Halifax parents charged with child abuse: How did Dauphin Co. CYS respond?

HALIFAX TWP., Pa. -- Dauphin County Children and Youth Services arrived at a home where reports of child abuse was taking place within 24 hours of an initial referral, according to county District Attorney Ed Marsico.

When CYS visited the home of Joshua and Brandi Weyant, they found three children, ages 4, 5, and 6, malnourished, emaciated, and near death. They smelled of "caged animals," according to a police report. They were taken to the hospital by a CYS caseworker, where a doctor determined the siblings were days away from dying if their neglect continued.

"These kids, weighing 20-something pounds, just skin and bones. No fat on them. It was horrible," said Dauphin County District Attorney Ed Marsico.

The Weyant case, Marsico admits, is strikingly similar to the 2014 child abuse case involving Jarrod and Kimberly Tutko. In that case, the Tutko's neglected their 9-year old son so poorly, he died. Both Jarrod and Kimberly plead guilty to third-degree murder and child endangerment in 2015 and are serving 20-to-40 year prison sentences.

In the Tutko case, Dauphin County CYS was criticized for missing numerous referrals in the Tutko's mistreatment of their son and daughter. However, Marsico said CYS caseworkers handled the Weyant case correctly.

"They did what they were supposed to do," Marsico said. "What occurred to them only occurred in the last several months."

The Weyants were placed on the Dauphin County CYS radar a year ago. Joshua was charged with rape of a child in 2013. He posted $75,000 bail in December 2015, and the charges were withdrawn three months later. When he returned home, a CYS caseworker visited the home to see if the kids Weyant had been in contact with could have been victims of sexual abuse. According to the district attorney, the three children were examined by a doctor, and they were found to be healthy.

"They investigated that thoroughly, determined there was no sexual abuse occurred to those kids," Marsico said. "They interviewed those kids. They were seen by a doctor. And there were no allegations involving sexual abuse with those kids. Those kids were fine."

It wasn't until December, when a mental health caseworker was visiting the home, that they saw the deteriorated conditions of the children. The caseworker immediately contacted children and youth services, and within 24 hours, two CYS caseworkers and a Pennsylvania State Police officer arrived at the Weyant's home on North River Road in Halifax.

Two of the three children, the 4-and 5-year old girls, are currently in the care of a foster home nurse. The 6-year old boy was released but needed to be placed back into the hospital for further recovery.

Joshua and Brandi Weyant are charged with aggravated assault, unlawful restraint, and endangering the welfare of children. They are facing $1 million bail.