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Authorities investigating death of 3-year-old Edgerton boy

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Neil Johnson
December 18, 2013

EDGERTON—Rock County authorities are investigating the Saturday death of a 3-year-old Edgerton boy to determine if neglect played a role.     

Rock County Acting Coroner Lou Smit confirmed the office ordered an autopsy and toxicology tests Monday for David A. Benitez-Thalacker, 3, Edgerton. Thalacker died Saturday at Fort Memorial Hospital, Fort Atkinson, after being transferred there from a Rock County hospital, Smit said.

Smit and the Rock County Sheriff's Office, which is investigating the death, have not disclosed circumstances or details behind Thalacker's death, which happened late Saturday.

Authorities were dispatched after a 911 call for a welfare check of children 950 E. Merrifield Road in rural Edgerton at about 9:30 p.m. Saturday, according to authorities.

Reports were not available and Smit declined to release a cause of death because the investigation is pending.

Smit said it's too early to know if Thalacker's death might have stemmed from natural or other causes. He said it could take three to six weeks to get toxicology test results.

The Rock County Coroner's Office ordered an autopsy through the Dane County Medical Examiner's Office because that's standard procedure for all deaths of people under age of 18, particularly sudden, “unexpected” deaths, Smit said.

“All I can say is that when you have any case involving a child where the child dies unexpectedly, with no anticipation, unless there is a sustained medical issue … we treat it with due caution. We want to make sure there is no evidence of foul play or neglect,” Smit said.

The Jefferson County Coroner's Office initially handled the case but turned it over to the Rock County Coroner's Office on Sunday.

Rock County Sheriff's Detective Bureau Capt. Todd Christiansen said investigators suspect potential neglect in the case, but he said couldn't elaborate on the reasons why.

“We are looking into it towards a neglect-type thing,” Christiansen said Wednesday.

He said no charges have been filed in Thalacker's death, but there was one arrest that arose out of the incident.

Christiansen said the investigation in the wake of Thalacker's death revealed evidence of drug paraphernalia on the property. He said the sheriff's office executed a search warrant, and that resulted in the arrest of Garrett Thalacker on charges of felony possession of a firearm and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Records of the search warrant and the arrest were not available Wednesday. 

Christiansen said the search warrant was not for the house where David Thalacker lived, but for another house on the property. It's not clear whether other children live on the property.



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