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Florida foster parent charged in death of toddler weeks away from adoption

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A woman has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of a 17-month-old toddler in Riverview, according to court records and media reports Tuesday.

In addition to the murder charge, Latamara Stackhouse Flythe was also charged with aggravated child abuse against Aedyn Agminalis, who died Dec. 11 after he was rushed to St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital, the Tampa Bay Times reports, which also said the toddler was likely due for adoption in a matter of weeks by a North Carolina couple.

Court records show Flythe was employed by Children’s Home Network as a marketing and communications manager. A Door of Hope, which is a subcontractor of Eckerd Kids — the agency that runs child welfare services in Hillsborough County, was the approving authority that ultimately led to Aedyn coming into her home. Both agencies are ultimately subcontracted by the Florida Dept. of Children and Families (DCF), which oversees most child welfare investigations.

Child death investigations are handled by the state’s Health and Human Services department.

Florida began a controversial transition into privatizing its child welfare system in the early to mid-2000s.

A spokesperson with Eckerd Kids — which is also known by other names like Eckerd Community Alternatives — said employees were heartbroken over the news of Aedyn’s death.

“We recently learned that the death of Aedyn has prompted an arrest of the foster parent responsible for his care,” Adrienne Drew, spokeswoman for Eckerd, told FloridaPolitics.com by email Tuesday. “We are fully committed to working with all authorities as the case progresses.”

Aedyn, who had been taken from his parents’ custody by a child welfare detective assigned to the Child Protection Investigations Division of the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office after the responding investigator noticed feces on the floor and a hookah pipe — often used for decoration in the West but commonly used to smoke Egyptian shisha tobacco throughout the Middle East, not hashish, as is mistakenly thought among Westerners — in the home, the Times report noted.

(Hillsborough County is one of six counties out of 67 in the state where the sheriff’s offices lead investigations into child welfare cases, rather than DCF — five of them are in the Greater Tampa Bay area.)

 It wasn’t clear whether the pipe had been used at all or only for tobacco, or for drugs.

“Eckerd Kids’ Subcontracted Child Placing Agency (A Door of Hope) and the foster parent (Flythe) were required by the State of Florida to pass a rigorous background screening, training, and evaluation prior to taking on the critical role of caring for our most vulnerable children,” Drew said.

***

A report issued by doctors at the hospital stated “suspicion” surrounding injuries to the head not consistent with an accident.

An active investigation had already been opened Dec. 4 regarding Flythe’s residence in Riverview, a Tampa suburb, due to food stuck in the young boy’s throat, causing him to choke.

He was discharged Dec. 7, but later readmitted the same day after and became “unresponsive,” the Times reported.

The boy died after being taken off life support Dec. 11.

Les Neuhaus is an all-platform journalist, with specialties in print reporting and writing. In addition to Florida Politics, he freelances as a general-assignment and breaking-news reporter for most of the major national daily newspapers, along with a host of digital media, and a human rights group. A former foreign correspondent across Africa and Asia, including the Middle East, Les covered a multitude of high-profile events in chronically-unstable nations. He’s a veteran of the U.S. Air Force, in which he served as a Security Policeman, and graduated from the University of Tennessee with a B.A. in political science. He is a proud father to his daughter and enjoys spending time with his family.

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