Following her election to the Georgia State Senate in 2004, many opponents dismissed Nancy Schaefer as nothing more than a partisan hack. She was an evangelical Christian Republican with an apparently narrow range of concerns, and cynics doubted she would make any real impact on the state’s political scene.
But State Sen. Nancy Schaefer surprised political supporters and enemies alike with her tenacious and non-partisan assault against the state’s Department of Family & Child Services. Schaefer became a committed advocate for families abused by an uncaring and unfair system that was removing children from stable homes on the flimsiest of excuses.
Paradoxically, many kids were being remanded to foster home environments that were far more abusive than the domestic situations they’d been taken from. Several of these unfortunate children suffered sexual abuse at the hands of known or suspected sexual predators who had somehow been approved as foster parents – and had not been kicked out of the foster care program even after the nature of their misdeeds had come to light.
Initially Nancy Schaefer blamed a federal law passed during the Clinton Administration for all the trouble. The Adoption and Safe Families Act offered financial payouts to state and local agencies able to increase the number of children being adopted out of foster homes, and Schaefer accused Georgia state and county officials of flooding the foster care system with kids who didn’t belong there just so they could get their greedy hands on those free federal funds.
Who Was Really Being Protected?
In 2007 Nancy Schaefer published a report called “The Corrupt Business of Child Protective Service,” in which she detailed the findings of her ongoing investigation of the Department of Child & Family Services in her state. “I’ve witnessed ruthless behavior from many caseworkers, social workers, investigators, lawyers, judges and therapists,” she wrote, essentially damning Georgia’s entire child protection system.
Encouraged by supporters to expand her scope, she cast her view beyond Georgia’s borders to Child Protective Service scandals in other states. As her knowledge deepened she began to suspect a darker agenda might be behind at least some of the state-sponsored child abductions that were occurring. Nancy Schaefer came to believe there was a link between elite-level child pornography and child sex trafficking and Child Protective Services misconduct.
But when she began to speak openly about this issue she was belittled in the press, blackballed by her colleagues and abandoned by Georgia’s Republican political machine. Her brief career in the State Senate ended in 2008 after her bid for re-election was defeated.
The Silencing of a Voice for Justice
This temporary political setback was not enough to stop her investigation of the foster care racket. Only bullets were able to do that. On March 26, 2010, Nancy Schaefer and her husband Bruce were found shot to death on the floor of their home in Habersham County, Georgia.
Police ruled their deaths a murder-suicide, tabbing Bruce as the killer. But no motive was found to explain why he might have done such a thing. Nancy and Bruce had an excellent marriage and as conservative Christians they considered suicide a sin punishable by banishment to Hell.
There is of course no proof that Nancy Schaefer was murdered. How could there be when the police conducted no actual investigation? But if her investigation had continued it likely would have led her to powerful people with terrible secrets to hide, and that may be what ultimately sealed her doom.