Group protests Moore County Social Services following toddler’s death

(Michael Hyland/CBS North Carolina)

CARTHAGE, N.C. (WNCN) – A group is holding a silent protest outside Moore County Social Services Wednesday after a Vass woman was charged in the drowning of her toddler in April.

RELATED: Mom arrested after toddler son drowns in Moore County pond

The mother, Samantha Nacole Bryant
Samantha Nacole Bryant

Without speaking a word, advocates are trying to make their anger over Rylan Ott’s death.

Samantha Nacole Bryant of Vass was arrested April 20 after 23-month-old Ott was found floating in a small pond off Pond Branch Road on Thursday, Moore County Sheriff’s officials said.


CBS North Carolina learned Bryant, 30, has a history of child abuse.

Court documents show she was under DSS supervision and on probation when Ott disappeared and died.

A DSS guardian recommended his mother be given limited supervised visits due to child abuse charges.

Instead, she was given trial placement.

People who protested say they’re concerned there’s too much focus on resolving cases and getting kids back with their parents as opposed to doing what’s best for the kids.

Pamela Reed, the Guardian ad Litem for Rylan Ott, said, “This child was not disposable. His life should matter for something. And, I think people would rather it just go away. And, that’s not the right answer.”

Catherine Graham, member of the Moore DSS Board, said they are striving very hard to do what’s right. “Let me just tell you, it’s not easy,” she said. “It really isn’t easy for me, and I think speak for all of our board members, to not repeat things and to keep things confidential.”

Shane and Amanda Mills, Rylan’s foster parents, are determined to make sure that leaders of Moore County’s Social Services Department don’t forget him.

“When Rylan first came to us, he was shy, confused, but within a few days he was all smiles, running around,” Amanda Mills said.

The Mills said they were even willing to adopt the child.

“We were fearful of his return, and we did everything we could as far as going through the proper channels,” Shane Mills said.

Despite their objections, he was returned to the custody of his mother.

Bryant was arrested in October 2015 on two counts of misdemeanor child abuse

Documents show the state deferred prosecution in February 2016, as long as she cooperated with DSS and her probation officer.

The deadly drowning incident happened at a home on Pond Branch Road off Heritage Farm Road. Ott was last seen playing in the yard of the home.

Bryant was hospitalized for observation after the death, authorities said.

The DSS board went into closed session Wednesday afternoon to go over the review that the Durham County DSS did of the Moore County agency. It’s not clear if that will be made public.

In the meantime, personnel records from the last two years are being sealed and removed from the building. They will be used in an independent investigation.

Bryant is facing involuntary manslaughter and child abuse charges. She’s due in court next month.

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