CHARLESTON TWP, Pa. (WETM) – A Mansfield woman has been charged in connection to the suffocation and death of her five-month-old son last summer.
Kristen Tokarz, 35, was charged with involuntary manslaughter and child endangerment by Pennsylvania State Police on March 7 following an investigation into the baby’s death last August. According to the affidavit, Tokarz had been told multiple times that she should have removed a blanket in her baby’s crib because it was too dangerous.
According to the criminal complaint obtained by 18 News, the Tioga County Coroner and EMS were called to an address on Whitneyville Road in Charleston Township around 7:37 a.m. on August 23, 2021 for a report of a baby in cardiac arrest. After finding the baby on the floor of the home, the coroner continued CPR. The infant was taken to Soldiers and Sailors Hospital and later pronounced dead.
The affidavit from PSP said that in an interview, Tokarz said she put her baby to bed the night before, laying him in his crib with a bottle of formula. There was also a folded blanket under him and a gray fleece blanket covering him.
Tokarz said she wrapped the baby in the fleece blanket and laid him on his back, though she told police he would “routinely roll about the crib”, according to the affidavit.
Around 6:30 a.m. on August 23, Tokarz said she went to check on the baby and noticed his toes hanging out the side of the crib. She also reportedly told police that the blanket was wrapped around the boy “like a ‘burrito'” and that he was purple and cold. After calling 911, Tokarz then put the baby on his back and performed CPR until EMS arrived.
The criminal complaint said there were no obvious signs of injuries on the baby’s body, and an autopsy also didn’t result in any “remarkable physical findings”. In the autopsy report, the forensic pathologist said his medical opinion was “that this 5-month-old infant… most likely died due to asphyxia secondary to suffocation.”
Tokarz had told police that the baby liked that fleece blanket in particular and always slept with it because of the texture. According to the affidavit, a STEP caseworker that had visited Tokarz less than two weeks before the baby’s death told Tokarz that the blanket was dangerous. However, Tokarz reportedly told the caseworker that her baby wouldn’t sleep without it, to which the caseworker again said it was too dangerous and should be removed from the crib.
Tokarz was charged with Involuntary Manslaughter, Endangering the Welfare of a Child, and Recklessly Endangering Another Person. According to the Wellsboro Gazette, Tokarz is scheduled to have a preliminary hearing on April 5 in front of Magisterial District Judge Robert L. Repard in Wellsboro.