A pregnant Wisconsin mother-of-five had been babysitting a 2-month-old infant when she handed the baby back to his mother. He was snuggly nestled in his car seat when the mom picked him up. She didn’t realize anything was wrong until she attempted to take him out and noticed his legs. That’s when horror set in.
Marissa Tietsort of Wausau, Wisconsin, should have never been left alone with a child. The 28-year-old was already facing child abuse charges from an August incident involving an 11-month-old girl named Riley, who was injured while in her care. Pregnant with her sixth child, Tietsort continued running an unlicensed daycare operation from her home, which was more like a house of horrors for the children left there.
After already hurting little Riley in August, the abusive babysitter struck again in October when Tietsort harmed another infant named Benson. It may have been two months since she had hurt the little girl, but it was only a week after those charges were filed that the 2-month-old baby boy was left to suffer the woman’s wrath. It’s the way Tietsort tried to cover her tracks, however, that makes this story all the more horrific.
Heather Gardner, Benson’s mother, arrived at nap time to pick up her son. Tietsort had already put the baby in his snowsuit and secured him in his car seat before passing the baby off to his mother, who thought he was sleeping. Since “he would normally be sleeping at that time of the day,” Heather didn’t think anything was odd. Minutes later, however, authorities would find her frantically trying to revive the child at a nearby laundromat.
It was soon discovered that Benson had been dead for hours after suffering blunt force head injuries. Tietsort, who is said to have caused the baby’s death, “disguised the infant to appear as if he was sleeping,” according to Daily Mail, before returning him to his mother. The babysitter allowed the mom to pick up her son without telling her he was dead. Tietsort passed Benson off as sleeping by purposely covering his eyes so Heather wouldn’t notice her son wasn’t alive.
It was only minutes after the mother had picked Benson up from Tietsort’s home that she was found by authorities at the laundromat, desperately trying to save her son’s life. Heather Gardner had called police after realizing something was wrong when she went to take her son out of the car seat and noticed “his legs were rigid and remained bent at the knee,” according to investigators.
About one week after charges were filed in the abuse case of 11-month-old Riley, Tietsort was the suspect in the death of two-month-old Benson, the Wausau Daily Herald reported. While in custody on a $250,000 bond and facing a felony child abuse charge related to the previous case, Marissa Tietsort was also charged with first-degree intentional homicide for the death of the two-month-old, TMJ4 reported.
Megan Royce and Dylan Baum, the parents of 11-month-old Riley, said they had known Teitsort for over a year before letting her care for their children, WSAW reported. “I never once thought to … look her up because she was a friend of a friend. She had a baby as well so I figured it was safe,” Megan said. She soon found out otherwise. Although Megan said in a Facebook post that her daughter was “completely perfect” when she dropped her off to Tietsort on that fateful day, Riley’s face was covered in purple bruises and red marks when she was picked up.
Tietsort said Riley had fallen off the couch, but doctors said the injuries were not consistent with a fall. “It was hard because I had to tell people that my babysitter had done it,” Megan recalled. After Benson’s death, Megan has been faced with accusations that she was complicit in what happened. “I have been getting messages that people thought that I could have prevented it,” she said. “I was just trying to help my daughter’s case and make sure she did get put away and she did get charged for what she did.”
Shockingly, Marissa Tietsort declared, “I’m not a threat to society or a monster,” while writing to Judge Jill Falstad. She requested a reduced bail multiple times, claiming she’s not getting proper prenatal care. “I’m a great mom and I love everybody,” she alleged as she tried to plead her case, but the facts and her own admission state otherwise.
Tietsort didn’t deny what she did. According to investigators, she “admitted that she put the [baby’s] lifeless body on the floor in the hallway of her home, dressed him in the snowsuit, and then placed his body in the car seat with his blankets.” She also admitted that she “purposefully put a hat over his eyes so that the mother would not realize her son was dead.” But, Benson and Riley weren’t the only children she had harmed.
In addition to abusing Riley and killing two-month-old Benson, records also show Marissa Tietsort’s own children were removed from her home for alleged child abuse. After Tietsort’s boyfriend filed for temporary restraining orders in 2010, telling investigators she was abusing their two sons, social services workers removed four of Tietsort’s children from her care. Officials were also unaware she had given birth to a fifth child or that she was pregnant with a sixth. But, it gets worse.
Although she wasn’t charged in the incident, another infant in Marissa Tietson’s care was taken to the hospital with a bruised face and fractured skull in 2017. Tietsort told investigators the infant’s older sister tried to take the bottle away from Tietsort while she fed him, resulting in the bottle striking the infant and causing the injury. If this woman isn’t a monster, I don’t know who is.