Toddler Crawled to “Comfort Zone” to Die

Caretaker admits to throwing child to the ground

Editor's note: Two years after this story was published in 2009, the day care worker was convicted and sentenced to 31 years in prison. In 2013, the pathologist who performed the toddler's autopsy said Benjamin “had suffered an old injury," which the pathologist had “missed.” A new hearing was allowed in 2016, but the judge ultimately declined to overturn the day care worker's conviction.

In his last moments of life, 16-month-old Benjamin Kingan picked up his blanket and crawled to a chair police later said was his "comfort zone."

It should have been a place where Benjamin would be safe, but police say the woman assigned to care for him at a Lincolnshire day care center, has admitted she killed the little boy by throwing him on the ground on Wednesday.

Lincolnshire police investigator Adam Hyde said after the incident, Benjamin picked up his blanket and his pacifier and went to his favorite bouncy chair, where he was found cuddled up and unresponsive less than half-an-hour later.

Police said the Minee-Subee Day Care Center in Lincolnshire was licensed and had a spotless record.

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But they said 22-year-old Melissa Calusinski, an employee at the center, has been charged with first-degree murder and is being held on $5 million bond. 

"It is even more tragic than we originally thought," Lincolnshire Police Chief Randy Melvin told the Chicago Sun-Times. "Our initial investigation seemed to indicate that it was natural causes, or possibly something congenital. Further investigation revealed...the infant had suffered a severe fracture to the top of the head."
Calusinksi, a teachers' aide, reportedly told police she slammed the child on the ground after having "issues" with the children in the room.

Police said there were seven other toddlers and another adult in the room at the time of the incident. Staff members tried CPR before paramedics arrived. The boy later died at the hospital.

Visitation will be held from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday at the Kolssak Funeral Home at 189 S. Milwaukee Ave. in Wheeling, the Sun-Times reported. 

The funeral service will be held at 11 a.m. Wednesday at the funeral home.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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