December 13, 2013

Probe into child’s death ongoing

December 13, 2013 By Josh Newton CNHI

Family and friends of 2-year-old Alysa Horney were set to gather for her funeral Friday morning as investigators continue to piece together her tragic death.

Alysa was found unresponsive last Sunday morning at the home of her foster mother, Delila Pacheco, in the Woodall area. Pacheco was interviewed about the girl’s death Tuesday, and was later arrested on a murder complaint. Pacheco is jailed in Cherokee County without bond. She has not been charged.

Investigators said Alysa suffered blunt-force trauma that caused a lacerated liver.

Alysa’s mother, Holly Horney, said Thursday that she has been going through rehabilitation for drug charges. When she learned her children needed a foster home, she felt Pacheco, a cousin, would be a good fit.

Horney was hoping to take Alysa and her older daughter, 3-year-old Halia, back into custody in October, but the date later changed to February 2014.

“It’s too late for Alysa, but it’s not too late for Halia,” Horney said. “Maybe I can get her out of there and won’t have to worry about her. Now my worry monitor is through the roof.”

She wants the Department of Human Services to return Halia to her custody.

“They’ve been through hell,” Horney said. “My oldest daughter’s having a lot of behavioral issues. I think she thinks I don’t want her at all, but that’s not at all the truth. I’ve been in recovery.”

Horney said she was allowed to visit with Halia for about an hour and a half Wednesday.

Officials with DHS said this week they are reviewing their case files and will submit a report on their involvement within 45 days.

The agency has also defended its decision to place Horney’s children in the care of Pacheco, who had been arrested in November 2011 for aggravated assault and battery. An arrest report indicates Pacheco waved a knife toward a man when an argument over aluminum cans became heated. The incident occurred in front of several children, and Pacheco later allegedly admitted she had previously used methamphetamine and marijuana.

DHS officials said Pacheco was never charged or convicted of a crime, and said the agency checked into the “back story” of Pacheco when considering her as a foster mother.

Josh Newton reports for the Tahlequah Daily Press.

You can help

A benefit account for Alysa Horney has been established at the Bank of Cherokee County. Donations can be made at branches in Tahlequah, Park Hill and Hulbert. The funds will be used to purchase a headstone for the 2-year-old girl, family members said.

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