A Brooklyn Park girl who died after she was found unresponsive with a jump rope around her neck had been in foster care for the last 11 months, court records show.
Kendrea Johnson, 6, nicknamed “Ziggy” for her bubbly and bouncy personality, was described by her distraught family Monday night as a “sassy” and “spunky” child who somehow managed to be “a girlie girl and a tomboy at the same time.”
“She was a happy child even though things in her life weren’t going right,” said her grandmother Mary Broadus, 45, of Minneapolis.
Brooklyn Park police were called Saturday night to Kendrea’s foster home in the 9200 block of Queens Garden Avenue N., where they found Kendrea not breathing. She was taken to North Memorial Medical Center in Robbinsdale, where she died.
According to a social worker’s report, Kendrea had an “outgoing personality,” but the “foster care provider [had] been having a difficult time trying to keep her safe.”
Tannise Nawaqavou, who holds the home’s foster-care license, could not be reached for comment. Efforts to reach Kendrea’s mother on Monday were not successful.
Brooklyn Park Deputy Chief Todd Milburn said that when the call came in Saturday night, it was reported that “the victim had somehow tangled herself in a jump rope.”
Investigation goes on
Police are not handling the case as a homicide, but said they will continue to investigate Kendrea’s death.
However, Kendrea’s relatives said Monday night that Kendrea never should have been taken from her grandmother, who had been caring for her until last December.
Kendrea bounced around to different foster homes, said her aunt, Marketa Venzant, 26.
Kendrea’s grandmother “took her from a difficult situation and put her in a better situation, and they took her and put her in a worse situation,” said Willie Venzant, 27, whose sister is Kendrea’s mother. “The state didn’t do their job,” he said.
Venzant and his wife were seeking custody of Kendrea and her brother Charles.
The last time the family saw the siblings was on Thanksgiving, when they were brought to their grandmother’s house. Kendrea was excited at news that she might be returning to the care of her relatives, her family said.
Juvenile court records show that Kendrea and her 1-year-old brother were placed in foster care in February after child protection said her parents had repeatedly failed to comply with efforts to keep the children safe.
Child protection called
The family first came to the attention of child protection in May 2013, when Dareesha M. Waddle, Kendrea’s mother, gave birth to a boy and tested positive for marijuana, morphine and oxymorphone. The baby boy was placed in a neonatal-intensive-care unit, showing signs of substance withdrawal.
Child protection requested that Waddle submit to drug tests. The baby’s father, Charles R. Tate (he is not Kendrea’s father), also was submitting to drug tests as part of his probation for two separate convictions.
Five months later, the county filed for a child-in-need-of-protection-or-services petition, saying that Waddle, 25, and Tate, 26, had missed numerous meetings with child protection, had failed to take drug tests and had tested positive for drugs.
On Feb. 3, the court placed the children into foster care after Tate and Waddle didn’t follow their case plan.
In August, the county moved to terminate Waddle’s parental rights after she repeatedly failed to comply with a case plan. The process to terminate parental rights was ongoing when Kendrea died.
A complicated child
Court records show that Kendrea and her younger brother were both in the same foster care home.
A report filed in November by Hennepin County social worker Rich Johnson called Kendrea “an entertainer [who] attempts to get people to laugh all of the time,” but also a difficult child to parent.
She “will cry, argue, and scream, which is atypical for other children her age. In addition, she now displays aggressive behaviors … and also displayed destruction in the foster home,” the report said.
But Kendrea only acted out because she wanted to go home to her loved ones, her relatives said on Monday.
“She should be on her way to middle school, high school, college, having a family, husband, career, business, she should not be dead at 6 years old.” Willie Venzant said.