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Social Workers Tried for Custody of Missing Boy

November 23, 1987|Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO — Social workers two years ago warned that a 3-year-old boy missing since Friday when he fell off his parents' boat into San Francisco Bay probably was being neglected, and tried to have the child taken away.

According to Marin County Juvenile Court records obtained by the San Francisco Examiner, some people complained to authorities that Brian Gilbert, 45, and Linda Poteet, 32, ferried their son about in a leaky skiff and that he wore no life jacket.

Henry Gilbert was "not grossly abused, but was at risk of child endangerment," the documents quoted Ed Oklan, a psychiatrist who examined the boy when he was briefly taken from the couple in July, 1985. Oklan recommended that Henry be put up for adoption.

Social workers both in Marin and San Francisco failed to have the child transferred to their permanent custody, despite court documents that indicated the mother was a drug abuser and suffered from mental illness.

Oklan said the boy's mother was being treated at the Marin County Crisis Unit "due to a manic-depressive episode," according to court records. Poteet had been admitted, according to Oklan, "because she had 'shot up some (speed) intravenously and became psychotic.' "

According to those same records, the boy was malnourished and anemic, suffered from possible liver damage and had a depression on his head from having been allowed to lie on his back for prolonged periods of time.

The Coast Guard late Friday suspended its search for the boy, who disappeared from his parents' old fishing boat as it lay at anchor in Aquatic Park, near San Francisco's famed Fisherman's Wharf. The child is presumed to have drowned, although his body has not been recovered.

The boy's parents said Henry disappeared during the afternoon while they were below deck on their 33-foot motor cruiser, where they had been living. They said he had been wearing a life vest, but that they found it lying on the deck.

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