Amazing Race contestant’s toddler’s “suspicious death”: system “failed to protect an innocent child”

The Amazing Race 6 contestant Hera McLeod’s 15-month-old son died during an unsupervised visit with his father, and police are now investigating the 2003 murder of the man’s former girlfriend and 2008 suicide of his mother.

Prince McLeod Rams died in late October, one day after he was discovered unresponsive at his father’s home; he had “obvious unexplainable injuries,” according to a Child Protective Services report, and police have labeled it a “suspicious death.”

The boy’s father, Joaquin S. Rams, was given unsupervised visits by a judge; as the AP reports, the boy’s death “led police to further probe the 2008 suicide of Joaquin Rams’ mother and the 2003 shooting death of his ex-girlfriend Shawn K. Mason.” According to Hera, “the judge ignored her concerns for her son’s safety, accompanied by evidence of Joaquin Rams’ lack of fitness as a father.”

The judge called the previous deaths “smoke that’s been blown that I can see through.” Of the boy’s father, who she was once engaged to, Hera told the AP, “Either he’s the most unlucky bastard on this planet, or he’s a killer.”

Hera, an intelligence analyst who competed on the CBS reality series with her dad, Gus, and came in seventh place, is writing about her experiences in a blog subtitled “Moving on from a relationship with a Psychopath.” Her latest post details her reaction to the story of her son’s death going national, and provides many other details, including about accusations leveled against her. She writes, in part,

“An innocent child died and this could have been avoided. It isn’t about sex, it isn’t father’s rights, and it isn’t about a woman’s vengeful attitude — it’s about a child. It is about a group of people who have taken an oath to protect and serve (i.e. judges and police) and how these people failed to protect an innocent child.”

In an editorial, The Washington Post’s editorial board wrote,

“It’s not known yet whether Prince’s death could have been prevented, but the case should cause soul-searching by officials in Montgomery County family court who lifted supervision of the toddler’s visits and by Prince William law enforcement agencies who investigated earlier incidents involving the father. ‘A faulty and callous legal system,’ Prince’s grandfather wrote the judge, sent the boy to a death that was ‘at best … neglect. At worst … murder.'”

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.