Kimbleys Lose Custody of Remaining Children After Their 2 Year Old is Found Dead in a Septic Tank

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jul 15, 2021

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A Texas couple has lost custody of four of their children temporarily while authorities investigate the death of their 2 year old boy, who was found dead in a septic tank 15 feet behind their home.

Little Jake Kimbley’s body was found at 1:00 a.m. on August 22, 2012 after police searched through the night with twenty units of law enforcement in an intensive search that included heat seeking helicopters. The child was reported to have disappeared during a game of hide and seek with two of his siblings. The frantic search for the child ended tragically when the body was found deep inside the tank, the lid had been removed from the tank and was sitting alongside the 10 inch opening.

Sheriffs say that the case is being investigated as a homicide, which is normal procedure when a body is discovered. However, rumors are swirling about the actual circumstances surrounding the discovery of the body, prompting Reeve Jackson, mother Sabrina Kimbley’s lawyer, to address the media with a statement from the Kimbleys, telling the public their “tears are as real as they are plentiful.”

Parents Sabrina and David Kimbley remain in jail on child endangerment charges. Some reports, disputed by Jackson, state that Sabrina Kimbley confessed to wrongdoing in the death of her child.

Child Protective Services (CPS) removed the six remaining Kimbley children from the custody of their parents the same night 2 year old Jake’s body was found, citing a severe roach infestation and exposed wiring as the causes for the swift action. In other reports, CPS acted out of concern for the welfare of the children prompted by the parents’ decision to leave the kids with a relative who had just been released from jail.

The actions taken by child protective authorities and the temporary orders issued by Smith County, Texas Judge Carole Clark Friday, September 7, 2012 suggest that unrevealed circumstances surrounding the baby’s death point to the parents’ involvement despite Jackson’s denials on behalf of the family, but there are other possible explanations as well.

Tragedies involving the death of a child aren’t rare in the United States. In fact, every year more than 9000 children die as a result of accidental injuries. There is no protocol for removing remaining children from the care of their parents when a sibling has been killed accidentally. However, children may legally be removed under certain circumstances where the death of a child alerts authorities to neglect or mistreatment of remaining children.

In the meantime, the public and family anxiously await pending autopsy results after initial results came back inconclusive and “pending.” Mitch Shamburger, Justice of the Peace, states that the body was sent to Southwest Forensic Center in Dallas to be examined by a pathologist. It remains to be seen whether one or both of the Kimbleys played a role in the death of their 2 year old or whether, as the child’s grandmother has stated, Jake was simply lost in a game of hide and seek “gone bad.”

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