Seven-year-old Samantha may be missing a front tooth, but her smile works just fine.
Samantha, called “Sami,” grinned ear to ear when she and her 2-year-old brother, Robert, were reunited Thursday with their parents, Chantel and Quintin McGrew of Ridgeville. Sami and Robert had been placed by state officials into the custody of their grandmother following the death of the McGrew couple's youngest child, 2-month-old Aiden.
Aiden McGrew was fatally mauled April 20 by a newly adopted family dog, a Labrador retriever mix named Bo, in the family's mobile home.
State officials said last month the dog was euthanized.
The Dorchester County Sheriff's Office, which concluded the dog dragged the baby from a bouncy swing in the living room and killed him, arrested Quintin McGrew, 28, who had been sleeping at the time of the attack. He is free on bail after being charged with unlawful conduct toward a child.
A Dorchester County family court judge on Thursday signed an order turning over custody of the children from Chantel McGrew's mother to the couple.
“We're very happy to have them back,” Chantel McGrew said as the 7- and 2-year-olds were handed over outside the Sheriff's Office near Summerville. Quintin said he was “excited and happy” to be going home with the kids.
The McGrew couple said they got to see Sami and Robert about once a week while they were in the custody of their grandmother.
The grandmother had no comment during the handover.
Asked what she wanted to do when she got home, Sami said, “I might see Lucky,” referring to the family's longtime pet dog. Lucky is back home after being taken briefly into custody after the tragedy.
Robert said nothing during the family reunion, but he high-fived Quintin McGrew.
Chantel said the evening would be one in which her children can do “whatever they want to do.” Sami suggested she'd like to see a favorite uncle, and her mom informed her that was already one of the events planned for the evening.
“I have a lot of surprises for you,” Chantel told her daughter. She told Sami that her bedroom had been outfitted with new curtains and pillows. “You got all brand-new bed sheets and they've got flowers all over them,” she said.
Sami was also informed that “all your toys are in a box and not just thrown on the closet floor.”
Hours before the reunion, Chantel McGrew said she was elated at the thought of bringing her children home.
“I'm overexcited. I'm jumping for joy, pacing back and forth in my house waiting for the clock to turn,” she said. Quintin McGrew said he was trying to keep his emotions in check, explaining he doesn't like counting chickens before they hatch.
“I've already told Quintin, because we've been without the kids for so long, that even though they're almost 3 and 7, the first night they're home we're all going to sleep in the same bed,” Chantel McGrew said.
On the morning of the tragedy, Chantel McGrew had taken Sami to a doctor's appointment. She came home to find her baby dying on her living room floor.
Throughout court proceedings, Chantel McGrew has steadfastly stood by her husband.
“I'm 100 percent behind him,” she said in a previous interview with The Post and Courier. “No matter what happens, I'm not going to go anywhere else. That's my best friend. I'm not going to lose him.”
The Thursday court order says the McGrews complied with their requirements and that the S.C. Department of Social Services requirements and the children's court-appointed guardian “agree and believe that it is in the best interests of the minor children” to be returned to their parents.
Reach Edward C. Fennell at 937-5560. Reach Allyson Bird at 937-5594 or Twitter.com/allysonjbird.