Concerns raised about boys' safety before their deaths
Posted August 28
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Missouri child welfare officials twice expressed concerns that a Webster County father might harm his two sons before the boys were killed, according to newly obtained records.
A county deputy reviewed reports from Missouri Children's Division staff after the bodies of 45-year-old Robert Kinney and his 5-year-old son, William, and 7-year-old son, Robbie, were found in July in a burning home, the Springfield News-Leader reports. Sheriff Roye Cole has said he believes Kinney shot his children and set the house ablaze before turning the gun on himself.
Two of seven reports the deputy reviewed included a "danger statement" indicating the boys' mother, Liegh Ann Malone, and Children's Division employees believed Robert Kinney could harm the children, the deputy wrote in a report that the News-Leader received from the county through a records request. The deputy said welfare officials took no action besides offering services to the family. The deputy noted that claims of abuse and neglect were unsubstantiated and that there was no documentation justifying the danger statements.
The documents don't indicate when Children's Division staff made the reports. The News-Leader has asked the state for the records, but they weren't immediately available. The agency didn't immediately respond to an email message from The Associated Press seeking comment.
Malone said she was disappointed with the state's response, which came after she left Kinney in July 2016 with the help of a victim center.
"They said because the boys were no longer in the household with Robert that they were not in danger, and they needed to use their resources for children that were currently in danger, so they weren't going to do anything," Malone said.
She said she wanted a protective order that would keep Robbie and William from their father. But she said she received advice from an attorney that a judge wouldn't grant an order because the father had not physically harmed the children.
Malone said that with an order protecting the boys seemingly impossible to obtain, she began letting Kinney see the boys again in October 2016. Malone said she had primary custody, but the plan was for the boys to spend every other weekend and one day each week with their father. The couple's divorce was granted about a week before the three deaths, which she speculated were in part "retribution."
"If he couldn't have them, then nobody could," she said.