ST. LOUIS — Great Circle knew 15-year-old Clay Hensley was going to elope from its residential treatment program near St. James before he was allegedly killed by fellow runaways last September.
Wrongful death lawsuit filed involving boy who ran away from Great Circle facility | Law and order
And Great Circle inadequately reported the incident to the Missouri Department of Social Services Children’s Division, which had sent Hensley, a foster child, to the secluded program.
Those allegations and others are part of a wrongful death lawsuit filed Thursday in Phelps County on behalf of Clay’s biological parents, Bridgett Tatum and Dustin Hensley.
“At all times relevant, Defendant Great Circle owed a legal duty to (Clay) Hensley to ensure his health and protection while in Defendant Great Circle’s care and custody,” the lawsuit claims.
In addition to Webster Groves-based Great Circle, one of the largest behavioral health organizations for youth in Missouri, Cody Armistead and Enoch Phillips are named as defendants in the civil case.
Armistead, 18, and Phillips, 19, are each charged with first-degree murder in Hensley’s death. They are being held in the Phelps County Jail. Prosecutor Brendon Fox said he expects the criminal case to go to trial sometime in 2022.
Great Circle employees, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told the Post-Dispatch that Armistead, Phillips and Hensley were living in the same cottage before they ran away, or eloped, Sept. 16, 2020. They said Hensley was young, small and weak compared to Armistead and Phillips, who were known to intimidate fellow residents and classmates on the 442-acre campus.