Story by Jeff Jenkins, MetroNews

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — State Senate Minority Leader Mike Woelfel says he’s asked the governor’s office to include his bill dealing with child neglect cases on next month’s special session agenda in light of the recent death of a Boone County teenage girl.

Mike Woelfel

“I had Senate Bill 474 which is a critical incident review team—set up to have a group monitor death or near death cases involving youth like this little girl,” Woelfel said Thursday during an appearance on MetroNews “Talkline.”

Boone County sheriff’s deputies found Kyneddi Miller dead in her home last week. They described her body as being emaciated to the point of a skeletal state. Her mother, Julie Miller, 49, of Morrisvale, is charged with felony child neglect causing death.

Woelfel, whose bill passed the Senate but was never taken up in the House, said the review team created in his bill would analyze circumstances.

“So that you could prevent down the road similar events or death,” Woelfel said.

The state Department of Human Services has been asked about the involvement of Child Protective Services in the girl’s life. The agency has refused to answer any specific questions but Gov. Jim Justice said earlier this week–the Kyneddi Miller case was not a CPS case.

“The CPS folks, from what I understand, had no idea about this child, no idea whatsoever,” Justice said.

Julie Anne Stone Miller (WVRJA)

Woelfel also said it also appears the girl was a homeschool student and the Boone County school system probably wouldn’t have known about her situation.

“I’m not going to blame anybody but the family right now,” Woelfel said. “It’s premature.”

Woelfel did add he believes confidentiality, which the state agency claims in child abuse and neglect cases, can be overstated. He said his bill also addressed that issue.

 

“My bill would have had a representative of the Supreme Court children’s section and other folks out of the department and inside of the department study the circumstances and still preserve confidentiality,” Woelfel said.

Gov. Jim Justice

Justice indicated earlier this week federal regulations keep the state from releasing much information on cases like this. He said what’s going to help is more money to hire additional CPS workers and for residents who see something suspicious to speak up.

“You hire more people, you pay more dollars and you absolutely try with all in us to have it front of the people where people will speak out and try to help us and you say a whole lot of big prayers that this never happens again,” Justice said.

Julie Miller is scheduled to appear in Boone County Magistrate Court Monday for a preliminary hearing. She’s currently being held in the Southwestern Regional Jail on $250,000 bail.