Foster Parent Sentenced to Life in Prison for Death of 2-year-old

The life sentence is little consolation for Alex Hill's biological parents.

Denalee Chapman November 11, 2014
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Alex Hill would have turned four last week, but her life was cut short when she died at the hands of an abusive foster mother at age two. Taken from her parents and placed in foster care when her father admitted to smoking marijuana, Alex lived in one questionable foster home until her parents, who suspected an unsafe environment during visits, demanded she be moved.

Then, just four months before Joshua Hill was set to regain custody of Alex, he received an urgent call to come to the hospital. There, he found Alex on life support, and soon said good-bye.

It is small consolation to Alex’s parents that the foster mother, Sherrill Small, has been sentenced to life in prison. There is also great confusion as they try to understand how it wasn’t okay for Alex to be in her comfortable, safe home, where her father smoked marijuana after she went to sleep; but the state could place her in a home where she suffered bruises and internal bleeding, causing her liver to shut down and ultimately ending her life.

Tighter foster screening laws went into effect in Texas in September with the intention of preventing situations similar to Alex Hill’s.


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Denalee Chapman

Denalee is an adoptive mother, a motivational speaker, a writer, and a lover of life. She and her husband have adventured through the hills and valleys of life to find that the highest highs and the lowest lows are equally fulfilling. Book Denalee to speak to your group, or find Denalee's writings, including her books on her website at

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