Child abuse is a disturbing yet ongoing problem all over the world. Often times it goes unreported and can lead to neglect, trauma and even death. This is what happened to Kelsey Shelton Smith-Briggs. Some things that we can take from Kelsey’s story are:
- To always report any kind of abuse, regardless of how small it may seem,
- Because of her story, the state of Oklahoma passed the Kelsey Smith-Briggs Child Protection Reform Act.
- This act reformed how the Oklahoma Department of Human Services (OKDHS) and the courts would deal with child abuse and neglect cases.
Kelsey was born on December 28, 2002 and sadly passed away on October 11, 2005. She was a beautiful little girl with bright blue eyes and beautiful blonde hair. She loved her dad very much and was very close with him.
Here is her story.
Kelsey’s parents were Lance Briggs and Raye Dawn Smith. They were divorced.
Kelsey loved her dad very much. She loved spending time with him and treasured every moment they shared together.
She was always so brave, and her dad thought of her as daddy’s little soldier.
Kelsey was happy and healthy for the first two years of her life.
In early 2005, Kelsey’s mom started dating a new boyfriend. His name was Michael Lee Porter. It was around this time that Kelsey began to display signs of abuse.
Halfway through January of 2005, Kelsey broke her collarbone while her mother was caring for her. She also had multiple bruises all over her body.
In April 2005, Kelsey continued to visit her mother regularly, but remained in Kathie’s care.
On April 17, 2005, Raye Dawn Smith married Michael Lee Porter. Kelsey remained in Kathie Brigg’s care.
At the end of April of 2005, Kelsey broke two of her legs while she was in the care of Raye Dawn Smith. She was placed in two separate casts. It was not determined if the broken legs had been caused by Michael Lee Porter or Raye Dawn Smith.
On May 4th, 2005, Kelsey was put into the care of her maternal grandmother, Gayla Smith.
On June 15, 2005, Judge Craig Key deemed that they could not prove who Kelsey’s abuser was. She was placed back into the care of her mother.
On August 27, 2015, Kathie Briggs saw Kelsey for the very last time. “The last time I saw her, just the way she looked, the way she acted, she looked like she was dying. She was not the same child,” she said.
Kelsey’s death was determined to be a homicide due to blunt force trauma to the abdomen.
Kelsey died only a few days before her father arrived back home from war. Instead of celebrating his return, he had to bury his daughter.
Kelsey’s life should be remembered as having a purpose. This purpose is to make sure that this doesn’t happen to any other child. Because of the tragic events that occurred, that state of Oklahoma even passed a law in her name.
Kelsey’s mother Raye Dawn Smith was given a 27 year prison sentence for enabling child abuse.