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DCFS investigated welfare of Normal 8-year-old girl multiple times before death

NORMAL, Ill. (WEEK) — A DCFS investigation into the death of an 8-year-old Normal girl is continuing after a woman was arrested for her murder.

Cynthia Baker, 41, was indicted on three counts of first-degree murder, aggravated domestic battery of a child, and aggravated domestic battery by a McLean County grand jury and arrested last week for the death of an 8-year-old family member on Jan. 25. The child suffered severe injuries after she was kicked by Baker, police said.

A prosecutor’s statement filed last week in connection with the filing of 10 additional misdemeanor counts spelled out a pattern of abuse by Baker against the child dating back to last year.

The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services did not reply to an initial request for comment last week, but forwarded a statement originally released to The Pantagraph on March 29 in reply to an additional request for comment on Monday.

In the statement, a DCFS spokesperson said the agency became involved in the child’s welfare in 2014, when she was living with her biological mother. The agency remained involved after she was removed from her mother’s household and placed with her biological father.

“During her time with her father, DCFS conducted multiple investigations into allegations of abuse and found these allegations to be unfounded. There is currently a pending investigation into this death and we are committed to understanding exactly what happened in this case and being fully transparent with the public,” said the spokesperson. “DCFS is working closely with the new administration to review our practices, policies, and procedures in order to fully live up to our mission to protect vulnerable children in Illinois.”

The agency did not directly respond to our requests for a timeline detailing DCFS involvement in the 8-year-old girl’s welfare.

Prosecutors detailed one such encounter with DCFS, when the agency ordered Baker to take the girl to a doctor after the school reported the child’s two black eyes to the agency. Baker said the girl was “just clumsy,” and later refused to take her for X-rays, prosecutors alleged.

The agency has again come under scrutiny after the death of 5-year-old Andrew “AJ” Freund in Crystal Lake, Ill. DCFS was involved with Freund since his birth, when he was born with opioids in his system. The boy’s parents are charged in his death.

Bond for Baker is set at $1 million. She is due in McLean County Court on May 3 for arraignment.

Tim Shelley

Social Media & Digital Content Manager

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