JACKSON, Mich. (WXYZ) - Young local parents were reunited with their 8-year-old son Thursday morning after a 7 Action News investigation called into question the reasons he was taken away.
It was a medical examiners report that concluded the summertime death of their daughter was a homicide.
The ME's report lead child protective services to remove the boy from his parents home, but on Thursday, a prosecutor dismissed the case against the parents that would have placed the boy in foster care for good.
"I walked out into the hall and Brody was walking up the ramp. It was so surreal to see him. He just looked beautiful." That's how Billie Giroux described her trip Thursday morning to a Jackson-area elementary school to see her 8-year-old son Brody. If it sounds strange that a Mom would be so taken by the sight of her child at school, consider the Giroux family story, and what has happened to them since August 7.
That morning, Brian Giroux walked into the bedroom of his daughter and found her unresponsive. Little Birklee, a 4-year-old ball of energy and art lover had been just fine the afternoon before, playing ball in the yard with her family.
Yes, she had suffered febrile seizures and had been rushed to the emergency room before. Because her mother and older brother had also suffered similar seizures, they expected Birklee to grow out of them at age five as they had done, but Birkle was dead with no apparent reason. The autopsy that followed would turn the grieving families lives upside down.
Dr. Patrick Cho, the Jackson County medical examiner listed "asphyxia" as the cause, and "homicide" as the manner of death. His conclusion set in motion an investigation, and an assistant prosecutor's public pronouncement in a court hearing to take away the Girouxs' parental rights that "Brody didn't lose his sister. She was murdered, and Mom or Dad did it."
In an emergency hearing this morning, that same prosecutor withdrew the court case that would have terminated the Giroux parental rights. Shortly after the 15 minute hearing, Billie and Brian Giroux were in Brodys school crying, hugging celebrating their sons return from foster care.
Brody remembers the days child protective service workers took him away from his parents. "They said I wouldn't see my parents for a while. I was scared," Brody said.
Thursday afternoon was the first time since August that they are free to play ball together in the yard, and weeks since Brody was forced to live with foster care strangers after Child Protective Service workers took him from his parents.
Scared was just one of the emotions that consumed the parents after Brody's 4-year-old sister Birklee died in her sleep. Two weeks after her passing in her sleep, the Jackson Co. medical examiner ruled the death a homicide and Brody was taken, not allowed to speak with his parents because the prosecutor thought the boy might be a witness against his parents and might be coached before the investigation could end.
Brian was apprehensive about the morning hearing that sent his son home.
"I still didn't believe it until the words came out of the prosecutors mouth" he told 7 Action News.
Now, Brian and Billie say they'll dedicate their future trying to fix the system that caused them so much needless heartache.
"That's going to be our mission in life," he said. " There has to be some common sense. There has to be some accountability, which doesn't seem to be there now."
Billie Giroux also wants the system to change.
"The system? I still feel that they have their place. That there are children I'm sure they do protect. I don't know. I think Brian and I think we have a lot to do to change the system, to make it better, if that's possible."
Billie says the 71 days away from her son with no contact was "Miserable. Every day seemed like a year. Time usually goes so fast. But every day has been hard," she said. " Just missing him and wondering what he's doing. He sounds so different , he looks so tall. He's very grown up, and I'm very proud to say he still has a tender heart."
Brian then thanked 7 Action News for the special report he believes helped bring Thursday's court action and the release of his son back to the family.
"I believe it was the report that got them to move this quickly. How else can you explain the movement into court, dismiss the petition, we're moving on, you get your son back, all within hours of the report on Channel 7."