‘People chose not to listen’: Teachers say they tried to warn DCF before 2-year-old died

WHITMAN, MASS. (WHDH) - Daycare teachers say they tried to warn state officials about the danger a 2-year-old Whitman girl faced before she died last month.

Community members gathered for a vigil Sunday to remember Lyric Farrell, who died at Boston Children’s Hospital after being found responsive at 863 Washington St. on Dec. 28. Her mother, Shaniqua Leonard, has since been charged with reckless endangerment of a child in connection with her daughter’s death.

Teacher Michelle Carter says more could have been done to prevent Lyric’s death.

“There were so many things that could have stopped this,” she said. “There were people who could’ve stopped this that chose not to listen.”

Carter added that she noticed changes in Lyric’s behavior after Leonard recently gained custody of her.

“She wasn’t with her mother for so long and then they started doing the visitations, then the sleepovers and you could see a change from Friday to Monday,” she recalled.

Another teacher, Jackie Freestone, says she believes the Department of Children and Families ignored their concerns.

“I used to bring Lyric to the DCF workers to get into the car during the visits, and she had struggled, and she would cry and hold onto me,” she said. “I hated having to send her.”

Teachers say they will always remember Lyrics as a vibrant, intelligent child.

“This girl, she was the happiest, joyfullest child you would ever meet,” Carter said.

Leonard’s other children, who range in age from 1 to 12 years old, are back in the custody of DCF.