aja.jpgOn January 24, 2010 an Amber Alert was issued for little 7 year old Aja Johnson. She was believed to have been with her step father, Lester Hobbs. The police located Aja’s mother, 37 year old Tanya Hobbs dead inside a RV that was parked at Hobbs’s sister’s home in Geronimo, Oklahoma. Hobbs was named as a person of interest in connection of her death.

Aja’s grandmother reportedly had said that Lester Hobbs never really liked Aja, saying he hated her and she was afraid that he had already killed the little girl. After a little more than 2 months of searching for Aja on March 29,2010, it was announced that the bodies of both Hobbs and Johnson had been found near Norman, Oklahoma. Apparently according to the state medical examiner, Hobbs committed suicide by consuming antifreeze after he killed his stepdaughter. Aja’s body was outside the car with a blanket over her. It was said she had likely had her neck cut.

What really bothers me here other than the fact that an innocent little girl was taken from this world by the hands of a man that was sick and no one did anything to really protect this child. Evidence was clear that she was being abused. According to the records from the Department of Human Services, there were seven reports reported of abuse and neglect within a two year time frame up until the time Aja was abducted, but yet the agency continued to push to keep Aja and her stepsister home with her mother and Lester Hobbs.

Beth Scott, a DHS spokeswoman says that they try to assist parents so they can keep the families together instead of tearing them apart when they think the children can be kept safe.

What part of a child being grabbed by her hair and forced to clean the floor with a toothbrush or being whipped by a paddle and rammed Aja’s head into a wall according to her stepsister. The girls were placed in a foster home in July 2006 but were returned to their mother and Hobbs in May 2007 for a trial reunification.

It didn’t take long for trouble to start again when Tanya Hobbs reported that Lester had been throwing lit firecrackers into the bedroom where the girls slept in order to wake them up. A worker that filed the report from the CHBS (Comprehensive Home-Based Services) told Hobbs to stop doing it because it could cause a fire.

She also said that Hobbs apparently admitted that he spanked the girls with a flexible ruler and she quoted Hobbs as saying, “If DHS doesn’t like the way he disciplines his children they can take them back and raise the children themselves.”

One worker from the Lincoln County DHS told Hobbs the next day that as a parent he had the right to spank Aja but if he started leaving bruises then it would be a different situation.

In September 2007 the girls were once again removed from the home due to some sort of crisis in the home but were returned four days later. A week later DHS recommended that the children could live in the Hobbs home but DHS still had custody.

In April 2007 Aja herself told a DHS worker that Hobbs cut up new clothes given to her by her biological father. It was also reported that Hobbs used a knife to slash a mattress and sheets because he was mad at a neighbor who he had threatened to stab.

When bruises were found on Aja in June 2007, DHS questioned Hobbs about them and his explanation was that he had been angry and he probably just hit her too hard.

On September 30, 2008 it was reported that Tanya Hobbs called attorneys to report that she had relapsed on drugs yet three days later DHS recommended to a judge that Aja and her sister should be released from DHS supervision and be allowed to continue living with their mother and Lester Hobbs. The judge went by their recommendation and gave the girls back to their mother.

There were several other reports made after the year 2008 between 2009 and 2010. The list just goes on. My concern here is WHY! Why was this little girl given back to her mother and stepfather. Her mother obviously was not protecting her children from their stepfather.

Why would DHS return these children to the custody of Tanya and Lester Hobbs. If they had done the right thing Aja Johnson could very well be alive now. Her sister survived the abuse luckily, but poor little Aja suffered and paid for it with her life.

There is no excuse for this. Did the system fail this child? I say it most certainly did. I am really upset over this. Someone should have to answer to this. It breaks my heart reading about all the reports of abuse made to DHS. It sounds to me like someone just didn’t want to be bothered with these two little girls so they just threw them back to the hands of their stepfather which eventually took Aja’s life from her. So sad!

God bless all the abused children that are being ignored by officials when they cry out for help. What is the answer? I wish I knew.

Jan Barrett

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