The Unquiet Death of Eli Creekmore

The unquiet death of Eli Creekmore is a documentary produced by KCTS in Seattle Washington.

The film details the life and tragic death of Eli Creekmore, a three year old boy who was killed by his father on September, 26 1986. On that date, Eli was taken to the hospital emergency room by ambulance and was seen by Dr Tom Robbie. Dr Robbie stated that when Eli arrived in the emergency room he was completely unresponsive and his stomach was extremely distended. Eli was pronounced dead upon arrival, the cause of death was a ruptured bowel.

One of the most unsettling facts about this tragedy was that Eli had been treated in the very same hospital on multiple occasions for injuries that were a result of abuse at the hands of his father. On several previous occasions Eli was treated by Dr Peter Milliken who also reported the boy’s injuries to Child Protective Services in Everett. According to the film, Eli’s father, Darren Creekmore was often unemployed, a heavy drinker and prone to violence. Darren was convicted of assault on two different men six months after Eli’s birth and spent a year and a half before being released on parole.

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Within a month of returning home Darren began abusing Eli.

Eli was now two years old and during a visit to his grandmother’s home only four months after Darren’s return, Eli appeared to have lost ten pounds and could barely walk. Upon further examination by Eli’s grandmother discovered he had multiple bruises and even apparent cigarette burn all over his body. She pleaded with them to take the boy to a doctor or leave him with her so she could do so. Both Mary and Darren refused and instead went back to their own home.

The grandmother called child protective services and a case worker and police officer went to the Creekmore home to investigate. The case worker had Eli taken to the emergency room where Dr Peter Milliken treated him. Dr Milliken stated in a police report that the child’s injuries were consistent with abuse and Eli was in danger in his own home. Eli was placed in a foster home for a few weeks but in what was to become a reoccurring pattern, child protective services felt compelled to return Eli to his parents.

Eli was apparently abused on many more occasions to follow and his condition was reported to child protective services by his grandmother and childcare workers but the case worker for child protective services continued to return Eli to his parents. On Eli’s third birthday the grandmother and a great aunt went to the Creekmore home for his birthday party. Eli’s condition was chilling. The boy had bruising all over his body and the inside of his mouth was raw and bloody. The grandmother was allowed to take Eli out for ice cream and he could not even eat because of the soreness in his mouth.

The grandmother returned Eli to his home and called child protective services where she was dismissed as a busy body and intruder. Child protective services would later admit that they minimized what the grandmother told them on repeated occasions because they felt she disliked her son in law was simply out to discredit him. However, the waitress who served the grandmother and boy on his birthday shared the story with a couple of police officers that stopped by for lunch. The officers went to the Creekmore home to investigate and immediately took Eli to the emergency room for treatment.

Emergency room doctor Peter Milliken once again treated the boy and stated in a police report that if Eli was returned to his parents he would most likely suffer a debilitating injury or be killed. Eli’s case worker put him in foster care for three days and then allowed him to return to his parent’s home. The Creekmore parents had to agree to seek psychological counseling but Eli was killed two months later before the counseling was even scheduled. Eli’s mother testified that Darren had kicked the boy in the stomach the night of his death and she was sentenced to tem months in the county jail.

Darren Creekmore was convicted of second degree murder and sentenced to sixty years in prison. He is currently appealing his sentence. This is possibly the hardest assignment I’ve had to do to date. It’s difficult to examine how much this little boy had to suffer at the hands of his father. The crimes that took place here were more than abuse. I believe that the case worker is culpable for refusing to protect the child and should have been disciplined if not charged with a crime.

The mother deserved a more severe sentence for allowing this abuse to go on for so long and should have been charged as an accessory to the crime. This case did lead to outrage and sweeping legislation in the state of Washington was enacted. Most of the legislation was aimed at allowing and even mandating that child protective services make protecting the child a higher priority than keeping the family together. One counselor interviewed in the film made a chilling statement, Norm Nichle said “family is the most dangerous institution that exist” this is a sad but statistically true fact.

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