Charleston woman charged with 1st-degree murder of 2-year-old son

Mike Santoria, Contributing Writer

A Charleston woman was arrested and charged with first-degree murder Wednesday afternoon after police found her 2-year-old son dead in a portable playpen.

In a press conference on Thursday, State’s Attorney Brian Bower said Savannah Weiss, 22, of Charleston and the mother of the child, told police Wednesday that she left the child unattended from 10 a.m. Friday until 6 p.m. Sunday.

Bower did not disclose Weiss’ whereabouts over the weekend.

On Monday morning police received a third party phone call regarding an unresponsive child located at 1052 First St.

The child was pronounced dead upon the police and paramedics’ arrival.

The Champaign County Coroner’s Office conducted an autopsy of the child and said the cause of death was dehydration, starvation and malnutrition.

Bower said when police entered the residence on Monday, it was filled with garbage debris, food wrappers and animal feces.

The child was left unattended in the portable playpen with two peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and a vitamin bottle with a needle sized hold poked into the cap.

According to WEIU-TV, Weiss told police that a babysitter, Emily Snively, 18, of Charleston was allegedly supposed to watch the child.

Snively was relieved of all wrongdoings.

Snively said there were no signs of malnourishment when she did watch him before.

The investigation is still ongoing and Joel Shute, one of the two investigators on the scene, said cases with such high severity such as this one take time to resolve.

“An arrest, most of the time is the end of the story but with complications the arrest can merely be the most profound piece but not the final piece,” Shute said.

Bower said Weiss had no prior convictions and her first court appearance is Dec. 11.

Parker Valentine contributed reporting to this article.

Mike Santoria can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].