Her So-Called Life

Raised in a family devastated by drugs and neglect, Porsche Williams became a mother at age twelve, and a murder victim at fifteen

About a week after Robles reported the disturbances, and two weeks after having contacted New Horizons, Thompson turned to the Department of Children and Families. On May 21 Thompson reported to DCF that Porsche's home was being used as a round-the-clock illegal drug shop. She also informed DCF that Porsche's siblings, who would spend the weekend with their sister, were sometimes out at night, unattended. DCF had already reopened the case on May 12. Travis Davis, the protective investigator assigned to it, assured Thompson he had conducted an assessment of the situation and would send her a report. A week went by and DCF made no report or recommendations to MDHA. Thompson contacted Davis two more times; each time he assured her a report was forthcoming. When DCF failed to respond, the MDHA sent Porsche's mother a 30-day notice of noncompliance. Incredibly, even though Merrial had died two months before, she was cited for interfering with her neighbor's peaceful enjoyment of the property, and for harboring unauthorized boarders in the unit. Sherra McLeod, communications director for MDHA, explains Merrial was cited because she was on the lease and because Porsche was a minor. In July, while Porsche and Michael Clark were undergoing counseling for the teenager's chronic absenteeism from school, MDHA filed a court eviction.

But the drug dealing continued, just as Porsche was about to start another school year at a new school, Miami Edison Senior High. One August evening at midnight, Robles walked to the corner store. When she returned, the duplex was surrounded by cops. "Police even asked me to watch the kids while they searched the place for drugs," she says. The kids included Porsche who, according to Robles, sucked her thumb, as she did when she was nervous.

Porsche continued living in the home with Baptiste, her son, her Aunt Sue, her cousin Bump, and a host of junkies who would sometimes crash at her place. She seldom made it to school. From August 31 to the time of her death, Porsche attended school a total of seven days, according to Edison principal Santiago C. Corrada. Miami Bridge Youth and Family Services, an agency that deals with ungovernable teens and runaway kids, worked with Porsche and her father to get her enrolled in an alternative girls' school known as Practical Academic Cultural Education Center. Porsche was in the interview stage when she was killed.

Tessie Massey has helped raise three generations from her Opa-locka efficiency
Steve Satterwhite
Tessie Massey has helped raise three generations from her Opa-locka efficiency

DCF's Travis Davis was still evaluating the case in late October, three weeks after Porsche died. Throughout all of Davis's reports there is no mention of Baptiste or drugs changing hands in the household. Miami Bridge and Miami Dade Housing were also left out of the picture. So was Michael Clark. Most troubling of all, no one had custody of fifteen-year-old Porsche at the time of her death. "We didn't do a good job," says Charles Auslander, DCF's district director. "There appears to have been some help being provided to Porsche before and after her mother passed away, but that was the extent of it. No one assumed legal custody, and although there appeared to be some level of a support network, it was far too risky a situation and we did not act appropriately to make her a dependent of the state."

Davis resigned from DCF. His superior still works for DCF.

Porsche tried to break free from Baptiste many times. "Two days before he killed her she told me she wanted to go away for a while, until all the people that were living there left," Robles says. "She was the sweetest girl. That's why her home was full of people living there, because she felt sorry for them and they took advantage of that. And if it wouldn't have been for all the noise he caused, Jonas was a nice person; he would always say hello. He would do anything for Porsche. If she asked him to go get Burger King for her at midnight, he would walk to Burger King and buy her what she wanted. At whatever time she wanted."

Porsche and Jonas were buried a week apart. Before Porsche's funeral, Tessie Jones and Michael Clark fought over who should make the arrangements, and Porsche's body went from one funeral home to another. But in the end her extended family, friends, and teachers all came together to mourn her. Not as many said goodbye to Baptiste. His "adoptive" mother, Marcia Anderson, his adoptive brothers and sisters, one biological sister, a couple of friends, and his Haitian father watched as the 21-year-old's casket dropped into the earth. The elder Baptiste, who paid for the funeral, thanked Anderson for being a parent to his estranged son.

A judge has yet to sign an eviction order originally intended to remove Porsche from the Wynwood home. At press time her cousin Bump still lives there. The Department of Children and Families has reopened the Massey-Williams file for the third time. It will try to disentangle nets partially of its own making. Central to the case now are Precious, John Lee, and Erin. Porsche's brother and sister are living with Tessie Massey; the boy sleeps on a couch, and Precious shares a bed with her great-grandmother. John Lee's father has expressed interest in adopting both. Erin lives temporarily with Michael and Belinda Clark.

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