The Public Eye

Reports from the Bee's investigative team

May 13, 2010
Amariana's foster mom is subject of police review

More than two years after the death of 4 1/2-year-old Amariana Crenshaw, a new report into conditions inside the girl's foster home is being reviewed by Sacramento police for possible criminal charges.

The state's Community Care Licensing Division, which oversees children in foster care, is attempting to put Amariana's foster mom, Tracy Dossman, permanently out of business.

The state's investigation also has piqued interest in local law enforcement. Because the report alleges the girl was hit by Dossman, and sustained at least 17 injuries before her January 2008 death, city police are looking to see if there's a criminal case, said spokesman Sgt. Norm Leong.

Leong said detectives have determined that the allegations will "not assist" their homicide investigation. However, the report alleging numerous licensing violations is being reviewed for possible child abuse or child endangerment, too, he said. "It is being looked at, but we don't know if there's enough there," Leong said.

Amariana's charred body was removed from Dossman's rental property near South Natomas after at least one Molotov cocktail ignited on or near the child.

Police have said that Amariana was asleep on the floor of the vacant home. But several forensic experts who reviewed the autopsy for The Bee said they believed she was already dead when the homemade firebombs erupted around 3:30 a.m.

The state, which focuses on licensing violations, found that Dossman's story about putting Amariana to sleep on the floor of the empty house violated department regulations and Amariana's "personal rights."

The state detailed a series of alleged violations in the foster home, including a locked refrigerator and deadbolts on the children's doors.

Dossman continued to care for foster children until this year, when the state ordered that she stop. She is challenging that decision. Police will have to weigh the statute of limitations, which precludes the filing of some child abuse-related charges, Leong said.

-- Marjie Lundstrom

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