Carpentersville woman charged in infant's death

  • Mine Subee in the Park Developmental Child Care in Lincolnshire.

      Mine Subee in the Park Developmental Child Care in Lincolnshire. George LeClaire | Staff Photographer

  • GEORGE LECLAIRE/gleclaire@dailyherald.com Lincolnshire police Det. Adam Hyde describes how authorities believe Melissa M. Calusinski of Carpentersville threw a child to the floor at a Lincolnshire day care center. At right is Police Chief Randy Melvin.

    GEORGE LECLAIRE/gleclaire@dailyherald.com Lincolnshire police Det. Adam Hyde describes how authorities believe Melissa M. Calusinski of Carpentersville threw a child to the floor at a Lincolnshire day care center. At right is Police Chief Randy Melvin.

  • Melissa Calusinski, 22, of Carpentersville

    Melissa Calusinski, 22, of Carpentersville

 
By Nadia Malik
Daily Herald Staff
Published1/18/2009 12:02 AM

A 22-year-old Carpentersville woman was charged Saturday with two counts of first-degree murder in the death of a young boy, whom police say she threw to the ground in a fit of temper at the Lincolnshire day care center where she worked.

Lincolnshire police said that Melissa M. Calusinski, of the 500 block of Apache in Carpentersville, told investigators in a videotaped statement that around 3:50 p.m. Wednesday, she threw 16-month-old Benjamin Kingan of Deerfield to the ground at Minee Subee in the Park day care center on Marriott Drive.

 

The boy was taken to the hospital, where he later died. An autopsy concluded the cause of death to be blunt force trauma to the head, police said.

"Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family," Lincolnshire Police Chief Randy Melvin said. "This is obviously a very tragic event."

Calusinski, who had worked as a teacher's assistant at the center for less than a year, was being held in lieu of $5 million bail Saturday at the Lake County jail. She is scheduled to appear in Lake County court Thursday.

Detective Adam Hyde said Calusinski told police she was having issues with some of the other children. She told police "she just lost her temper" and threw Benjamin to the ground, Hyde said.

Calusinski originally told investigators other stories, Hyde said, until she finally admitted to causing the head trauma.

Melvin said an initial investigation indicated Benjamin may have died of natural causes, but the tragedy of his death was elevated after the autopsy results. He said police didn't have concrete evidence of a homicide until Friday night.

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Lake County Coroner Richard Keller said Benjamin suffered a severe fracture to the back of his head.

"These injuries are not immediately fatal," he said, adding that it takes time for the brain to swell and for a child to become unresponsive.

After he was thrown, the boy crawled across the room to a bouncing seat - his "comfort zone," Hyde said.

A short while later, Benjamin became unresponsive and Calusinski called other employees to help the boy. Emergency personnel also were called then. Police were called less than half an hour after the boy was injured, Hyde said.

Keller said the autopsy showed bruising under the skin of Benjamin's head and bleeding around the skull.

"It would take a significant amount of trauma to actually cause this injury," he said.

Seven other children and one other employee were in the toddler room when the incident occurred, Hyde said, but the other worker did not notice what had happened because she was occupied with the other children.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The day care center owners released a statement Saturday through their attorney expressing condolences to the family and saying that they are "deeply saddened" by the boy's death. The statement said the center is cooperating fully with the investigation and that involved staff members have been placed on administrative leave.

"Our hearts go out to the family for their loss," the statement said. "We want to assure all of our parents that student safety is of paramount concern at Minee Subee..."

Lincolnshire police, along with the Lake County Major Crime Task Force and the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, are investigating the death.

A DCFS spokesman said the agency has not had previous contact with the day care center.

"We have had no prior child protection investigations of this center," spokesman Kendall Marlowe said.

And Melvin said there have been no other complaints against Minee Subee in the dozen or so years that it's been in town.

The facility has been licensed since 1994 and has the capacity to care for up to 145 children, ranging from ages of 6 weeks to 12 years, he said. The facility operates from 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.

The day care center is one of three owned by Judith and Norman Katz, according to the company Web site. The other centers are in Arlington Heights and Mount Prospect. The centers are named after Judith's four children, according to the site.

Daily Herald Staff Writer Matt Arado contributed to this report.

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