After 5-year-old boy dies in house of horrors, Michigan senator wants changes to CPS

In the week since 5-year-old Ethan Belcher died, his parents have been charged with his murder and new details about the horrific life he was forced to live have come out. And it all could have been stopped.

Investigators say Ethan's parents beat him to death and family members say the couple abused Ethan and his 3-year-old brother constantly. The house where Ethan lived has exposed plywood walls, boards over some windows and no curtains covering others. After one look at the house on Spring Garden and it’s hard to believe anyone lived there.

FOX 2 has learned the parents allegedly forced the kids to live in a feces-filled basement, put cigarettes out on their bodies, and barely fed them.

Ashley Belcher says she tried to get Ethan out of his parents’ custody but was denied. She filed a police report with Lincoln Park police in 2021. 

And nothing happened.

Now senator Jim Runstadt is demanding something change with Child Protective services (CPS)

"It sounds to me like it was a complete failure from CPS's side," he said. "The number one job of government is protecting the people."

Ashley said when she first turned them in, nothing happened - even as Ethan nearly starved. 

Ethan Belcher, 5, died last week after authorities said he lived in a house of horrors in Detroit.

Sadly, the little boy died last week. His younger brother is expected to survive. 

But, according to Runstadt, nobody can get information about the investigation as CPS is exempt from FOIA request. So he's introduced a bill to change that while still protecting privacy.

"You can't get information, he can't get information, and the legislature can't get information," he said. "This bill would say that somebody like me can go in and look at the entire case. Right now I wouldn't be able to say anything about the case, but I'd be in front of the caseworkers and supervisors and say, what the hell is going on here?"

CPS would not comment on the case but issued a statement from MDHHS public information officer Bob Wheaton:

"…The confidentiality requirement in state and federal law protects children who have been abused or neglected – and their siblings – from the additional trauma of having the intimate details of their alleged abuse and neglect made public. 
The department is always willing to work with our legislative partners to protect the well-being of children and families."

The senator is hoping to push this change through quickly - and make a difference in another child's life soon.

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help the family and pay for the funeral HERE.