The guilty verdict for the murderer of an innocent child in Wiscasset brings a measure of closure to this tragedy, but much work remains to deliver real justice.
The murderer must spend the rest of her life in prison. Any more lenient sentence will fall short.
The Maine Attorney General’s Office must review the actions and statements of Stephen Hood, decide whether to charge him with a crime, and report the reasoning for its decision if it declines to do so. By his own admission, he would not take his granddaughter to a doctor or anywhere in public for fear of questions about her bruises.
The Maine Department of Health and Human Services must provide a full and public accounting of its interactions with Kendall Chick.
The state continues to hide behind confidentiality and escape scrutiny of its total and inexcusable failure in this case.
Chick lived in her murderer’s home for either 11 months or more than three years, according to different accounts.
DHHS placed her in the custody of a violent felon and his fiancee, both in recovery from opioid addiction, then checked on her once (once!) before her revolting and brutal torture – the judge’s words – and murder.
We, as citizens and voters, need to both hold those in authority accountable and consider whether we are doing enough to prevent child abuse and neglect.
The saddest thing about this disturbing chapter of our county’s history is that Kendall Chick never really had anyone in her corner.
We were struck by this from the first court hearing for her murderer back in December 2017.
There was not one family member, friend, or anyone else in the courtroom for that girl.
No one ever took the trouble to write up her obituary.
Her legacy will be the reforms to Maine’s child welfare system that come about, in part, because of her death.
It’s up to our representatives in the State House to legislate those reforms, up to DHHS to implement them, and up to us to hold them accountable if they fail.