Well, there’s a headline I couldn’t have invented if I tried.
A 24-year-old New York State woman was charged last week with first-degree manslaughter in the July 2019 death of a child who attended her home daycare.
At about 4:30 PM on July 17, Jessica Sims of Mattydale, New York called 911 to report that a child in her care, 23-month-old Lennox Santiago of Liverpool, New York, fell out of a chair and hit his head. When paramedics arrived at her Orchard Estates apartment at 103 Roxboro Circle in Mattydale, Lennox was unconscious but breathing and had a weak pulse. He was rushed to Upstate University Hospital in Syracuse, where he underwent brain surgery for a severe head injury.
Sadly, Lennox Andrew Santiago “passed away peacefully” on July 19, 2019, according to his obituary.
Jessica was the only adult in the home at the time of the incident. There were three other young children in her care when Lennox was injured.
Detectives from the Abused Persons Unit were assigned to the eight-month investigation, which included multiple interviews with Jessica as well as reviewing evidence and autopsy reports.
Sergeant Jon Seeber, Onondaga County Sheriff’s spokesman, told Syracuse.com that Jessica’s story “changed on several occasions.”
Jessica eventually confessed that she had caused Lennox’s injuries when she held the little boy by the legs and swung him around, smashing his head into a coffee table. The reason for these actions is unclear.
Detectives ultimately alleged that Jessica “recklessly” caused Lennox’s death “by striking the child’s head on a table inside her residence,” according to a press release dated March 16, 2020. Jessica, who is accused of acting with intent to injure Lennox but not cause his death, was arrested last week on charges of felony first-degree manslaughter and violating probation and arraigned in Centralized Arraignment Court on Thursday, March 12, after which she was remanded to the Onondaga County Justice Center, where she is currently incarcerated. Her bail was set at $25,000 cash or $100,000 bond. Due to Lennox’s young age, if convicted, Jessica could face up to 25 years in prison.
According to court records, Jessica was on probation after a 2017 arrest in which she was charged for driving while intoxicated, reckless endangerment, criminal mischief, reckless driving, and leaving the scene of an accident. Police said she drove her car over a pedestrian crosswalk that crosses Interstate 690, through barricades, and through a fence. When police caught up to her, she was stopped on West Shore Trail along Onondaga Lake Park.
In his obituary, Lennox is described as a little boy with “an infectious smile” who “radiated love to everyone he met.”
His mom, Adrianna Martin, posted the following in the obituary guestbook in October of 2019.
“I miss you every single day. You will always be my bestfriend. No matter where we went you always wanted to be right next to me. You knew how to blow kisses & to pick up your toys. You gave the biggest hugs & you loved to dance with me. You changed my life forever, you made me into the person I always wanted to be. Your smile, your light & your positivity always amazed me. You were so much like me. You wanted everyone to feel loved. You always wanted to make me laugh & you loved our walks together even though you would always try to outrun me to go after a stick. You were my adventurous, silly, happy boy. You loved cars Elmo Mickey Mouse your snack cup & sippy. Life will never be the same without you monk. My heart will always have a hole. I will always remember how you would look at me & giggle or how excited you were to see me running to me with your arms open wide. I will forever feel your hand in mine & see that smile when I would sing to you & play peek a boo. Everyone that met you could see how well behaved you were, how happy you were & loved all your crazy curly hair. You will always be my biggest blessing Lennox Andrew. I couldnt ever ask for a better child, you were such a good boy. You will never be forgotten & mama will love you always to Pluto & back 5 times.”
His father, Joseph Santiago, posted first in July:
“I’ll miss you forever my son. I wish I couldve held you one more time before passing or that my life had been taken instead. I’ll always remember you and you will always be in my heart
Love your father Joseph Santiago”
He posted again just last month, including a sweet photo of himself with baby Lennox, which he captioned “My king”:
“Always in my thoughts. Still dream about you every night. Wish you were here. Love you boy. I promise to visit you at least once a month as long as I’m able to. R.I.H Lennox Santiago”
Click here for my ongoing/future coverage of Lennox’s case.
Sources: PEOPLE, Onondaga County Sheriff’s Office, The Independent, Syracuse.com, Whelan Bros. & Hulchanski Funeral Home Facebook page