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West Virginia officials give briefing on probe into handling of Boone County teen’s death

By Steven Allen Adams, The Parkersburg News and Sentinel

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Officials representing child welfare, education, and law enforcement in West Virginia addressed questions from the press regarding the state’s involvement — or lack of involvement — with a 14-year-old girl who died in April.

Brian Abraham, chief of staff to Gov. Jim Justice, moderated an in-person press briefing Thursday afternoon in the Governor’s Reception Room regarding the death of Kyneddi Miller, 14, of Boone County. Sheriff deputies found Miller dead in April in what they called a “skeletal state.” Miller’s mother and grandparents have been charged with child abuse causing death.

The state Department of Human Services which oversees Child Protective Services declined to provide any information to press regarding prior contact between CPS, Miller, or her family. In an April 22 press release, DoHS cited State Code that states that all records concerning a child that are maintained by DoHS are confidential.

However, that same code section allows for the public release of information for child fatalities and near-fatalities as long as the identities of people reporting or making complaints of child abuse or neglect are not released. DoHS believes it is complying with this law by providing an annual critical incident report.

Since April, multiple media outlets across the state have filed Freedom of Information Act requests to state and local agencies, with Justice being asked about the case during virtual briefings and public appearances.

It has since been learned that Miller’s name had appeared in two prior CPS cases involving her family in 2009 and 2017. Miller was in virtual school during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and pulled out of public school in 2021. She was homeschooled with no required follow-up by Boone County Schools. And the West Virginia State Police conducted a welfare check on Miller in the spring of 2023, with one trooper stating in audio recordings that he was making a CPS referral and GPS data showing he went directly to the regional DoHS office to make the referral in person.

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