SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — In June of 2020, a toddler in Castlewood was assaulted and taken to the hospital in Watertown where she was pronounced dead. Little Jorgie Eagle Star’s mother and stepfather were arrested and her mother, Josephine Raymundo, originally faced a litany of serious felony charges.
Now, a year-and-half later the case against Raymundo is nearing an end, but she won’t end up behind bars for long. In this KELOLAND News Investigation, “A Little Girl Lost,” Jorgie’s foster parents are speaking about what went wrong and why they say her death was completely preventable. Plus, we are looking into the criminal case against her mother.
It was this infectious laugh that two-year-old Jorgie was best known for.
“People just rave over that and that’s how she was,” Jon Fogarty said.
Jon and Paula Fogarty have been foster parents to a number of children. They adopted two of Jorgie’s siblings and are fostering another three of them.
“God put these kids in our lives and we just want to take care of them and love them. We feel it’s our responsibility, now that they’re here, to do our best. They’re all straight-A students in school. They do well in sports. They’re just very outgoing children that we love very much,” Jon said.
Jorgie was a natural fit in their home.
“She just had a sense with people and was really warm with them and people just took her in like crazy. It was amazing,” Jon said.
Kennecke: Why was she taken out of the home in the first place? What was the reason?
Jon Fogarty: There was some difficulty finding the mother one night. And the baby was left with some friends.
KELOLAND Investigates conducted a background check and found that incident resulted in Josephine Raymundo’s arrest on July 22, 2018, for contributing to the abuse, neglect or delinquency of a minor.
All along, the Fogarty’s expected to have to eventually return little Jorgie to her mother.
“We’ve had several different kids and they all went back, and it’s all been a great thing. And that’s what foster care is supposed to be. It gives families a chance to rebuild without all the pressure on them. And we know that,” Jon said.
After 17 months in their home, Jorgie went back to Raymundo. It was just before her second birthday.
“The system largely works, and families grow in a good way, but in this case, the system seemed not to work,” Jon said.
Jorgie’s mother has an eight-page record going back to 2009, that includes DUI and simple assault charges.
The Fogarty’s were worried about Jorgie.
Kennecke: Were there any signs that you know of that she was being abused before her death?
Jon Fogarty: Nothing that we were positive of.
Kennecke: Were you suspicious?
Jon Fogarty: We heard rumors.
Kennecke: Did you try to take action, or see if you could get her back when you were suspicious of this?
Jon Fogarty: We had been in contact with people, yes.
Paula Fogarty: Our gut was telling us something wasn’t right. But you can’t document that. You can’t prove that,” Paula said.
Instead, on June 2nd, 2020 emergency responders were called to Raymundo’s home for an unresponsive child. Jorgie was taken to Prairie Lakes Hospital where she was pronounced dead.
According to her death certificate, Jorgie was assaulted prior to arrival at the emergency room and her manner of death was homicide.
“I think there’s a lot of “should haves’ in this situation. Maybe we should have voiced our concerns a little earlier, or louder. Jorgie should be in preschool right now. She should have been singing in the school program,” Paul Fogarty said, overcome with emotion.
Josephine Raymundo was arrested and originally charged with felony child abuse. Then a Grand Jury indicted her on both first and second-degree manslaughter charges. Josephine’s husband, De Jesus Raymundo, is also facing felony child abuse charges in Jorgie’s death.
Kennecke: It’s always tragic when a child dies, but this didn’t have to happen.
Jon Fogarty: Right, exactly. She should be here with us. There were plenty of avenues for her to have a thriving life. She was here for 17 months with us and did very well.
The court case against Josephine has dragged on for nearly 18 months.
“We’ve been going through this… How many times has it been delayed? It’s very emotional because you just gear up–okay, this is finally going to be over. And then it’s delayed again. But I have to have faith it’s for a better outcome,” Paula Fogarty said.
However, in a plea deal in October with Hamlin County State’s Attorney John Delzer, manslaughter charges against Josephine Raymundo were dropped in exchange for a guilty plea to felony child abuse, along with an agreement that Raymundo would face no more than a five-year prison sentence.
In court documents, Raymundo admitted she exposed her child to the care of her mother, who is an abusive alcoholic. However, no charges were ever filed against Raymundo’s mother, who is not named.
Jon Fogarty: Hopefully justice is served on that end of it. It’s just very difficult for us to understand everything and know how those decisions are made.
Paula Fogarty: Judgment and sentencing are up to the judge and the Lord. I just don’t want to see anybody go through this again.
Now the Fogarty’s hold on tight to their memories of little Jorgie, like the way Jon would sing with her.
“Of all of our other babies, I don’t think any other one could sing at that age and respond to you. She would always finish the song, just like she did in the clip. So, I’d love to sing her that song. I’d say, ‘We love our Jorgie girl, we love our Jorgie girl, yes we’… and she’d always finish it,” Jon Fogarty said.
Josephine Raymundo will be sentenced on January 4th. KELOLAND Investigates reached out to the Hamlin County State’s Attorney to ask why the manslaughter charges had been dropped, but John Delzer told us he could not comment before her sentencing. Just in October, Raymundo was arrested again for DUI, driving without a license, having drugs and an open alcohol container. Those charges were all dropped.
While De Jesus Raymundo has pleaded not guilty to felony child abuse charges, no hearings are currently scheduled in his case.
We also reached out to the South Dakota Department of Social Services about the return of Jorgie to her mother, DSS says it is not able to comment on specific Child Protection Services cases. DSS did provide us with the following factual information about how these cases are handled:
CPS and law enforcement agencies are required by law to investigate reports of child abuse or neglect. Any person who knows or has reasonable cause to suspect a child has been physically or emotionally injured, neglected or sexually abused should report it immediately. Reports are made using the Intake Hotline at 1-877-244-0864 during business hours, if there is an emergency after hours, on weekends, or holidays contact your local law enforcement.Laurie Gill, South Dakota Department of Social Services Cabinet Secretary
When a report of abuse and neglect is assigned, CPS completes an initial family assessment, a process for gathering information about the report through interviews, observations, and reviewing documents. If it is determined the child is unsafe, a Family Services Specialist will work with the parents on a plan to improve the situation. When a child is in danger, a judge may order the removal of the child from the situation or a law enforcement officer may take protective custody.
Services are available to families in which children are determined to be unsafe because of abuse or neglect to strengthen and preserve families and protect children from abuse and neglect. Support services include training for families in parenting skills and home management and referrals for counseling, substance treatment and other assistance.
When a child is placed in CPS custody through an abuse and neglect petition, the case is under the jurisdiction of circuit court. Parents, and often children, have attorneys appointed to represent them through the court process. When available, CASA representatives may also be appointed by the court. All of the parties, including CPS, make recommendations to the judge who has the final decision-making authority. Children are only returned after being ordered by the court.