by Virginia McCullough

Antioch, California is a bedroom community located along the San Joaquin-Sacramento River Delta. The sprawling city, named after a biblical city in Syria, boasts a population of just over 100,000. The inhabitants seeking a town offering homes at reasonable prices represent every profession, race and religion.

In the middle eighties a subdivision was built consisting of single story and two story homes. The houses were spacious with two car garages. The residences ranged in price from $250,000 to $400,000 until California’s real estate crash in 2007.

The Antioch Police Department responded to a 911 call from the normally quiet neighborhood on Tuesday, September 3, 2008. The mother of the head of this household had called the authorities. When police entered the second story bedroom of the home in the 3700 block on Killdeer Drive they were horrified by what they saw. A very thin, 15-year-old named Jasmine Davis was discovered dead in a room that one seasoned officer compared to a prisoner of war camp. The young girl had obviously endured years of abuse. Her body was covered with scars, burns and open sores. There was evidence that "Jazzmin", as the victim preferred to be called, had been beaten with belts, electrical cords and perhaps a wooden curtain rod. It was apparent that she had been systematically tortured over a long period of time. Lt. Leonard Orman, a 23-year veteran of the Antioch police force, called the case “the most extreme case of long term abuse that I’ve ever seen”. The 5’7” teenager weighed only 78 pounds at the time of her death.

The twin brother of Jazzmin Davis had also endured several years of severe abuse. Both twins had been in the “care” of their aunt, Shemeeka, a 37-year-old woman who was charged with 2 counts of child abuse and torture and the murder of Jazzmin. Shemeeka Davis has been held in jail since her arrest in lieu of a $1.5 million dollar bail. She has pled not guilty.

The brother and sister had not attended public schools in Antioch since approximately October 2007 when they were reportedly withdrawn from the school district by the family. The mandatory reporters employed by the Antioch school district did not report any abuse of either twin.

Neither Child “Protective” Service (CPS) is San Francisco nor its sister agency in Contra Costa County reported any abuse of either child. In fact the San Francisco Human Services responsible for overseeing the care of the twins claimed that a social worker had visited the Antioch home as recently as March 2008 and saw nothing amiss. The case worker’s records reflect that Jazzmin was attending school and had received “Cs” on her last report card and both twins were “friendly, talkative and appeared to be very health(y).”

In fact, after Jazzmin was murdered and her surviving brother severely injured, all mandatory reporters and their respective agencies moved rapidly to conceal their misconduct and their agencies irresponsibility.

Common sense dictates that both of these children would have exhibited the scars and open sores inflicted by their abuser if anyone paid to protect children had actually taken their job seriously. No one did anything and no one cared about anything but protecting the failed system that is Child “Protective” Services in the state of California.

The City and County of San Francisco Child Protective Service had placed the twins in their aunt’s custody when they were infants. One week before her niece was killed Shemeeka Davis was appointed their legal guardian. These foster children had been singled out for abuse by their guardian. Her biological children ages 18, 17 and 7 was healthy and well cared for living in the same home. Shemeeka Davis received a total of $13,104 a year for caring for the two foster twins.

Shemeeka’s mother, who had called made the 911 call, was also reportedly under the care of her daughter and the accused received $9,800 a year for her mother’s care.

The home in which the family resided was rented under Section 8 housing and the county of Contra Costa paid $20,400 toward that yearly rent.

The total income from the combined county and state funds totaled $43,302 a year. No other source of Davis family income was reported by the media.

The murder of Jazzmin Davis paints a clear picture of the state of California paying an alleged child abuser to systematically torture the children in her care. It also demonstrates that the State of California continues to pay Child Protective Services and its employees to ignore abused children. When a tragic case like this one comes to light the State will pour additional funds into protecting and preserving their failed agencies.

Virginia McCullough ©  11/24/08

Painting: Pierre-Auguste Renoir. Roses and Jasmin in a Delft Vase. (Les roses et jasmin dans le vase de Delft). c. 1880-81