Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott discusses child abuse case

Jennifer Coles

COLUMBIA (WACH)-- Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott is discussing the arrest Jennifer Coles, who was arrested for unlawful conduct towards a child.

Coles is the mother of a 5-month-old who died after reports were made to the Department of Social Services.

According to records, the baby had a heart condition that was supposed to be monitored by an electronic device. DSS did not contact the family until after the child had been dead for three days.

DSS released this statement Monday afternoon:

The Department of Social Services began an investigation on March 3, 2014, after receiving notification from a local medical provider that the child was not receiving proper medical care. Our preliminary findings show that a DSS caseworker from Richland County DSS immediately began an investigation (DSS does not contract investigations out to third-parties) and attempted to locate the child and the family.

Based on what we are seeing in records at this point, it appears that investigators attempted at least five times to locate the family. Due to the transient nature of the familys housing situation, DSS was unable to locate them.

At the time of the childs death on April 22, 2014, law enforcement also attempted to locate the family.

The family was not located until late afternoon, in another county on April 25, 2014. While the coroner has not, as yet, determined the cause of death, our hearts go out to everyone who knew and loved this child.

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