New details on Scottsdale grandmother accused of torturing, murdering grandson

New reports show Arizona Department of Child Safety investigated a family multiple times before a child was abused to death. (Source: Arizona’s Family)
Published: Jun. 1, 2022 at 9:51 PM MST
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SCOTTSDALE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -- The Department of Child Safety investigated a Scottsdale family three separate times, yet they ultimately chose to leave a young boy in his grandmother’s custody. That grandmother, Stephanie Davis, is accused of torturing and murdering him. The case dates back to January, and Arizona’s Family has continued to push for answers.

It took more than two months for the Department of Child Safety (DCS) to send us two of the three reports associated with their interactions with Davis and her two grandsons. It dates back to 2017. It appears to show a pattern of abuse. Chaskah Davis-Smith died in the hotel room he shared with his younger brother, grandmother, and her husband – Thomas Desharnais. The hotel was the Extended Stay American in Scottsdale.

According to court documents, a shock collar for the dog was found in the room, but the family didn’t have a dog. A paring knife and wrench were also recovered with blood on them. Chaskah was found with cuts and bruises in various stages of healing. Court documents show he was also starved.

Arizona’s Family requested the three reports and an interview. It took two-plus months to get the reports. They haven’t agreed to an interview.

“There seem like there were a lot of missed opportunities here to protect this child,” David Lujan with Children’s Action Alliance said.

According to the second report in May 2017, Chaskah had a severe black eye. The boy told DCS officials Davis, who he referred to as his mom, “just hits him and kicks him in the face” and was afraid of them. Desharnais told DCS, “no one in the home uses physical discipline.” The report was closed; caseworkers determined it was unsubstantiated.

“DCS’s priority is always to keep children with the family or with family members,” Lujan said.

“These investigators can’t just plow ahead with what they want to do they have to have some kind of evidence to point to move forward in court,” Attorney Michael Girgenti said. He specializes in family law. He said it seems DCS took the third claim more seriously. According to that report in September 2017, the report was substantiated, but the case was closed because the family moved back to Minnesota.

“Each state has their own child welfare agencies and Arizona is not going to follow someone out of state,” Girgenti said.

Arizona’s Family reached out to Minnesota’s Department of Human Services to see what information DCS turned over, but they haven’t responded to our requests.