Report details county contact before Sun Prairie child’s death

Boyfriend of 5-year-old's mother accused in his death
Report details county contact before Sun Prairie child’s death
Brayden Turnbill, 5

A newly released state report shows Child Protective Services in two counties investigated potential abuse twice before a 5-year-old boy was beaten to death in Sun Prairie last year.

Five-year-old Brayden Turnbill was found by his mother, Shannon Turnbill, last October. He was barely breathing and investigators said he suffered serious head injuries. He died at UW Hospital a few days later.

Shannon Turnbill’s boyfriend, Dakota Black, is behind bars and will stand trial in November on homicide charges.

A report released in the last few weeks by the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families says that two counties had contact with the boy’s family going back five years.

Based on information from that state report and from family members, News 3 has learned Dane and Green county social workers had contact with Black and Brayden’s divorced parents, Shannon and Anthony Turnbill, starting in June of 2009.

Six reports were “screened-out” between June 2009 and October 2013, meaning the county didn’t feel follow-up was necessary. But two detailed contacts with the family stand out.

In January 2013, social workers from Green County looked into a report of physical abuse to Brayden by Shannon Turnbill and Black. Workers found no indications of safety concerns or maltreatment.

In March of 2013, Green County investigated another report of abuse to Brayden by Black. But the worker reported that Black was currently incarcerated and could not have committed the abuse, and a plausible explanation was obtained for the child’s injuries, which aren’t detailed in the report.

During this time period, Dane County CPS was also investigating Brayden’s father, Anthony Turnbill, for reports of sexual abuse to his other children who were in his care, but not Brayden. As part of that investigation in October, social workers spoke to Shannon Turnbill just four days before his injury on Oct. 18. Brayden was injured on Oct. 22 and died Oct. 24.

The report does not indicate whether the two counties were in communication about the case while they were working with each family. It also does not indicate that changes were recommended to either department as a result of their handling of the case, but the investigation is ongoing and a more extensive report is expected to be released.

While there has been concerns raised by state lawmakers recently over the sealing of these cases by DCF, in this case, a spokesman said the department chose to keep the file sealed until June 23. This after the DCF received verbal confirmation from the assigned prosecutor on the criminal case that the report would not interfere with the case against Black.