Did the system fail a Cleveland toddler who died of a drug overdose?

John Hines, 33 (Source: Cleveland Police Department)
John Hines, 33 (Source: Cleveland Police Department)
Lorenzo Ealom died of an overdose on March 3. His death has been ruled a homicide. (Source: Family)
Lorenzo Ealom died of an overdose on March 3. His death has been ruled a homicide. (Source: Family)

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - The mother of a 2-year-old who died March 3 as well as her boyfriend were arrested Monday and charged with the toddler's death.

The Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner's Office ruled that Lorenzo Ealom died from ingesting three different prescription drugs. 

There are troubling similarities to other cases of child deaths.

Sherdina Ealom is left with only pictures and fond memories of her grandson, Lorenzo.

Her son is the boy's father, but the mother -- Tessa Gadd -- was living with a different man -- John Hines -- who was also arrested.

Sherdina says she had seen repeated signs of abuse.

"The boy done have black eyes, burns, scars, butt raw. I said: 'Tessa, that's a black eye, somebody hit that boy in the eye,'" said Sherdina.

When her warnings weren't heeded, she called Cuyahoga County Children and Family Services after seeing what she felt was neglect of Lorenzo and his siblings.

"People snatching them up out of the streets cause they almost getting hit by cars and she up there drinking Hennessy's and smoking Black & Milds. She never paid him no attention. She never, the signs was there," said Sherdina.

The question above all others: Did family services fail Lorenzo?

Sherdina said Gadd tricked social workers: "She had them come to her mother's house off Glendale and act like she was living there so they went there and they saw nothing."

The smiling child seen in family photos is gone.

A myriad of reasons how it might have been prevented remain says Sherdina.

"She told me two, three different stories, and I said the truth will stay the same but a lie change every time. So they had something to do with it. They partied and they parties and while they was partying he was in the room dead. He could have been saved."

Shedina also claimed Lorenzo's day care sent notes home, and wondered why family services didn't take the red flags into account.

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