Chase Harrison has a new playmate in the great steam cooker in the sky. The Athens Banner-Herald (Georgia) reports that Jessica Scovil, of Nicholson, was found dead Tuesday of heat stroke after being left in a minivan by her FOSTER MOTHER for least two hours (reports vary) in 80+ degree heat. Her core temperature, measured at the hospital, was above 108 degrees. Jessica was one day short of 9 months old.

According to the report: foster mother Wendy Osborn, 29,

told sheriff’s investigators that she came home from a doctor’s appointment shortly before 3 p.m., unloaded two adopted 3-year-old girls from the van and went inside. Once inside, Osborne lay down for a nap while the other two children played. She woke up about 5 p.m., Cochran said, and rushed outside to find Jessica unresponsive in her car seat.

Osborne was reportedly taking medication that might have made her sleepy and disoriented.

Jessica’s parents, Evelyn Carter and Robert Scovil , only learned of the death on Wednesday. Jessica was removed from the couple in April because Carver had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, but says that medication lets her lead a normal life. Normal that is, to everybody but DYFS, who apparently got involved in the reproductive lives of Carver and Stovil even before Jessica’s birth (see Fox News below).

It gets worse. According to Crandall Heard, the public defender representing Carter and Scovil , Jessica could have been returned to the couple weeks ago:

“This mom is a good lady,” Heard said. “She’s done everything I have asked her to do to get her child back, and so has the father. I could not have had two people do more to get their child back. … If there had been cooperation on both sides, we could have had this cleared up weeks ago. But we weren’t getting any cooperation, so we were having to go back to court.”

…(Division of Family and Children Services officials) were telling my clients that, ‘We don’t think they’re able to take care of their child right now,’ ” Heard said. “Instead of sending her home, they sent her to a home where she eventually died.”

A custody hearing was scheduled for September 16, and it’s believed Jessica would have been returned to them then. Two other foster daughters, 15 and 16, have been removed from the Osborne home and placed elsewhere pending the investigation. One of the girls returning home from school, reportedly asked Osborne where Jessica was, sending Osborne dashing to the car.

Heard says Scovil and Carver plan to meet with the Jackson County District Attorney next week to request charges be filed against Osborne. Robert Scovil says, “Somebody needs to be held responsible for this.”

Go to Fox News-Atlanta for a video interview with Carter and Scovil. Reporter Stacy Elgin says:

Carter said she wanted to be a good mother, attended parenting classes every week during her pregnancy and then continued them even after her child was born.

Too bad somebody didn’t send Wendy Osborne to parenting school.


Here is Jessica’s obituary. It appears she had plenty of extended family who could have cared for her while her mother attended classes and received treatment. Why was she sent to the Osbornes who already had their hands full with 2 toddlers and 2 teenagers?

ADDENDA: Lainie Petersen has written an excellent blog on the Scovils: Taking Away Parenthood: Jessica Scovil and the Media’s Use of the B Word.


  1. My heart weeps for Jessica and her parents.
    screwed up systems that stuff everyones lives up.
    clearly the Woman Osborne had too much on her plate , was unwell herself and not used to have a baby on top of her other 4 children, this sort of mistake was BOUND to happen
    But yet two parents busting their asses to raise their child are denied due to bureaucratic bungling red tape
    And now their child is DEAD.
    And whats the bet that the death of the mothers child at the hands of another is now going to tip her over the edge with her disease

  2. The fosterer left TWO THREE YEAR olds to play while she napped. I don’t care what type of meds one is on three year olds NEED supervision.

    Sounds like this is a case of taking too much on for what a nice paycheck?

    I wonder why she couldn’t have waited for the older girls to get home before napping?

    Neglect, pure and simple and now the baby left in the car is dead, and her parents, will forever grieve for something that shouldn’t have happened in the first place.

    There are tons of people raising kids with many issues. But when it comes to foster care the state jumps the gun but doesn’t seem to do it when it comes to releasing the kids back to parents that have proved they are jumping through the hoops.

    When does social services have to be held accountable for these deaths? Talk about neglect that’s is just beyond comprehension.

  3. ” It appears she had plenty of extended family who could have cared for her while her mother attended classes and received treatment. Why was she sent to the Osbornes who already had their hands full with 2 toddlers and 2 teenagers? “
    Absolutely. These parents were clearly good people who just needed a little help over a tough spot. It certainly doesn’t sound as if it was ever necessary to remove their child from its family.

    But instead, they took her. And like the man said, “If there had been cooperation on both sides, we could have had this cleared up weeks ago. But we weren’t getting any cooperation . . . “

  4. This makes me sick. Goddamn beauracracy!!!! Makes my blood run cold, especially since years later I heard that my son as an infant was in a foster home with too many other kids. Poor little baby and her family and shame, shame shame on state authorites who caused this.

  5. This is what happens when bureaucrats play God. Back in the days of us Senior Mothers, Social Workers had just been granted their precious “professional” status. I don’t like what they decided to do with it. This is an extreme tragedy and the epitome of an outrage.

  6. I have to say the writer of this blog and everyone that has responded to it are idiots. I am a personal friend of Chris and Wendy. I can personally tell you that they did everything right. They are good Christian people who have brought every foster kid that they have had up in church. They have done everything that good parents could possibly do. They led in their church giving every foster kid in Jackson County a Bible, they have been involved in parenting classes and have taught them (if that lets you know how good of parents they are). Anyone who knows anything about the body, science and medicine, knows that medicines react differently with different people. So for you idiots it was the medicine that knocked her out, and it was clearly an accident. It is bad enough that Wendy will have to live with this the rest of her life, she doesn’t deserve it, much less any jail time. As for Jessica’s parents, I am sorry for their loss. Jessica was a very pretty and adorable baby. The mother would never be allowed to have full custody of the child, not with schizophrenia. The father may have. They courts would see the mother as high risk. As why they didn’t give it to other family. Unless they gave her to grandparents, they are going to give her to foster parents, because foster parents have been through a screening process and approved. The child can go to immediate family or they are going to be in foster care. And foster care isn’t always permanent. It can be temporary as the parents take steps to be seen a fit parents. I have witnessed it in my own family. I can tell the people here have no idea of what they are talking about and are only using their emotions. You have that right, but some advise you sound stupid when you have no idea what the situation is or what is going on. You are only hearing one side of the story and opinions and bias. Do your research before opening your mouth or making comments. The only thing that can be done in this situation is pray for the parties. My prayers are out for Jessica’s family and Chris and Wendy, as well as their other foster kids ( who I hope they get back. If only you knew the changes they have made in those girls lives). If anyone wants to know how much I respect Wendy and trust her caregiving abilities, I am an expecting father, and would not hesitate to leave my child with her.

  7. Josh:

    As a personal friend, perhaps you need to take step back and a deep breath. Few, if any, of us do everything right. And when we do, people don’t die.

    I don’t care if they’re good Christians, Muslims, Jews or Scientolgists, whether they attended mass, prayers,or temple.
    Nor am I impressed that they gave every foster child in the county a Bible. (To the contrary, if the County was a party to that, I’m offended. I don’t suppose they’d allow me to give each one a copy of Arthur C. Clarke’s “The Star”, would they? Read it before replying.)

    I can’t comment on whether their involvement in teaching parenting classes is a positive or not. I suspect, from your description, that I would find the content to be Bible-based and, therefore, suspect in my eyes.

    Yes, different people react to drugs differently. I don’t know what she was taking or when she took it: before or after leaving the child in the car. The drugs most likely came with warnings about their potential adverse effects, including information about drowsiness and driving while using the drugs if those are common effects.

    Yes, it no doubt was an accident. And accidents do happen to us all. Most, however, are preventable. That’s why, in our prevailing legal and ethical systems, fault becomes a consideration. Call it negligence, carelessness, or a mistake, it’s still a matter of fault to some degree. Time will tell whether anyone is prosecuted, convicted or sentenced for any crime.

    As for leaving your child in her care: that would be your choice. How would your wife feel about it, do you think?

  8. It is still reprehensible and inexcusable to make the kind of “mistake” that causes the death of an innocent child in one’s care, especially such an avoidable mistake. Why is it that women from my mother-in-law’s or my grandmother’s generation who bore 7, 8, or more children could keep their big broods safe? It’s a matter of priorities, period.

    We need to demand the very best from those who care for the children in foster care. Right now, nothing in this benighted system of either adoption or fostering is as child-centered as it should be.

    Real good Christian values there, Josh…calling people “idiots” when you can’t even use a proper adjective. It’s EXPECTANT, not “expecting.” In the same vein, read what the Bible says about anyone who would call someone a fool….

  9. If she really cared about the baby Josh, she would of known her “medication” would of made her sleepy, and with a toddler and two 3 year olds running around, she shouldn’t of taken it and asked her doctor for something else that would not of made her sleepy. This just saounds like a conveinant excuse. She also would of known not to drive on it. She forgot to take Jessica out of the car BEFORE she took it. I mean look at the situation, she pulls in the driveway-and what is she supposed to do? Get the children out of the car and THEN go into the house, then take some pill. People who leave their children in their vehicles do so becasue the child is less important to them than other matters-it also shows that they are irresponsible in some way. I am speaking as single Mother who NEVER left her child in her car. An no on on this blog is an idiot. Everyone is just sick and tired of hearing how great the foster care system is compared to a child’s real parents who may want them and love them when SO many babies like Jessica are left to die so horribly and so helpless in intolerable heat. And don’t call yourself a Christian unless you act like one and Christ knows you don’t.

  10. Josh–You may call us idiots all you want, but we are also intimately involved with the US adoption and foster care systems. We know well the inadequacies and corruption in their respective industries. Apparently you either don’t know or don’t care.

    The state had no business placing Jessica with a foster provider who had 2 teens and a set of 3-year olds–a total lack of fiduciary reponsibility.

    None of us, including you, have any real knowledge Evelyn Carver’s mental condition, but it is clear that your knowledge of emergency child placement is lacking. Jessica could indeed have been placed with relatives outside of the grandparents. It happens all the time. Also, bi-polar disorder and schizophrenia are treatable and controllable with medication, which apparently Carver was on. These mental disorders do not preclude parenting. That she and Scovil were going to get Jessica back in a few days,if true, indicates that the court agrees.

    Finally, giving a Bible to all children in the Jackson County welfare system screams of religious indoctrination and suggests that the underlying goal of your friends was not child concern, but conversion. Why would county officials even pernit this?

    I’m not without sympathy for the foster parents. This is a horrible event that they will have to live with for the rest of their lives. But Wendy needs to take responsibility for her actions and the media needs to stop fawning over her. Couldn’t’ she have waited a couple hours for the teens or her husband to come home before she took her pills? She not only left Jessica in the car, but 2 3-year old alone to play for a few hours.

  11. The “screening process” Josh refers to failed miserably once again. Persons trusted to foster should be held to an even higher standard than merely “competent” parents.
    The fact that she considered taking any medication which she knew, or should have known, might make her drowsy shows that she did not have the childrens’ best interests in mind.

    Jessica was removed because Evelyn was diagnosed with bipolar disease? What kind of reason is that? I know of several families with bipolar represented in one or both parents and not one has “forgotten” about their children, unlike Ms. Osborne.

    Who is the better-qualified parent here?
    Certainly not Ms. Osborne.

    This case reeks of negligent homicide and Family and Childrens Services are complicit.

  12. Thanks, Jimm. I just posted something about negligent homicide on alt.adoption. Negligence need not have ill intent. In this case, it’s plain carelessness. Over 100 kids a year in the US die in hot cars. Hardly anyone ever goes to jail over it because he or she has “suffered enough.” The more affluent the perps are, the less they are likely to do time. If Wendy Osborne were a poor single mother struggling to get by, she’d get the book thrown at her.

  13. I’d guess involuntary manslaughter with criminal negligence.
    According to these statistics http://ggweather.com/heat/ approximately half the kids who’ve died in cars over the last few years have been ‘forgotten’ by caretakers.

    It seems a little ironic that although the medication taken by Evelyn Carver allows her to lead a normal life, that wasn’t enough to prevent DYFS from removing her child from her.

    Yet the medicine taken by Wendy Osborne is being touted as a reason she shouldn’t be held responsible for ‘forgetting’ Jessica.

  14. I’m sure the Wendy Osborne’s lawyer would love to read these comments from their friends.

    The fact is, you people know nothing about adoption or foster care and we live it. All you know is that your friend committed a horrific bit of carelessness and a baby–someone else’s baby–is dead. Mrs. Osborne no doubt is in terrible pain. But Jessica is dead due to her carelessness and the stupid social engineering tricks by their local friendly “child welfare” agency folks.

  15. I know everyone is entitled to their own opinions…however NONE of you know the ENTIRE story except for Josh! She did NOT take any medication knowing the effects on her…she went to the doctor with the three year olds and the baby and the doctor gave her a shot in his office….SHE HAD NO IDEA OF THE EFFECT IT WOULD HAVE ON HER!!!
    As for Jessica’s parents, I don’t know them personally just know of them so I can’t say anything about them, but obviously there was a problem or she wouldn’t have been taken away. I do know however, because I HEARD Jessica’s father say…that her mother needed help and they were going to seek help for her before they wanted or needed baby Jessica back….SO THEY KNEW THEY COULD NOT CARE FOR HER! So, until you know the FULL FACTS, in which NONE of you do…don’t pass judgement!
    Baby Jessica you will be greatly missed, my prayers go out for Wendy, Chris, the teens, tolders, and baby Jessia’s parents!

  16. How arrogant these “Good Christians” are in their judgments. You people are the reason that many of us from the Era of Mass Surrender/BSE were herded together like brood mares and harvested for our infants. There might be a “speck in my eye but have you noticed that log in your own?”

    So, it’s OK for a foster caregiver who proselytizes to CHILDREN to neglect a child resulting in her death, but it’s not OK for a single or poor or otherwise in need of assistance mother to keep her child?

    Why don’t you self-righteous folks step up to the bar and help families stay together? Like handing out Bibles to CHILDREN is going to do some good? Sorry, but that doesn’t earn this woman a halo. If this was a young, single mom that had done this, you people would be all over her like a chicken on a June bug. What specious, inane, unbelievable arrogance. And people wonder why I was raised to go to church but refuse to go now……

    Marley, the fact that you even allowed any of them to post this pious baloney says a lot about your higher level of tolerance. Hats off, Kiddo!

  17. Had Jessica’s parents been the ones to leave their daughter in a hot car, they would have been crucified – another child who “should have been” taken from unfit parents. But a foster caregiver – no, it was an accident, we carefully screen these people…..

  18. Josh and Anonymous, please consider that Jessica was placed in foster care because Evelyn Carter looked for *help* to deal with her condition, and NOT because there were any charges of neglect or abuse against her. There weren’t, and never had been.

    She didn’t ask for her child to be taken – she asked for *help*. However, I’m confident that what ‘help’ that she got was not of the kind she’d hoped for – or needed.

    Nevertheless, she willingly complied with all the terms so that she could get her daughter back as soon as possible.
    And according to one report the family would have been reunited two weeks before Jessica died, only her return was stalled by lack of cooperation from DYFS.

    I feel great pity for Wendy Osborne. It was a terrible accident, and I can’t imagine she isn’t torn by shame and grief.
    But the higher one places oneself the further there is to fall, and voluntarily choosing to take on the care other people’s children is to take on an above-and-beyond and very particular responsibility.
    She deserves to be held accountable for failing to live up to that. It may well be that there are mitigating factors such as the medication to consider, but surely none that would be sufficient to wholly absolve her of negligence.

    IMO, it was the impersonal bureaucratic casual indifference of DYFS compounded by Wendy Osborne’s over-confidence that she could cope with so many children from such a wide range of ages, that set the stage for this tragedy to happen.

  19. Robin–I don’t know if it’s a high level of tolerance or what, but I like to get these kinds of comments on the record so others can see first hand what we all deal with here in Adoption-lala-Land.

    Jessica was prime white meat, only a few months beyond the newborn stage.She wasn’t abused or neglected and had no baggage. As the economy continues to tank and people become more financially and emotionally disempowered look for more of these tricks from foster- and adoptcrats.

    Will parents who genuinely need assistance in Jackson County turn to the state payrolled kleptos now? I hope there are other alternatives down there.

    When I was in college becoming a social work was a political act. In some cases a radical political act. It was, or seemed to be, a way to defeat poverty, to empower minorities and women. To beat th government. Sure it was an idealistic view, but it was real, and a lot of people went into the field with that in mind. I disabused myself of that notion early on–and I wasn’t cut out fot that kind of work anyway. The idealism died a long time ago and now its just a bunch of paternalistic hacks.

  20. anonymous said (regarding Jessica’s parents): “obviously there was a problem or she wouldn’t have been taken away.”

    This sort of specious remark shows exactly how little some people understand of the foster care and adoption systems.

    The only crime you have to commit to get your child taken away is to be too poor or disenfranchised to protest it. Don’t believe me? Go read the links in my blog, “If You Think Baby Selling Doesn’t Happen.” (73adoptee.blogspot.com) Pay particular attention to the Kentucky article.

    People assume that DCFS only gets involved if there’s cause. What they don’t know is that in some cases families are actually targeted for harvest of their children. There is a mentality that taking kids from poor families and giving them to rich ones via foster care or adoption is somehow “saving” them – and yes, very much the same mentality as those who think indoctrinating children by forcing Bibles on them is not only acceptable but a righteous duty. (I would love to see their reaction if I offered to give every kid in Jackson County a copy of Merlin Stone’s “When God Was A Woman.” I haven’t read Clarke’s “The Star” but I’m sure the same principle applies.)

    You can bet that if Wendy Osborne had been a single mother, this “mistake” would have had her kids taken from her faster than you can say spit. Similarly, if Jessica’s birth mother had been wealthy or influential, her child would never have been taken from her, bipolar disorder or no.

    If anybody doesn’t like what’s said here, tough. Wise up to the fact that the foster care and adoption system is corrupt.

  21. “I know everyone is entitled to their own opinions…however NONE of you know the ENTIRE story except for Josh! She did NOT take any medication knowing the effects on her…she went to the doctor with the three year olds and the baby and the doctor gave her a shot in his office….SHE HAD NO IDEA OF THE EFFECT IT WOULD HAVE ON HER!!!”

    Then fine, the doctor should be sued as well as Osborne put in jail for murder, because she should of thought as a responsible woman taking care of children, she didn’t know what effect the shot would have on her as she was driving around with three little ones in the car, AND SAID NO. The doctor should of been aware of this as well. Anyway you look at it, what is said to defend Osborne is LAME.

  22. IF YOU WILL READ….I said that the real parents of Jessica wanted help for the mother BEFORE getting Jessica back….THEY CHOSE TO GIVE HER UP SO THAT SHE COULD GET HELP!!!! THE SYSTEM DID NOT TAKE HER AWAY!!!! Open your eyes people….
    My heart weeps for Jessica and her parents…it is an awful thing that has happened, and I think about them often and pray for them daily.
    As for Wendy…with the comment that she shouldn’t have taken the shot without knowing the effects….THE MD SHOULDN’T have offered it much less given it…knowing she had three small children in her care!!!!

  23. I just came upon this website and have been reading your comments, I know I shouldn’t pass judgement, but Robin you are a complete idiot! May God be with you….you need it!


    I don’t see it that way. I think it’s far more than likely that ‘help’ was only available to Evelyn on the condition that Jessica was put in care – rather than “giving her up” was something she and her husband actually sought for itself.


    Well, they lost custody, didn’t they ?
    However, as Evelyn and Robert Scovil’s defense attorney said ” If there had been cooperation on both sides, we could have had this cleared up weeks ago.”

    He also said that loss of custody wasn’t related to any type of criminal charges, substance abuse or physical abuse. So why ?
    My guess is it’s because they didn’t have the financial means to get the practical support and medical help they needed at the time, and that they were offered no other alternative.

    Anonymous, I suggest you read Nancy Schaefer’s report.
    I provided the link in my previous response.

  25. Y’know what, Josh and Anonymous? Wendy should have called someone else when she knew she was having a reaction to the injection given her by the doctor (if that is even true). Surely there was time enough to pick up the phone and call her husband, mother, friend, and tell them…”I’m in trouble. Can you please come watch the children?” Instead, she brought her OWN children into the home, and neglected to safeguard the smallest and most vulnerable…I suspect the baby was probably sleeping – I hope she was – I hope she didn’t spend hours crying for attention or in pain –

    I’ve been a young mother with young children – You call for help when you need it. That’s the sensible thing to do. You don’t settle down for a nap with 2 3-year olds ramming around the house. Wendy is very fortunate that there weren’t 3 corpses to bury.

    I am sure she IS suffering/grieving. But I doubt it is as much as Jessica’s own mother and father.

    I’ve read two different stories about this – one that Wendy came home at 3 and slept until 5 and it was the foster kids asking about the baby – and then one where Wendy came home at 2 and slept until 5 and remembered the baby.

    Doesn’t sound like anyone knows what really happened.

    I feel sorry for all involved, but Jessica’s parents have a lot more of my sympathy. Jessica should have been with them.

    Opposed to CPS

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