Mom seeks charges after adopted Highland Twp. girl dies

Mike Martindale
The Detroit News

A Grandville mom is seeking to have a suspected child abuse case in Oakland County reviewed after the death of her adopted daughter this past December.

Kim Hargrove said her daughter, Alexis, 5, died Dec. 14, but no one has been charged in the death, which has been ruled a homicide.

The girl’s biological parents lived in Highland Township when Alexis was born and when the alleged injury occurred.

The Kent County Medical Examiner said Alexis’ death was due to complications related to injuries she received as a 2-week-old infant after being shaken. The girl’s death certificate says she died of “Medical Complications of Craniocerebral Trauma,” which occurred in October 2010.

“Those were the injuries she received when only 2 weeks old,” said Hargrove, the girl’s mother. “When she died, she was physically 5 years old but mentally a newborn.”

At the time — on Oct. 28, 2010 — Alexis was living in Highland Township, Hargrove said. She was hospitalized and removed from the custody of her biological parents and placed in foster care with Hargrove, a nurse, who adopted her in 2012.

“The case was investigated by the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office and we were told they believe they know the person responsible, but for some reason no one has been charged,” Hargrove, 43, said in a phone interview.

“We just want justice for Alexis. ... My baby should not be gone while the perpetrator continues to live a normal life.”

Oakland County Undersheriff Mike McCabe said Tuesday his office has deemed the death a “priority case” that had their attention, but stopped short of saying whether it would result in criminal charges.

“It’s one thing to have a suspect. It’s one thing to know in your heart that somebody committed a crime,” McCabe said. “It’s another thing to prove it, and we have to have the proof in order to move forward. We are going to do everything we can to get that proof.”

The Oakland County Prosecutor’s Office would not comment on the case Tuesday.

Alexis’ biological parents — who were in their 20s in 2010 and living together — split up and the girl’s mother has since married, Hargrove said.

Hargrove said a younger girl was removed from Alexis’ birth mother’s custody after she was born and placed in foster care due to the injuries suffered by Alexis. After a 13-month legal battle, the mom’s rights were terminated and the sister was adopted by another family.

Alexis has an older brother, now 6 years old, who lives with his biological father, who is not Alexis’ dad. His biological mother, who is also Alexis’ mother, has supervised visitation privileges, Hargrove said.

“She was an amazing little girl. She had a smile like no other,” Hargrove said.

Hargrove, who is single, has three biological children, two in their 20s and an 11-year-old. She also has adopted a 7-year-old boy with special needs.

Hargrove said she is involved in the creation of a Shaken Baby Syndrome Awareness website, which is being produced to “educate about the devastating effects of SBS and to share Alexis’ story.”

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