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Police: Waterford child who died in mother's car lived in deplorable conditions

The Day - 10/17/2018

Oct. 17--WATERFORD -- Police say Christopher Kenneth Bosselman, the autistic 5-year-old who died while buckled in his car seat in the back of the family car on an 86-degree day in May, lived in deplorable conditions in a house that reeked of urine and was littered with trash, according to court records obtained by The Day.

The boy went by C.K., according to the arrest warrant for his mother, Whitney Bosselman, 31, whom police charged Monday with criminally negligent homicide and risk of injury to a minor.

Great Neck School staff interviewed by police described C.K. as nonverbal, strong, fast, smart, a climber with no fear, but distraught in the days leading up to his death. School staff told police C.K. could open doors and frequently bolted from classrooms. But they said he struggled with opening juice boxes, and could not button or zipper his pants or jackets, according to the warrant.

At about 2:48 p.m. on May 3, police found the boy buckled into the back of his mother's Toyota Camry on the family's property. The doors and windows were closed, police said. The warrant notes the boy died "from hyperthermia due to environmental exposure in an enclosed vehicle," according to the state Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. The warrant does not specify a time of death.

Bosselman told police she had locked the front door, set an alarm and lain down for a nap between 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. that day, leaving C.K. alone in the living room.

Bosselman called 911 to report C.K. was missing after she woke up around 2 p.m., checked the house and went outside to search for him, she told police. She said she "believed that C.K. got out of the house via the living room window which leads to the front porch," stating she found the window open and the screen removed. C.K. was found nude, she told police, because "he did not like to wear clothes."

Emergency crews tried but could not revive the boy, who'd been found "unresponsive and not breathing."

After Bosselman consented to a search of her residence at 3 Maple Ave. in Quaker Hill later that afternoon, police found used diapers, bags of trash, moldy food and excrement stains in the house. Police said the home's condition was "extremely unsanitary and unkempt" except for the parents' bedroom.

In searches of Bosselman's phone, police said they found "concerning Google searches" conducted in March and April, including a search for "do people cry when they're dying," "teen dies in minivan," and "autistic children and reincarnation."

Police said searches of computers at the residence revealed that several times on April 7 and 9, a computer was used to visit a website with a story about a father who confessed to killing his 5-year-old autistic son.

Police previously said two other children resided in the home at the time of C.K.'s death. Police Chief Brett Mahoney said the conditions in the house were "detrimental to the health and safety of the other children" there.

Waterford police did not immediately respond late Monday afternoon to questions about whether there would be any other charges lodged against Whitney Bosselman or her husband, Christopher. A message left with a listing for the Bosselmans was not returned.

According to the warrant, C.K.'s parents are represented by Conrad Seifert, who told police on May 8 that the couple would invoke their right to remain silent. A message left with Seifert's office was not immediately returned Monday.

Bosselman turned herself in to police, and court officials said she posted a $50,000 bond. She is due back in court on Nov. 6.

DCF: Bosselman home 'deplorable'

The Department of Children and Families investigated C.K.'s death, providing a report to police in June stating that "Whitney Bosselman showed a serious disregard for C.K.'s safety by failing to adequately supervise her 5-year-old, autistic son, resulting in his death," the arrest warrant said.

"Both parents failed to provide their children with proper care and attention," DCF told police. "The home was found to be deplorable, and the children were living in their own filth."

According to her statements to DCF on May 4, Bosselman described C.K. as "an escape artist."

She told DCF she had not slept more than two or three hours a night for about a month leading up to her son's death.

Police said Bosselman told DCF "she had frequent feelings of sadness, worthlessness, an inability to concentrate and a lack of motivation to care for herself," saying she felt overwhelmed and "did not know where to begin once the home became too much for her to clean."

DCF spokesman Gary Kleeblatt said he could not speak about specific cases.

"If there are children who are endangered in an environment, we certainly would take action to protect them," he said.

A police check of DCF referral history showed five separate referrals for Whitney Bosselman's family between 2004 and 2010.

Asked to clarify Tuesday, police said they couldn't say who they were referring to when they wrote "Bosselman's family" in the warrant. They also declined to provide further detail about the nature of the referrals, which they said DCF investigated. Bosselman would have turned 17 in 2004, and her son, Christopher, was born Dec. 22, 2012 -- after all five DCF referrals.

A probate study in 2004 showed she had been hospitalized several times for psychological issues, police said.

'Wish it were legal to put him in a cage'

Police said computer searches showed Bosselman spent extensive time playing World of Warcraft and chatting online in the weeks before her boy's death.

Searches of Bosselman's electronics revealed that between April 20 and May 3, she was logged into her World of Warcraft account 83 times for a total of almost 24 hours. During that span, Bosselman's account sent 273 messages, including one at 2:49 a.m. on May 3, the day the child died, mentioning she "would like a bunk bed that I could make into a cage thing for him at night."

On April 28, she sent a text to her husband that the boy had broken a light in his room. After Christopher texted back, "Christ he is a (expletive) animal," she responded, "wish it were legal to put him in a cage when we couldn't watch him."

Police said that between April 26 and May 3, Bosselman frequently exchanged text messages with her husband "about playing video games and how much they are both tired."

Two days before C.K. died, Bosselman texted her husband that "C.K. was about to get murdered (for) getting into stuff but he's being decent now." The next day, she texted that "he took some medicine and I locked him in his room."

On the morning of C.K.'s death, an Alienware gaming PC in the house showed five separate network connections between 7:14 a.m. and 10 a.m.

Police said on that morning, Christopher Bosselman sent several text messages for four hours with no response from his wife until about 2:30 p.m.

School staff: boy agitated in days before death

Unidentified Great Neck School staff told police their communications book with daily notes for parents "would not always have responses" from the boy's parents.

A kindergarten teacher told police that "C.K.'s mother was sincere and had a good understanding of C.K.'s good and bad behaviors, and on what he could do and could not do." The teacher added that the mother "had issues with follow through on at-home suggestions, but that was an issue with most parents."

A behavioral analyst told police that on April 30 the boy had "sunken in eyes as if he was tired, uncontrollable screaming, crying, and what was a very noticeable change in behavior."

A special education teacher described the boy as smart and able to identify what he needed, despite being nonverbal. But the boy also would routinely take his shoes off or pull his pants down during class, the teacher told police.

A paraprofessional broke down during her interview with police, noting C.K. "had to be watched every second."

The paraprofessional said the communication log book "was rarely returned with comments back from C.K.'s parents," the warrant said. Police said she added that while the boy was likely strong enough to push out a window screen, "she was not sure if he would be able to make the decision" to manipulate a lock and exit the front door or instead go out the front window to bypass a door lock and alarm.

b.kail@theday.com

Editor's Note: This version corrects the address of the home at which Whitney Bosselman resides.

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(c)2018 The Day (New London, Conn.)

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