Clayton Miracle

--South Carolina

The state of Georgia placed Clayton Miracle and his sister Kelly in foster care with Betty and Joe Wilkins on June 9, 1993. Betty Wilkins had primary responsibility for looking after the children because Joe worked nights and slept during the day. The twins often soiled their underpants or misbehaved and Betty routinely punished them for this.

On August 10, 1993, Betty was in the house with Clayton and Kelly while Joe was across the street outside a neighbor's house. According to a witness who overheard Betty describe what happened that day, Clayton messed in his pants and was crying. Betty kept hitting him; he stopped crying and then Joe Wilkins came in and told her to call 911.

Paramedics arrived within minutes of the 911 call and found Clayton barely breathing, with two large knots on his head, one in the front and one in back. Clayton died the following day as a result of blunt force trauma to his head.

The Wilkinses initially claimed that Clayton accidently injured himself and gave several inconsistent stories to the paramedics and neighbors about the "accident." The doctor who performed the autopsy testified that Clayton's fatal injuries could not have been caused by an accidental fall and that injuries and bruising found all over Clayton's body were consistent with battered child syndrome. Doctors also examined his sister Kelly and found the same pattern of bruising.

Clayton Miracle was one of 433 children who have lost their lives while in the care of the state of Georgia over a period of some several years.

Clayton's story is told by the Supreme Court of Georgia, in Wilkins v. the State, S95A1981, February 19, 1996.

Clayton was also memorialized in the testimony of Richard Wexler of the National Coalition for Child Protection Reform, Balancing Diverging Interests, Hearing before the Senate Committee on Labor and Human Resources Subcommittee on Children and Families Hearing on Child Protection, May 25, 1995.

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Last updated May 14, 2000