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A Connecticut mother is accused of fatally strangling her 4-year-old son in a heartbreaking case that had responding police officers "choked up."
Tiffany Farrauto, 33, was arrested and charged with murder in the death of her son, David Jasmin, on Sunday. Police were dispatched to Farrauto’s New London apartment complex around 6:30 a.m. after receiving reports of a woman damaging a car with a baseball bat. Farrauto approached officers on-scene and allegedly admitted she’d “hurt” her son, New London police said. The 4-year-old boy was later fatally injured inside the home during a wellness check.
The toddler was taken to hospital where he was pronounced dead.
“It hits you right in the gut,” New London’s Police Chief, Peter Reichard, told reporters on Sunday. “I talked to the officers who first arrived to the scene. They were choked up by it. All of them have children the same age and it hits home.”
Farrauto was charged with murder, risk of injury to a minor, as well as two counts of third-degree criminal mischief. No motive has been released in the boy’s suspected murder. An autopsy is pending. Warrants in the case are also currently under seal, according to the county State’s Attorney’s Office.
“It’s tough,” New London Mayor Michael Passero told Oxygen.com. “Everybody shares in a tragedy like this.”
Passero called the incident “gut-wrenching.”
The incident marks the second homicide this year in New London. The sleepy seaport city, located near a U.S. submarine base, sits about 50 miles east of New Haven.
“We don’t have a lot of answers at this point,” Passaro added. “We’ll be doing a lot of soul searching. Nobody noticed, nobody picked up that [Farrauto] needed help.”
State officials, however, apparently were aware of issues in the household.
Shortly before her son’s death, Farrauto notified social workers that an unidentified individual had possibly abused her boy.
“Recently, we were contacted by the mother who expressed concerns that an unknown party may have maltreated her son,” Commissioner Vannessa Dorantes of Connecticut’s Department of Children and Families told Oxygen.com in a statement. “Upon review, we provided the mother with information on resources in the community.”
No other action appears to have been taken.
In 2017, the Department of Children and Families investigated accusations of drug use in the family home and improper care of Farrauto’s son, then a newborn.
Farrauto had long-struggled with undiagnosed mental illness and the pressures of being a single mom, those who knew her said.
“Something made her snap,” Jennifer Ostby, a family friend and former next door neighbor of Farrauto, told Oxygen.com. “What it is, we have no idea.”
In the days leading up to David’s death, Farrauto uploaded unusual posts to social media, she said.
“She seemed different,” Ostby added.
Even those who knew Farrauto only fleetingly, including her prospective employer, also sensed something was amiss shortly before David’s death.
“I know she was not happy with her son,” Robin Lamour, a 53-year-old manager of a New London Dunkin’ Donuts, told Oxygen.com.
Lamour, who’d recently hired the 33-year-old to work at the coffee chain, claimed Farrauto pushed back her first shift after complaining of “behavioral problems” related to her son.
“She was blaming that on why she couldn’t start last week,” Lamour added. “She had to take care of a couple things.”
Lamour, 53, described Farrauto as “hyper,” “upbeat,” and “talkative” during her interview.
“I was going to hire her to tell you the truth,” manager Robin Lamour told Oxygen.com. “[She] wanted to start work this week.”
Farrauto appeared in court on Monday wearing a hospital gown. The 33-year-old mother was reportedly unable to provide a home address, telling prosecutors she “lived in a squad car.”
“She does have underlying mental health issues and I do believe they contributed to the incident,” Farrauto’s public defender, Aimee Mahon, told Oxygen.com on Tuesday.
Her public defender has since filed court motions requesting Farrauto undergo mental health and addictions screenings, court filings show.
Farrauto is being held on a $2 million bond at a county jailhouse. She’s been placed on suicide watch, prosecutors said.
On Monday, neighbors and family friends held a vigil for Farrauto’s son outside the family's apartment.
“We’re all shocked and heartbroken that a neighbor could be capable of doing something so horrible,” Julia Sanjurjo, a 29-year-old mom who lives in the same apartment complex, told Oxygen.com on Tuesday.
Dozens of people, including some of Farrauto’s relatives, including her mother, showed up to memorialize the slain child.
“In his last moments he was alone and I didn’t want that to be remembered,” Ostby, who organized the vigil, said. “He’s not alone now and he’s very much loved.”
Ostby described David as a “funny,” “curious,” and “caring” little boy with the “cutest little laugh.”
“He had eyes and eyelashes that any girl would pay millions of dollars for,” the 40-year-old phlebotomist said.
David could be “mischievous,” too, Ostby explained. She recalled how only weeks ago, David smeared makeup on the walls of her Old Lyme home during a family visit. David also loved spending time with his grandparents and adored dogs, she said. The 4-year-old was Farrauto’s only child.
The Connecticut mother and son had stayed with Ostby’s family for a number of months last year but recently moved out. She insisted Farrauto was a “good mom.”
“She took care of David,” Ostby said. “Even though what Tiffany did was beyond evil, and I will never forgive her, Tiffany is still a human being and still was a person that at one point we all cared about.
Forrauto hasn’t yet entered a plea regarding murder charges in her son’s death. Her next court date is set for March 22.
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