesday, said it had received a Child Protective Services report, taken Nov. 28, "alleging abuse and noting concerns as to the nature, type, and extent of physical discipline the child was possibly being subjected to in his home."

But officials indicated the report was "in the process of investigation when additional information was reported to the agency indicating the child had been transported to a local hospital and was listed as being in critical condition."

RJ Arrington died Friday, Nov. 29, a day after being transported to UMC after being unresponsive at home. A UMC doctor reported Arrington suffered from strokes and fixed pupils and had bruises on the arms, abdomen, back, legs, thighs and buttocks.

A source close to the situation said a teacher at Roundy Elementary School, where Arrington was a second-grader, had reported abuse concerns and the school notified CPS.

Dina Palmer, 27, Arrington's mother, and Markiece Palmer, 34, the boy's stepfather are being held without bail in the boy's death. They appeared Thursday morning in Las Vegas Township Justice Court, where Justice of the Peace Ann E. Zimmerman set their preliminary hearing for Jan. 18.

The mother, Dina Palmer, has been charged with single counts of murder; child abuse, neglect or endangerment with substantial bodily harm; and child neglect or endangerment with substantial bodily harm, according to the amended criminal complaint.

Her husband, Markiece Palmer, who was the boy's stepfather, has been charged with one count of murder and two counts of child abuse, neglect or endangerment with substantial bodily harm.

Public defender Tim O'Brien is representing Markiece Palmer; defense attorney Michael Sanft was appointed to represent Dina Palmer.

The Clark County Coroner's Office has not determined Arrington's official cause and manner of death.

About two or three months ago, Arrington moved to Las Vegas from Bloomington, Ill., where he lived with his maternal grandmother and natural father. This was the first time Markiece Palmer met Arrington, whom he described as an "outgoing, favorable and good kid," according to the arrest report.

During police interrogations, Markiece Palmer admitted to detectives that he hit the boy on multiple occasions using various household items such as his belt, a spatula and wooden paddle, as well as his hands, the report said. Although the mother initially denied her role in the beatings, Dina Palmer was present and participated, her husband told police, the report said.

Dina Palmer, who sat behind Markiece Palmer in the courtroom Thursday morning, cried throughout the brief hearing.

News of Arrington’s death has rattled the Boys and Girls Club of Bloomington-Normal in Illinois, where the 7-year-old was known as the “Reverend,” an ode to his passion for carrying a small Bible, said Whitney Thomas, a program coordinator at the organization.

Thomas, a family friend who has known Arrington his whole life, described the boy in a telephone interview Wednesday afternoon as a “happy-go-lucky child.”

“He was never in trouble,” Thomas said. “We never had to put him in timeout. There was nothing mean or angry about him.”

Thomas said Arrington primarily lived with his mother, until earlier this year when she moved to Las Vegas to be with Markiece Palmer. Arrington joined them several months later, Thomas said.

Staff members at the Boys and Girls Club of Bloomington-Normal were sad to see Arrington leave, but they didn’t have any indication he would be unsafe living with his mother, Thomas said.

“All of this was shocking because, honestly, RJ was her life before she met that guy,” Thomas said.

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  1. Can't wait for these two clowns to suffer in jail. have fun with that!

  2. These two look a lot worse for wear then their couples Facebook photo that was on the article from yesterday. I wonder if momma met new poppa online, moved and they got in to the wrong things in Vegas, and that poor child was the one to suffer their chioces and poor sense of direction in life.

    'Parents' like this, make me sick.

  3. Very commendable that the teacher and the school people reported it to CPS. But I know, from very personal experience, it takes days, weeks, even months for CPS to respond to a complaint. It should be a policy for all future "possible" abuse reports that the child cannot leave the school until a CPS representative arrives.

  4. Is it possible that these two were so ignorant and so uninformed that they were unaware of the abuse that they were inflicting on this child? Had they never heard of something like this happening before? It certainly seems unlikely. I feel no compassion for them at all because they had access to all the same information that most of the people in this city have and they chose to ignore it. They knew or should have known the dangers of inflicting corporal punishment on a child that young. Should they be found guilty or not, they both ought to volunteer for sterilization in order to prevent each other from passing on the "stupid" gene.

  5. When CPS receives a complaint, the FIRST priority should be getting the child to safety regardless. If that means having to call the police, then so be it. After the child is safe, THEN the investigation can start (or continue). It is so sad that the officials took so long to "investigate". How much "investigating" is involved when there are obvious physical signs a child is being abused and that possible abuse has been reported? The boy's teacher noticed it. Maybe after reading this story, people who suspect abuse, whether it is a child or an elderly person, they take the responsibility and be more aggressive since obviously the bureaucrats have to take their time and "investigate".

  6. That poor little boy. Beaten to death by his own Mother & Step father.

  7. I believe recommending any violence be done to these two while in or out of custody is unethical. I'm as appalled by their apparent actions as anyone else but I would not want to suggest--and I think others should follow--that they harmed in any way.

  8. This women who sheds tears does not do it on account of her dead son but more so on account of her being held accountable.

  9. While they may try, CPS CANNOT protect the children. If you do not have what it takes to treasure, protect and support your child, DON'T HAVE A KID. If you have kids but can't parent, please give them up for adoption while they are young enough to find adoptive homes. Many, many people should NOT be parents. It's not a criticism exactly. It's reality. Many people SHOULD devote themselves to careers and avocations. They can positively influence kids--nieces, nephews, cousins, neighbors.... Further, we as a society should NOT KEEP PAYING for people who are not parent material to keep having kids as a means to support themselves. OK, for TEMPORARY situations under a year or so and for first-time parents who might not comprehend what it takes--time to get it together and deal with it. But after that, we must cut-off funding for this DEPLORABLE WAY OF LIFE. There is something to be discerned when a parent is unable to hold a job year after year, when a parent can provide no positive role model. The answer is not for the government to come in and micro-manage family lifestyle. The "answer" is to not finance nor encourage poor choices.