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Investigation Following Suspected Suicide of 6-Year-Old Girl Reveals Systemic Failure to Protect Her

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Reported by Michal Ortner

A Minnesota foster family has had their license suspended after the body of 6-year-old Kendrea Johnson was found hanging by a jump rope in her room on Dec. 27. A piece of paper was found on the floor near Johnson’s body. A note was written in purple crayon, “I’m sorry.” Another note said, “I’m sorry for what I do.”

Brooklyn Park Police are investigating the death of Johnson with considerations of suicide or suspicious activity. Much of the evidence points to a conscious suicide of the little girl; however, Hennipen County medical examiner believes that the incident is “outside what a normal 6-year-old could think about.” The medical examiner also noted that the knot tied in the rope was too sophisticated for someone her age.
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Johnson was reportedly seχually endangered, threatened with beαtings, locked in her room, and may have been exposed to pοrnοgraphy — all the while becoming extremely angry that she could not be returned to her family, records show. Just months prior to her deαth, the county’s child protection unit decided against investigating four reports of neglect at the foster home.

The Hennepin County child protection worker charged with overseeing her case told police that he didn’t know that the girl was suicidal, even though her mental health providers documented that she thought about it daily, according to reports. That lack of knowledge was “unconscionable,” according to one child mental health professional.

“We just did our due diligence to tear this case apart and look at every angle. It’s hard to believe that it was even possible. We may never know if it was suicide or an accident,” said Deputy Chief Mark Bruley.
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Some of Johnson’s previous mental history does indicate that she may be a rare case. Two of her therapists say that suicide was a possibility. Johnson began revealing thoughts of suicide and homicide after she was placed in foster care back in Dec. 2013.

In June, Johnson was given a mental assessment that indicated homicidal and suicidal thoughts, which required intensive treatment. It is unclear if her foster parents were aware of the treatment she was receiving. Her assessment noted that she “showed severe guilt, as she does not feel lovable or acceptable and reports feeling guilty and responsible for out-of-home placement.”

Johnson was removed from her biological mother’s home after authorities accused the mother of drug abuse and compromising the safety of her children. Johnson has a one-year-old brother who was also placed in the foster home with her.

This most recent foster home had made plans to adopt Johnson even though the foster mother, Tannise Nawaqavou, claims that Johnson threatened to kill her with a screwdriver once before. Currently, all foster children have been removed from the Nawaqavou home and their fostering license has been suspended.
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Johnson’s grandmother, Mary Lee Broadus, described Johnson as a “happy-go-lucky kid” and “a normal 6-year-old.” She also believes that somebody is responsible for the child’s death, saying, “somebody did it.”

Child and Family Services are conducting an expedited investigation to examine the foster family and foster system. Jim Koppel, assistant commissioner, says they will assess how the “system served and did not serve the child.”