Mother Of Infant Found Unresponsive At Day Care Home Still Upset

TOPEKA, Kansas (WIBW) -- The mother of a 5-month-old baby who died at a Topeka day care home last February is still struggling with the death of her son.

She also feels like not enough was done to prevent his death, and more should be done about it now.

"Caleb has not gotten the attention he deserves from the agencies," Misty Durham told us. "A year later, to not have any answers as to how he died, why he died, and to not exhaust all resources available, is not fair to my son."

Misty continues to ask the same question she did a year ago - What happened to my son?

On the morning of February 27, 2013, she dropped her son Caleb off at day care, and he was dead by the end of the day.

He was found unresponsive lying in a dog bed at Tara Johnson's unlicensed day care home. The home turned out to have a long list of complaints, almost all of which were unsubstantiated by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. Misty feels she was let down by the state of Kansas and that agents should have shut the business down long before Caleb passed.

Johnson wasn't home watching Caleb that day; she left him with a roommate, Destiny McClusky, who wasn't authorized to provide child care. When she found Caleb unresponsive, McClusky first called Johnson, and not 911. Paramedics arrived after Johnson had gotten to the house some time later.

"You don't take responsibility for a child and then watch that child die, not breathing, and not call 911, but yet have a phone and call other people," Misty said. "I believe it's illegal."

Misty and Caleb's father, Jimmy Stewart, firmly believe someone should go to jail. The Shawnee County District Attorney's Office did not press charges.

"It's extremely disappointing because there's no reason these people should not be charged with something."

Caleb's death was also ruled undetermined by the Shawnee County Coroner, but Misty believes two wet spots found on the dog bed that day could shed some light. The wet spots were documented by the Sheriff's deputies who responded to the day care home, and were then sent in for analysis to the Kansas Bureau of Investigation. Misty says it has been extremely difficult for anything to progress further because the former investigator on the case, Erin Thompson, was not answering calls from the KBI regarding the case. Misty was also promised that the results would be back in within 60 days, by January 1st, but she has not received them.

"They shut it down stating that they have so many other important cases to do, and that's really a slap in the face to us because my son's case is important. He's at the bottom of the list."

Misty now wants the Sheriff's Office to ask for the KBI's help for further investigation. She tells us she's had a lot of problems communicating with Thompson and the Sheriff's Office.

"They don't take me seriously. They shut you down with no explanation of what they're going to do about it. It's very coldly the way they talk."

She said even if the analysis results from the wet spots come back as nothing substantial, she'll still be grateful.

"It's not like I won't accept the answers that have been given over my son's death - there are no answers."

Misty's says her family is far from giving up on finding answers, but they are trying to move on to an extent.

They remember Caleb everyday though visiting his grave often, a memorial Facebook page and bracelets, but it doesn't make losing him any easier.

"It's not fair that Christmas morning where they should all be smiling, there's not a member in my household that didn't cry thinking about Caleb would've been opening up his own presents this year."

Caleb would have turned one year old in September.

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment told 13 News that Tara Johnson does not have a license for a daycare, and does not currently have a pending application.


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