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Child welfare worker dies after attack while taking child into protective custody

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CHICAGO — An Illinois child welfare worker died Thursday from injuries suffered when she was severely beaten last year while trying to take protective custody of a child.

Pamela Sue Knight died at a Chicago hospital, according to Neil Skene, spokesman for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.

The suspect, Andrew Sucher, 25, is accused of kicking Knight in the head so severely that he fractured her skull in September. The attack caused permanent brain damage and extensive physical disabilities.

"DCFS is deeply saddened by the passing of our colleague, Pamela Knight," said department director Beverly Walker. "We are forever grateful for her work to help children and families in Illinois. The work many at DCFS do is not easy."

Knight was attacked when she went to Sucher's parents' home in Milledgeville to take a 2-year-old boy into protective custody.

"We're there to help children, we're not there to wreck families or take their children away forever," said Kathy Lane, president of AFSCME Local 448. "We're the first responders. ... Our mission is to help everyone, and it's important for people to know that."

Knight, of Dixon, was being treated at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, but was transferred to Northwestern Memorial Hospital on Feb. 4 for emergency surgery.

Knight was still in intensive care at Northwestern at the time of her death, said Lane. An autopsy will be conducted Friday.

Sucher, of Rock Falls, was indicted Dec. 7 on charges of attempted first-degree murder. He is being held at Stephenson County Jail in lieu of $275,000 bond. Carroll County prosecutors could not be reached for comment on whether the charges against Sucher will be upgraded.

A mental evaluation for Sucher was ordered Jan. 9, and a status hearing on the report is set for Feb. 23 in Carroll County Circuit Court.