• October 23, 2014

CPS: Foster mom of dead baby misled caseworker

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Posted: Friday, October 25, 2013 4:30 am

CEDAR PARK — Officials with state Child Protective Services said the agency accepted the promises of a Central Texas foster mother that a man with a violent history was not living in her home where a baby suffered fatal injuries.

Various court documents show 32-year-old Jacob Robb Salas listed as his address the suburban Austin home where 1-year-old Orion Destiny Hamilton was critically hurt. She died Sunday.

The girl’s aunt and foster mother, Heather Hamilton, told a CPS caseworker during a welfare check that Salas was living in another state, and the caseworker believed her.

A police complaint indicated Salas confessed to harming the baby by squeezing her head between his knee and the floor, according to The Dallas Morning News.

Salas is charged with injury to a child and is being held without bond at the Williamson County jail. Online jail records do not indicate Salas has an attorney.

Orion’s father, Brian Hamilton, told the Austin American-Statesman that he warned CPS more than a month ago that his daughter was in danger.

“I am so upset with them,” he said. “I told them that Jacob was living there, and they didn’t care.”

His sister was appointed the child’s foster mother in December. Orion was removed from her San Antonio home last year after being born with methamphetamine in her system, said Patrick Crimmins, spokesman for the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.

Orion spent about two months in a foster home before the state sent her to live with Heather Hamilton.

Salas is the father of Heather Hamilton’s three children, and authorities believe he was baby-sitting Orion when she was critically injured.

According to public records, Salas has been charged twice since 2004 with family violence allegations. Both charges, including one filed last year, were dismissed. Salas also was arrested earlier this year on a theft charge, according to the Statesman. That case is pending.

Salas’ criminal history wouldn’t have barred him from being around the child unless CPS determined he posed a risk to children in the home, Crimmins said.

After Brian Hamilton complained about Salas, the CPS caseworker did a criminal background check on him, Crimmins said. The agency doesn’t disclose what it finds in such checks, Crimmins said, but on Sept. 12 the caseworker went to the foster home to investigate.

“Ms. Hamilton again denied that Jacob Salas was living in the home and stated he was living in Colorado,” Crimmins said. “The caseworker accepted the explanation.”

A woman who answered the door at Heather Hamilton’s Cedar Park home said Hamilton wasn’t ready to talk about the incident.

© 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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