One year after 10-year-old's death, community pushes for change

One year after 10-year-old Tramelle Sturgis was tied up and beaten to death by his father, Terry, evidence still remains of the hell he endured.

“I got a crime scene in the basement that the landlord never cleaned up,” said Theodore Russell, who now lives in the home where Tramelle died. “Blood all over the doors, there’s a stain where the little kid’s head was at.”

It’s a gruesome reminder of what went on in Terry Sturgis’ basement for months.

Tramelle and his siblings were beaten at the South Bend home – sometimes for hours at a time.

Teachers and neighbors spoke out about suspected abuse, but the Department of Child Services never removed the children from the home.

“The cries for help, it should have been seen a long time ago,” Russell said. “All somebody had to do was come in here, pull those kids aside and really ask some questions. Take them in private. They'll tell the truth.”

While Tramelle wasn’t saved, his story has inspired the community to focus on helping other abused children.

Earlier this year, local legislators held public forums asking residents how DCS should change.

And, people are no longer holding back.

“They not paying attention to these kids,” said Sharon Harrison, who lives near the former Sturgis home. “They just going around checking like ‘Ok, I did my job.’ No, you really need to sit down, evaluate, talk to these kids,”

Indiana lawmakers formed a study committee to investigate DCS earlier this year.

They’ll consider testimony from hundreds of residents – including some from South Bend – when they decide what changes to make to DCS later this year.

Until the agency is reformed, those who live in the neighborhood where Tramelle died say they at least have some peace knowing the monster who killed him is behind bars.

“I think where he at, I hope God take care of him,” Russell said. “I’m sure the inmates will, because they always do.”

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