I-Team 8

Family of baby found dead says Child Services had chance to stop her death

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The grandmother and aunt of Mercedes Lain, the 11-month-old baby who was found dead two weeks ago, say Child Services investigators visited the baby’s home just weeks before her death.

“All that we have left is the smell of a blanket that stinks,” Angela Owens, Mercedes’ grandmother, and Stacy Milton, Mercedes’ aunt, said. “But it was her. It was (Mercedes’) smell.”

Owens and Milton say the way Mercedes smelled was representative of the harsh conditions she was living under with her parents, Kenneth Lain and Tiffany Coburn.

“The room that they lived in was just, I can’t even explain it, I’d say “Hoarders” times 10,” Milton said. “(Kenneth Lain and Tiffany Coburn) both had a drug problem for awhile. We’ve called (Child Services) several times.”

Milton says she found documents in Coburn’s purse showing a Child Services investigator had followed up on allegations of neglect and had visited the home. The document is dated for July 21, 2021.

“Just the filth and the nastiness (in their home) alone should’ve been reason enough to remove her,” Owens said.

Owens and Milton say Mercedes was not removed from the home. The document states Child Services has “40 days” from the initial report to complete their assessment. Mercedes was found dead 28 days later, after her parents left her with Justin Miller.

Miller has now been charged with her murder. Coburn and Lain have both been charged with neglect of a dependent.

“We just want justice for Mercedes,” Owens said. “We just want [Child Services] investigated. We want to know why they dropped the ball so many times on this baby — on our baby.”

Owens and Milton says they are considering legal action against Child Services as they keep trying to heal.

“Don’t ever forget her,” they said. “Keep her in your prayers forever. She’s an angel. We’re gonna miss her so much.” 

I-Team 8 has reached out to Child Services multiple times. They have repeatedly said they cannot comment on Mercedes’ case, citing “confidentiality.”

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