The three-year-old girl allegedly beaten to death by Worst Cooks in America winner Ariel Robinson could have been saved if social workers had properly monitored her ‘evil’ adoptive parents, the girl’s biological family has told DailyMail.com.
Food Network star Robinson, 29, and her 34-year-old husband Jerry are both charged with homicide by child abuse after their adopted daughter Victoria Rose Smith was found unresponsive and covered in blunt force injuries at their Simpsonville, South Carolina home.
The couple attacked white privilege and boasted on social media of their commitment to tackling racism after taking in white Victoria and her two brothers, aged five and seven, to raise alongside their own two black sons.
However Victoria’s heartbroken relatives have told DailyMail.com that scrutinizing the sweet youngster’s January 14 death along racial lines will not do anything to prevent another tragedy.
They say the blame lies squarely with the South Carolina Department of Social Services (SCDSS) who were too quick to seize her from biological mom Casie Phares and didn’t do enough to ensure she was going to a safe home.
Ariel Robinson, 29, and her husband Jerry, 34, were arrested on homicide by child abuse charges for the death of their adopted daughter Victoria, three
DailyMail.com spoke to Victoria’s biological family who blame Social Services for putting her in the care of ‘evil’ adoptive parents. They shared photos of bruises and marks on the girl’s body, including a red mark seen on her wrist
The family also shared photos showing what appears to be bruises on her body and a black eye
Ariel and Jerry Robinson in their mugshots. On January 14, they called 911 because Victoria was unresponsive. The police report is largely redacted but they made reference to an incident the day before that they said may have caused the child’s injuries
‘People are bringing the race issue into this but we don’t have any evidence that it played a part. Evil is evil. Evil doesn’t have a color,’ Victoria’s great aunt Michelle Urps said in an exclusive interview.
‘This could have happened in a bad white home or they could have been placed in a loving black home where none of this would have happened.
Victoria’s great aunt Michelle Urps said, ‘We trusted them to put the kids in a safe and loving environment. We now know they weren’t safe’
‘The point is that the people in charge of the adoption process are supposed to see through the smoke.
‘These people are the experts, we trusted them to put the kids in a safe and loving environment. We now know they weren’t safe, they weren’t in a good home.
‘Victoria was sweet, she was sassy. She was a smart, happy little girl and now she’s gone. It’s devastating.’
Robinson, a school teacher, shot to fame as the winner of season 20 of America’s Worst Cook, winning fans over with her cooking mishaps and her ‘big, funny personality.’
She hosted a parenting podcast with her husband and performed as a stand-up comic, calling herself AriFunny, the Clean Queen of Comedy, referring to her supposedly wholesome brand of humor.
Robinson ‘juggles life between being a 24/7 wife & mom to all-round entertainer,’ according to her website, where fans can snap up merchandise including t-shirts and signed photos.
The accused mom regularly posted clips and images to social media, including photos of her two biological sons along with Victoria and her two older brothers, whom she adopted together in March 2020.
She has written repeatedly about her commitment to social justice, tweeting in the wake of the Capitol riot about how her four sons would experience the world differently because of their skin color.
‘In my house, my black children get treated the same as my white children, and my white children get treated the same as my black children. ‘It’s a shame that when they go out into the real world, that won’t be the case. #whiteprivilege #BlackLivesMatter,’ Robinson wrote.
Three days before Victoria was allegedly beaten to death she posted a cute collage of photos of the pair together, captioning it: ‘We go together like ketchup & MUSTARD! #MiniMe Being a girl mom is awesome’.
Victoria and her brothers have a large biological extended family who are now speaking out to say the system failed. ‘Victoria was sweet, she was sassy. She was a smart, happy little girl and now she’s gone. It’s devastating,’ Victoria’s biological great aunt said
One image shows a red patch on Victoria’s neck while others reveal suspicious marks on her arms and face. The family says photos and videos contained numerous warning signs missed by social workers
A red mark can be seen on Victoria’s forehead. Urps, 44, says the clips and pictures provided ample warning that social services needed to probe further to see if Robinson had a ‘darker side’ to her gregarious TV persona
The youngster’s relatives claim, however, that the posts and videos contained numerous warning signs missed by social workers, including photos where the white children appear to have feint bruises.
One image shows a clear red patch around Victoria’s right wrist while others reveal suspicious marks on her neck and face.
Video has also emerged of Robinson doing a standup routine in which she joked about keeping her kids in cages to keep them quiet during a visit from adoption authorities.
‘They upstairs hollering and screaming and, you know, you get to that mommy level where you just had it,’ she says. ‘So I turn and yell upstairs, shut up or I’m coming up to punch you in your throat.’
Urps, 44, says the clips and pictures provided ample warning that social services needed to probe further to see if Robinson had a ‘darker side’ to her gregarious TV persona.
‘I knew something was wrong by looking at her social media so why couldn’t they?’ she told DailyMail.com.
‘And if you listen to her podcast she actually talks about having violent thoughts and how angry she can get.
‘You have to question, do these case workers have the right training? Is the screening process adequate? Are they looking in the right places?’
Urps says the lack of oversight is all the more upsetting given how social workers closely monitored her niece’s social media accounts when they began to question her fitness as a mother three years ago.
She says the problems began when Phares went for a routine health screening when she was pregnant with Victoria and tested positive for marijuana.
When medics found traces of the drug in Victoria’s system when she was born the SCDSS began to monitor her.
The couple have two biological sons (far right). In February 2020, they adopted Victoria Rose (left) and her two biological brothers. Ariel gushed on social media about how the three new kids completed their blended family. Victoria died from blunt force trauma injuries on January 14, 2021
Robinson won Season 2020 of Worst Cooks in America. The show has now been pulled by the Food Network
Urps said her niece briefly turned to the drug to combat crippling morning sickness and stopped using it immediately after doctors raised concerns.
‘It was something she only did one or two times. We are talking no more than a couple of puffs,’ she insisted.
The Robinsons with their two biological sons before they adopted the three white children
‘The morning sickness was all day and night. She wasn’t trying to get high, she was just trying to keep herself from throwing up so she could take care of the two boys.’
Urps says her niece was in a relationship and was providing a stable home but she split from her partner and was exhausted after staying up all night by herself tending to the newborn.
When she fell asleep one day the two boys ran to a neighbor’s house who called the police. She was also having trouble finding accommodation after her breakup.
Instead of helping Phares find a new home they put the kids into foster care and hauled her into family court to present her with two options.
‘A year into this, the case worker called and said, you haven’t fulfilled the things you need to do to get them back,’ said Urps, who has a five-year-old daughter.
‘Option one is to sign away your rights, you get one final visit and then we leave the file open so when they turn 18 they can come and find you if they want.
‘Option two is you can fight this and we will close the files and you will never see them again. She felt like she had no choice but to agree.
‘And so she saw them for one final occasion in February last year. They were instructed to remain upbeat, not to cry or the visit would be terminated.
‘Once the family left the facility everyone broke down.’
Phares never saw her adorable, blonde-haired daughter again. She knew nothing about the new family her three kids were living with until she learnt about Victoria’s homicide from news bulletins.
Urps says they have been completely shut out by authorities and know little more than what’s in the papers and written in heavily-redacted arrest reports.
The family have started a petition to reform Social Services on Change.com, calling it ‘Victoria’s Law’
In a newly released 911 call, Jerry Robinson can be heard saying: ‘Our daughter is unresponsive. She’s drunk a lot of water.’
The dad-of-five tells the operator the family are trying CPR before the call gets cut off.
He calls again, pleading: ‘My three-year-old daughter is choking on water right now. We need help immediately.’
Victoria was rushed to the hospital but first responders were so suspicious they reported it to police as a possible abuse and aggravated assault case.
According to a coroner’s report, the cause of Victoria’s death several hours later was multiple blunt force injuries and nothing to do with water.
Robinson, who does not have a criminal record, and her husband were arrested five days later and were denied bond ahead of a bail hearing on Friday.
She’s also been barred from teaching by State officials and the Food Network has scrubbed all the episodes of Worst Cooks in America she appears in from streaming platforms.
Victoria’s biological family and her previous foster mom held a small funeral for her last week at a church graveyard in Traveler’s Rest, north of Greenville, where she had originally lived with her mom.
Urps said the family had to fight officials just to get approval to bury the youngster’s remains.
They asked that her two brothers be invited to say their final goodbyes but the boys were not brought along to the service.
On January 6, after the Capitol riot, Robinson tweeted about how some of her kids have white privilege and others don’t
It’s believed they have been placed back into the foster care system while Robinson’s two biological sons are being cared for by other family members.
In the meantime Urps has started a petition on the
By Tuesday morning her demand for ‘Victoria’s Law’, which calls for better screening and non-scheduled visits to check how children are being treated, had attracted more than 26,000 signatures.
‘It’s going to take time, you can’t tear down the entire system overnight,’ Urps told DailyMail.com.
‘Casie had some issues, we do not deny that, but the system was supposed to help reunite her with her children, not shut the door on her.
‘Victoria Rose was happy, she was in loving home. She was never abused or harmed in any way until she was placed with those people.’