A Wisconsin babysitter allegedly killed a 2-month-old baby and then pretended he was still alive when returning him to his mother.
Marissa Tietsort of Wausau was charged Friday with first-degree intentional homicide in the death of Benson Xiong, who was identified in a family Facebook page.
Authorities said Tietsort, 28, killed Benson, dressed him in his snowsuit, placed his body in a car seat, and covered him with blankets. She also allegedly told authorities she pulled a hat over the infant’s eyes so his mother would think he was asleep. It wasn’t until later when the mother removed him from the car seat that she realized he was not breathing and was cold to the touch. She immediately began CPR while her sister called 911 for help, according to the criminal complaint.
Authorities who responded to the scene found Benson with an ashen skin tone, a clenched jaw, and blue lips. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
An autopsy determined that the infant died of significant blunt-force head injuries with multiple impacts to his head. His tailbone was also broken off and displaced, indicating that a significant amount of force was used.
The mother told authorities she had dropped Benson and his older brother off at Tietsort’s house on Oct. 18. Later that day, Tietsort texted the mother about a news report that she had been charged with child abuse and was not to be in contact with children. Tietsort told the mother not to tell anyone that she was watching her children, the criminal complaint stated.
Tietsort, who is pregnant with her sixth child, later told police she did not kill Benson, but allegedly admitted that he died in her care. According to the criminal complaint, she said she was alone at her house with Benson, his brother, and her own son when Benson died.
Tietsort allegedly told investigators that Benson felt cold to the touch and she knew he was dead, but did not try to resuscitate the baby or call for help. She also did not tell her boyfriend that the infant was dead when he returned home, according to prosecutors.
Tietsort allegedly admitted that she then dressed Benson in his snowsuit, buckled him into a car seat, and drove the dead infant, his brother, and Tietsort’s son to McDonald’s, where they ate for about 15 minutes.
When Benson’s mother came to pick her children up, she assumed Benson was asleep, as the hat was pulled over his eyes. When the mother removed him from his car seat at the laundromat, his legs were rigid in the seated position, indicating that he had died at least two hours earlier, authorities said.
Days before his death, Tietsort had been charged with child abuse stemming from an incident on Aug. 2, when an 11-month-old child she was babysitting sustained injuries, WSAW reported. In 2017, a 3-month-old child also suffered a skull fracture under Tietsort’s care.
In a letter to a Marathon County judge requesting that her $500,000 cash bond be reduced, Tietsort wrote that she was not getting proper prenatal care while in custody, WSAW reported.
“I’m not a monster,” she wrote.
An attorney for Tietsort could not be reached.
Benson’s family, meanwhile, has set up a Facebook page demanding justice for the baby.
“He was a joyful and happy baby,” a post on the page stated. “He loved the comfort of being held and his smile brought more life to everyone that met him.”
The family urged people to stop Tietsort from being in contact with other children, adding, “We are afraid there may be more victims.”
“Please help us bring justice to Benson and all the other children who has been or was under her care,” the family stated. “How many children has she targeted and physically harmed before this case?”