DFCS investigating alleged child abuse deaths

Eric Forbes and Emani Moss lived 60 miles apart. But together, their tragic deaths allegedly at the hands of their parents could spark changes for the state agency responsible for protecting children.

Georgia’s Department of Human Services Division of Family and Children Services said late Tuesday it is investigating its own actions in the lives of the two children.

“The loss of any child’s life is painful, but the details surrounding the deaths of both 12-year-old Eric Forbes and 10-year-old Emani Moss paint a picture more tragic than many in this agency’s history,” DFCS said in a statement. “Our hearts go out to those we know whose grief is inconsolable.”

The agency had investigated abuse allegations concerning both children prior to their deaths. But both children were allowed to remain in homes with their parents.

Emani was found dead early Saturday after her father called police to the family’s Gwinnett County apartment. When officers arrived, Eman Moss allegedly led them to the body of his daughter, who had been starved to death, burned and put in a trash can, Gwinnett police said.

Investigators believe Emani could have been dead for several days before her father called police. Both Eman Moss and Emani's stepmother, Tiffany Moss, were arrested and charged with murder in the girl's death. Police and court records obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution document the abuse Emani suffered during her short life.

News of Emani's death came three weeks and one day after a Paulding County father called police to say his son had drowned.

Shayaa Yusef Forbes, 32, made a frantic call to 911 shortly before 10 p.m. on Oct. 11.

“I thought he was in the tub, but when I went in to try and see him…,” Forbes told an operator, heard in the 911 recording obtained by The AJC. “He was a little bit underwater. His head was, like, bobbing.”

When emergency responders arrived at the family’s home near Acworth, they found 12-year-old Eric Forbes unconscious, according to Cpl. Ashley Henson with the Paulding County Sheriff’s Office. The sixth grader at McClure Middle School also had physical signs of severe child abuse, Henson said.

DFCS records show the agency had investigated reports that Eric was being abused, but those claims were dismissed due to a lack of evidence.

The two recent deaths have prompted the agency to review its actions while investigating abuse, the agency said.

“We are already moving forward with plans to tailor training for our case workers based on data that would predict trends in our practice, and we will soon implement internal ‘safety roundtables,’ which will serve to review cases at the state level before workers can screen them out or close an investigation,” the agency said.

The deaths of Emani and Eric remain under investigation by police in Gwinnett and Paulding counties.