RACINE, Wis. – A Wisconsin woman is accused of leaving her disabled son on their bathroom floor for days last month and letting him die after he fell from his bed.
Cheryl A. Christensen, 60, of Racine, was arrested Wednesday and charged with negligently subjecting an individual at risk to abuse, causing death, according to Racine County Jail records. She is also charged with resisting or obstructing an officer and disorderly conduct.
She remained in the jail Monday in lieu of a $3,035 cash bond.
Court records obtained by the Journal Times in Racine and CBS 58 in Milwaukee indicate that Racine police officers were asked on Oct. 28 to go to the Christensen home to conduct a welfare check on Christensen’s 46-year-old son, whose name has not been released by authorities.
The man had suffered a brain injury, as well as physical injuries, when he was struck by a car at the age of 14, the Journal Times reported. Christensen was his caretaker.
The Racine County Eye reported that officers arrived shortly after 3 p.m. to find a note on the door stating the residents were on vacation and to “please respect that.”
“Also, seven months and no supplies. You are fired, Human Services,” the note read, according to the Eye.
The officers knocked on the door repeatedly but got no answer. They left, but returned two hours later with the man’s uncle and a caseworker from the Racine County Human Services Department.
The uncle told the officers he’d tried to check on his nephew earlier in the day. Christensen met him at the door and made him leave.
She beat on the hood of his vehicle and said that she would “kill (him) and that she was going to ram her truck into his truck,” the Eye reported.
The court records indicate that Christensen’s daughter and sister also went to the scene the second time. All the family members were concerned for the man’s safety due to mental health issues Christensen has.
They became concerned when they didn’t see or hear from her son in several days. He was last seen alive on Oct. 19, according to the Eye.
When the officers identified themselves, Christensen tried to barricade the front door, the documents allege. After breaking through the door, the officers found red paint throughout the home.
A red line was painted on the floor, a red cross was on the TV, paint was splattered across the walls and every doorway was lined with paint and a red “X” was painted on each door.
Pieces of cardboard painted with a red “X” were affixed to each mirror in the home, the Eye reported.
Christensen’s son was found dead on the bathroom floor, a blanket covering his body.
According to the criminal complaint, the officers called out to Christensen but got no response. They eventually found her hiding behind a locked door.
“You’re not taking me out of here alive,” she screamed, according to the Eye.
Christensen was taken into custody after officers broke into the room. A struggle ensued, and after she threw items at them, officers used a Taser to get her into handcuffs, CBS 58 reported.
She later said she planned to have an officer kill her, the Journal Times reported.
When questioned at the jail, Christensen told detectives her son had fallen from his hospital bed several days earlier. He was too heavy for her to get back into the bed or his wheelchair, so she dragged him into the bathroom.
Christensen said her son was screaming in pain and she believed he’d broken some bones, the Journal Times reported.
She said she gave him diazepam, the generic form of Valium, and amitriptyline, an antidepressant and nerve pain medication, the Eye reported. Investigators found both drugs in the home.
Christensen told police for about four days, she gave her son water and juice and tried to take care of him. Eventually, she said, he became unresponsive.
According to the newspaper, Christensen told investigators she did not seek medical help because her son “deserved to pass away in a peaceful manner and she did not want him to die in a hospital.” She said she believed his health had been declining and he was “on his way out,” the complaint states.
Relatives said Christensen’s son had visited a doctor a month before he died and gotten a clean bill of health, the Journal Times reported.
When questioned about the red paint in her home, Christensen told detectives “the home had a mad energy to it,” and that the paint was to repel “demons or something going on.”
Christensen’s daughter told authorities she believed her mother was “suffering from some type of emotional distress or mental breakdown as she had been sending significant amounts of money to a preacher in Texas,” the complaint states.