How Could You? Hall of Shame-James Levi Caldwell case-Child Death UPDATED

By on 4-17-2013 in Abuse in adoption, How could you? Hall of Shame, James Levi Caldwell, Jordan Arwood, North Carolina

How Could You? Hall of Shame-James Levi Caldwell case-Child Death UPDATED

This will be an archive of heinous actions by those involved in child welfare, foster care and adoption. We forewarn you that these are deeply disturbing stories that may involve sex abuse, murder, kidnapping and other horrendous actions.

From Stanley, North Carolina, adoptee James Levi Caldwell, 7, was buried alive on April 7, 2013 when a collapse occurred of a non permitted, unsupported two-story-deep dig site on the property of  Jordan Arwood, 31.  James’ adoptive cousin, Chloe Jade Arwood,6, also was buried alive with him. Their bodies were recovered on April 8, 2013.

James had a twin, Jazmin and older brother Josiah,9, who were not involved in the accident. Jordan’s parents are the adoptive parents to the three siblings. The adoptive parents, Nancy and Ken Caldwell, live next door to Jordan.

” Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office Detective Lt. Tim Johnson said investigators were interviewing family members and neighbors about the case. When they finished, they planned to present their findings to the district attorney’s office.

The detective was philosophical about whether the father could be punished criminally.

“You can’t punish anyone worse than that,” said Johnson about Arwood’s loss.

What’s puzzling is why Arwood was digging the hole.

Investigators described the pit as 20 feet by 20 feet with a sloped entrance leading down to the 24-foot bottom. The children were at the bottom of the pit retrieving a child-sized pickaxe when the walls fell in on them. No permits had been issued for Arwood to dig on the site.

Johnson said people have speculated that the pit was everything from a “doomsday bunker” to an underground structure for “illegal activity,” such as growing marijuana.

Sheriff’s deputies on Monday removed firearms and a marijuana plant from Arwood’s mobile home. Arwood is a felon who is not allowed to have guns. He was convicted in 2003 for possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell.

But it’s still unclear to investigators how Arwood was planning to use the pit.

Arwood told some neighbors that it was going to be a bunker to “protect his family.” Others said he told them it was going to be a basement.

But Johnson said: “There aren’t many basements that are 20-by-24-by-20,” he said.

“The hole itself made no sense that way it was constructed. Nothing was done the way it would be done legally.”

One neighbor, Bradley Jones, a construction worker, told The Associated Press that he talked to Arwood about the hole. Jones said it had no supports to stop the sides from caving in.

“To me, it was dangerous,” he said.

Dion Burleson, spokesman for the Denver Fire Department which responded to collapse, said crews filled in the pit on Monday.

“It was a safety hazard,” he said.

He also said everyone involved in the rescue would go through a debriefing to deal with their emotions. “A lot of people were hit hard by this.”

Arwood told the AP in an email that he would respond to questions “in time.”

“I cannot see through the tears to respond,” he said.

Arwood’s desperate voice is heard on a 911 recording released by the Lincoln County communications center on Monday.

“Please hurry … My children are buried under tons of dirt … They’re buried under tons of clay … It fell on top of them,” he said sobbing.

Then Arwood began to pray for the children’s safety.

It seemed like the entire rural community was grieving Tuesday. A prayer vigil was held Monday night at a local church. Another one was scheduled Tuesday night. Funerals were pending.

Chelsea Jones, who babysat the children, saw them a few days ago. They were happy and running around, she recalled.

“They were full of life. I still can’t believe they’re gone,” she said.”

Grief, questions after collapse kills 2 NC kids

[Knox News 4/9/13 by Mitch Weiss/Associated Press]

“Members of  the Adventure in Faith Church in Alexis, N.C., pray Monday, for the family or two young children they knew who died in the collapse of a construction excavation site Sunday night.”

“For Jordan Arwood, the images return in waves. A wall of dirt collapsing and burying his 6-year-old daughter and her 7-year-old cousin in a pit he was working on. Rescue workers frantically pulling the children from thick red clay. Their lifeless bodies placed in the back of an ambulance.

“When she came out of the hole she was so cold,” Arwood, of Stanley, N.C., told The Associated Press in his first news media interview. “I just wanted for her to be warm. I just wanted to put my arms around her and tell her she would be safe….I promised her I’d keep her safe. I promised them I’d keep them safe and warm. I broke that promise.””

Arwood told the AP he reached out to save the children but they were just outside his grasp. He said he dug faster and faster trying to rescue them until he couldn’t breathe.

“When the wall came down, I kept grabbing what was in front of me — grabbing enough dirt, grabbing boulders. … I wasn’t going to stop until I pulled them out. But I couldn’t save them,” he said, sobbing.

He paused for a moment.

“I wish it was me,’ he said.”

“Arwood said he was building a rammed earth home, an ancient building method where dirt is used to shape the foundation. Arwood said he had been digging for three months.”

” Dion Burleson, spokesman for the Denver Fire Department, which responded to collapse, said crews filled in the pit Monday.

Arwood said he didn’t expect the walls to collapse. And late Tuesday afternoon, Arwood walked to the site of the pit and pointed to the spot where his daughter and James had been buried under the dirt.

He reached down and sifted the dirt between the fingers of his right hand. Then he punched the soil in frustration.”

” As the walls fell in, he recalled, the children were running to get away. He was within inches of grabbing his daughter’s hand. But she disappeared under a surge of dirt. Now he’s haunted by the memories.

“I want to wake up. I just want to wake up,” he said.

Recalling the children, his eyes brighten. They were always running around together – the best of friends.

And his parents’ house was filled with laughter. He taught his daughter and James how to ride four-wheelers in the backyard.

Arwood was like a big brother to James.

“How many times did I have to tell him to brush his teeth? I’ll never be able to tell him again, `Go brush your teeth, brush your hair.’ That was the first thing he did in the morning,” he said.

On Tuesday, friends and family in this tight-knit rural community came by to offer their condolences. They brought food to the family.”

“Officials shifted their operations from one of rescue to one of recovery after they saw no signs that the two children trapped beneath the dirt at a North Carolina construction site were still alive late Sunday.

Ken Caldwell sat on a couch, surrounded by photos of his grandchildren. Nearby was a white karate suit. James is going to be buried in it. He was just a few days shy of taking a test for his orange belt.

Caldwell, who worked 34 years in a steel fabrication plant, recalled reading Tom Swift books every night to James, a bright, energetic first-grader with a big smile.

He loved his grandmother, who would tuck him in every night. “After she tucked him in, he would stick out his leg out of the covers and say, “Grandma, my foot’s not covered.'”

Chloe was always running around the house and jumping in his lap.

“She’s so beautiful,” he said.

When he saw the children’s bodies in the ambulance, he said he placed his hands on them and asked God to “bring them back.”

While his prayers went unanswered, his faith is still strong – and he’s going to use it to carry him through the tough times.

“You have to trust the Lord,” he said. “I’m just grateful I had time to spend with my grandkids.””

‘I wish it was me’: North Carolina dad describes moment he tried to save 2 kids buried in dirt

[New York Daily News 4/10/13 by The Associated Press]

“The Lincoln County sheriff’s department says 31-year-old Jordan Arwood of Stanley is charged  with possession of a gun by a felon, and making a  controlled substance. He’s being held in the  county jail on $20,000 bond.”
North Carolina dad of collapse victims faces firearm, drug charges

[Fox News 4/16/13]

REFORM Puzzle Piece

Apparently neither the adoptive parents nor their son will be charged with any form of negligence. Sigh.

Update/September 19, 2013

Finally an arrest for involuntary manslaughter!

“The father who was working in a two-story-deep dirt hole that collapsed and killed his daughter and her cousin is facing involuntary manslaughter charges, authorities announced Thursday.

Jordan Arwood, 31, of 5858 Cedarbrook Court, Stanley turned himself in Thursday and is charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter, said Lincoln County Sheriff David Carpenter.

“This has been a very tragic event and we continue to pray for all persons involved,” the sheriff said in a release.

Arwood was placed in the Harven A. Crouse Detention Center under a $15,000 secured bond. His first court appearance is scheduled for Friday.

Arwood was using a backhoe in a pit in April when the walls caved in on the children. The bodies of Chloe Jade Arwood, 6, and James Levi Caldwell, 7, were dug out the next day.

While investigating, sheriff’s deputies removed guns and a marijuana plant from Arwood’s home.

Officials described the pit as 20 feet by 20 feet with a sloped entrance leading down to the bottom. The children were at the bottom of the construction site retrieving a child-sized pickaxe when the walls fell in on them. No permits had been issued for Arwood to dig on the site.

In an interview with The Associated Press a few days after the accident, Arwood said he worked frantically to save the children but they were just outside his reach. He says he dug faster and faster trying to save the children until he couldn’t breathe.

Investigators say they still don’t know why Arwood was digging the hole. But he said he was building a rammed earth home, an ancient building method where dirt is used to shape the foundation.

Arwood said he had been digging the hole for three months.”

Dad arrested in dirt collapse deaths

[Hickory Record 9/19/13 by The Associated Press]

Update/June 14,2014

“A judge dismissed the case against a man charged in the deaths of two children.[What the #@$%?]

Jordan Keely Arwood of Stanley faced two counts of involuntary manslaughter for the asphyxiation deaths of his daughter, Chloe Arwood, 6, and nephew, James Caldwell, 7.

The two died April 7 when a 20-foot wall of dirt collapsed, burying them alive. They were playing at the bottom of a pit Jordan Arwood was digging. During Thursday’s probable cause hearing at the Lincoln County Courthouse, the prosecution aimed to prove that Arwood was criminally negligent and that his case should be heard in front of a jury.

Defense attorney Brad Smith said the children’s deaths were a tragic accident but not the result of a criminal act. Both sides presented evidence and called witnesses to the stand. Superior Court Judge Ali Paksoy sided with the defense and dismissed the case.

Horrific night: Arwood lives on Cedarbrook Court in Lincoln County, next door to his mother. About a year ago he started digging a hole on the property. He later told police it was the start of a house he planned to build. The day the children died, Arwood was digging in the 20- by 24-foot hole. Arwood’s mother, Nancy Caldwell, and another woman were helping outside of the pit.

Nancy Caldwell testified during the hearing that she last saw the cousins playing on a nearby swing set with other children. Then she heard screams. “I thought Jordan was being buried,” she said. “The next thing I know it wasn’t Jordan. It was the children.”

The children had gone into the pit. They were at its deepest point when the wall of dirt gave way. The family started digging and called 911. Hundreds of emergency workers tried to save the children. Nearly 12 hours later, crews unearthed Chloe Arwood’s body. Her cousin was uncovered a short time later. About two weeks after that, Jordan Arwood was charged in the children’s deaths.”

Judge clears man in death of two children[Gaston Gazette 12/5/13 by Diana Turbyfill]