PHOENIX — Multiple parents are grieving the loss of 4-month-old Samora Cousin. The infant girl died in the backseat of a van Tuesday afternoon, according to Phoenix police.
She was in the care of a foster parent who told officers he picked up the baby for an appointment and forgot to drop her off again before returning to work at the Washington Elementary School District Service Center, where he was a supervisor.
KNXV has learned through law enforcement sources and those who know the foster family that the father is Roger Ham. Ham has not been arrested or charged with any crimes.
Ham and his partner received extensive media coverage over the past decade for their role in fostering and adopting more than a dozen children.
The same-sex couple was even featured on Good Morning America in 2011, where anchor George Stephanopoulos mentioned an award they received from Child Protective Services for all the work they had done to provide a home to children in need.
Tragically, the family is now receiving media attention for the death of a baby in their care. The biological parents of Samora say they are devastated and angry at the loss of their child, who they were told was in safe hands.
"She was so amazing. She was such a little personality," said Jennifer Haley, Samora's biological mother.
May 21, 2019, was one of the best days of Wesley Cousin and Jennifer Haley’s life.
"My first daughter. Words cannot explain just the first time I held her," said Wesley, Samora's biological father.
The couple's joy was cut short when the state took custody of their daughter just as they were preparing to leave the hospital.
"They said that I was using drugs with her when I was pregnant," Haley said.
The parents would occasionally get to visit their baby. Haley told KNXV she thought she would be holding Samora this morning.
"When I got there, the cops were there and I thought they were going to arrest me. But they said they were there because my daughter is dead," said Haley, choking back tears. Haley said she was notified roughly 18 hours after police and the state found out their baby passed away.
In a statement, the Arizona Department of Child Safety said:
"The Department mourns the tragic loss of this innocent child and we send our condolences and prayers to the child’s loved ones. We attempted to notify the parents as quickly as possible...Our first priority is to ensure the safety of any other children that might be living in the home of the foster placement. Our team worked this investigation with Phoenix Police Department well into the morning hours Wednesday."
The Ham family did not answer their door when KNXV reached out to get their comments for this story.
A neighbor said he saw the family’s van return Wednesday afternoon. He noticed it Tuesday, on the news, surrounded by police cars.
The biological parents, Wesley and Haley, say they want to see the baby's foster father arrested.
"If it was me, and I did something like that, I would’ve been booked hours ago," Wesley said.
The parents also say they plan to sue the Arizona Department of Child Safety.
Regardless of what happens next, four parents and many siblings will never be the same. More than that, one little girl has lost her chance of ever growing up.
"The first day of school, we don’t get that. First soccer game, we don’t get that," Wesley said. "Not even having the chance to at least call me dad."
Haley also told KNXV that two of her sons were also foster children in the care of the Ham family.
DCS said they could not comment on how many kids, adopted or fostered, the Ham’s were caring for, or what may happen to them now.