Deven Child Deaths | Deaths and horrific abuse of adopted children prompt state investigation into Cumberland County Social Services

FAYETTEVILLE, North Carolina (WTVD) — A state investigation is ongoing into the deaths of Blake and London Deven in Fayetteville.

Their adoptive mother, Avantae Deven, was charged with murder in June.

Fayetteville police say the siblings had been missing for years and were not reported missing until another adopted child brought them to officers’ attention after they responded to a crisis call in November 2023.

A police investigation confirmed London’s death after remains found in a barrel were identified as hers. The remaining remains in the same barrel are still being examined, but police believe they are those of Blake Deven.

Charging documents say Avantae made up stories about the whereabouts of missing children and even went so far as to ask a family friend to pose as Blake during a visit from social services workers in Cumberland County.

On Tuesday, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) announced it will conduct an evaluation of services provided to the Deven family’s five adopted children.

They all reported the horrific abuse they suffered to police and social services. Police said forensic tests carried out at the two homes they lived in confirmed their stories, including what happened to Blake and London.

NCDHHS said agents will also review the process and decision to select Deven as an adoptive parent.

Avantae Deven (Photo: Fayetteville PD)

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Blake Deven

Fayetteville police said the investigation began in November 2023 when officers responded to a call about a person having a mental health crisis at a home on Berridale Drive where Avantae Deven lived with her adopted children. Police said the person in the crisis said he was Blake Deven’s brother and hadn’t seen him in five years. He also told officers the last time he saw Blake, the boy had a broken arm.

Police released a photo of Blake taken in 2012 (left) and an aged photo (right) showing what he might look like today at 17 years old.

The investigator confirmed that there were five children in the home, adopted from three different counties in North Carolina. This included three boys who are biologically related and two girls who are not related to each other or to the boys.

Police and the Department of Social Services (DSS) interviewed the children, who described the harsh treatment they experienced at the hands of Deven, their adoptive mother.

The children said they were kept in a small room that was dark and given little or no food. They told police they could earn food by writing papers apologizing for their behavior.

Police said the children said they were sometimes beaten to the point they needed medical attention. A detective who spoke at the news conference said they believed Blake’s body could no longer withstand the starvation and beatings and he died. After his death, they said Deven forced someone to participate in burning and disposing of his body while they were living in the Eichelberger Drive home.

The police said they found evidence of this in the house.

Investigators said forensic evidence supported allegations of torture, starvation and isolation.

London Deven

Investigators learned of London Deven’s death while investigating Blake’s death.

Police said that during the investigation, a metal barrel was found containing the remains of two children. A teenage girl aged 15-19 and a boy aged 7-10. Laboratory tests confirmed that the girl’s remains belong to London Deven.

From interviews with the children, police concluded that London died the same way Blake did, from starvation, abuse and neglect. The children said someone was forced to participate in disposing of London’s body.

They said London had special needs and her adoptive mother never officially reported her missing and is now charged with accessory after her death.

Research is ongoing to confirm the identification of the remaining remains.

WATCH | Blake and London Deven Case Timeline

The woman who adopted Blake and London Deven has been charged with murder in connection with the investigation into their disappearance.

TO WATCH | Fayetteville Police Provide Update on Missing Blake and London Deven

A woman who adopted two children in Fayetteville has been arrested and charged with murder, and covered up their deaths and abuse.

Fayetteville Police continue to appeal to the public for information that could help establish a timeline of the investigation into the deaths of Blake and London.

Avantae Deven (Photo: Fayetteville PD)

Police said no partial skeletal remains were found at the Deven home.

RELATED | Blake Deven went on a Buddhist retreat before disappearing in 2022, according to his mother, who spoke to him on 911

Fayetteville police said the search for Blake Deven, last seen in 2022, and London Deven, last seen in 2019, is ongoing and is asking for the public’s help.

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