Back on January 6th Brenda Caringer called 911 to report that a child she was caring for wasn’t breathing and then hung up. Three minutes later a dispatch operator got her back on the phone. She told the EMS operator that she had a baby who had fallen and hit his head and she couldn’t keep him awake. She said that when he did wake up he started screaming but that now he wasn’t breathing.
Nine-Month-Old Lucas Payton Theede-Bennett was air-flighted to Cox South Hospital in Springfield Missouri. A little over an hour after Caringer’s call Lucas was pronounced dead.
When Caringer made her first statement to the police she said that the baby had been fussy so she went in to check on him and he wasn’t breathing. That’s the same thing that she told Lucas’ grandmother. According to the grandmother the baby had been crying when his mother had dropped Lucas off. Caringer said that she tried rocking Lucas and then laid him down for a nap when all of a sudden he wasn’t breathing.
Later on Caringer gave a statement that Lucas had been crying when he arrived at the house and she couldn’t get him to be quiet. She put him in a porta-crib and he briefly stopped and then started crying again. She left him on the floor in the living room while she went into the kitchen to fix a bottle. When she came back in Lucas was standing by the coffee table. She claimed that he bumped his head and fell back. She then said that she examined him and tried to comfort him. Caringer claims that she took him to a chair to change his diaper and at that point his crying changed to a whimper, his back arched and his hands curled up. Caringer claims to have shook him and blown in his face to try and get him to breathe. Then she said she began CPR and called 911.
When police arrived at the scene it was obvious that something was wrong. In the first place there were no baby wipes in the area where she claims to have changed his diaper but his diaper and socks were off and lying on the floor. The bottle was on the floor and had blood on the nipple and nipple ring.
After the autopsy it was discovered that Lucas suffered a subdural hemorrhage, skull fracture and other injuries consistent with getting your skull crushed. The manner of death was ruled as homicide. The Doctor estimated that the time period between the injuries and death was no more than two hours but most likely about a half an hour.
Brenda Jean Caringer of Willard Missouri has been charged with both Murder in the 2nd degree as well as Child Abuse resulting in death. The way she has been charged the jury can find her guilty in either or both (or none) of the charges. Each of them is good for 10-20. She is currently being kept in the Greene County Jail on $250,000 bond.