11 Investigates: Child’s murder leads to policy changes at local police department

Brielle Swinton should be turning 5 years old -- a milestone her mom, Javonne Swinton, wishes she could celebrate with her daughter.

“Brielle was like my little mini-me. She was amazing, and beautiful, and smart. She’s not here, and she should be,” Javonne Swinton told Channel 11′s Gabriella DeLuca.

Two years ago, her daughter was murdered, squeezed to death by Javonne’s boyfriend, Kyrell Morgan. He was sentenced to up to 40 years in prison.

“It sucks. I can’t ever get her ready for school, or put her on the bus, or get her ready for those first moments,” Javonne said.

During Morgan’s trial, a doctor testified that he made a ChildLine tip reporting suspected abuse of Brielle.

According to testimony at the trial, Allegheny County Police never investigated the ChildLine tip. Weeks later, Brielle was killed.

When asked if Javonne feels like someone dropped the ball in her daughter’s case, she replied, “Absolutely. I was the first one to put it into the light that something happened to my daughter, and nothing was done about it.”

Multiple sources tell 11 Investigates that the ChildLine tip in Brielle’s case was sent to Allegheny County Police, but no one physically checked on her.

Now, according to those same sources, there’s a new standard operating procedure for Allegheny County Police, and it’s a direct result of Brielle’s case.

11 Investigates has learned, according to multiple sources, that when Allegheny County Police receives a ChildLine tip moving forward, detectives are now required to physically check on the child, and put eyes on them.

“I was just shocked. That’s their job to protect children, and youth, and families from situations like this. I feel like they definitely failed,” she said.

Channel 11 asked County Police about the new standard operating procedure.

Spokesperson Jim Madalinsky said in part, “While there has been no direct change to our standard operating procedures as a result of this investigation, as a law enforcement agency, we consistently review and evaluate our policies and procedures to best serve the community.”

We started digging into other recent child deaths and combed through court paperwork.

We uncovered the Allegheny County Office of Children, Youth and Families was involved in at least three cases in which a child ended up dead.

Thomas Humphreys, 1, Robert Kraft, 2, and Diem McMunn-Gereshenski, 6, all died after ingesting drugs.

It’s unclear if, in all of those cases, a ChildLine tip was made, prompting a County Police investigation.

Here’s how the Pennsylvania ChildLine process is supposed to work:

Someone suspects abuse and calls the toll-free number, which is run by the State Department of Human Services. From there, intake call center case workers vet the tip and determine if it warrants an investigation.

If there are any suspected criminal allegations in Allegheny County, county police, or another department, investigates.

If detectives within the department determine a crime has been committed, the case is then turned over to the District Attorney’s office.

“It’s a fight. It’s an ongoing fight,” District Attorney Stephen Zappala said.

We took Brielle’s case, and the other recent child deaths we found in Allegheny County, to Zappala.

“We’re looking into each of those matters to see how it was handled. I’m a parent. That’s the last thing I want to hear,” he said.

Now a grieving mother, Javonne, says if County Police had properly investigated the ChildLine tip, there’s a chance Brielle could still be here.

“It could have saved her life. It could have saved any other kids’ lives who had to go through this,” Javonne said.

We have asked County Police and the Department of Human Services for an interview to discuss this case and their policies.

A County spokesperson told us neither agency is at liberty to discuss individual cases or answer questions related to cases they’ve investigated.

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