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Florida Department of Children and Families faces questions over boy's death

3:56 PM, Jun 26, 2013   |    comments
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- The Florida Department of Children and Families is facing questions over the way it handled the case of a two-year-old boy allegedly killed by his mother's boyfriend.

The Miami Herald reports Ezra Raphael suffered trauma to his back and neck and was unresponsive when paramedics arrived at his home in North Miami Beach last week.

The medical examiner has ruled the death a homicide. The suspect is in jail on a charge of first-degree murder.

The report says DCF investigated Ezra's mother, 22-year-old Cierrah Raphael, earlier this year when she left her son with a stranger in Gainesville and said she could not take care of him any longer.

Cierrah Raphael reportedly had already lost custody of an older child.

DCF investigators ruled the boy was at high risk, but they closed the investigation without taking any action.

The Herald said the next time Ezra came to DCF's attention, he was dead.

Gov. Rick Scott was asked about the case on Wednesday.

"First off, you'd hate anything to happen to any child. Any time you hear about that the first thing you think about is your own children, now in my case a grandchild. So I think every time something like this happens, you take it very seriously and the expectation is you go back and make sure it doesn't happen again. Do everything you can."

DCF refused to talk about the case on camera, but issued a statement saying the agency would focus on the circumstances that led to Ezra's death and assist law enforcement in the effort to hold those responsible accountable.

Gov. Scott is offering his full support to DCF Secretary David Wilkins. The governor said Wilkins is "doing a very good job" trying to make sure every child in Florida is taken care of.

Dave Heller

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