DCF, Child Protective Services In Florida Fails Another Child

Father Of Boy Found Dead In Coral Springs Is Angry With The Child’s Mother

by cbs4marlena

CORAL SPRINGS (CBS4) – The mother of a four-year old boy found dead in a Coral Springs apartment on Monday was arrested on unrelated charges. On Tuesday, the boy’s father expressed anger with the mother of his now-deceased son.

Four year old Antwan Hope was discovered after police received several 911 calls from inside the apartment.

Antwan Hope


“I was working and I can say on some of the calls she did not speak and hung up.  We were able to track the calls and that’s when we found the four year old deceased,” said Lt. Joe McHugh of the Coral Springs Police Department.

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Destene Simmons, 23, was arrested Monday and charged with driving with a suspended license. She appeared in bond court Tuesday morning and was given a $500 bond on the suspended license charge.

Simmons’s family is not commenting on the incident. Several of her family members waited anxiously outside the Broward Detention Center and were disappointed when she was not released Tuesday evening.

Investigators are waiting on autopsy report which will determine if there was foul play involved in Antwan Hope’s death. If the medical examiner’s report indicates obvious signs of trauma, the police would immediately launch a homicide investigation and obtain a search warrant for Simmons’ apartment.

The boy’s father said he is angry with the child’s mother.

“I cried in the car all the way down. Not my child,” Antwan Hope told CBS 4’s Lauren Pastrana about the moment he learned his son was dead. “I loved that boy.”

Just days after watching his son walk across the stage at his pre-school graduation, Hope is now worrying about funeral arrangements.

“I’m angry with his mom,” Hope explained. “We should have took every option there was to do what we had to do as parents.”

Hope said he did not have custody of his son, but that he visited and spoke with him often.


He said Simmons had a history with the Department of Children and Families stemming from an incident a year ago in which Hope said Simmons took the child to a motel and tried to smother him with a pillow.

“DCF, Child Protective Services came and took my son. My son from his momma,” Hope said. “I would have never thought this girl would have been like this towards him.”

Relatives have said Simmons had some sort of a breakdown. She is not charged in her son’s death but was arrested on an unrelated charge.

Hope said little Antwan was with his mother during an unsupervised visit when he died.

The boy’s relatives now wants answers from DCF.

“Why would you give a child back to someone who is harming a kid,” the child’s aunt Deborah Jackson told Pastrana. “We’re trying to reduce child abuse, not increase it.”

Jackson said she would like to see all DCF cases looked at “with a magnifying glass.”

But Antwan Hope is not so quick to point a finger at the agency.

“I don’t blame nobody else. Nobody else,” he stressed. “Guess what? If she would have protected him, or loved him, they would have never picked him up. He would have never been in DCF hands.”

On Tuesday morning, police tape sealed off the door to Simmons’ apartment which was being guarded by an officer.

Police are calling Hope’s death “suspicious.”

Barbara Brunson, four-year-old Hope’s great aunt from his father’s side, said, “When they think about it, everyone is just crying.”

According to Brunson, family members on the father’s side of the boy have been concerned about Simmons’s mental state ever since an incident that occurred a year ago when they said Simmons tried to harm the four year old.

“As far as her mental state, people don’t pay attention to that until it’s too late,” said Brunson.

According to our parnters at the Miami Herald, Simmons was committed under Florida’s involuntary commitment law, the Baker Act, to a local psychiatric hospital, and Hope was placed in foster care, and then in the home of a maternal aunt.

The Department of Children & Families was eager to return the boy to his mother’s custody. Hope’s guardian-ad-litem objected to returning him to his mother’s care. Broward Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer agreed with DCF and allowed Simmons to have unsupervised visits with her son in preparation for full-time custody.

CBS 4 News reached out to DCF for comment. We were told the agency did not have enough information to determine whether the boy’s death was a result of neglect or abuse.

Under Florida law, DCF said it cannot release records during an open police investigation, according to a spokesperson.

Neighbor Jennifer Hill, whose son played with Simmon’s son Antwon Hope, wants answers.

“He’s crying, and it impacts him, like it does a lot of little kids in the neighborhood though. A lot of these kids are very hurt. Their friend is gone and nobody knows why. Nobody is giving us answers,” said Hill.


CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald contributed to this report.




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