WAUSAU, Wis. (WAOW) — We have a warning for parents after a mother’s worst nightmare comes true.
A Wausau babysitter is accused of killing a two-month-old baby in October.
Now, the mother of the alleged victim is speaking out as we take a look at finding the right caregiver.
For parents, putting your trust in a babysitter isn’t always easy and experts say it can be one of the hardest decisions you can make.
“He was a very happy baby, [he] loved to smile,” Heather Gardner said about her two-month-old son, Benson.
Heather is a working mom of two and was in desperate need of someone to watch her kids, finding Marissa Tietsort through a co-worker.
“She’s from the town that I’m originally from,” Gardner said.
Just weeks after trusting Tietsort with her children, Heather said she started to see red flags.
“I noticed that maybe he had a scratch or something in his mouth and I took him to the ER that Saturday,” Gardner explained. “And I told the doctors, ‘I don’t know if he’s being abused by the babysitter.'”
Heather said doctors told her not to worry, and she sent Benson back to Tietsort: a decision the Wausau mother will always regret.
“You as a parent know your child the most so if you think that something is wrong, no one is going to know better than you,” Gardner said.
Police said it’s okay to reach out.
“If something doesn’t seem right, there’s no harm in going to the doctor or calling the police and having it be nothing rather than something serious,” Detective Jennifer Holz of the Wausau Police Department said.
Just a few days later, Heather would pick up her baby from Tietsort for the very last time.
“When we got to the laundromat, I started unpacking Benson and I was like why are his lips like, they were like stuck together, so I was like ,’Oh my God” and I unzipped his snowsuit and took him out and he’s like hard,'” Gardner recalled.
Benson was likely dead for more than two hours, according to court records.
Prosecutors said Tietsort dressed Benson, putting a hat over his face, covering up his life-less color. As a result, Tietsort was charged with first degree intentional homicide.
There are three different accusations of abuse against 28-year-old Marissa Tietsort, including Benson’s death.
TIetsort isn’t the only Wausau babysitter accused of abusing someone else’s child. Merisa Sell was charged with child abuse back in November.
Experts called the situations heartbreaking, and a chance for parents to think twice.
“First and foremost, check into their background. If they’re not a regulated program, we highly recommend to go to CCAP and check their criminal background,” Kelly Borchardt, Executive Director of Childcaring, said.
Childcaring is a non-profit childcare referral agency, working to connect parents with quality childcare providers.
“I think any kind of information or resources a parent can use to check somebody out is a great idea. I would look at social media, I would ask for references, talk with neighbors, ask for other people who have used their services. Anything that you can do to protect your child is critically important,” Borchardt said.
The Wausau Police Department is continuing to investigate.
“We are confident that we will get justice for Benson when that is concluded,” Detective Holz said.
Heather is now missing out on those cherished milestones.
“I wish I could just hold him, hear his first words, see his first steps,” Heather said.
Tietsort is expected back in court in February.
News 9 reached out to the two attorneys listed for Tietsort several times and have yet to hear back.
For more information on finding a certified or licensed child care provider, click HERE.