Sheriff’s office ends investigation into death of 11-year-old boy
January 14, 2010
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office ended its investigation this week into the death of a 11-year-old Stateline boy, concluding that abuse or neglect did not play a role in his death.
The case will now be forwarded to the Douglas County District Attorney’s office for review. An investigation by the state’s child welfare agency is ongoing.
Chandler Nash-Elliott, a Cub Scout and fifth grader at Zephyr Cove Elementary School, was found dead in his father’s Kingsbury Grade home on Dec. 14. The sheriff’s office has ruled the death a suicide.
Charges will not be brought against his parents, despite the fact that Chandler was unattended at the time of his death.
“Plenty of children are left alone,” said Sgt. Jim Halsey, a sheriff’s office spokesperson.
Autopsy and toxicology results are still pending. If there are signs of drug abuse or foul play, those would be investigated as a separate matter, Halsey said.
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Chandler’s father, David Elliott, could not be reached for comment.
Chandler’s mother, Minni Barstow, shared custody with Elliott and had weekend visitation. She was in Arizona looking at property with her husband Gary Barstow at the time of her son’s death.
Barstow said Thursday that she fully supports any investigation into her son’s death, but was upset that the sheriff’s office had already closed its case.
“I cannot believe they would close the case before toxicology came in, and that they’re trying to make that a separate case,” Barstow said. “At this point, I cannot see how they can close (the case) without that.”
The family has had a case file with the Nevada Division of Child and Family Services since 2001. The initial report was due to concerns of a parent driving under the influence with a child unrestrained in the car, according to the public disclosure form released following Chandler’s death. Subsequent reports were filed from 2001 to 2008 due to concerns of lack of supervision, physical abuse, parental drug use and lack of basic household necessities. According to the report, all claims were found to be unsubstantiated.
The division’s most recent claim was on Nov. 2. Barstow said she called the division to report that Chandler was living without heat or hot water and that her son was depressed.
According to the report, a case worker interviewed Chandler, his school principal and attempted a home visit on Nov. 3. On Nov. 4, the worker conducted a phone interview with the mother and attempted another home visit. The worker spoke with the father by phone on Nov. 5, and conducted a face-to-face interview with him on Nov. 9. On Nov. 10, the worker had a phone conversation with the mother and on Nov. 11, interviewed Chandler at school.
The division also gave the father money to help restore gas services in the home, the report states.
The worker again had personal contact with the father on Nov. 18, and met with Chandler and his father on Nov. 19.
When Chandler died less than a month later, the case was still open.
Ben Kieckhefer, spokesperson for the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services, said the department is conducting two reviews into Chandler’s case. The first is consideration by the child death review team, which reviews every child death in the state. The second is the review to see whether there was abuse or neglect associated with the death.
Kieckhefer said the findings from both of those reviews are confidential to most parties under state law.