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Viewing For Coral Springs Boy Found Dead In Mother's Apartment

FT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – A viewing and wake will be held Monday evening for a four-year old Coral Springs boy who was found dead in his mother's apartment last week.

The service for Antwan Hope will be held at the Mount Zion Baptist Church, 1525 NW 7th Street in Pompano Beach, at 5:30 p.m.

Hope's funeral service will be the following day at the church.

Coral Springs police have called Hope's death "suspicious." He was at his mother's apartment on a weekend unsupervised visit in preparation for permanent reunification after she lost custody a year and a half ago.

Simmons has a history of mental illness. Her family maintains she had 'nothing' to do with the death.

Last Friday, Broward Dependency Court Judge Elizabeth Scherer criticized the Department of Children and Families, and its contracted 'foster care' operator ChildNet, for not doing enough to protect Hope who died Monday.

"The court gave very clear instructions both orally and by written order that the child was not to spend unsupervised visits with his mother until a home study was filed with the court and approved by the Guardian Ad Litem program," said Scherer.

Scherer said she did not receive the home study report in her office until Tuesday, the day after the child died.

"The first issue is the department is in violation of this court's order and I want to know who made that decision," Scherer asked representatives from the Florida Attorney General's office and several employees of ChildNet.

ChildNet's attorney told the judge that a home study had been done before the child went for the visit but it was an oversight that no copy was provided to the judge earlier.

But Scherer's criticism didn't stop there.

"Who signed off on a home study for a mother who had an outstanding criminal warrant and could have been picked up at any time while she was with her child," Scherer asked.

She was referring to Simmons driving on a suspended license.

Simmons was arrested on that charge and spent the night in jail. After she posted bond, she was taken to a mental health facility for an evaluation under the Baker Act.

Back in 2011 Simmons was involuntarily hospitalized twice for evaluation after she tried to smother her child with a pillow on two separate occasions.

But a ChildNet representative told the court Simmons had turned her life around and was meeting all the objectives the court had set for her to regain custody of her child.

"The mother was complying with all tasks prior to this. There is a real bond between her and that child," said Beatrice Ford with ChildNet.

"I'm at a loss why it took four months to complete a home study," said Scherer clearly exasperated.

Scherer said that while Simmons had exhibited model behavior back in February, things had changed over the past few months.

"The mother had violated court orders. She had been picking up her child without permission, she was missing therapy sessions and she had failed to meet with the Guardian Ad Litem," said Scherer. 'If all of this had been brought to my attention the visit would have never happened."

The medical examiner failed to determine an exact cause of death.

Scherer said whether the child died of natural causes or the death was intentional, he should not have been on an unsupervised overnight visit without the court's permission.


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