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my heart is breaking for this family. READ THIS

Posted by on Jan. 21, 2009 at 10:26 PM
  • 20 Replies

Lincolnshire day-care assistant charged in toddler's death

Woman confessed to slamming toddler to floor, police say

By Dan P. Blake, Andrew L. Wang and Steve Schmadeke | Tribune reporters
January 18, 2009

After he was slammed to the floor of a Lincolnshire day-care center, 16-month-old Benjamin Kingan, his skull fractured, grabbed his blanket and crawled to his "comfort zone"-a bouncer seat-collapsed and later died, police said.

Melissa Calusinski, 22, of Carpentersville, the teacher's assistant assigned to care for the boy, is responsible for his death, police said. She was charged with two counts of first-degree murder and ordered held in lieu of $5 million bail.

Authorities on Saturday described a scenario at the day-care center in which Calusinski-who originally claimed that the child fell-became angry because the child was noisy.

"She demonstrated how she held the child under his arms and slammed him down on the linoleum floor once," said Steve Scheller, chief of felony review at the Lake County state's attorney's office.

A funeral had been scheduled for Saturday for Benjamin, whose family lives in Deerfield, but was postponed. His mother is a clinical psychologist, according to a co-worker. The boy's family could not be reached for comment.

Authorities were called to the Minee Subee in the Park day-care center at 400 Marriott Drive in the northern suburb Wednesday afternoon. They found Benjamin not breathing, with blood coming from his mouth, Scheller said.

They performed CPR and took him to Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville, where he died about an hour later.

Lake County Coroner Richard Keller said there were no outward signs of the fatal injuries Benjamin suffered, and police said they initially thought the boy died of natural causes.

But an autopsy Thursday showed his skull was fractured and there was massive bleeding inside his head, Scheller said. He said that the doctor who performed the autopsy believes the injuries were caused by blunt-force trauma and that "that kind of force is consistent with the child being dropped from a one- or two-story building to the ground."

"It would take a significant amount of trauma to cause this injury," Keller said. "A child falling even from the height of a shoulder, in and of itself, would not cause this. It takes a much higher fall or an adult exerting pressure on a child as they are thrown to the floor."

Calusinski initially told detectives that the child was sitting up and fell backward, hitting his head on the floor. When detectives told her that didn't match their evidence, she told them she accidentally dropped the child and his head struck a small nursery chair, officials said.

Investigators examined the chairs and determined that was not possible, Scheller said.

When police confronted her with this, the prosecutor said, Calusinski said she was frustrated because the child was being noisy.

Calusinski was one of two teachers in a classroom with eight young children but the other adult did not witness the assault, said Lincolnshire Detective Adam Hyde. In that room are toys, cribs, shelves of books, a lunch table and a changing table, he said.

The chair Benjamin crawled to after his skull was broken "was his comfort zone, his little bouncy chair," Hyde said.

The day-care center, a one-story stucco building in an office park, operated in Lincolnshire for 10 to 15 years without complaint, police said. Illinois Department of Children and Family Services spokesman Kendall Marlowe said there were no prior "child protection investigations" involving the center.

The center can oversee up to 145 children ranging from 6 weeks old to 12 years old and had a child-to-staff ratio of about 4-to-1.

The charges came as a surprise to Brittany Baker, who said she has known Calusinski for about 10 years and had never seen her angry.

She said Calusinski worked at Minee Subee for more than a year-first in the northwest suburbs and later in Lincolnshire. Calusinski's sister, Crystal, also works at the Lincolnshire center and helped get her transferred.

Melissa Calusinski "did complain because she said she wasn't respected [in Lincolnshire], but she loved working with the kids," said Baker. "I never knew her to become frustrated and do something like that."

Baker said Calusinski grew up in Carpentersville and graduated from Barrington High School in 2005. She is the youngest of five children. She has no criminal history.

"Melissa was always baby-sitting," Baker said. "She was baby-sitting four kids in one family at one time."

Calusinski's father, Paul, runs a bait shop in Algonquin and is a political activist in Carpentersville. He declined to comment when reached Saturday.

A statement from a Chicago law firm retained by Minee Subee in the Park said the owners, administration and staff of the center were "deeply saddened" by Benjamin's death.

"Staff involved have been placed on administrative leave and will not be returning to the facility pending resolution of the matter," the statement read.

Tribune reporters Mary Owen and Gerry Smith and freelancer George Houde contributed

by on Jan. 21, 2009 at 10:26 PM
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Replies (1-10):
mamivon2
by on Jan. 21, 2009 at 10:28 PM

Somebody else posted something about that last night.

AmandaH628
by on Jan. 21, 2009 at 10:30 PM

What a horrible tragedy :(  I hope that stupid witch gets her own in prison and even then that's too good for her :(  I would be devestated.  God Bless that poor baby and his family.

austinsmomma10
by on Jan. 21, 2009 at 10:33 PM

... another reason why I won't place my child in day care.


LIVING TO DIE, OR DYING TO LIVE?

Seven07
by on Jan. 21, 2009 at 10:39 PM

You should really put a disclaimer.  I wish I hadn't read that.  It makes me so sad you don't understand.  I am preg and hormonal and my DD is going to have to start daycare for the first time ever in her life she is 19mons and can be pretty tenacious sometimes.  I'd be put in jail right next to her I wouldn't be able to withhold my anger. http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/chi-daycare-follow-19-jan19,0,1092450.story

startrace96
by on Jan. 21, 2009 at 10:51 PM

Thats so horrible. I dont even think she needs a trial... I dont see how anyone could hurt a child like that. If you cant handle kids then why are they at a daycare!!! Prayers go out to the family

charlon21
by on Jan. 22, 2009 at 8:51 AM


Quoting Seven07:

You should really put a disclaimer.  I wish I hadn't read that.  It makes me so sad you don't understand.  I am preg and hormonal and my DD is going to have to start daycare for the first time ever in her life she is 19mons and can be pretty tenacious sometimes.  I'd be put in jail right next to her I wouldn't be able to withhold my anger. http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/chi-daycare-follow-19-jan19,0,1092450.story


Not all daycares are that way.; My children went to daycare from six monthes until we moved here. I never once worried while they were there. It really is all about the center they go to. My kids loved theirs and the teachers and cryed when they found out they couldnt go back. They were just very unfortunate to find a worker who would do something like that.

ssippi
by on Jan. 22, 2009 at 8:51 AM
Wow...this is so sad! All of it is! I ran an in-home daycare for a little over 5 years and never would have even thought of doing something like that! OMG I am appalled! Everyone gets frustrated but doesn't do something like that! My kids are in daycare now and I completely trust the teachers and staff. They have been there for a year now and they love my children unconditionally. If anything ever happens my daughter tells me...especially when it concerns her little brother who is deaf... My heart and prayers go out to all the families involved but more so to the family that lost their son!
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lilys_mommy08
by on Jan. 22, 2009 at 9:07 AM

this is why i dont let anyone but family watch my daughter! this is so sad. if anyone hurt my daughter idk what i would do. who the heck does that woman think she is?! if someone did that to my child they had better run when they see me b/c i would take a baseball bat to their skull, and im sure any mother would feel the same. that woman will probobally to to hell for what she did.

mommyinthe303
by on Jan. 22, 2009 at 9:21 AM

OMG I am shaking all over. Poor thing crawled to his comfort zone and died. WOW I am so sad, this crap scares me. I have 3 kids and one toddler. OMG my kids go to daycare but OMG if they are getting on your nearves put them somewhere safe and walk away.! Why would you do that. All my kids have went to daycare and they are not all like that either.

savannahnhi
by on Jan. 22, 2009 at 9:23 AM

This is why my daughter was never in daycare.  i would have to kill someone if Anyone ever laid a hand on my daughter!!!!!!!!!

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