Cocke County (WVLT) -- Several families have come forward since Jordan Kaleb Shelton’s death and Ken Taylor's arrest, claiming Taylor abused their children, while under his foster care.
According to a mother and her teenage son who in Taylor’s care, the state could have prevented Jordan's death, had investigators taken their claims more seriously.
Ken Taylor was a foster-fathered for troubled boys, as in trouble with the law.
His goal was to instill discipline, but according to Kyle Perdue, 17 and his mother Deborah Hurley, Taylor’s form of discipline included getting physical.
“I really thought he was a pretty cool guy, I really did, we hung out and we worked out together,” said Kyle, who was in Ken Taylor’s care for eight months.
The teen says he can't remember what he might have said or done to rile up his then foster father a couple of years ago, but he claims it was enough.
“He grabbed me by the throat and hurled, whatever you want to say, threw me up the stairs,” said Kyle. “Next thing you know, I'm sitting on my side on the stairs.”
“Kyle's father was livid and ready to go over there and do something, but he didn't,” said Hurley. “I didn't because I was intimidated.”
Kyle's mother said she reported the incident to the foster care contractor, Omni Visions, immediately, but state investigators say privacy laws prevent them from confirming whether there was a complaint, let alone an investigation.
“If we think that for some reason a foster home wouldn't be safe and we come across information that we're able to verify, we would certainly take action to make sure that children are
safe,” said Rob Johnson from the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services.
In other words, the Department of Children's Services admits that had an investigation turned up trouble with Kyle Perdue two years ago, Ken Taylor couldn't have taken in Jordan, the foster child he's accused of choking to death.
“He had that look when he was yelling at you that he just wanted to grab and hurt you, but he never would,” Kyle said.
Kyle also said he couldn’t imagine Ken Taylor intending to injure or kill any of his foster children.
Now he's back with his Mom and hopes to pass his GED and get on with his life.
But his mother believes, it's time to take legal action.
“Somewhere, somebody's not doing their job,” Hurley said, “or it wouldn't have come to this child dying.”
Children's services says its investigators are going over every aspect of Ken Taylor’s tenure as a foster parent, including how a private contractor, Omni Visions, might have handled any claims or complaints.
Ken Taylor did pass a criminal background check even though it showed convictions for drug and alcohol offenses.
Had those convictions come five years ago, the state would never have let him become a foster parent.
But those convictions came ten years ago, putting him in the clear.