Crimes against children: The men and women behind the investigations

Investigating crimes against children in Florence

FLORENCE, Ala. (WAFF) - Recently, there have been several high profile crimes against children in the Shoals area.

In Franklin County, a 3-year-old boy was found dead in a hot car last month. His parents Heath Fowler and Brandi Burks are behind bars charged with manslaughter.

We talked to investigators in the Shoals who are tasked with looking into child abuse cases.

One investigator told us the job is brutal.

“How does a parent, how does a guardian, how does an adult that says they care about this child allow this to happen? How did they allow it to get to this now I am involved?”

Sergeant Clint Holcombe has been an investigator with the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office for eight years.

He says though every day crimes are a challenge, there’s nothing tougher than crimes against children.

“They really don’t deserve it, they’ve done nothing to provoke it. They’re just children and it really emotionally drains me and mentally it drains me,” said Holcombe.

Holcombe tells WAFF he sees a common thread in child abuse cases.

“There’s always a lack of caring every time children are abused like that,” said Holcombe.

One Place of the Shoals is another agency that works to protect children, based in Florence.

“I get about 5 new cases a week,” said Investigator Christina Keeton.

She’s been on the job at One Place since January and is the lead investigator in a case against Killen teen, Bryant Black, who faces rape and child pornography charges. She says it’s not an easy job.

“It’s just emotionally draining. It’s really hard, but it’s worth it to get justice for the victims,” said Keeton.

Getting justice is a long process says Franklin County investigator Holcombe.

“You do everything that you can absolutely do and if you can think of one more thing to do you do that too and then you go somewhere and you cry all by yourself,” said Holcombe.

When all is said and done and justice is served, there’s one question that lingers.

“If it’s normal for them to go through these things now, how are they going to feel about it when they are fully grown? Is it going to be normal then too?”

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