NewsContact Denver7

Actions

Father of 9-month-old girl whose death is being investigated as homicide says system failed him

9-month-old-death.jpg
Posted at 3:54 PM, Aug 07, 2020

Editor's note: Denver7 seeks out audience tips and feedback to help people in need, resolve problems and hold the powerful accountable. If you know of a community need our call center could address, or have a story idea for our investigative team to pursue, please email us at contact7@thedenverchannel.com or call (720) 462-7777. Find more Denver7 stories here.

WHEAT RIDGE, Colo.—A father is desperate for answers after discovering the death of his 9-month-old daughter is being investigated as a homicide.

Anthony Rosales told Denver7 exclusively he worried his daughter was in danger and contacted several agencies before her death. “They failed me," he said.

Rosales says he remembers jumping out of bed at 6 a.m. on Monday, Aug. 3, and rushing to Denver Health Medical Center after his mother told him something was wrong with his daughter, Gianna Rosales. Rosales says it was the first time he saw his daughter in more than two weeks because her mother, Jolene LaCrue, kept his daughter away.

"They (doctors) told me she was unresponsive and then went into cardiac arrest," Rosales said.

Rosales says LaCrue brought Gianna to the hospital on Monday. On Tuesday, the parents decided to take their daughter off life support after talking with doctors.

"’I love you, momma's girl,’ I kept saying, and kissing her forehead," he said.

Rosales says he and LaCrue split custody of their daughter based on a verbal agreement. He said he was getting the paperwork to file for split custody in court.

Rosales says he asked LaCrue what happened. He says she initially told him Gianna woke up coughing up blood and later changed her story in a text message.

"She said, ‘My daughter is gone because of me. I should have been with her and I wasn't,’" he said, reading a text message he said he received from LaCrue. "I trusted people and I don't know happened."

Tears fell from Rosales' eyes as he remembered the first time he held his daughter.

"She was so small, she was like 3 pounds, 11 ounces. 17 inches," he recalled.

The Denver Police Department is investigating Gianna's death as a homicide. According to the Denver Medical Examiner's Office, which named her Friday, the manner and cause of death is still pending further investigation.

The Colorado Department of Human Services also launched an investigation into the death of a 9-month-old child that fits Gianna's description. Denver7 asked the department for comment, but a spokesperson said they are not able to release information.

On July 18, the Wheat Ridge Police Department responded to a disturbance call outside Rosales' apartment. Rosales and LaCrue got into an argument, according to a police report, but the argument did not turn physical.

LaCrue claimed Gianna had a bruise and blamed Rosales; however, Rosales claims his mother noticed the bruise while bathing Gianna after LaCrue dropped her off. The officer wrote that due to conflicting statements, there was no probable cause to charge either party with child abuse. An officer conducted a welfare check at Rosales' apartment and concluded that there were no safety concerns.

Rosales claims he last saw his daughter on July 19 and worried she might be in danger, so he took his concerns to police.

On Thursday, John Romero, a spokesperson with the Lakewood Police Department, confirmed Rosales filed two reports with the Lakewood Police Department — one for child abuse filed on July 24, 2020, and another for a custody dispute, which was filed on July 27. On Friday, Romero corrected his initial statement and said the case filed on July 24 was actually a welfare report. He said officers attempted four welfare checks at LaCrue's home, but she was not home so they spoke with Gianna's grandparents.

Rosales says he also contacted the Denver Police Department and the Jefferson County Department of Human Services. He shared text messages exchanged with a Jefferson County case worker. The first text message he received from the case worker was on July 30 informing him that they were trying to contact him.

"Can you call me ASAP, please is everything okay," he responded in a text message to the case worker.

The two exchanged text messages and calls. On Monday, Aug. 3, the case worker visited Rosales, but it was too late, Gianna was at the hospital unresponsive. On Aug. 4, the case worker informed Rosales she was off on Tuesdays and advised him to call the child abuse hotline.

"I am just mad, I feel like if a lot more people were to listen to me, then we would be OK. But no one was listening," Rosales said.

He says the system failed him. Rosales wanted an officer to conduct several welfare checks on LaCrue because he feared his daughter was in danger.

Rosales walked through Gianna's room Thursday. He says he knows she's still with him as he picked up some of her favorite toys.

"I want to know what happened. Who was there, what happened?" he asked.

Rosales said he will fight until he finds out what happened to his daughter and justice is served.

Denver7 attempted to reach LaCrue by phone but she did not return calls requesting comment.