Local News

Mother of mauled boy flees NC after DSS threatens to take other children

Posted January 29, 2016 6:28 p.m. EST

— The mother of a 7-year-old Robeson County boy who died after being mauled by a neighbor's dog last weekend said Friday that she is prepared to miss her son's funeral to protect her other children.

Jamie West said in an exclusive interview with WRAL News that she's being treated unfairly by social workers who want to take her five other children away while she mourns the loss of her youngest son.

Talen West and his 8-year-old brother were playing in the woods near a home at 2484 Odum Road in Lumberton late Sunday morning when they encountered a neighbor’s pit bull, which attacked both boys. Talen later died at a nearby hospital, while his brother survived.

Jamie West said she believes the incident reopened a 5-year-old rift between her and the Robeson County Department of Social Services, so she left North Carolina with her children after social workers said they would take custody of the children after Talen's funeral.

"I could go to the service with my children," West said she was told. "They would not walk in there to get them during the service, but pretty much after it was over and we left ... I could hand them over.

"Could you just let me bury my baby?" she said.

DSS officials said they couldn't comment on the case.

Visitation for Talen was Friday night, and his funeral is scheduled for 2 p.m. Saturday at Floyd Mortuary on East 5th Street in Lumberton.

West said she plans to stay away from the funeral and stay out of North Carolina as long as necessary to keep her other children with her. DSS had taken them away before, but she was able to win back custody.

"I can't bring back Talen, but I can hold on to my five," she said.

All of the children are with her in an undisclosed location, and they are holding up the best they can, she said.

"I have prepared all of them that, if something happens and they have to leave, I let them know that I will be back to get them," she said.