When her son Brady Alan Folkens died in state custody, Dawn Van Ballegooyen of Brookings accused the state of South Dakota of murder. So did Larry Kurtz.
Here are the facts placed on the record by the state of South Dakota. First, the state press release on Folkens's death:
A 17-year old male resident of the State Treatment and Rehabilitation (STAR) Academy in Custer has died from an apparent medical condition.
Brady Folkens developed symptoms and was seen by on-site medical staff before being taken to the Custer Regional Hospital on Dec 21. After being placed in the care of the Custer Regional Hospital, the decision was made to airlift Brady to Sioux Falls so that he could be seen by a specialist. Brady passed away Saturday night at a Sioux Falls hospital.
The family was notified and was present at the hospital at the time Brady died.
Per Department of Corrections (DOC) policy, the Juvenile Corrections Monitor (JCM) was also notified of the death. The JCM serves as an independent advocate for the youth placed at STAR Academy.
An autopsy will be conducted. The DOC has requested that the South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation investigate the death, which is standard procedure for all deaths that occur while someone is in DOC custody.
There is no indication at this time that any of STAR Academy’s youth or staff members need any special medical treatment as a result of this illness. However, test results are still pending regarding the cause of his illness and if further follow-up is indicated appropriate measures will be taken.
Brady’s name is being released with the approval of his family.
STAR Academy is home to the state-run juvenile corrections programs. The Patrick Henry Brady Academy and Youth Challenge Center programs for males are located on the main campus south of Custer, while programs for female offenders are located in Custer State Park. The youth that are served by STAR Academy have all been placed in the custody of the DOC by the court system [South Dakota Department of Corrections, press release, 2013.12.22].
DOC issued this statement on the autopsy in February:
A death certificate shows a 17-year-old resident of the State Treatment and Rehabilitation (STAR) Academy in Custer died from lymphocytic myocarditis associated with Parvovirus B19.
Brady Folkens developed symptoms and was seen by on-site medical staff before being taken to the Custer Regional Hospital on Dec 21. After being placed in the care of the Custer Regional Hospital, the decision was made to airlift Brady to Sioux Falls so that he could be seen by a specialist. Brady passed away that night at a Sioux Falls hospital.
Parvovirus B19 is a common viral infection in children also known as erythema infectiosum or Fifth disease. This has been called Fifth disease because it is one of five common viral rash illnesses in children, along with measles, rubella, chicken pox and roseola. This infection is usually associated with runny nose and fever (most often thought of as a common cold) and then often followed by a bright red rash of the cheeks. There is no treatment for this virus and symptoms usually resolve spontaneously. However, when the infection invades the cells of the heart it can cause muscle dysfunction in the heart.
The Division of Criminal Investigation investigated the death and determined that no foul play was involved.
The juvenile corrections monitor (JCM) has submitted a report that shows no evidence of abuse or neglect and had no further recommendations in this case. The JCM serves as an independent advocate for the youth placed at STAR Academy [State of South Dakota, press release, 2014.02.05].
A commenter claiming to be Dawn Van Ballegooyen has alternated between saying that Brady Folkens died because of the state's neglect and saying that the state committed murder. I await confirmation of that commenter's identity, but either claim provokes sufficiently to warrant discussion in a thread of its own.
I invite discussion of Van Ballegooyen's charge. However, I will moderate to keep the discussion focused on available and relevant facts. This discussion does not branch off into discussion of other child welfare cases or campaign advocacy. Our questions here:
- Did the state of South Dakota murder Brady Folkens?
- Did the state of South Dakota neglect Brady Folkens when he needed medical assistance?
- Are any of the facts as laid out by the state in the press releases above incorrect?