A Wisconsin woman charged in the killing of an infant she was baby-sitting allegedly dressed the dead baby and pretended he was alive when she gave him back to his mother, police said.
Police responding to reports of a child not breathing said they found the baby’s mother desperately trying to revive her 2-month-old son as he lay motionless on a table at a laundromat in Wausau at about 9:45 p.m. on Oct. 18, according to a criminal complaint filed in state court.
The boy was motionless, his skin was ashen and his lips blue, and his jaw was clenched shut, the complaint states. His legs were rigid and in a seated position, remaining bent at the knee after he was removed from his car seat. The baby was dead.
Investigators said the mother told them she had picked up her son only minutes before arriving at the laundromat. He and her other child had been in the care of a babysitter named Marissa Tietsort, who was the only adult at the house when the children were dropped off between 3:30 and 4 p.m. that day.
Around 6 p.m., the mother received a text message from Tietsort saying a local news site had posted a story that she had been charged with child abuse. Tietsort said she was not supposed to be in contact with children and asked that the mother not tell anyone that she was watching her children.
She picked up her children from Tietsort’s home about 9:20 p.m.
Thinking he was asleep, the mother took her son back from Tietsort and only realized he was dead when she removed the baby from the car seat, she told police.
“You killed my sister’s … baby,” the mother’s sister texted Tietsort, a 28-year-old mother of five who was pregnant with her sixth child, minutes after police arrived at the laundromat.
Tietsort allegedly admitted to police she knew the baby had died in her care, but said she did not know how or why.
“She said she did not check for a pulse, she did not reach out for help and she did not perform any resuscitation efforts,” the complaint said.
She put the baby’s lifeless body on the hallway floor while she grabbed his snowsuit, and then dressed him and placed him in the car seat, police said. She also allegedly admitted to covering him with blankets and purposefully putting his hat over his eyes so that his mother would not realize he was dead.
Tietsort’s boyfriend came home during this time and she did not tell him that the baby was dead, instead bringing his body along when she and the boyfriend took the baby’s older brother to McDonald’s, officials said.
Though Tietsort claimed to have no idea how or why the baby died, investigators said evidence showed the child had suffered fatal injuries while in her care.
A forensic pathologist performed an autopsy on the child and determined the child died from blunt force head injuries with multiple impacts to the head.
The baby “had at least three separate injuries to his head,” resulting in him being “immediately incapable of interactive activity such as eating, crying or eye contact,” the complaint said. His tailbone had also been fractured, broken off and displaced, “indicating a significant amount of force was used,” the complaint said.
The rigor mortis that set in on the infant’s legs, which left them bent at the knees even after he was removed from his car seat, showed he had been killed at least two hours before police arrived at the laundromat, according to the complaint.
During a second interview with detectives, Tietsort allegedly confirmed she was the only adult present when the baby died.
Tietsort was charged with first-degree intentional homicide. She has been in police custody since October, but has yet to enter a plea.
“I’m not a threat to society or a monster,” she wrote in a letter to the judge in her case, according to the Daily Herald. “I’m a great mom and I love everybody.”
Weeks before the 2-month-old baby’s death, Tietsort was babysitting an 11-month-old girl who she said had fallen off a couch and injured her face, WSAW-TV reported. But doctors told the child’s mother that the injuries she suffered could not have happened from a fall. Felony charges for that incident were filed against Tietsort in October.
And in 2017, a 3-month-old child Tietsort was babysitting suffered a skull fracture. No charges were field in that case. In 2010, Tietsort’s then-boyfriend filed a temporary restraining order against her for allegedly abusing their two sons. Tietsort’s four children were removed from her home, but social workers did not know she had a fifth child, nor were they aware she was pregnant with a sixth, the Daily Herald reported.
Tietsort is being held on $500,000 bond. She is due in court on Jan. 18.