Teen starved to death in spite of state's involvement
By Craig Schneider and Katie Leslie
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Huddled overnight beneath the shopping carts at Walmart, Markea Berry confided in her journal that she would rather live at the store than at home.
The next day, after store employees found her wandering among the produce, the Smyrna teen told police she had run away because she didn't want to be a burden on her mother. She was 14, but she was so small and skinny that she looked five years younger.
Now, less than two years later, Markea is dead; at the time of her death in June she weighed 43 pounds. The mother she wanted not to burden, Ebony Berry, is charged with murder. She is accused of starving her daughter to death despite multiple investigations over nearly 10 years by child protection workers in Michigan and later in Georgia.
The last time the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services had contact with the family — a couple of months after Markea's Walmart escapade in 2010 — the caseworker and supervisor noted their concerns that Markea was undernourished. But the agency closed the case after Berry sidestepped efforts to compel her to get medical attention for Markea and her siblings.