Mother Accused of Killing 12-Year-Old Son She Tried to Drown When He Was a Baby

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This Saturday, June 29, 2019, police booking photo provided by the Tulare County Sheriff's Department shows Sherri Renee Telnas. Telnas was arrested Saturday on suspicion of killing her 12-year-old son and critically injuring her 7-year-old son who were found unresponsive in a ditch. (Tulare County Sheriff's Office via AP)

CALIFORNIA — Around 5:25 Saturday morning, Deputies from the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office were called to the 18900 block of Avenue 184 in Porterville regarding suspicious behavior.

The caller said a woman, identified as 45-year-old Sherri Telnas, was acting strangely and had taken her two male children (ages 7 and 12) to a field across the street. While Deputies were en-route to the scene they were notified the two children were found in a full irrigation ditch near a corn field and were not responsive.

Deputies arrived and rendered medical aid. Both boys were taken to a local hospital where the 12-year-old died from his injuries. Telnas was taken into custody at the scene without incident. She faces murder charges. The cause of death is pending an autopsy. The second boy is listed in critical condition.

An autopsy was performed this afternoon on the 12-year-old boy. The cause of death is ruled as fresh water drowning.

The 7-year-old boy is still in critical condition at Valley Children’s Hospital.

KTLA reported: Jackson had recovered after Telnas first tried to kill him in a Montana river in 2008, authorities said. She was soaking wet as she carried the boy, then 10 months, into a hospital said she had tried to drown him because “bad thoughts or voices” told her to do it, Mineral County, Montana, Sheriff Mike Boone said in a statement.

She pleaded no contest to two counts of felony criminal endangerment and was sentenced in 2009 to the custody of Montana health officials for 10 years because of a history of mental illness, Boone said. Jackson was living with his father at the time, the sheriff said.

She spent less than a year at the state psychiatric hospital, said Ellie Brown, who is married to the boys’ uncle. Telnas got custody of Jackson in late 2010 as part of her divorce, court records said.

The judge found that she was doing well in her treatment with her psychiatrist, was holding down a job and her relationship with her son “appears to be very loving.”

The psychiatrist “had no concern about her ability to parent and testified that he sees no risk factors to indicate that she may de-compensate in her emotional wellness,” District Judge Ed McLean wrote.


This case is currently under investigation by the Tulare County Violent Crimes Investigations Unit.

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