Mom May Have Watched Daughter's Suicide on Social Media Livestream: Officials
The death of a Miami teen who killed herself as video livestreamed on social media may have been watched by her own mother, the Florida Department of Children and Families alleged in a report.
Naika Venant, 14, broadcast on Facebook Live as she took her life on January 22, killing herself during the three-hour video, investigators wrote in their report, which was released Monday.
"In the days leading up to Naika’s suicide, the teen expressed sadness to... her case manager… over the fact that her mother told her that she didn’t want her back and that Naika was going to ‘age out’ of the foster care system," the report said.
"However, she appeared ‘upbeat and happy’ and expressed plans for the future,” it continued, noting she spoke of graduating from high school and attending college.
During her livestream, viewers pleaded with Naika to reconsider and shared words of sympathy, others encouraged her to follow through on killing herself and some voiced skepticism about the video’s legitimacy, the report said.
Naika hanged herself in her foster home’s bathroom, officials said.
In the report, authorities claimed Venant’s mother, identified in the report as Gina Caze, but who called herself Gina Alexis on social media and to reporters, watched the livestream for nearly two hours.
They also alleged someone using her mother’s Facebook profile wrote: “#ADHD games played u sad little DCF custody jit,” a derogatory slang word used when referring to a young person who thinks they are cooler than they are.
“That’s why u where u at for this dumb s*** n more u keep crying wolf u dead u will get buried life goes on after a jit that doesn’t listen to there (sic) parents trying to be grown seeking boys and girls attention instead of books,” the post allegedly continued.
Naika spent a total of 28 months in foster care between January 2009 and 2017, officials said.
The report alleges Naika had a history of sexual and physical abuse and neglect, writing that when she was 11, “Naika disclosed her mother would often beat her, kick her, and slap her across the face.”
Naika had been entered into foster care three times. The last time was after her mother relinquished custody of the teen in April 2016, “citing that she had ‘had it’ with her daughter and that she was no longer willing to care for her,’” DCF wrote.
Despite this, Naika reportedly continually expressed her desire to return home to her mother, who allegedly failed to comply with court orders to have weekly therapeutic visits with her daughter.
“She failed to comply and, instead, would often have unsupervised contact with Naika through other means (e.g. social media), which often upset Naika,” the report said. “As the months progressed … the mother stopped cooperating with case management and she eventually expressed she had no desire for Naika to be reunified.
“She made no effort to see her daughter on her birthday and even declined to see Naika for the Christmas holiday when the case manager was trying to arrange a visit between the two, citing that she had been drinking and smoking and wasn’t in a presentable condition,” the report continued. “It wasn’t until January 2017, however, when the mother expressed that Naika was ‘y’all problem’ and that she was not going to do anything else regarding her case.”
In the days after Naika took her own life, her mother tearfully criticized DCF and the foster care system for failing to prevent her daughter’s death.
"I had trusted Florida’s foster care people to care for my baby. Instead, she killed herself on Facebook," she said as she broke down, WSVN-TV reported.
And on social media, a woman claiming to be Naika's mother wrote on February 10: "The pain that I am feeling #cantsleep with knowing I won't hear your voice telling me when you happy or sad no more video chats ... Shopping for you knowing it's the last time signing papers for the last time seeing you like this for the last time the last nite nite kiss I didn't bring from Haiti for this result.. I lost my #1 friend my baby my #1 reason to live it's so hard without you... I love you to the moon and back princess.. R.I.P #NaikaVenant S.O.G #SaveOurGirls."
In a statement released to InsideEdition.com, Caze said DCF’s report “wrongfully places blame on me for the death of my daughter instead of accepting responsibility for the failures of the agencies that were supposed to protect her.”
“I did not witness the online suicide of my daughter, and I had no idea that it occurred until after she had passed away,” Caze said. “When I was first notified about the Facebook livestream, I was told it was a hoax.”
She said that when she realized it might not have been a hoax, she desperately tried to find out what happened by calling the Center for Family and Child Enrichment (CFCE) case manager, the DCF hotline and local hospitals.
“Jackson North [Medical Center] finally told me my daughter had been brought there,” Caze said. “I stand by my statement that the child welfare agencies serving my daughter totally failed her.”
She alleged that Naika was raped in foster care when she was seven years old, and that during her last time in foster care, her daughter was placed into 14 different homes.
“But none of them were therapeutically appropriate,” she said. “It is time that DCF and the agencies that were supposed to protect my daughter take responsibility for their own actions and for failing my daughter.”
InsideEdition.com has also reached out to Caze’s attorneys for comment.
Investigators have not said whether Caze will be charged.
In a statement released to InsideEdition.com on Naika’s death, DCF Secretary Mike Carroll said, “There is little we can say that adequately describes the sorrow we still feel today from the loss of Naika. It is even more exacerbated by the information that was learned during the course of the CIRRT investigation – that this is a child who endured great trauma in her life and despite many service interventions, we were not able to put the pieces back together to prevent her from taking her own life in such a public forum.
“There has been much work done in the child welfare system throughout the state, and in Miami-Dade County in recent years, but our work will never be done,” he said. “The findings outlined in the CIRRT present specific opportunities to make systemic improvements that will inform us and our partner agencies on how to better reach troubled kids.”