Mom Accused of Burying Dead Toddler in Suitcase Just Got Kids Back 3 Months Ago

Rachel FryerEver wonder what it takes to get your kids back from social services? From the looks of a heartbreaking child neglect case in Florida this week, not much. Cops arrested mom Rachel Fryer after they say she buried her own toddler in a suitcase. Police found the body of 2-year-old Tariji Gordon buried in a shallow grave, but they haven't yet released what led them to her body -- only that Fryer did not report her toddler missing. 

Horrifying? Indeed. And this fact is particularly chilling: Fryer -- who is reportedly pregnant -- lost custody of her four children after Tariji's brother died in her care in 2011.

So how was Tariji living with mom at all?


The death of Tariji's twin, Tavont'ae, had been deemed accidental, and although Fryer had cocaine in her system at the time of his death, she was not charged. Taking that into consideration, the Florida Department of Children and Families gave Fryer back her kids just this past November.

And look what happened.

I understand that the real goal of social services is to work with families to try to keep as many intact as possible. I would even say it's a laudable goal. But sometimes (many times?) it's just not realistic.

As a lawyer who often works in family court said to me recently, the courts set the bar pretty darn low for what is considered a "fit" parent. Basically if you don't shoot heroin EVERY DAY, he said, you're not going to lose your kids.

He was exaggerating a little for effect, but sadly? He wasn't far off.

Just look at this woman. She was supposedly fit to be a mom again, and just three months after getting her kids back, her 2-year-old ends up dead and abandoned in a shallow grave? So much for that period without kids forcing her to mend her ways and empowering her to be a better mom and blah, blah, blah.

Cops say Fryer claims she did not kill her 2-year-old (the manner of death is still under investigation). The mom allegedly told police that she found her asthmatic 2-year-old unresponsive and attempted to resuscitate her. But when her ministrations didn't work, what did the mom do? Call 911?


Fryer has allegedly admitted to cops that she wrapped her child in a blanket, put her in a suitcase, and called a friend to drive her out to the place where cops found the toddler's body.

That's enough to earn her a child neglect charge, and she's being held in jail on $950,000 bond. Whether she'll face more charges is in the hands of police.

But I can't help but ask the obvious question: who decided this woman was ready to get her kids back? What were the criteria for that decision? And who is going to make sure Fryer's other three kids are taken care of this time?

What do you think should happen to Fryer here? Are you surprised she got her kids back the last time?


Image via Seminole County Sheriff's Office

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