INDIANA (WRTV) — The death of 4-year-old Judah Morgan has touched the lives of Hoosiers and others across the country.
While Judah is no longer here his legacy is making life-saving changes in Indiana’s legal system.
“I am obviously upset that it took this to make change, but my family and I are super excited that the senators and that the state are seeing change — change that could’ve possibly saved Judah, had then been put in place prior to this,” said Jenna Hullett, Judah’s former foster mother.
In 2021, the Indiana Department of Child Services granted Judah’s parents custody after being with his foster mom for four years.
Morgan died months later of blunt force trauma.
Court records state he was allegedly tortured in his LaPorte County home.
Records also state his father would duct tape his hands and feet and physically abuse him.
“It was a tragic event. It was Judah’s death and the tragedy and just the absolute horror this youngster went through that just made it the time,” said state Sen. Mike Bohacek (R-Michiana Shores).
Bohacek sponsored the bill, along with state Rep. Jim Pressel (R-Rolling Prairie).
He says Judah’s death pointed out flaws in the legal system.
For decades, unlicensed foster parents like family members couldn’t intervene in court cases or terminate the parent-child relationship when a child is in danger.
“What the bill does is it sets forth a clear path that a caregiver not being provided a stipend which means doing it out of the goodness of their heart will be able to intervene and have a good strong voice as to where the child goes,” said Bohacek.
Judah’s former foster mother Jenna Hullett filed for custody in court exactly one year ago.
She says she reached out to DCS several times and was heartbroken he was given back to his parents.
“Judah was with us for 4 months to four years. Nobody knew him like we knew him. His biological parents didn’t know him like we knew him,” said Hullett.
She misses her loving, bright-eyed boy.
“It’s an emotional roller coaster. Every day is different,” said Hullett.
But she’s thankful for Judah’s army, state leaders and her family for giving other families a voice in court and children a chance to escape abuse.
“This is just a small step we want to make federal changes because it needs to stop,” said Hullett.
This story was originally published March 3 by WRTV in Indianapolis, an E.W. Scripps Company.