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Michigan Dad Faces Manslaughter Charge After Son With Autism Drowns In Icy Pool With Hands Bound

In a text message sent before 16-year-old Sam Koets was found floating in a frigid pool, father Timothy Koets allegedly asked his daughter, "Would you make sure freak is OK?"

By M.L. Nestel

A Michigan professor has been charged after his son, who has severe autism, drowned in an icy pool while his arms were bound. 

Timothy Koets, 50, was taken into custody on Friday for leaving his 16-year-old son, Sam Koets, alone in the backyard of their Georgetown Township home with his arms restrained on the afternoon of March 28, according to family court records. 

When Koets appeared in court on Friday, he touted his stable job, two decades of ties to the community while arguing for bail.

“I’m not a risk at all. I’m not going to run or anything,” he said, according to MichiganLive

Koets is listed as an associate professor in the Computer Information Systems Department at Grand Rapids Community College, according to its website.  

The circumstances leading up to Sam Koet's demise are expected to come forward at trial. 

"There are facts in this case that I think the public will find disturbing," Capt. Mark Bennett of the Ottawa County Sheriff's Office told MichiganLive.

When investigators rushed to the home, they found Sam unresponsive in the pool with his arms bound, according to a petition filed in Ottawa County’s Family Court and reviewed by Oxygen.com.

The 16-year-old was described in the petition as having "severe autism" and had exhibited aggression toward himself and others.

“Timothy Koets admitted to leaving Sam outside unsupervised with his arms bound” at around 1 p.m., before heading to work, according to the document. 

He told his wife, Michelle, that their son was still outside when he left for work, but she allegedly "remained sleeping," the petition read.

Three hours later, Timothy exchanged text messages with his 13-year-old daughter; with the father referring to his son as “freak.”

“Okay, would you make sure freak is okay,” he allegedly texted.

She responded, “Sure, where is he?”

“He’s supposed to be out back,” the father’s text reads, according to the petition. 

Koets' daughter responded a minute later that Sam was in the pool, and they continued to text, according to the document. Still, Koets didn't urge his daughter to call 911.

When authorities arrived at the Koets household, they attempted to resuscitate Sam.

He was pronounced dead after being transported to Helen DeVos Children's Hospital, according to West Michigan's Fox 17.

They believed he had been in the frigid water for an hour, according to MichiganLive. It was unclear, from court records, when authorities were called, or who called them.

Investigators then toured Sam’s basement dwelling which they described as “deplorable.”

The room allegedly was littered with soiled diapers and fecal matter had been smeared on the walls as well as on a sheetless mattress. There was exposed wiring and plumbing, according to the petition. 

Koets and his wife, Michelle, were allegedly well known to the state agency of Children’s Protective Services.

In 2014, the parents were reprimanded for “improper supervision and threatened harm” to their children, according to the petition. 

A year later, a safety plan was drawn up in hopes of keeping better tabs on their autistic son — including specific protocols for the “supervision of Sam around water.”

The parents were also supplied with door alarms in 2017 intended to help better monitor Sam. The parents, apparently, “were not using the alarms,” the petition says. 

Bennett said after the father’s arrest that the investigation would continue.

“It's possible that others could be charged and I want to stress that,” he told Fox 17

The accused professor was charged with involuntary manslaughter and child abuse. He was released on bail, the station reported.