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Lewis 'Harry' Spence

Lewis 'Harry' Spence Spence was appointed commissioner of the state Department of Social Services in 2001 by Acting Governor Jane M. Swift. From 1995 to 2000, he was deputy chancellor for operations for the New York City public schools. A graduate of Harvard Law School, he also helped Chelsea recover from bankruptcy as receiver, did the same at the Boston Housing Authority, and served as director of the Cambridge and Somerville housing authorities.


July 2: LaVeta Jackson kills her 3-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter and is then shot to death by police. DSS had returned custody of the children to her in June.

August: Spence places a case worker and the manager of the Whitinsville office on administrative leave for failing to aggressively investigate a Warren home where children were allegedly raped and beaten for 11 years.


Sept. 20: Paul P. Dubois is found guilty of murdering a DSS worker in Provincetown in 1996. The investigation involved a custody dispute between Dubois and his former wife, who was awarded custody of their two children.


March 6: Dontel Jeffers, 4, is allegedly beaten to death by his foster mother 11 days after DSS places him in the foster home.


Jan. 17: DSS gets permission from the Supreme Judicial Court to withdraw life support from 11-year-old Haleigh Poutre, who is in a coma after an alleged beating by her adoptive mother and stepfather. A day after the ruling, Haleigh begins breathing on her own, and DSS says she is emerging from her vegetative state.

Dec. 13: Rebecca Riley, 4, dies of a prescription drug overdose, and her parents, who were under DSS supervision, are charged with first-degree murder.

SOURCE: Boston Globe archives
Compiled by Kathleen Hennrikus