The Sponaugle File: This Is What Negligence From The Kansas DCF Looks Like

Kansas Department for Children and Families were involved with the family for two years before Joseph Sponaugle murdered his 3-month-old daughter

  • In 2012, DCF was involved with Brittani Figueroa and the father of her second child Thomas Greene Jr

  • Figueroa claimed Greene raped her and had issues with anger management

  • Greene was arrested for rape, criminal restraint, disorderly, and violating a previous PFA from Figueroa

  • DCF closed the case in August of 2012 after it was determined the baby’s basic needs were being met

  • In February 2013, Figueroa and Sponaugle were reported to DCF for using meth and other concerns

  • In March 2013, the second case was closed after DCF workers claimed they could not locate Figueroa and Sponaugle

In the first part of the Sponaugle file release, we looked at the police reports from the arrest of 29-year-old Joseph Sponaugle after he killed his 3-month-old child.

Read Part One Of This Series By Clicking Here!

This portion of the Sponaugle file focuses on the Kansas Department for Children and Families’ involvement with the family for at least two years prior to the murder. Despite multiple reports, DCF neglected to remove the children from a dangerous and frequently unstable situation. Reports over the years included selling and using drugs (at one point while Brittani Figueroa was pregnant), rape, violence, and a risk of physical abuse.

Joseph Sponaugle Part 2

Thomas Greene Jr

The reports also show that Sponaugle was not the only man involved with Figueroa. Figueroa lived with Thomas Greene Jr in Connecticut. Greene Jr is the father of Figueroa’s second child. Figueroa had her first child with a man in Las Vegas, but there was no relationship between the two.

A test from the KBI showed that Sponaugle was not the father of the child he killed. On July 21, 2014, a man named Timothy James “TJ” Lee told the Pratt Police Department that there was a good chance he was the child’s father due to a “on again – off again” relationship with Figueroa for seven to eight months before she was with Sponaugle. DCF noted in the past that “Brittani has relationship issues,” and “[she] doesn’t stay in relationships.”  

A report from DCF on June 23, 2012, states that Figueroa confided in a reporter that she had a history of abusing “crack cocaine.” She also admitted to smoking marijuana when she was pregnant with her second child. At the time of this report, Figueroa still had some kind of relationship with Greene Jr.

According to the report:

THOMAS JR WAS ARRESTED ON FRIDAY AFTERNOON FOR VIOLATION OF A PROTECTIVE ORDER THAT BRITTANI HAD AGAINST HIM IN (redacted), BUT THE REPORTER BELIEVES WAS REMOVED BEFORE THEY MOVED TO KANSAS TOGETHER. REPORTER IS EXTREMELY CONFUSED BECAUSE THOMAS JR’S NAME IS THE ONE ON THE APARTMENT LEASE.

REPORTER KNOWS THAT ON MONDAY THOMAS JR GOES TO COURT, BUT IS UNSURE WHAT ELSE IS GOING ON. THE POLICE TOLD (redacted) FATHER THAT THEY WERE LOOKING INTO SOME OTHER CHARGES, BUT NOBODY IS SURE WHAT.

Figueroa admitted a neighbor who watched her second child was also using marijuana. Figueroa was working a part-time job at the time, and Greene Jr was working a full-time job. Neither was said to have any mental illness or disabilities.

Extent Of Situation

In the “Extent of Situation” report, the reporter checked “yes” that they were aware of “verbal and/or physical fights between adults in the home.” It notes that the reporter did not know much, just that Figueroa had a restraining order against Greene Jr and Pratt police arrested him on June 22, 2012.

The reporter also checked “yes” to “Pregnant Woman Using Substances.” It once again notes that the reporter was “confused by the entire situation” and had “no additional information.” Under presenting problem, the reporter checked, “Without parental control” and“Significant lack of parenting skills.”

Three days later, at the end of the assessment on June 28, 2012, Figueroa explained that Greene Jr was arrested on June 22, for rape, criminal restraint and disorderly, which was a violation of a PFA that had not been dismissed properly.

Figueroa stated that Greene Jr forced her to have sex with him. She said she gave in at the time to get it over with, but later decided to report the incident, but she did not want Greene Jr to get in trouble. Instead, she hoped he would “get help,” such as “anger management.”

In the report, Figueroa also claims Greene Jr can use force, specifically naming a time that he kicked the bathroom door just weeks before the interview. Figueroa said he can be jealous and that she would not get back in a relationship with him at until he completed anger management.

Case Closed

On July 11, 2012, someone close to Figueroa reported a concern for her and Greene’s child to DCF. The caller claimed Figueroa wanted “attention” and can be “jealous.” They went on to say they too believed Greene Jr needed anger management. However, the caller did not have concerns that the two could meet the “baby’s basic needs.”

Despite a confusing rape claim/case, and other issues, on August 27, 2012, it was decided DCF services were not needed and the case was closed. Sharon Grimes was the social worker that signed off on closing the case. Grimes supervisor is listed as Jessi Strecker and Michelle Droegemeier is listed as who made the initial assessment decision. Michelle Warner is listed as the person receiving the report.

A New Case

Just six months after Figueroa’s first case was closed, DCF opened another case against her and Sponaugle. Records dated February 28, 2013, stated “BRITTANI IS REPORTEDLY 2 MONTHS PREGNANT AND USING AND SELLING METH, PRESCRIPTION PILLS AND THC DAILY WITH HER BOYFRIEND JOEY. THEY USE IN THE HOME WITH (redacted) PRESENT.”

The report goes on to claim the babysitter was doing meth while Figueroa’s second child was present. At the time, Figueroa was not working, and Sponaugle was said to be supporting the two with his full-time job.

An Initial Assesment Decision made by Kimberly Probst stated that Figueroa had a history and current problems with drug abuse. Both Figueroa and Sponaugle were said to be doing drugs regularly, yet there was no indication the child had “access to drugs” or that any other caregivers “were passed out” while watching the children.

Probst claimed there was a “risk to child” due to the “caregivers altered mental status” possibly affecting their judgment. At that time a WPC was assigned with a 72-hour response. The reason was a child under the age of one and a pregnant woman using substances.

A series of scribbled notes at the bottom of the page read:

  • 3-4-13 12:55 (illegible) No one home

  • 3-7-13 12:50 No one home. Neighbor says Brittani doesn’t live there anymore

  • 3-8-13 9:20 May 6. no new address w/ EES

  • 3-15-13 (illegible)

Unable To Locate

On March 4, 2013, Grimes attempted to conduct a safety assessment with Figueroa, then again on March 7. On her report, Grimes filled in the “Safety Assessment completed area” with “NA – Unable to locate.”

It was noted on March 5, 2013, that Sponaugle’s criminal history shows a possession of stimulants/depressants on June 3, 2010, and twelve counts of possession of opiates and possession with intent for over five plants on May 3, 2012.

On March 15, 2013, a supervisor named Toni Schuckman filled out the Social Service Case Activity Log. Under completing the “10 day staffing per PPM 2314, which includes intake interview, history searches, investigative interviews, and activities and assessment activities,” Schuckman wrote the following.

Staffing Decision: Wkr unable to locate on staffing date to follow up w/ EES, mail ltr, call (illegible) to try to locate. Prior drug concern & DV in 6-12. Mom meeting child needs in 6-12.

Gather Additional Information: Mail ltr for apt. get info from

Complete Safety Planning: Make ff w/ mom & child.

Perform Protective Actions: None at this time. Unable to locate. 

                                                            -no threat of imminent danger.

Provide Recommendations and/or Referrals to Family: No recommendations at this time. Unable to locate 

Another Case Closed

On March 22, 2013, Grimes signature was on a letter requesting a mandatory appointment with Figueroa for March 27. Documents show that Grimes was once again assigned the case.

Grimes ended up closing the case. The reason being, “Family moved, cannot be located. Medical needs were unable to be determined.” Not even a year later, Sponaugle would end up killing the child that Figueroa was pregnant with and getting high.

 

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About Meko Haze

Meko Haze is an independent journalist by day... and an independent journalist by night.

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