Child welfare experts told the Cincinnati Enquirer the case involving then-14-year-old Emily Ball, who would come to participate in the killing of Travis White, is a "perfectly dreadful" example of failure by the Kentucky Cabinet for Families and Children.
The case began Nov. 6, 2008, when the CFC opened an investigation into allegations Ball, then 13, was raped. She went to an area hospital where she told doctors she'd been forcibly raped. Investigators would later determine the forcible rape claim was a lie to receive the morning-after pill because Ball believed she was pregnant.
On Feb. 23, 2009, CFC officials arrested Ball's single mother, Audrey Gill, for endangering the welfare of a minor after she allegedly knowingly allowed Ball to enter into a sexual relationship with an 18-year-old she allowed to live in their home on condition he pay an electric bill, the service for which had been shut off. When Gill was in custody, the Enquirer said the children were never placed in foster care and were instead allowed to live with two strange men.
School officials, the Enquirer investigation found, notified CFC officials of the situation but they did nothing. The investigator's report said the home Ball and her 12-year-old developmentally disabled brother shared with the two men was clean and orderly and there was plenty of food.
Two days later, police investigating White's homicide said the home was anything but clean or orderly.
Not only that, but they said Emily Ball had helped the men kill White, 17, by luring him into the home where he was attacked and killed. Not for more 10 days and only after police informed CFC workers they were investigating a homicide at the residence were the children finally placed in the care of an aunt and uncle, the Enquirer said.
Ball was charged for her role in the slaying and convicted of first-degree conspiracy to commit assault, first-degree unlawful imprisonment and tampering with physical evidence in adult criminal court. She was sentenced to 15 years in prison.
Now 18, a Kenton circuit judge must determine if Ball should have the rest of her sentence served out in an adult prison, probate the remaining years or keep her at the juvenile facility until she's 21 and revisit the matter in three years. Judge Martin Sheehan will make that decision at a hearing scheduled Friday.