DSS case worker and supervisor connected to Randleman girl found in closet no longer with department

RANDOLPH COUNTY, N.C. – Linda Benskey could barely recognize the little girl when she was transported to the hospital.

"She was skinny," Benskey said. "She was frail."

Since then, the step-grandmother of a child at the center of an abuse case hasn't seen the little girl. She says the Randolph County Department of Social Services have put her in a foster home, not able to see any family until custody is determined.

Nearly three months ago, Randleman police found Benskey's step-granddaughter in a home locked in a closet with scratches, bruises and burns, surrounded by rat poison.

Her stepson, Adam Byrd, and his friend, Crystal Carnahan, are facing several child abuse charges and have yet to be indicted.

"They took a part of my heart and I still can't see her," Benskey said. "And I'd give anything to this day just to be able to hold her. I think she thinks we've abandoned her. I can't help but think that's what she thinks is that we gave up on her, and we haven't."

This is the fourth case Randolph County DSS has opened for the girl. She just turned six in October.

"There's too many kids in danger, and there's too many kids left in danger," Benskey said. "She could have been saved a long time ago."

Randolph County Human Services says Erendida Medina, the girl's case worker, resigned from her position in October, and Elaine Rorie, the supervisor for those previous cases, was fired for "grossly inefficient job performance."

FOX8 reached out to both Medina and Rorie for comment, but did not hear back.

"I'm pleased to know that two of them are no longer involved in making decisions for other children, but I'm not sure that's enough yet," Benskey said. "I know it's not enough yet."

Randolph County DSS declined an on-camera interview with FOX8, but Assistant Director Richard Park answered a series of questions via email. They are as follows:

1) Randolph County DSS has opened four cases for Angel Byrd. She is six years old. What is your department doing to make sure she doesn't have a fifth case?

Randolph County DSS is committed to the protection of children. You can rest assured that we have reviewed…and will continue to review, our operations in accordance with North Carolina Child Welfare Policy and North Carolina General Statutes. In keeping with North Carolina law, we cannot comment on the number of cases any specific child or family has in the past or may have currently active.

2) What is Randolph County DSS doing to improve itself and further protect the children in Randolph County?

We continuously evaluate our response to various situations. We have internal reviews, community reviews by the Community Child Protection Team, and state reviews by DHHS/Division of Social Services. Appropriate actions are taken based on results from each such review. Continuous improvement is one of our agency core values.

3) County HR tells us Elaine Rorie was terminated from DSS for "grossly inefficient job performance." She was the supervisor for Angel's three previous cases. How many active cases was she supervising at the time of her termination?

Supervisors’ performance is vital for success of the program. The North Carolina statewide defined workload for a CPS Investigative/Assessment Unit is 5 to 6 workers with 10 active cases each; under one supervisor. That means that a supervisor can be responsible for up to 60 active cases at any given time.

4) Is Randolph County DSS investigating cases Miss Rorie was supervising?

Randolph County reviews the cases of everyone that departs for any reason and ensures appropriate actions are taken.

Benskey and other family members are holding an event in support of the girl, to reassure her the community has not forgotten her.

They're meeting at Randleman Elementary School from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday December 10th to decorate posters and cards wishing the girl a Merry Christmas.