A mother has been charged with causing the death of her 8-year-old son, whom she allegedly locked in a garage overnight during the historic cold snap in the Twin Cities this past winter.
Tasha Tennin, 36, of Brooklyn Park, has been charged with two counts of 2nd-degree manslaughter in connection with the death of the child on Feb. 1 this year.
She called police to her home after finding her son unresponsive that morning, with responders finding him not breathing, with no pulse, and feeling "ice cold" when they got there.
At the time, she claimed she'd found him this way in his bedroom when she went to take him for school, and had brought him down to the living room.
But due to the boy's body temperature, police were certain he had been exposed to the elements during the Polar Vortex that hit the Twin Cities at the end of January.
On Jan. 31, the daytime high at MSP Airport was negative 3, while the low was negative 23, with wind chills plunging the feels-like temperature even further.
She had claimed her son had been feeling ill and lethargic the night before, Jan. 31, but staff at his school had reported him being energetic and normal that day.
The boy was not found to be frozen or wet, nor were there footprints outside in the snow, however responders did note he appeared to have urinated his pants, and found a puddle of frozen liquid near the doormat in the garage.
When asked if the boy had been locked in the garage the night he died, Tennin was silent for 17 seconds before saying: "No." A few days later when asked how she thought her son had died, she paused for 35 seconds before saying: "The cold. He was cold. Maybe he was outside."
When police returned with a search warrant a week later, the frozen liquid was gone and there was a "white film on the floor where it had been." DNA swabs of the area proved "insufficient for interpretation."
Siblings come forward
Tennin has been charged several months later however after the boy's siblings came forward to a foster parent regarding his death. One of them, who was interviewed at CornerHouse, said the boy had gotten into trouble when he came home from school, with their mother telling him to "sit in the garage."
She locked him in there till the next morning.
Police also found signs of physical abuse on the boy's body, including "17 linear and looped lesions and scars."
Tennin is still not in custody, with the Hennepin County Attorney's Office issuing a warrant for her, noting she has previously experienced an "acute psychotic episode" in June 2018 due to methamphetamine use and was hospitalized.
"Defendant’s still-untreated mental illness and substance abuse raise additional concern for public safety and the likelihood she would appear for Court," the complaint says.
Prosecutors will look for an aggravated sentence in the case "based upon particular cruelty" and because her other children witnessed parts of the offense.