Mom arrested for allegedly murdering son she had tried to drown as a baby
A California mother has been arrested after she allegedly murdered her 12-year-old son and seriously injured his 7-year-old brother, the Tulare County Sheriff's Office announced on Facebook last Saturday.
A caller reported Sherri Telnas, 45, to the police around 5:25 in the morning after the mother was seen "acting strangely" with her two children. Telnas purportedly brought the two boys to a cornfield, where police later found the children unresponsive in a nearby irrigation ditch.
"Deputies arrived and rendered medical aid," the sheriff's office said. "Both boys were taken to a local hospital where the 12-year-old died from his injuries ... The cause of death is pending an autopsy. The second is listed in critical condition."
Telnas, who was arrested without incident, had, in fact, tried to murder her older son Jack before, according to the Missoulian.
In April 2008, the mother reportedly attempted to drown herself and Jack — then just 10 months old — in a Montana river. At some point, Telnas then drove to a hospital, where she admitted what she had done to law enforcement. Medical records showed that the infant had been underwater "for an appreciable period of time and had water in his lungs."
Telnas was originally charged with attempted deliberate homicide for her 2008 crime, but the charges were reduced after police concluded that she could not have acted "purposely or knowingly." Mineral County Attorney Shaun Donovan said at the time that Telnas had been "in the throes of mental illness" when she tried to submerge herself and her child underwater. In a telephone interview with the Missoulian, her husband, Jacob Telnas, also confirmed her erratic state of mind.
"I asked her what changed her mind, and she said she just couldn't believe what she was doing," he told the newspaper, following his wife's drowning attempt. "She doesn't remember what was going on while she was doing it, but then she suddenly came to her senses and started to revive Jack."
The woman was later sentenced in 2009 to 20 years in the custody of Montana's Department of Public Health and Human Services.
In a statement, Ashley Ritchie, a spokesperson for the Tulare County Sheriff's Office, said that California authorities were aware of the 2008 incident but did not provide any further information.
"We are working with multiple agencies to confirm the details," she said.