DSS Is Back, Banging on Door of Neil and Heidi Howard

Anonymous 'Tip' Brings Case Workers Back

Sidebar: MassNews Stories About the Howards

MassNews Staff
January 15, 2003

DSS caseworkers are back banging on the door of Neil and Heidi Howard, Tyngsboro, as the result of an anonymous tip, demanding to "interview" at 1:30 today these parents of three children.

The Howards were just reunited last year, in January 2002, after two years of separation and 30 hearings with Atty. Chester Darling and Greg Hession representing them. The grueling ordeal finally ended happily when retired Judge Robert Belmonte had the courage to stand up to the system and send the children back home.

But DSS is now back again. It all started again last Friday, Jan. 10, when two obvious caseworkers came to the door and started banging.

A Year Ago: Joyous Christmas for Howards

  A joyous Howard family was finally together again and safe. They were able to survive the anger of state employees only because they had two excellent lawyers who care. They also had a courageous, retired judge who was not worried about "getting along" in the "system" for the next 30 years. (Feb. 2002 File Photo)  

If there is one thing Heidi learned the hard way, it was, "Always say 'no' when a DSS worker wants to enter your home, and always take their threats very seriously." So she did not answer the door when they appeared without warning on Friday.

On Monday they returned and banged some more. This time they left a notice that an anonymous 51A violation had been received against the Howards and the social workers would be back today at 1:30 for an interview. But Neil Howard called and told them not to come. He informed them that if an interview is scheduled, it will include Atty. Hession, a reporter from MassNews and a tape recorder.

This case brought speculation last year that the Howards were chosen for punishment by lesbian social workers or other women who dislike men intensely because Heidi refused to leave her husband. Like many other women, she was told by the social workers she would lose her children if she refused to do so. She did refuse and the children were taken.

What bothers observers this year is that an anonymous tip is causing this trouble and the Howards will never know whether an anonymous complaint really was filed, and if so, what the alleged tip was about. Is there some snoopy neighbor who dislikes them that much or is it just angry caseworkers? The Howard family will never know the answers to those questions.

MassNews Stories About the Howards

March 2001

Newborn Snatched from Parents by DSS
Why Was Mother Shackled? (Detailed history of case.)
Did SJC Chief Margaret Marshall Approve Shackling?
Hospitals Monitor New Mothers for DSS
Neighbors Speak Well of the Howard Family

April 2001
Mother's Hearing Delayed . . . Again
Breast-Feeding of Baby Became a Legal Issue
State Tried to Disqualify Father's Lawyer
DSS Tells Howard Child Before Any Hearing That He Will Be Adopted
Embarrassing to be a Lawyer in Massachusetts
Howards Ask for Help in Paying Attorneys

May 2001
State Moves to Destroy Howard Family; Adoption Is Imminent

June 2001
Howard Children Slowly Reuniting With Parents

August 2001
Baby Returned to Mother Who Was Shackled in Lowell Court

September 2001
Fox News Picks Up MassNews Story About Howards

February 2002:
Howard Family Is Together Once Again
Why Was Heidi Howard Arrested?
First Class Family
Why Were Social Workers So Nasty
What We Did to Bring Our Children Home



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