Drug use, fire danger documented as risks in Sterling home where toddler Levi Welton died in fire

Levi was found dead Monday by firefighters

STERLING, Colo. - Despite testing positive for marijuana and living in a home considered a fire risk, documents show a child who later died in a fire was not removed from the home by the Logan County Department of Human Services.

Levi Welton, a 2-year-old, was found Monday by firefighters. He was in an open closet without a pulse and was not breathing.

The fire started in a pile of clothes and blankets under a window in the room where Levi and his 5-year-old brother Dean were unattended, sources familiar with the investigation tell CALL7 Investigator John Ferrugia. A lighter was also found in the room, but investigators do not know if it was used to start the fire.

Ferrugia's investigation into the case uncovered disturbing documents the family shared with others in the community. The Logan County Department of Human Services papers show the home was previously considered a fire risk. Both boys also tested positive for THC, that active ingredient in marijuana, more than once, but the most recent positive test was just hours before the fatal fire on Monday.

And yet the Department of Human Services did not remove the boys from the home.

A similar positive drug test in November of last year caused the department to file a Dependency and Neglect Motion in court, sources told Ferrugia. It cited lack of supervision, drug use and inappropriate people visiting the home.

Caseworkers "found little white pills on the floor and in Levi Welton's hand."

Another "observed Julia Welton smoking a cigarette which she brushed along the wall, causing red ash to fall on the carpet of the kitchen. She did not notice it until the caseworker pointed them out to her and asked her to take care of them due to the fire hazard," a report said.

A cigarette butt on the floor was also noted.

The court appointed a legal guardian for the children and put a safety plan in place. The children were also temporarily taken out of the home, but were returned last month.

As late as Jan. 9 -- just five days before the fire -- there was supposed to be a safety plan in place that included notifying human services of who was visiting the house.

Sources say Levi's mother legally smokes marijuana for a painful medical condition. However, her husband also tested positive for THC, along with the children.

On the night of the fire, many people were in the home and some were smoking marijuana, sources also say. Meanwhile, Levi was left unattended with his brother in the bedroom where the fire began.

An investigation is underway to determine if the parents will be charged for criminal neglect or child endangerment.

But the overriding question in all of this is: Should the children have been in the house at all?

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