10:43 AM

A Willard woman has been charged with the shaking death of an infant she was babysitting last month.

Willard Police Chief Tom McClain and Greene County Prosecutor Darrell Moore announced at a news conference today that charges of second degree murder and child abuse resulting in death have been filed against Brenda J. Caringer, 53, (above) in the death of nine-month-old Lucas Payton-Theede Bennett.

First responders were called to Caringer's home in northern Greene County at about 2:45 p.m., on January 6th, because she said she had a child in her care who had hit his head and that she could not keep him awake.

In the probable cause statement filed with the charges, Caringer told Willard Police Sgt. Shannon Shipley that when the little boy arrived at her home at 12:45 p.m., he was fussy and that she had laid him down in a portable crib because she could not console him.

Caringer goes on to say that she laid little Lucas on the floor in the living room and went into the kitchen to fix him a bottle.

She says when she returned she found the little boy standing next to the coffee table and that he fell, bumped his head, and "fell straight backwards."

Caringer told investigators that she attempted to give the little boy a bottle but, "he would not sit up straight." She goes on to say that Lucas stopped screaming and, "went limp."

In a verbal statement with cops, Caringer stated that she took the baby to a chair to change his diaper and that his cry, "changed to a whimper, his back arched, and his hands curled up."

It was at that point that Caringer said she picked the little boy up, "shook him and blew in his face to get him to breathe."

When paramedics arrived on the scene they found little Lucas Payton Theede-Bennett lying on the floor with only the blue striped hoodie he arrived in on his body......his diaper and socks lay nearby.

Officer Fly states in the probable cause statement that when he arrived at the scene there were no diaper wipes in the area where Caringer claims she was changing little Lucas' diaper.

Lucas' bottle was found lying on the floor next to the chair where his little body was found. The bottle appeared to have a "red substance, consistent with blood on the nipple and nipple ring."

Later forensic analysis determined that it was indeed blood on the little boys bottle.

An autopsy determined that the cause of Lucas' death were, "abusive head injuries," that are consistent with a crushed skull, and signs of bleeding on the brain.

The doctor that performed the autopsy said that the injuries were predominately to the right side of Lucas' head, and that the infliction of the injuries were not more than two hours old.

In his estimation, he believes that the fatal injuries probably occurred about thirty minutes before Caringer called for help for the baby, and that he would have "been symptomatic immediately."

Prosecutors filed both second degree murder and abuse of a child resulting in death to cover all aspects of this case.

The charges were filed alternatively, meaning jurors---or a judge, could find Caringer guilty of either crime .....or neither — if the case goes to trial.

For the murder charge they will have to prove that Caringer set out to cause Lucas' death; on the charges of child abuse resulting in death they will have to prove that the fatal injuries that killed little Lucas occurred while he was in Caringer's care.

Moore says that in child abuse cases that result in death, he gives the jury two different charges and lets them decide which one fits the crime.

The range of punishment on either charge is 10-30 years in prison.

When authorities went to arrest Caringer this morning she was not at her home, however, she has since turned herself in to authorities.

She is being held in the Greene County jail and held on $250,000 bond.

Lucas is survived by his mother Amanda Theede, and father Sean Bennett, grandparents and a host of other family and friends.
UPDATE (03-09-09):
A preliminary hearing date has been set for a Willard babysitter charged with second degree murder and child abuse resulting in death.
Brenda Caringer is scheduled to be in court on March 31st.
Caringer is accused of allegedly causing the death of 9 month-old Lucas Payton Theede-Bennett in January.
Public Defender Kristin Jones has filed a motion with the court to lower Caringer's $250,000 bond.
That motion will be heard on Friday March 13, 2009 at 9:30 a.m. in Associate Circuit Court Judge Mark Powell's courtroom in the Greene County courthouse.
UPDATE (03-13-09):
A bond reduction hearing was held on Friday (03-13-09) for the babysitter that has been charged with the death of 9-month-old Lucas Payton-Theede Bennett.

The motion was denied and Brenda Caringer remains in the Greene County Jail on $250,000 bond.
Lawyers for a Willard babysitter charged with killing 9-month old Lucas Payton Theede-Bennett have waived her preliminary hearing.
53 year-old Brenda J. Caringer was babysitting the little boy in January when he fell unconscious.

Caringer was charged with second degree murder and child abuse resulting in death last month for little Lucas' death.Prosecutors say that the little boy died of, "abusive head injuries," that are consistent with a crushed skull, and signs of bleeding on the brain.
Earlier this month (03-13-09,) and again today, Caringer lawyers filed a motion with the court asking that Caringer's $250,000 bond be reduced Friday.
That motion was denied and Caringer remains in the Greene County Jail.
She is scheduled to be arraigned in circuit court on April 10th.


Update 01-21-11:

Cainger was found guilty and sentenced to 15 years in prison for baby Lucas' death.
****Lucas' mother, Amanda Theede, has a website dedicated to her baby boy here.

***image of Chief Tom McClain and Greene County Prosecutor Darrell Moore----Springfield News Leader.


Jason said...

How the **** do you do that to a kid? I really can't understand what could make someone do that.

SpeedyCycles said...

This is so very sad. My heart goes out to Sean and Amanda. I hope this selfish babysitter pays a price for this atrocious crime.

Anonymous said...

15yrs really! !! That isnt shyt! She deserves life in prison!!