It would be hard to imagine a more upsetting and tragic story than the lives of Mary and Elwyn “JR” Crocker Jr.
Authorities found the two, just 14 and 16 respectively, dead and buried behind the family home in Effingham County. Their parents and grandmother and two others have been charged with felony murder.
Reporting by this newspaper shows that the Division of Family and Children Services, the agency tasked with protecting the state’s children, was aware in 2017 of an account by a neighbor girl of the boy being beaten with a belt by a woman. It didn’t investigate. Earlier this week, we reported court testimony that young Mary was forced to live in a dog pen, and was apparently starved to death.
If the lack of effective action on the part of DFCS sounds familiar, it is.
To recount just two other tragic incidents (there are more):
- Last year, a Lilburn girl, 2, starved to death. Her mother was charged. A year before she died, the toddler’s grandmother told DFCS, police said.
- In 2014, a Floyd County 5-year-old girl died of blows to her abdomen. Her mother and her boyfriend were charged. The state had been contacted about the girl and her siblings being abused nine times.
Georgia’s children deserve better than this. Georgians should demand just that. And DFCS should respond by stepping up as much as needed to ensure as best as humanly possible that such horrific cases as the Effingham County torture do not happen again here. The Georgia General Assembly should do its part to support this necessary goal, including allocating resources sufficient to safeguard Georgia’s children from abusers in our midst.
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.
The Editorial Board.