Citing confidentiality concerns, the Department of Social Services has blocked reporters’ requests for information about Chalmers’ case, though a St. Louis judge opened a narrow window Thursday by agreeing to unseal part of the court record.
It appears that Chalmers’ withholding
for child support had almost doubled
over three years.
A 1995 child-support case names Chalmers
as the father of two sons, Mike and
Herbert III, and a daughter, Leslie,
born between 1981 and 1985.
State records obtained by the Post-Dispatch
indicate that a payment of $600 in
back child support was received on
his account with the state on March
30, with a $75 payment on March 7
and a $10 payment on Jan. 10.
Haynes was due to receive all of that
money. A $600 check was cut or sent
March 31, and a $10 check was dated
Jan. 11. State records showed one
more check, for $75, dated April 24,
2006 — six days after Haynes’ death.
The St. Louis Circuit Court file related
to the case, obtained by the Post-Dispatch
and The Associated Press over the
state’s objection, shows that Chalmers
was originally ordered in 1995 to
pay $133 per month for support of
In January 1996, that was upped to
$138, including back support.
The case was closed in 1997. The only
reason listed is “other.”
A May 4, 2000, letter from a child-support
enforcement investigator requested
a copy of all orders and modifications
for Chalmers’ case.
Another letter, that August, requested
a copy of a 1997 court order because
of questions over the amount owed.
On Aug. 16, 2002, Chalmers’ employer,
listed then as the Missouri Division
of Employment Security, was ordered
to withhold $302.05, including what
was past due.
On April 1, 2003, ADECCO Employment
Services was ordered to garnishee
Chalmers’ wages in the amount of $362.46,
again including arrears.
Those April documents are the last
in the case file.
Chalmers’ payroll records were not
available, and Finninger said he did
not know how much his worker had been
Scott, of Social Services, said that
changes in income withholding can
now be done administratively and would
not necessarily appear in a court
She said state law does not allow
her to comment on child-support records,
or why Chalmers’ back child-support
payment ballooned from $362 per month
in 2003 to what seems to be $675 three
Scott said that if the amounts the
Post-Dispatch obtained were accurate,
“. . . then certainly we would be
looking into that to determine whether
or not an error has been made by the
“We would take any mistake that we
discovered in a case such as this
very seriously,” she said. “We are
doing a thorough review, and we will
act accordingly on what we learned.”
The department refused a request to
release records on Chalmers’ child
support obligations or any appeals
that he made, citing state law that
they say makes the records confidential.
A department lawyer unsuccessfully
cited the same law in court Thursday
when trying to keep all contents of
the court file a secret.
The agency collected more than a half-billion
dollars in child support in fiscal
year 2005, Scott said, for more than
378,000 children. More than half of
the money came from income withholdings.
“It’s an important way of insuring
that those dollars get to the children
who need them,” she said.
“That’s important work to help families
be able to be self-sufficient and
stay off of public assistance,” Scott
said. “Obviously, in the course of
that work, there are people who are
unhappy. There are sometimes threats.
We take all those threats very seriously
and report those to the proper authorities.”
Chalmers had faced criminal or civil
action over back child support decades
ago. The file was closed in 1984 and
destroyed in 1993. John Dockery, director
of Child Support Enforcement in the
St. Louis circuit attorney’s office,
said he could not comment further
Christmas said Chalmers’ relatives
were in shock. “Of course, they offer
their condolences and prayers to all
the victims of this tragedy,” he said,
“and ask that the community pray for
them as well.”
Sylvester Brown Jr. of the Post-Dispatch
contributed to this report.
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