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Foster Mother Seeks Answers After 4-Year-Old Boy Was Found Dead In Abusive Birth Parents’ Home

Photo: Facebook
Judah Morgan and Jenna Hullett

A foster mother is speaking out after the child she considered her own was found dead following a trial home visit at his birth parents' home.

4-year-old Judah Morgan had lived in Knox, Indiana with his foster family since he was just a couple of months old.

His foster mother, Jenna Hullett is a cousin of the boy's father and lived nearby, even allowing his parents to visit Judah.

During one of Morgan’s visits to his birth family’s home, a tragic incident occured that has left Hullet grieving.

Judah Morgan was found dead in his birth parents’ home.

A little before 3 a.m. on October 11th, 2021, Morgan’s birth mother, Mary E. Yoder, called the LaPorte County police department to report the incident that occurred inside the home.

One person mentioned that he wasn’t breathing, while the 26-year-old mother said that her husband and Morgan’s birth father, 28-year-old Alan D. Morgan, lost his temper and hurt the kids.

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Court records show that the house and property were in a complete state of disarray — when authorities arrived on the scene, the lawn was filled with garbage and when they entered the house they were immediately hit with the smell of urine and feces upon entering, finding three small children and no adults inside.

Authorities also noted that there was a matted, starving dog that was locked in a cage, trapped in its own excrement along with more animal feces on the floor.

Judah was found on the floor of one of the bedrooms, naked, and covered only in a fuzzy blanket and bruises — not breathing and unconscious.

The autopsy would later reveal that he died from blunt force trauma, and now the foster family is asking questions surrounding his death.

Jenna Hullett tried to alert child services to abuse happening inside the home.

Four months after Judah’s birth he was placed in foster care. After Jenna Hullett discovered this, she reached out to the Department of Child Services to see if she could take care of him.

Hullett is Judah’s second cousin and Alan’s first cousin, meaning that Judah would be put in Hullett’s home as a part of a kinship placement — which allows children in the foster care system to be placed with family, relatives, or even close family friends.

"He automatically had a bond with us because he was with us every day, all the time," Hullett has said.

Before Judah could speak, she had suspected that he had been suffering abuse at her cousin’s house every time he went to visit.

“There were a lot of red flags going on in between the time we got him and when he could vocalize abuse that was going on in the house. Every time he would tell me something, I would tell the caseworker and it was constantly overlooked," she said.

As he grew older and became more distressed, she noticed that the usually-sweet child would return home from her cousin’s angry — sometimes lashing out and hitting Hullett even though he would also rush into her arms the minute he was returned to her care.

“I remember one time Judah ripped his hand from the caseworker and jumped in my arms. And hugged me like my own kids don’t even hug me. I could tell at that time he was in distress,” Hullett said. 

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In April 2021, Hullett said that a judge ordered that Judah be sent back to his biological parents' home for a trial home visit — something that Indiana only does when "the safety and well-being of a child can be reasonably ensured.”

However, Hullet believes Judah had been abused and tortured by the parents who now face felony charges following the death of their son.

Alan was charged with felony first-degree murder, five counts of felony neglect of a dependent and misdemeanor cruelty to an animal, while Yoder faces two counts of felony neglect of a dependent, misdemeanor cruelty to an animal and misdemeanor failure to report.

Hullett claims that DCS workers in LaPorte County twice told her they would file a termination of parental rights for Judah's case after her reports of abuse, but they failed to do their jobs.

"For some reason, they didn't file the termination of parental rights on two separate occasions. I believe the first one was because of COVID, and the courts were closed, but I don't know why they didn't just push it further. But then they were supposed to file it again, and for some reason, unknown to anybody, they didn't," Hullett said.

Time and time again, they brushed off the reports and delayed the process that would allow Judah’s guardianship to be transferred to Hullett — including a mandatory bonding assessment that would prove Judah was more attached to her.

"Ultimately, if they had done their job, he would still be in a loving, caring home," Hullett said.

However, Judah’s case caught the attention of lawmakers and allowed for the pushing of a bill that would hopefully prevent this from happening again.

Senator J.D. Ford, a Democrat representing Marion County and parts of Boone and Hamilton counties, filed a bill for the 2022 legislative session that would make changes to what type of information DCS has to include on their yearly Child Fatality Report.

"In cases like these you can't help but think about Judah. And about the other Judahs that are out there," Ford said. "And to determine what happened, if there's a pattern. Can we find information so this does not happen again. We need that information sooner, rather than later, put into play to prevent something like this from happening again."

Judah’s birth parents both pleaded not guilty to their charges in October, setting their trial for an October 2022 date where they will hopefully see justice served.

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Isaac Serna-Diez is a writer who focuses on entertainment and news, social justice, and politics. Follow him on Twitter here.