Officials knew of no red flags before baby’s DeKalb hot car death

Officials knew of no red flags before baby’s DeKalb hot car death

Officials with state child protective agencies in Georgia and South Carolina said they knew of no problems with the family of Skylar Fowler before the 1-year-old died in a hot car.

The Division of Family and Children Services confirmed this week that it had no dealings with the family in Georgia, where the child and mother were visiting; officials in South Carolina, where they normally lived, confirmed the same late last week.

The fact that child welfare workers had apparently never been contacted about treatment of the child, who died in DeKalb County on June 15, adds another layer to the confusion in the case. Since the mother, Dijanelle Fowler, 25, was arrested last week, friends, family and even police have wondered how she could allegedly leave her daughter in the car for some six hours while getting her hair done.

The child’s father, 26-year-old Air Force reservist Louis Williams II, said he never saw the mother treat Skylar poorly or neglect her.

Dijanelle Fowler and her daughter Skylar in a photo posted to the mother's publicly-visible Facebook page in April. (Facebook photo)

“She definitely loved our daughter,” he told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution at his home in Goose Creek, South Carolina on Thursday. 

Williams, who was deployed near The Persian Gulf when Skylar died, stared down at the carpet in the living room. He stopped himself from saying more.

He is angry, grief-stricken and hurt about what happened to his daughter. But he said he has forgiven her mother, because he knows it’s what God would want.

Fowler, a former college basketball player now charged with second-degree murder, had apparently been in Atlanta for a job interview when she went to get her hair braided on Lavista Road. She works in medical billing and coding and had been staying with family in DeKalb, though it isn’t clear how long she was there before June 15.

DeKalb police have said they don’t think the death was intentional. Fowler left the air-conditioning running, but the car shut off at some point, letting the heat descend on Skylar. 

The salon allows children, but workers didn’t know Skylar was outside.

Capt. Jerry A. Lewis of DeKalb police’s major crime unit described Fowler as a seemingly “good kid” with no criminal record, who made a “horrible, horrible mistake.”

Lewis knew of no indications that Fowler could’ve been under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or having mental troubles.

Lewis said, as he understands it, Fowler brought Skylar to the salon for the 10 a.m. appointment at least partly because she was afraid to let others babysit.

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In other news:

The Governor suspended Sheriff Jeff Mann for 40 days over the accusations. Mann is due back in court on Thursday.

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