Cops: Mom falsely posted son died; days later tried to drown him
CHICAGO — A Chicago mother posted on Facebook that her 3-year-old son had died, even though he hadn’t, then days later tried to drown him in a bathtub, according to Chicago police.
Celeste T. Christian, 21, is being held without bail on attempted murder charges as her son remains in critical condition at the University of Chicago Medical Center, authorities said.
Police say someone held the boy underwater. He was being treated at the hospital for asphyxiation and water in his lungs.
The boy’s father had dropped him off at Christian’s home in the 1700 block of East 79th Street in South Shore around 9:30 p.m. Sunday, police said.
After getting him out of the car, Christian said, she saw the toddler had wet himself. She told officers she drew him a bath inside, then left him by himself for five to 10 minutes to check on her 2-year-old daughter, police said.
Christian said she heard splashing, ran back to the bathroom and found her 3-year-old “limp” in the water, police said. His legs were stiff and foam was coming from his nose and mouth. She told police she called 911, saying she did not know CPR.
Paramedics took him to the University of Chicago Medical Center. A doctor there told police that, about an hour before the boy arrived, the hospital had gotten a call from the Gift of Hope, an organ and tissue donor organization, asking if the boy was there yet, police said.
A Gift of Hope representative would not say who told them the boy was going to be there. The organization would not comment on the case, but spokeswoman Shauna Schuda said the usual procedure is for a hospital to contact the organization about an available donor, not the family.
Police also spoke to the boy’s father, who told them Christian had recently posted to social media that her son had died and she wanted to make funeral plans. The man told police that his sister had screenshots of the posts. Christian was arrested and charged.
State child welfare officials are also investigating.
A new probe of Christian was opened on Monday alleging “torture,” inadequate supervision and “substantial risk of physical injury or environment injurious to health and welfare,” Illinois Department of Children and Family Services spokesman Neil Skene said in an email.
The agency has conducted three prior investigations of Christian, all involving domestic violence with a man, that were opened in August and in October 2016 and in December 2017.
“She was indicated in all three investigations for posing a risk of harm to her children, but in none of the cases was there a finding of actual physical harm to a child,” Skene said in the email.
The boy’s younger sister is being cared for by an aunt, said Skene, who added that DCFS plans to take protective custody of both children.