The daughters of a foster mother who was strangled in her Pasadena home in 2018 are suing Los Angeles County, maintaining that the alleged killer was able to locate the victim through confidential information negligently provided by employees of the Department of Children and Family Services.
Lorie Hope and Tanya Juhasz filed the wrongful death suit Thursday in Los Angeles Superior Court, seeking unspecified damages. Their mother, 75-year-old Jeri Douglas, was found dead inside her condominium the 200 block of South Madison Avenue by police performing a welfare check on Dec. 17, 2018.
Mary Jean O’Connor, 42, was arrested in North Hollywood in late December 2018 in Douglas’ death and later pleaded not guilty in Pasadena Superior Court to a murder charge. She faces a potential maximum sentence of 25 years to life in state prison if convicted of Douglas’ killing. A hearing is scheduled Thursday to set a preliminary hearing date.
“And beyond Douglas’ premature, tragic, and unnecessary death, DCFS’ apparent failure to protect its foster parents is a violation of the public trust and unreasonably puts some of Los Angeles’ most vulnerable children and most selfless citizens at risk,” the suit states.
A DCFS representative did not reply to a request for comment.
Douglas became certified to provide foster care in March 2010, the suit states. She was assured by the DCFS that her telephone number and home address would be kept confidential, according to the complaint.
O’Connor gave birth to a boy in July 2009 who was placed in foster care with Douglas in April 2010, the suit states. Five months later, Juhasz and her husband undertook the foster care of the child and they adopted the boy in October 2011, according to the suit.
Meanwhile, O’Connor had another child, a girl, in September 2010, who was placed with Douglas late that year, according to the suit. The child was later transferred by a judge to the care of O’Connor’s grandparents. During the period in which the DCFS interacted with O’Connor, their employees or agents provided her confidential information that allowed her to make contact with Douglas, the suit alleges.
From 2011-18, O’Connor gave birth to three more children, all three of whom were removed from her by the DCFS, the suit states.
On Dec. 14, 2018, O’Connor called Douglas, saying she was a DCFS agent who needed to have some paperwork signed, the suit states. Douglas did not recognize O’Connor’s voice or phone number, thought she was a genuine DCFS employee and agreed to meet with her at the foster mother’s home three days later, the suit states.
Douglas was slain during the visit, the suit alleges.
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