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The agency has made little progress, Mr. Graham said, declining to discuss the Mattocks case.

Christopher Shorter, chief of staff to DYRS Director Neil A. Stanley, did not return calls or emails.

A savvy teenager

Sources described Ms. Mattocks as a savvy teenager who was adept at using aliases to avoid the juvenile justice system. Eventually discovered to be a minor and a repeat offender, she was committed to DYRS around 2009 and bounced from inpatient to outpatient drug programs.

Though most DYRS youths use marijuana and alcohol to dull their pain, Ms. Mattocks was into hard drugs: crack, PCP and heroin, sources said.

But aside from a tattoo that read “Sexy” and another that read “Cedric” in her mug shot, she looks almost scholarly, with her boyish Afro and black-rimmed glasses.

Earlier this year, The Times visited numerous residences where, according to court records, she used to live, and was unable to find anyone who knew or even recognized her.

DYRS sources said she had only two people in her life: her mother and Hobbs, both drug abusers, the sources said.

“Damaged young people turn into damaged adults,” one source said. “You attract what you are.”

Yet Ms. Mattocks and Hobbs loved each other and their daughter the best they knew how. “They just had no frame of reference for what constitutes a healthy family,” a source said.

Court records show that Hobbs pleaded guilty to armed robbery in 1998, received a suspended sentence, then pleaded to a second robbery charge for which he served seven months in prison. In 2005, he was sentenced to 27 months in prison for attempted distribution of cocaine, records show.

He was arrested three more times from 2008 to 2010, according to records, for shoplifting, violating probation and a felony that was dismissed.

A traumatic childhood

Despite a traumatic childhood, including homelessness and time living in a shelter, Ms. Mattocks developed a love of photography and a desire to make it on her own, sources said. When not in a drug treatment program, she lived with her mother, they said, but aspired to an independent-living program, which required her to get sober while living in a group home.

She recently was enrolled in a transition school and was working on her GED, the sources said. When her mother died, they said, she turned to drugs.

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