Mother of 2-month-old killed by babysitter 'asked doctors if he was being abused' days before the horrific incident

Heather Gardner retrieved her lifeless two-month-old son Benson Xiong from her 28-year-old babysitter Marissa Tietsort on October 18


                            Mother of 2-month-old killed by babysitter 'asked doctors if he was being abused' days before the horrific incident

Wisconsin woman whose babysitter tried to cover up the death of her two-month-old and returned the child to her pretending he was alive has now opened up about her horrifying ordeal. 

Heather Gardner retrieved her lifeless two-month-old son, Benson Xiong, from her 28-year-old babysitter Marissa Tietsort on October 18. She recently spoke to WAOW news about her regret of having left her young son in such horrible care.

Gardner dropped Benson and his older brother off at Tietsort's home, and about two hours later, the baby's mother received a text from Tietsort, in which Tietsort told her that a local news website published a story saying she'd been charged with child abuse and she isn't supposed to have contact with children. Tietsort went on to tell Gardner to not tell anyone she was watching her two sons.

Marissa Tietsort told the mother not to tell anyone that she was watching her two sons (Source: Wausau Police Department)
Marissa Tietsort told the mother not to tell anyone that she was watching her two sons (Source: Wausau Police Department)

The two sons were to be picked up by Gardner, and she saw that a hat had been pulled down over Benson's eyes, but she thought he was sleeping. A little later, she realized that her son was cold and stiff and was not breathing.

Benson had died hours earlier due to blunt force trauma to his head, according to a coroner's report, and the authorities found a desperate Gardner trying to revive her long-dead son. A criminal complaint filed on January 4 stated that Tietsort caused Benson's death, put him in his snowsuit and car seat before letting his mother pick him up without telling her that the child was dead.

Gardner, who was then a mother of two and working fulltime, needed childcare assistance as her mother (who was taking care of the children earlier) moved to California. A few days before the child's death, Gardner said she noticed a scratch or something in his mouth. "I took him to the ER that Saturday and I told the doctors, 'I don't know if he's being abused by the babysitter'". The doctors told her there was nothing to be afraid of, and she proceeded to enlist Tietsort's help once again.

Tietsort was referred to Gardner through a co-worker, it was only weeks after leaving her children in Tietsort's care that she began to get suspicious because Tietsort was from the town that Gardner was originally from. The grieving mother said, "You, as a parent, know your child the most, so if you think that something is wrong, no one is going to know better than you".

Two-month-old Benson Xiong died due to blunt force trauma to his head, according to a coroner's report (Source: Justice for Benson Xiong)
Two-month-old Benson Xiong died due to blunt force trauma to his head, according to a coroner's report (Source: Justice for Benson Xiong)

The accused is a mother of five children and is currently pregnant with her sixth child. She also faces a felony child abuse charge involving an 11-month-old girl, named Riley, who was injured in her care in August. "I had used Marissa (Tietsort) for two weeks as a babysitter, and I never once thought to look her up because she was a friend of a friend", said Riley's mother Megan Royce. "She had a baby as well so I figured it was safe".

Tietsort wrote to the judge before her bail hearing saying, "I'm not a threat to society or a monster, I'm a great mom, and I love everybody". She is due back in court this month, has been in custody on a $250,000 cash bond since October.