DCF Employees Switch To Lower Paying Jobs After Bell Tragedy
GILCHRIST COUNTY - After the tragedy in bell took the lives of 8 people, including six children, many have wondered if it could have been avoided. Especially since the Department of Children and Families was investigating the case. Two DCF employees have moved to other positions within the agency for half the pay.
In Wayfair Cemetery lie the bodies of Sarah Spirit and her six children. Courtney Wallace a Bell High student said, "I thought it was really scary because we live here and it's just sad."
More than a month later the town continues to talk about the tragedy. But the conversation has switched focus from what happened to what could've been done to prevent it. Records show the spirit family had a file at the Department of Children and Families.
Kathy Davidson a resident of Old Town said, "I feel like they got called out there before for different situations and I feel that they didn't do their job and this whole family got lost and it could've been prevented."
This is the paperwork regarding two employees from DCF who voluntarily switched out to lower paying jobs in wake of this murder-suicide and another employee resigned.
Melissa Smith, Sarah Spirit's best friend said, "They should've done a better home study of her dad. To find out what kind of person he was. Especially considering that he's already had a charge in the past, of you know what happened with his son."
From the northeast district, a regional manager and an investigation supervisor are seeing salary cuts of about 50 percent. Smith says she and her kids who were classmates with Sarah's children, have a hard time accepting the facts.
"And then to think that he used a 45… When my mind starts to think about the weapon and everyone wants to talk about the kids who are hiding. Or who got shot first? I don't even want to know," Smith said.
A DCF spokesperson tells us they are taking extra measures to ensure effective management of the most high-risk families in Gilchrist and Dixie County. Smith says she urged Sarah to seek help from non-profits like “Another Way" for domestic violence but that it never happened. “I just wish I could make her listen… but you know when someone is in love or when somebody is in that position they don't see the outsiders looking in. They just see their heart and Sarah did have a big heart," Smith said.
Smith says she and her kids visit the family's grave site often and that they will continue to do so as this family will forever be in their hearts.
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