Kelsey Briggs died of blunt force trauma to the abdomen at the age of 2. While her father was fighting for our country in Iraq, Kelsey was fighting for her life. After months of documented abuse a Judge sent Kelsey back to an abusive home. She was still in state custody while in her mothers care and under the watchful eye of three state agencies. Four months later she was dead. Her stepfather and mother have both been charged in connection to her death.
Kelsey was born to Raye Dawn Smith and Lance Briggs after they were divorced. She lied about being pregnant and told another man he was his child. Her daddy asked for a DNA test and at age 3 months found out this baby girl was his. Lance and his new wife had standard visitation with Kelsey until he was called to active duty. At that time his parents were granted his visitation. It was during one of these visits that Kelsey was given to them with a broken collar bone. It was discovered at bath time she had 29 bruises and multiple abrasions. The local police department ruled this as toddler bruising and forced them to return Kelsey to her mother. A week later they were granted temporary custody with the help of their attorney. Within two months the mother was given unsupervised visitation after DHS confirmed abuse on her.
The mother returned Kelsey with new injuries after most visits. DHS was contacted each time, but no action was taken. When Kelsey was diagnosed with two broken legs the pediatrician documented it as accidental. This doctor was the sister to the mother's defense attorney. The paternal grandmother took Kelsey to a specialist for a second opinion to see if she had problems with growth plates. At this visit he and 2 other doctors suspected abuse as they were both spiral fractures.
DHS took custody of Kelsey and placed her with the maternal grandmother. The mother pointed the finger to the paternal grandparents. They expected an investigation and to be cleared knowing the timeline of the injuries and the history of the mother. This did not happen. A Judge ruled Kelsey deprived and returned Kelsey to her mother. The paternal family was not given any visitation. More than two months later they were granted a five hour unsupervised visit. They were shocked at what they saw. Kelsey had lost weight, had retinal eye hemorraging and had multiple bruises. The mother claimed it had come from a minor car accident eight days prior. The paternal family contacted DHS and told them if they did not remove Kelsey from her mother's home she would not live long enough to see her daddy return from Iraq. Kelsey was dead six weeks later.
SPC Lance Briggs was days from returning home to see his little girl. He had made it as far as Fort Benning, Georgia when he got the news.
For more on Kelsey's story and the outcome of the trials please go to www.kelseyspurpose.org
Kelsey's paternal family is working for change in the state system designed to protect children. A new law is now in effect in the state of Oklahoma named for Kelsey. A website has been created to support other families in abusive situations. The Kelsey Briggs Walk Against Child Abuse is held each October in her memory.
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