Father Of Boys Killed In Fire Files Suit Against County CYS
WILKES-BARRE — The father of the boys killed in a Laflin arson blaze last year has filed a federal lawsuit alleging Luzerne County Children and Youth Services failed to adequately protect them.
Deleon Major, of Philadelphia, alleges the deaths of his sons Devon Major, 12, and Ezekiel Major, 7, could have been prevented with proper oversight. The boys died along with their brother Erik Dupree, 16, in a fire allegedly set by their mother’s estranged boyfriend last October.
Preston Daquen Bonnett, 27, is awaiting trial on murder and arson charges.
According to Major’s complaint, he and the boys’ mother shared custody of the children. However, the boys were placed in their mother’s care after child services received a report that Ezekiel was bruised and Major admitted hitting him with a belt, said the complaint, filed by Wilkes-Barre attorney Jonathan S. Comitz.
But the complaint alleges the boys’ mother, Susan Major, has a history of post-traumatic stress disorder and severe depression, and had previously become suicidal and had “homicidal ideations” about killing Deleon Major and his girlfriend.
Susan Major has also been hospitalized for mental health reasons three times in the past five years and admitted using marijuana on a daily basis, the complaint said.
The complaint notes a “tumultuous” relationship between Susan Major and Bonnett — noting they were once arrested together for credit card fraud and that he threw a beer bottle through her window two weeks prior to the deadly fire — and said child services failed to ensure the boys were placed in a safe environment.
“Even a cursory review of the internal records of the defendants would have shown that Ms. Major lacked a stable environment in which to raise the children and that Deleon was best suited to support and nurture the children,” the lawsuit alleges.
The lawsuit, which seeks unspecified damages, alleges Luzerne County Children and Youth Services as well as the Philadelphia Department of Human Services violated Deleon Major’s constitutional rights.
Luzerne County Manager Dave Pedri declined to comment, citing the pending litigation.
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