Arvada mother convicted of child abuse maintained custody of 7 kids until investigation

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ARVADA, Colo. -- Adrienne Stone was convicted of felony menacing, six counts of child abuse and violation of a protection order on July 10. But six weeks after those convictions, the 38-year-old Arvada mother was still allowed to maintain custody of her seven youngest kids.

"I didn't know how anybody who had just been convicted of several counts of child abuse would still be allowed to keep children," said Nicholas Maerz Jr., the oldest son of Stone. Now 18 years old, Maerz Jr. was 17 in May 2018 when his mother threatened to stab him with a knife.

"That's the most scared I've been in my entire life because looking in her eyes, there was nothing," he said.

Jefferson County prosecutors filed a felony menacing charge against Stone for the knife threat against Maerz Jr. and six counts of child abuse for each sibling who was home at the time, plus a violation of a protection order for yelling profanities at a neighbor across the street, who Stone confronted while police were investigating the knife incident.

Stone's oldest daughter, who is now 20, was already living outside the home. But at the time, Stone was still raising eight children: six boys and two girls between the ages of 1 and 17.

The state removed Stone's eight children in May 2018 for environmental neglect after the city of Arvada condemned her house.

"She's [a] really bad hoarder," said Maerz Jr.

Stone's arrest affidavit  states, "There were no aisles for people to walk through the house. ... Clothing was hung on the posts of the bed, filling baskets, as well as in the bathtub. ... multiple prescription bottles easily accessible by children. ... the kitchen sink was overflowing with dirty dishes. No smoke detectors or carbon monoxide detectors."

"My little brother, he was well past an age that he should've been crawling, but because there was no place for him to crawl or walk or anything, he just didn't develop," said Maerz Jr.

Yet three months later, all the children were returned to Stone, except Maerz Jr., who refused to go home. He now lives with maternal grandmother, who co-owns Stone's house but moved out herself a few months before Stone was arrested for child abuse.

On Aug. 16, investigative reporter Rob Low approached Stone at her front door and asked her if she thought she should  maintain custody of her kids in light of her child abuse convictions.

"Get off my property," was Stone's response before ordering one of her kids to call the police on FOX31.

Arvada police are quite familiar with Stone. Since 2016, Arvada police and the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office have been contacted a combined 65 times, sometimes by Stone herself but often by her neighbors, some of whom have restraining orders against her.

"If she knew that we contacted you or any of this, she would just come after us worse and we'd probably have to sell our house and move," said one neighbor who requested anonymity. Property records confirm three of Stone's immediate neighbors have sold their houses in the last year and one confirmed to the Problem Solvers it was strictly because of Stone.

"She's had times where she's dancing out in the street saying, 'Now we just need to get that b---- off our street.' Who says that?" said the anonymous neighbor. "Some of her favorite things to say is she'll f--- with your family, she'll say, 'Try me, b----'."

The anonymous neighbor posed the same question to FOX31 that other current and former neighbors repeated to us: " She was found guilty [of] six counts of child abuse, one felony menacing with a deadly weapon and she has her children while awaiting sentencing... what sane person would make that decision?"

Maerz Jr. repeatedly told FOX31 he felt the Colorado Department of Human Services had spent the last year pursuing a policy of reunification between the seven youngest kids and their mom, instead of prioritizing the safety and welfare of his younger siblings.

"[I] Feel like they're in more danger than ever," Maerz Jr. said.

In fact, Maerz Jr. said it was not just his siblings he worried about but other children in the neighborhood.

"We actually had a neighbor across the street that she would constantly threaten and I was quite frankly scared for them. They had a young child and on multiple occasions I would listen to my mother and my stepdad talk about how they planned to poison him or make him disappear," Maerz Jr. said.

"What does it take to get your kids taken away?" asked one neighbor.

The Colorado Department of Human Services wouldn't speak directly about the case of Stone but shared the following statement:

"In a typical child welfare case, a judge determines whether or not a child or teen can safely remain in their parent's custody. They make this decision using information county caseworkers provide after the completion of a safety assessment. Removing a child or teen from their home can be traumatic for the entire family, so it is avoided whenever possible.

If it is not possible to ensure the safety and well-being of a child or teen in their own home, a caseworker looks to family or friends willing to provide a temporary home while the parent or caregiver works to improve the situation at home. These families are known as 'kinship families.' Any safe adult with an established and trusted relationship with a child or young person - grandmas, uncles, teachers, neighbors or even a friend’s parent - can be a kinship parent. When no kin is available, caseworkers look for a foster family able to provide a safe, temporary home.

Growing up with a kinship or foster family is always intended to be temporary. Once a parent has addressed safety issues, parents and children are reunited."

Last week, on the morning of Aug. 23, Arvada police were back at Stone's house from 1 a.m. to 3:30 a.m. Her ex-husband had called police to say Stone had hit him. Police made him leave and then 10 minutes later, Stone called police to accuse her ex-husband of slashing her tires.

Police made no arrests but later that afternoon, Stone emailed Low, writing, "Congratulations, they called an emergency hearing and took my kids because 'Nicholas is credible,' and, 'the news is involved, so now there are too many eyes watching.' You have no idea and you are so wrong about EVERYTHING!!! You are messing with LIVES!!!"

FOX31 sent a staff photojournalist to Stone's house to confirm what she told us and he confirmed Arvada police and child protection workers were at the house removing Stone's seven youngest children and placing them into foster care.

"I believe that if I start speaking out now, that maybe I can keep some of my siblings from growing up the same way," said Maerz Jr.

Stone will be sentenced for felony menacing, child abuse and violation of protection order on Thursday afternoon.

The state revoked her license as a certified nursing aide in July 2018, citing her arrest for child abuse. But the state's Mental Health Board has taken no action against her psychotherapy license, which is due to expire on Saturday, Aug. 31.

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