A Wisconsin babysitter has been charged with first-degree intentional homicide in the death of a 2-month-old baby boy named Benson. The sitter, 28-year-old Marissa Tietsort, allegedly killed the baby while he was in her care, put him in his car seat with a winter hat pulled over his eyes and tried to pass him off to his mother as sleeping.
According to USA Today, the mother of the 2-month-old dropped Benson and his older brother off at Tietsort's home on October 18, 2018.
Benson was awake when he was dropped off, and no one else was at the home besides Tietsort. About two hours after the drop-off, the mother reportedly got a suspicious text message from Tietsort, telling her that a local news website had just published a story about her, saying the babysitter was being charged with child abuse and wasn't supposed to have contact with children. In the text, Tietsort allegedly told the mother not to tell anyone that she was babysitting Benson and his brother.
According to the criminal complaint, the mother came to pick up her children three hours later, around 9:20 p.m., and found Benson sitting in his car seat, dressed in a snow suit with his hat pulled down over his eyes. She was under the impression that he was sleeping, but when she stopped at a coin laundry service on the way home, she realized he wasn't breathing. As she tried to pick him up from his car seat, she reportedly found that his legs were stiff and he was cold to the touch.
When Wausau police officers arrived on the scene, they noted that the baby "had an ashen skin tone, his jaw was clenched and his lips were blue."
According to USA Today, an autopsy later determined that the 2-month-old had died of "blunt force head injuries with multiple impacts to the head." The boy's tailbone had also "fractured, broken off and displaced, indicating a significant amount of force was used."
When police found Tietsort—swimming at a hotel pool with her family—she allegedly told them that the she did not kill the infant, but that he did die in her care and she had made no effort to resuscitate him or to seek medical attention. After realizing he was dead, she reportedly dressed him in his snow suit and hat, covered him with blankets, and then brought his body along with her to eat at McDonald's with her boyfriend, the baby's older brother and one of her own children. According to the Washington Post, she did not tell her boyfriend that the infant was dead.
This isn't the first time Tietsort has been connected with abuse of an infant. Following Benson's death, she was reportedly arrested on a separate abuse charge in an incident in August, in which an 11-month-old girl in her care sustained serious injuries to her face. Tietsort reportedly claimed the baby had fallen off the couch, but doctors told her parents that her injuries were not consistent with a fall.
In 2017, another infant she babysat for was allegedly taken to the hospital with a bruised face and skull fracture, and in 2010, Tietsort's boyfriend filed for a temporary restraining order against her after telling investigators that she was abusing their two sons.
A GoFundMe has been set up to cover the cost of funeral services for Benson, and a Facebook page was created to provide updates on the case.
The GoFundMe has already reached almost half of its $10,000 goal. On the Facebook page, Justice for Benson Xiong, the 2-month-old is described as "a joyful and happy baby. He loved the comfort of being held and his smile brought more life to everyone that met him."
Tietsort, who has five children of her own and is pregnant with a sixth, has been in jail since October on a $250,000 cash bond due to other child abuse charges she is facing. On Friday, January 4, she was charged with first-degree intentional homicide in Benson's death and her bond was upped to $500,000.
This post was originally published on mom.me sister site CafeMom.