Friday, July 31, 2020 1:25 PM EST
By ROXANA HEGEMAN, AP
BELLE PLAINE, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas child welfare agency determined on Friday that a 3-year-old girl whose battered body was found earlier this month died as the result of child abuse, a belated finding that comes months after the agency first received reports of abuse.
The Kansas Department for Children and Families released a “Child Fatality Summary” pertaining to Olivia Ann Jansen in response to an open records request from The Associated Press. The agency had initially balked at releasing any information despite a 2018 law that aimed to make such documents more transparent when a child dies.
Olivia’s remains were found in a shallow grave on July 10 after her father, Howard Jansen III, 29, reported the Kansas City, Kansas, girl missing. The 29-year-old father and his 33-year-old girlfriend, Jacqulyn Kirkpatrick, have since been charged with felony murder and other crimes.
The father's attorney, James Spies, said he has not seen the agency’s report. Spies said the father “client adamantly denies the charges against him.”
The attorney for the girlfriend did not immediately return a voice message left at her office.
According to a probable cause affidavit, Olivia’s body was covered with bruises and she died of a brain bleed.
The newly released information shows the agency received two reports of alleged physical abuse on Feb. 28. One report alleged her father hit Olivia on the leg, leaving a bruise and possibly breaking her leg. The other report alleged the father's girlfriend hit the girl.
The agency said it interviewed and observed Olivia on the same day the report was made and observed no marks or bruises. After additional interviews, the person who alleged abuse recanted the story. It found the reports unsubstantiated and closed the case without offering any services.
On June 22, Kansas Protection Report Center received a report alleging the girl's caregiver was unavailable or unable to care for her and alleging substance abuse. Because they were reported out of state, the agency initiated a video call June 30 with Kirkpatrick and spoke with Olivia during that call. They noted the girl appeared excited about the upcoming Independence Day holiday.
The agency also contacted the father that same day and requested he take a drug test. He tested positive for THC on July 7, The Family in Need of Assessment case remains open.
While the report does not indicate who made the complaints, the girl's grandparents, Elisabeth and Howard Jansen II, told The Kansas City Star earlier this month that said they expressed fears to the agency last month that drugs were in the home where Olivia lived.