A new Maine Department of Health and Human Services report confirms what family members maintained from the start: They and others repeatedly went to DHHS with concerns about Maddox’s safety since the day he was born, and yet, the toddler was still returned to his mother.
The memo is dated Dec. 20, 2022, the same day that Trefethen was sentenced for Maddox’s murder. It said since the criminal case has concluded, there’s no longer a risk that it would jeopardize an investigation or proceedings.
The memo outlines numerous issues, including when Maddox’s sibling ingested liquid methadone and the family didn’t seek medical treatment for 20 minutes.
That unidentified child was given the overdose-reversing drug Narcan and taken to a hospital in March 2018.
After that, Maddox was taken away from his mother and placed into the custody of his father Andrew Williams. But eventually Maddox went back into his mother’s care in March 2021.
Despite caseworkers coming to meet with the family, Trefethen repeatedly refused them opportunities to interview the kids.
A caseworker last saw Maddox after a domestic violence situation at the home in April 2021. The official did not report any visible signs of injury.
But during Trefethen’s sentencing hearing, prosecutors alleged in the months right before Maddox’s death, he was being abused.
“The bruises that were visible on his extremities, showed different stages of healing,” Assistant Attorney General John Risler said. “Maddox Williams went through 104 days of suffering physical injury and psychological trauma at the hands of his own mother.”
After Trefethen was sentenced, Victoria Vose, Maddox’s paternal grandmother, said she hoped his death wouldn’t be in vain.
‘The final chapter of justice for Maddox is DHHS and [the Office of Child and Family Services] being held accountable for their unforgivable lack of poor judgment resulting in his murder,” Vose said.
In response, DHHS officials called Maddox’s death a “tragic loss.”
“There is no higher priority for the Department of Health and Human Services than protecting Maine children from abuse and neglect alongside our partners throughout the state who share in this solemn responsibility. We maintain our commitment to learning all we can from this death as we strive for a system that promotes safety, stability, health and happiness for all Maine children and families,” DHHS Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew and Office of Child and Family Services Director Todd Landry said in a statement.
Maddox died on June 20, 2021, at Waldo County General Hospital in Belfast. He was taken there by his mother and grandmother after complaining of stomach pain, according to court testimony. He lost consciousness in the hospital parking lot and never regained it despite efforts to revive him.
Trefethen was arrested three days later.
Sherry Johnson, Maddox’s maternal grandmother, testified in October tha she found her grandson covered in bruises from head to toe after she removed a sheet to say goodbye to him, according to the Bangor Daily News.
Authorities said Maddox suffered severe injuries while in Trefethen’s care last year at her Stockton Springs home.
Maddox’s mother told hospital staff the boy had been knocked down by a dog leash and kicked by his 8-year-old sister, but the medical examiner’s office found his injuries were not consistent with that and ruled the death a homicide.
The medical examiner said Maddox suffered multiple blunt force traumas, including bruises all over his body, a fractured spine, bleeding in his brain and abdomen, and had three teeth knocked out.
The medical examiner ruled that Maddox died from battered child syndrome.