Mom of slain 4-year-old involved in previous child abuse case

FOX 4 has learned the Grand Prairie mother charged in her 4-year-old daughter’s death also faced a previous abuse and neglect case in another state.

Jeri Quezada and her boyfriend, Charles Phifer, are charged with torturing and beating Leiliana Wright to death last month.

Quezada had other children taken from her before. Records show she was arrested in 2007 for domestic battery in Illinois, which prompted the state to open an abuse and neglect case.

In 2008, Quezada was arrested for driving with alcohol and was later arrested again on a drug charge. Two years later, an Illinois judge took away her children. She also arrested for felony burglary in 2010.

Leiliana Wright was born in prison in January 2012 and custody was given to her paternal grandparents. But in December 2013, Quezada regained custody of the 4-year-old.

Child Protective Services became involved when Quezada was arrested again for having meth in her car in 2014. The charge was later dropped.

Leiliana's paternal grandparents provided CPS with a photo of the girl’s bruised eye and busted lip in November 2014. One month before Leiliana’s death, a special investigator recommended she be examined by a medical professional for alleged sexual abuse, but nothing was done.

FOX 4 reached out to Gov. Greg Abbott at a public speaking event in Dallas on Wednesday about possible concerns with CPS, but a spokesman for the governor told us he was too busy.

Senator Royce West told FOX 4 the high turnover rate and overworked caseworkers at CPS are unacceptable -- but he didn’t yet have a plan to fix it.

“First, we have to ask what does leadership wants to do,” said West. “You have to ask the Governor and Lt. Governor what their plan is. Then, they need to allow us to help them implement whatever plan they come up with."

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