This has been a busy week in the fight for justice for Amari Boone.
First, Amari’s foster fathers were arrested on Friday, January 22, 2021 and charged with injury to a child in connection with Amari’s death. Three-year-old Amari was unresponsive and comatose when he arrived at Cook Children’s Hospital in Fort Worth, Texas on April 10, 2020; two days later, he was declared brain dead and removed from life support. Amari died in the early morning hours of Easter Sunday.
At the time of his death, the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services had permanent managing conservatorship over Amari and his 19-month-old brother. The boys had been living in the home of Deon Foley and Joseph Delancy for less than three months.
Prior to his death, Amari’s parents, Rodney Boone and Ariana George, discovered injuries on their son during visitation. They took photos of the injuries and sent them to their CPS caseworker, among others. Amari’s injuries were evaluated at Cook Children’s and found to be “concerning,” but the boys were not removed from Deon and Joseph’s home.
Amari died less than a month later.
Amari’s death was ruled a homicide caused by blunt force trauma to the head. He had suffered from a fractured skull, bleeding on the brain, several broken ribs, multiple broken fingers, two broken arms, and a fractured pelvis.
For the full story, click here for my previous coverage of Amari’s case.
The charges were amended more than once. According to the Tarrant County Jail website, 36-year-old Deondrick Raymon Foley was initially charged with seven felony counts of injury to a child with intent. Each count held a bond of $15,000. On January 23, Deon’s charges were amended, reflecting seven counts of injury to a child with bodily injury. Finally, on January 26, the Tarrant County Jail website listed only a single charge of injury to a child with bodily injury for Deon. On the morning of Wednesday, January 27, Deon bonded out of jail.
Some news sources are reporting that Deon’s charge — or seven charges depending on the outlet — is that of injury to a child by omission with bodily injury. The “by omission” specification was not part of the charges listed on the Tarrant County Jail website prior to his release.
Deon’s partner, 29-year-old Joseph Michael Delancy II, was initially charged with a single count of injury to a child with intent, a charge that carried a bond of $5,000. That charge was amended on January 23 to a single count of injury to a child by omission with serious bodily injury, increasing Joseph’s bond to $15,000. On the afternoon of Monday, January 25, Joseph bonded out and walked free.
At this point, what each defendant’s charges are or how many each faces is unclear based on news reports. However, this afternoon, I reached out to the Tarrant County courthouse, where I was told that although the charges are still pending and court dates have not yet been set, the charges in the criminal complaints are as follows:
- Joseph Michael Delancy II faces three counts of injury to a child by omission with serious bodily injury
- Deondrick Raymon Foley faces seven counts of injury to a child with bodily injury
Over the last few days, volunteers from Light for the Missing, which administers the Facebook groups entitled Justice for Amari Boone and Fight for Justice for Amari Boone!, have ramped up efforts to raise public awareness of the utter injustice of Amari’s case, including the pathetically inadequate charges levied against his allegedly abusive former foster parents. Besides contacting the jail itself, the Tarrant County courthouse, and multiple news outlets, we also promoted and participated in a coordinated social media “blast,” during which we repeatedly shared this link along with the hashtags #AmarisLifeMattered and #JusticeForAmariBoone in an attempt to get either or both topics trending.
I had the honor of speaking with Amari’s father, Rodney Boone, yesterday, and I featured our conversation in Minisode 2: Amari’s Life Mattered. Like all episodes of Suffer the Little Children Podcast, it is available on the website, on my YouTube channel, and on any podcast listening app.
Last night, news coverage of Amari’s case started flowing in from many of the outlets the volunteers contacted. Some of the stations were able to gain access to affidavits in the case that revealed many previously unpublished details about the circumstances surrounding Amari’s death, some of which are horrific. Others are simply infuriating.
According to an affidavit, Deon told police that when he and Joseph picked the children up from day care on Thursday, April 9, he thought Amari seemed subdued. After they got home, Deon stepped out for about thirty minutes to purchase food and diapers, and when he returned, Amari was already asleep.
An affidavit written by Fort Worth Police Detective Christopher Parker said Joseph “reluctantly” told police that on the evening of April 9, 2020, Amari had wet his bed, so he placed the almost-four-year-old on the bathroom counter to change him. (Why would he put a three-year-old on the counter to “change him” instead of stripping him out of his wet pants while he stood on the floor?)
Joseph said he stepped out of the bathroom to retrieve wipes from the living room, and while he was gone, Amari fell off the bathroom counter and hit his head on the floor. Joseph told police that when he returned to the bathroom, Amari “jumped back up” and started talking. Joseph said nothing appeared to be wrong with Amari other than a headache, and Amari watched TV until he fell asleep, at which point Joseph put him back into bed.
The next morning, Joseph told police, he and Deon were preparing to get Amari and his baby brother ready for day care when they found Amari unresponsive on the floor of his bedroom with the boys’ playpen on top of him. Joseph said that when he checked Amari’s pulse, he heard “gargled breathing” and saw blood seeping from Amari’s nose and ear.
At that point, instead of calling 911 and summoning an ambulance like most logical, innocent caregivers would do, Joseph and Deon drove the unresponsive little boy to the hospital themselves.
The affidavit also mentions that Deon and Joseph arrived at the hospital with Amari about 48 minutes after they said they found him unresponsive, but that the drive from their apartment to the hospital should have taken at most 18 minutes.
A doctor at Cook Children’s told Detective Parker that falling from a bathroom counter could not have caused Amari’s injuries, which were described as a “massive skull fracture and massive brain injury and massive bleeding around the brain.”
When NBC News reporter Julia Ingram was able to track down and speak with Deon Foley over the summer, he told her that Amari’s fatal injuries were incurred at daycare. That’s a significantly different explanation than falling from a bathroom counter.
The affidavits note that tests inside the apartment indicated a significant amount of blood had been cleaned up in the bathroom and in the boys’ bedroom.
Joseph told police that a few weeks prior, Amari ran face-first into a door frame and got a bump on his eye, which resulted in a call to CPS. He also said that Amari liked jumping off his bed and had, as a result, hit his head numerous times. Deon, however, told police he had never seen Amari do that before. Deon said Amari was well-behaved and quiet and described Joseph as the “disciplinarian” of the family.
Also noted were Google searches found on the defendants’ devices, including “how to keep your foster child,” “how to beat CPS,” “can I get food stamps for my foster child,” “how to get a new CPS caseworker,” and “how much does a foster parent make in Texas.” Facebook messages between the pair revealed multiple conversations about injuries Amari had suffered and whether or not to report them to CPS.
In their messages, the couple bickered about Joseph being too hard on Amari vs. Deon not being strict enough; they also frequently discussed buying alcohol and marijuana.
“Injury to a child by omission” indicates that the accused failed “to report or act on the physically abusive injuries occurring to the victim, or seek medical attention for said injuries,” including, according to the affidavits, a pelvic fracture and multiple bruises and lacerations, all of which occurred while Amari was in Deon and Joseph’s custody.
Amari was previously admitted to Cook Children’s Hospital twice while in this catastrophic couple’s care. On February 18, 2020, he was admitted with leg pain after allegedly “tripping down the stairs”.
At one point, Joseph sent Deon a video via Facebook in which Amari was walking with a pronounced limp. Joseph captioned this video, “he movin a lot betta today.”
It was later discovered, the affidavit said, that Amari’s pelvis was fractured. It is unclear if that injury was discovered at the time of his admission or during his autopsy.
While I’m here, I might as well point out that pediatric pelvic fractures are extremely rare, only estimated to make up between 0.5% and 7.0% of all blunt pediatric traumas. They are most often caused by high-energy forces, such as car accidents, followed by falls from a significant height and sports injuries. No car accidents were reported by the defendants, nor were any falls from anything higher than a bathroom counter, and at age three, Amari was not participating in any sports to speak of. This was clearly an inflicted injury.
Now, this is alarming. Multiple reports were made through the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services’ statewide intake division, alleging abuse by Joseph and Deon against Amari. On March 7, Rodney and Ariana, the boys’ parents, reported that Joseph had been hitting Amari and mentioned bruises on his chest and back. It is unclear if this was the incident during which the parents sent multiple photos of Amari’s injuries, including swollen eyes and a swollen lip.
Then, on March 17, an acquaintance of Joseph’s reported that the couple was beating the boys and that Joseph had hurt Amari’s lip. She said that Amari was afraid of Joseph and that he and Deon smoked marijuana and drank around the kids every day. According to the affidavit, the witness said that when she first met Amari, he was chatty, as opposed to the last time she saw him, when his face was swollen and he wouldn’t speak.
In February, the affidavit alleged, Joseph spanked Amari at least five times for wetting his pants.
CPS was aware of these multiple abuse allegations and took no action to remove Amari and his brother from this environment. Amari’s brother was only removed from the home when Amari was fatally injured.
Within days of Amari’s death, Deon and Joseph had broken the lease on their apartment and disappeared. Both men have family and other ties in multiple states outside of Texas. Why, after demonstrating that they are clearly a flight risk, they were granted bond and allowed to walk free is beyond comprehension.
This case screams injustice louder and louder with every detail uncovered.
Those in charge have made promises, sworn they’re working toward arrests, and vowed to put together an airtight case. They’ve begged #TeamAmari to stand down in the past, and we’ve complied, giving them ample time to build their case without ratcheting up the pressure.
District Attorney Sharen Wilson said in a statement, “The Fort Worth Police Department and the Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney’s Office continue to work on this case together, seeking the best outcome for Amari Boone’s family. We cannot comment on pending cases, but we all want the same thing: Justice for Amari.”
These charges come nowhere near justice for Amari, and these men walking the streets cannot be considered “the best outcome” for anyone.
Rodney met with prosecutors yesterday to discuss his concerns about the weakness of the charges against the defendants. He said it was a productive meeting, but it didn’t change his mind: the two should be charged with murder. “They were the only people my son was with at the time of his death,” Rodney told NBCDFW. “It’s not making sense.”
The Fort Worth Police Department said the investigation is ongoing and mentioned that the charges may be upgraded. Interesting, then, that prosecutor Bill Vassar said last summer that he refused to settle for lesser charges and wouldn’t file a single charge until he was sure he could secure a capital murder conviction.
Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price has consistently refused to speak with anyone about Amari’s case. As mayor, she oversees the police force and holds influence over the District Attorney’s office.
And now that the City of Fort Worth Municipal General Election is coming up on May 1, during which the citizens of Fort Worth will cast their votes for Mayor and city council, conveniently, these paltry charges are filed.
These charges are not good enough. Platitudes, empty promises, and inadequate charges will not pacify anyone. The public wants answers, and #TeamAmari will not rest until those responsible for his death face justice.
Amari’s life mattered.
Use the hashtags: #AmarisLifeMattered #JusticeForAmariBoone
Sources: The Star-Telegram, The Dallas Morning News, the Tarrant County court, Fox 4 News, NBCDFW