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Public, family weigh in for final time on Maddox Williams case

The Legislature’s oversight committee welcomed public comment following the release of a new review of DHHS' handling of the child’s upbringing.

AUGUSTA, Maine — The public was invited to comment—one more time—on the state’s handling of the Maddox Williams case, nearly two years after the three-year-old child was killed by his mother, Jessica Tefethen.

Last December, Trefethan was sentenced to 47 years in prison.

Friday’s hearing, during a meeting of the joint Legislature’s Government Oversight Committee, was in response to a report recently released by the Office of Program Evaluation and Government Accountability (OPEGA).

OPEGA’s report is 23 pages long, plus reference documents. In sections, it said DHHS caseworkers didn’t interview a family member that could have offered valuable information—a departure from policy.

OPEGA also concluded caseworkers did what they could, considering sizeable department staffing shortages (the office found 12 caseworker vacancies as of March of this year).

Dr. Todd Landry, director of child and family services within DHHS, believed the review was thorough and backed up his office’s decisions.

"I appreciate their completeness of the report, as well as their determination that the department—using their terms: all the decisions made by the department were not unsound," Landry said.

Melanie Blair, who said she was a foster parent from Lisbon, described the OPEGA review as a cover-up for DHHS’s failures at multiple points in Maddox’s young life.

"You can clearly see through this covering up of poor decisions and policy," Blair said.

Former Sen. Bill Diamond, an eight-year member of the oversight committee and an ally to the boy's paternal grandmother, Victoria Vose, said the report was an insult to Maddox’s family.

Vose Agreed.

"The report finds no unsound decisions, only missed opportunities. My findings, following my review of the report, are that DHHS is run by a group of individuals of unsound minds," Vose testified, after showing the committee members the last photos taken of Maddox before his death.

After sitting through a dozen hearings on her own Grandson’s murder, Vose told NEWS CENTER Maine she plans to come back to Augusta to speak on the cases of other children who faced similar fates in June of 2021 – an especially deadly month that prompted such interest from the legislature and beyond.

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