CPS investigator warned for months about possible neglect before infant's death in Medina County

7-month-old Lily Adair (Wade) found dead Christmas morning

MEDINA COUNTY, Texas – Records obtained by the KSAT 12 Defenders show that a Child Protective Services investigator had been warned for months that an infant was possibly being neglected but did not remove the child from her mother's care.

The baby, 7-month-old Lily Adair (Wade), was found dead Christmas morning in a home in east Medina County.

The infant remained in the care of her mother, Elise Adair, despite repeated warnings from the baby's part-time caregivers and despite a CPS family plan last August that revealed Adair was a "high risk" recovering methamphetamine addict whose two older children had been previously removed from her care and adopted out to one of their family members.

A source familiar with the criminal investigation said it is likely the baby suffocated after getting her head stuck between the mattress and footboard of an adult bed inside a home on County Road 3826, just inside the Medina County line.

"My wife in good faith was looking after this child continually, had more insight than anybody else, and they just ignored it," said Dr. Cody Henderson, a neonatal physician whose wife Dana helped care for the baby starting in June.

Dana Henderson said she offered to babysit Lily after seeing a Facebook post from Adair, a former classmate of Dana Henderson's son, expressing how exhausted she was caring for the infant.

The Hendersons said Lily was dropped off by a family member a few days later and stayed with them for three days before Adair picked her up.

Lily wore a helmet to help correct a flattened back of her head and Cody Henderson said she also suffered from torticollis, a neck muscle issue that can be corrected with therapy.

"She had some challenges from that standpoint but she was otherwise bright and interactive," said Cody Henderson, who specializes in the medical care of newborns.

Adair was placed under investigation by CPS last summer after one of her family members filed a complaint that Adair was drinking alcohol around the infant and was allowing Lily to be around her father, Earl Wade, despite a then-pending felony indecency with a child charge against him in Uvalde County, records show.

A family safety plan meeting held in late August, which Dana Henderson attended, determined that Adair rated high on a risk assessment and that she herself faced a felony burglary of a habitation charge in Kendall County.

Adair, 24, was sentenced to three years in prison on Jan. 9, weeks after her daughter's death.

Adair at last check was being held at the Gillespie County Jail while awaiting transfer to a Texas Department of Criminal Justice facility.

Records show in August, days before the family safety plan meeting, Adair signed a notarized temporary custody agreement giving custody of Lily to the Hendersons.

Dana Henderson said Adair signed the agreement after being told she could face up to 20 years in prison for the burglary charge and that Adair wanted the Hendersons to have custody of Lily while she was incarcerated.

The Hendersons said Adair called them via FaceTime while emergency personnel worked on Lily inside the home Christmas morning.

"She said that she went to make breakfast and she went back in to check on the baby and her head had got stuck," said Dana Henderson.

Medina County Sheriff's Office investigators have declined to discuss the death investigation publicly, while they await results of an autopsy.

A source said the case will likely be presented to a grand jury later this year for possible charges of child endangerment by neglect. 

A woman at the home told the Defenders she had no comment about the case and told the reporter and photographer to get off her property.

It remains unclear why Adair and her baby were at the home on Christmas.

Wade pleaded no contest to the child indecency charge in October and in exchange for seven years of probation was ordered to register as a sex offender for life and was told not to have any contact with his biological or stepchildren unless a court approved adult was present.

Wade listed the home on CR 3826 as his place of residence, according to Texas Department of Public Safety sex offender registry records.

The CPS investigator assigned to Adair's case, Monica Montoya, remains employed with the agency, a spokeswoman confirmed.

September 1, days after the family safety plan meeting, Dana Henderson sent messages to Montoya describing concerns that Adair was acting erratically, including a picture that appeared to show that Adair had cut herself on the arm several times.

Dana Henderson also provided the investigator pictures showing abrasions on Lily's head that Dana Henderson claim came from the infant wearing her helmet too long.

Among the records provided to the Defenders included messages to Montoya from Dana Henderson that Adair was mixing alcohol and sleeping pills, that she had stopped taken Lily to therapy sessions and that she admitted to co-sleeping with the infant.

In one text message to the investigator weeks before the infant died Dana Henderson wrote, "I am so scared for Lily's safety."

Dana Henderson said Montoya eventually stopped responding to the messages and stopped answering phone calls.

Dan Henderson said Montoya's supervisor also did not return calls.

In November, Dana Henderson reported similar concerns of neglect to the state's abuse/neglect hotline.

"There is absolutely no evidence that this child's death was in any way the fault of CPS. The babysitter's concerns were thoroughly examined. The case has been taken apart by independent experts in Austin, and the worker was not at fault," said Department of Family and Protective Services spokeswoman Mary Walker in a written statement.

The agency, however, formally apologized to Dana Henderson in a letter last month after it determined she was not contacted after reporting concerns about Lily to the agency's abuse/neglect hotline in November.

Adair's father, James Adair, said via telephone earlier this month that his daughter had retained visitation of her two older children and had not had her parental rights terminated even though the children now live in the Dallas area.

He called Lily's death a "terrible accident."

"Insanity. Nothing accidental about this whatsoever. Completely predictable. You see the trail of information. There's not a single thing on here that says this is not a completely preventable situation," said Cody Henderson.

About the Author

Emmy-award winning reporter Dillon Collier joined KSAT Investigates in September 2016. Dillon's investigative stories air weeknights on the Nightbeat and on the Six O'Clock News. Dillon is a two-time Houston Press Club Journalist of the Year and a Texas Associated Press Broadcasters Reporter of the Year.

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