News & Politics

Social Services Won't Speak to Biological Family of 3-Year-Old Found Dead In Food Network Star's Home

Photo of Victoria Rose Smith, from Facebook.

Ariel Robinson, winner of Food Network’s America’s Worst Cook, was arrested and charged along with her husband Jerry Robinson for the murder of 3-year-old Victoria Rose Smith. They had recently adopted her from the Greenville, S.C., Department of Social Services (DSS) in March of 2020.

DSS removed Victoria and her two brothers from her biological family due to a positive marijuana test at birth and an incident where her young brothers wandered out of the home at night and went to a neighbor’s house, according to family members. The family said DSS took the children and placed them into foster care while the biological mother went through a DSS-ordered plan to recover her family. Family members say that Victoria’s mother followed the plan, including classes and drug tests, but DSS kept changing the parameters, dragging out the process for years.

Victoria’s great aunt, Michelle Urps, was interviewed by activist Traci Fant and said her niece eventually lost her parental rights because of a lack of proper housing. “She did everything that was in the plan, she did the parenting classes….she just had housing issues. Instead of DSS offering her resources so the family could get housing and be reunified, they looked at her and said ‘figure it out.'” Urps felt that her niece was bullied by DSS into giving up her parental rights.

“The children were never abused by my niece,” Urps told PJM.

 

Victoria Smith was only 3 years old…
Justice for Victoria Smith

Posted by Traci Fant on Monday, January 25, 2021

Victoria was found unresponsive in the home of Ariel and Jerry Robinson with what is described as multiple blunt-force traumas to her body. She died in the hospital. Her body has been at the Greenville coroner’s office for the last eleven days. Urps says that no one at DSS will speak to them about how to bury the child or whether they will be allowed to have the body for a funeral. Urps told PJ Media that when she contacted DSS for information, she was told “we owe you nothing,” and was hung up on.

PJ Media reached out to Greenville DSS and spoke to public information officer Danielle Jones, who refused to give out any information. Jones would not confirm or deny hanging up on Urps. DSS would also not confirm or deny that they have had any contact with Victoria’s biological family. Urps says DSS did not notify them of Victoria’s death and the family found out about it on television news reports. Jones refused to reveal who is responsible for notifying the families when a child dies in DSS care. The director of the Greenville DSS, Dena Reeves-Green, would not take PJM’s phone call nor did she return the message at the time of publishing.

“We have contacted the state office of DSS, the one in Columbia that is over all the other DSS offices and I was told today that they could do nothing for us and that it was Greenville’s decision,” said Urps.

But Jones told PJM that the coroner would make the decision about the body. Jeff Fowler, from the Greenville coroner’s office, told PJM that the case is in probate court and would be decided by a judge. Urps has been unable to verify that there is any court action pending about Victoria’s body and said no one from the court or the county has contacted the family to let them have a voice in any pending court action.

Urps has created a “Justice for Victoria Rose Smith” Facebook page and a petition asking the county to release the body to the family for burial.

Media reports have said that Ariel Robinson had made controversial statements on social media about “white privilege.” According to the family, they do not believe the murder was racially motivated.

“Please respect that there has been no official position that Victoria’s death was racially motivated,” the family said. “The problem lies with a broken flawed system that has failed this child and countless others. So in order to keep the focus where it belongs no posts mentioning BLM or race will be approved and comments of the same nature will be deleted. We have to keep the focus where it belongs.”

The family is in need of an attorney who can help them intervene in any probate court action that is deciding the fate of Victoria Rose Smith’s body. They can be contacted on the Facebook page set up by Urps.

Victoria’s two brothers were also in the custody of the Robinsons and have been spirited off to another foster home instead of being returned to their mother.

At this point, there is no reason for the immense secrecy that the Greenville DSS is insisting on in this case unless they are hiding something negligent. And there is even less reason to keep the biological family from the body of Victoria. Now that the child is dead, the safety of the child has literally no meaning anymore and all investigation information should be made public. But officials at DSS rely on state law that allows them to keep their secrets from being exposed to sunlight. These laws are the opposite of transparent government and are regularly used to hide malfeasance and negligence in state agencies tasked with the care of children.

Not only does it seem DSS failed to find a safe adoptive family for Victoria but it took a child who did not appear to be in danger of dying from her mother and placed her with murderers. Will anyone in our government care enough to find out why?

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