BERKELEY COUNTY, S.C. (WCBD) – Investigating the death of a child is one of the most difficult aspects of law enforcement. Several agencies and coroners met in Moncks Corner on Thursday to learn how they can improve these types of investigations.
South Carolina mandates annual training for deaths of those under 18 years of age.
“Investigating children’s death is some of the most horrific cases, some of the most challenging and [emotional], and those cases are very hard to investigate,” said Berkeley County’s Chief Deputy Coroner Darnell Hartwell.
There are multiple reasons investigating a child’s death can be a challenge.
“One, they’re often the most emotional. But on top of that children don’t have a social history for us to investigate. They haven’t been in school, they don’t have school records, they probably don’t have n extensive medical history,” said Charleston County Coroner Bobbi Jo O’Neal. “All of the information we get really comes from their caregivers; well, if the caregiver is one of our potential suspects, then that makes it that much more difficult to investigate.”
“The training is really set up as a foundation,” said Dorchester County Coroner Paul Brouthers. “Each county has to have a Child Review Fatality Team.”
Capt. Trista Baird with the State Law Enforcement Division’s Special Victim’s Unit said the task force started about five years ago. “It has helped us to have a more complete and thorough investigation in every county,” said Baird.
While many child deaths can be prevented, officials say about 80% of infant deaths are from unsafe sleep. They suggest you do not allow you child to sleep in your bed.