They say the Vermont Department for Children and Families or DCF should not have recently returned Dezirae Sheldon to her mother's custody.
Police say Sheldon died last week and her stepfather now faces a charge of second degree murder.
In court documents, we've learned Dezirae's mom Sandra Duby pleaded guilty to a child cruelty charge last year.
The family says Dezirae was found to have two broken legs. Sandra Duby received a suspended sentence.
To be clear prosecutors have not at all linked Duby to her daughter's death. Still family members say Dezirae should never have been returned home.
"It's tough. It's really hard. It's very sad," says Julie Ghio, the great-aunt of Dezirae.
Ghio and others think DCF could have done more to protect Dezirae.
"I hope it does something in that we can change some laws so no other child has to go through this," says Ghio.
They've started a Facebook page called "Justice for Dezirae" and an online petition. Already thousands have signed up.
They also confronted DCF Commissioner Dave Yacovone.
"What Vermonters needed to know, and again I'm not allowed to speak about the specifics of this case, but DCF and our state staff do not make those decisions alone," says Yacovone.
DCF says the decision to return a child is made by a group including prosecutors and a judge.
It did say it was launching internal and independent investigations of the case.
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