Mom Lied About Kids' Drowning Deaths To Cover Up Small Marijuana Grow-Op
A San Diego-area woman has been arrested following a four-month investigation into the drowning deaths of her two young children.
Tassie Behrens, 26, was asleep on the couch of the La Mesa home of a friend on May 13 when her two children, 16-month-old Harley Bradford and 2-year-old Jason Bradford Jr., drowned in the backyard pool. When Behrens awoke to find her toddlers face down in the pool, she and her friend opted to make the 15-minute drive to a local fire station rather than call 9-1-1, according to NBC San Diego.
Once at the station, Behrens told authorities her children drowned at a local mobile home park. The Medical Examiner indicated on records he believed Behrens lied in order to "to divert law enforcement away from illegal activity." Specifically, a small marijuana growing operation at the home.
Behrens' plan didn't work, and the home was searched, the plants and other items seized, and a 44-year-old man arrested. Authorities noted that the pool where the two tots drowned was cluttered with debris and in a state of disrepair.
However, police did not immediately file charges against Behrens, opting instead to wait until autopsies were complete and further investigation.
Once a warrant was issued for Behrens' arrest, it took about a week to locate her at an area hotel because the woman is homeless and often stays with friends. She was taken into custody and faces two counts of felony child abuse, felony charges of manufacture, cultivation, possession of marijuana as well as possession and sale of a controlled substance.
“She allowed the children to be in a situation where they would be likely to be gravely injured or killed,” said Lt. Glenn Giannantonio with the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department, according to NBC San Diego. “That’s basically what the charges are for.”
UT San Diego reports sad details of the drownings, including that the children died just a day before they were going to move in with another relative, and that the older child, Jason, had tried to rouse Behrens to tell her about his sister being in the pool: "Behrens told investigators that her son woke her up about 8 a.m. asking for Harley but she reportedly went back to sleep. Jason’s clothes and diaper were found in a pile near the pool, the medical examiner report stated."