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Georgia parents charged with murder after their 12-year-old girl dies as an indirect result of a severe lice infestation


Family services blamed the coronavirus school shutdown in part for her death

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The parents of a 12-year-old girl who died indirectly from a severe lice infestation have been charged with second-degree murder.

Police said that Mary Katherine "Katie" Horton called police when her daughter Kaitlyn Yozviak was unresponsive on Aug. 27. Horton was arrested within 24 hours after police saw the state of their home.

WMAZ-TV reported that police said the child was in "excessive physical pain due to medical negligence" before she died.

Joey Yozviak, the father of the girl, was arrested five days after Horton's arrest, and they were both charged with second-degree murder and second-degree cruelty to children.

Georgia Bureau of Investigation Special Agent Ryan Hilton testified in court that the child had the worst lice infestation their office had ever seen. Hilton said that he believed the numerous bites from the lice lowered the iron levels in the child's blood and led to severe anemia. She died from cardiac arrest.

WMAZ documented the previous troubles the parents had with family services, even before their girl had been born. In one incident, their two boys were relocated to a relative's home "due to the unsanitary living conditions."

The couple also reportedly wanted to give up the girl for adoption and later changed their minds.

WMAZ documents that the local family services agency received a report in 2018 that the mother might be having mental issues and that the children might be living in an unhealthy home.

"The home was described as being bug infested, excessive cats, and hazardous conditions (holes everywhere, dip in the floor, and cold during winter)," read the report.

An official from the Georgia Division of Family & Children Services blamed a pandemic shutdown for part of the reason why the threat to the child was left unchecked.

"Had it not been for the fact that this child was, I think, out of school, and then the school shut down because of the pandemic, we probably would have received a call from the school at some point, or somebody would have seen this child in the neighborhood," said DFACS Director Tom Rawlings.

"They would have called us and we wouldn't be in this situation," he added.

Many in the community were outraged that local officials didn't do enough, in their estimation, to have saved Kaitlyn before she died.

Here's the local WMAZ report about the case:

DFCS documents show case history of slain 12-year-old Kaitlyn Yozviak

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