A 7-year-old boy who weighed only 34 pounds died of dehydration and starvation, the Denver coroner said.
According to the coroner's report, which was released Monday, Chandler Grafner's death was ruled a homicide because his death was due to "restricted access to fluids and caloric intake."
The boy also had dozens of cuts and bruises on his body, and died after going into cardiac arrest on May 6, the report said.
His legal guardians, Jon Phillips and his girlfriend Sarah Berry, face charges of first-degree murder. Prosecutors said they locked Chandler in a closet and didn't feed him.
Chandler and his 5-year-old half-brother, Dominick Phillips, were removed from their mother's custody and temporarily placed in their maternal grandmother's care. Jefferson County Social Services then removed the boys from their grandmother's care and gave Dominick's father custody of both boys earlier this year.
7NEWS has learned that officials had clear warning signs that if heeded, could have prevented Chandler's death.
Documents held by several agencies and obtained by 7NEWS show that on Jan. 17, 2007, officials at Holm Elementary School, where Chandler was in kindergarten, made a hotline call to the Denver Department of Human Services.
The call was to report the suspected abuse of Chandler and said he had a "bruised and swollen right ear" and a "mark on his neck."
According to the report, Chandler told his kindergarten teacher, "Dad kept slapping my ear in the shower. He smacked me in the neck and kept putting me in the water."
Sources close to the investigation say it wasn't until Jan. 19 that a case worker from Denver attempted to contact Chandler, but his foster parents kept him out of school.
On the same day, the social worker and police went to the apartment of Phillips and Berry, but found no one at home.
On Saturday Jan. 20, three days after the initial report, police finally found Chandler at home. Multiple sources said a report confirms the officer found the child's ear badly bruised, scratches on his face, and a bump on his head.
Chandler initially told the officer that his foster father had hit him, but then said he had fallen in the bathtub.
On Jan. 23, sources say case workers interviewed school staff and learned that Chandler had been sent to school in the December snow with one shoe and no coat. They also learned that Chandler told his teachers that his parents were angry and that he could not talk with [his teachers] anymore.
Three months later, on April 17, Denver Human Services received another hotline call from Holm Elementary about Chandler.
The report said, "Child has not been seen in school since March 9, 2007," and "Staff called home many times. Dad reported there were 'family problems.'"
There is no state requirement that children attend kindergarten so the call and the complaint was not accepted for assessment by the department.
Correction: In the fifth paragraph of the story, the Denver Channel inadvertently stated that Denver Social Services removed the boys from their grandmother's care. It was, in fact, Jefferson County Social Services. The Denver Channel regrets the error.
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