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California Woman Is Accused Of Killing 12-Year-Old Son She Tried Drowning As A Baby

Authorities were called to a California cornfield after Sherri Renee Telnnas had reportedly been acting "strangely" and discovered her two sons, ages 12 and 7, unresponsive in an irrigation ditch.

By Jill Sederstrom

A California mom has been accused of killing her 12-year-old son more than a decade after trying to drown the child as a baby.

Sherri Renee Telnas, 45, is facing murder charges after authorities found her two sons, ages 12 and 7, unresponsive in a full irrigation ditch near a California cornfield, according to a statement from the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office.

Both boys were taken to a local hospital, where the 12-year-old later died from his injuries. Her younger son remains in critical condition.

Authorities were called to the scene in Porterville around 5:25 a.m. Saturday morning after a person called 911 to report Telnas was “acting strangely” in a field with her sons across from her home. By the time deputies arrived, the boys were in the irrigation ditch and we not responsive.

Telnas had reportedly first tried to drown her son more than a decade earlier while living in Montana, after wading into a river and fully immersing herself and the young infant, named Jackson, under the water, according to The Missoulian.

“I tried to drown my baby,” she told authorities of the April 2008 incident, according to court records.

Sherri Renee Telnas

The act was committed when Telnas was in “the throes of mental illness,” according to Mineral County Attorney Shaun Donovan at the time.

She was sentenced to 20 years in the custody of the Department of Public Health and Human Services.

The boy’s father, Jacob Telnas, was given full custody of the child, The Missoulian reported in 2008. Despite the ordeal, the boy showed no signs of permanent brain damage from the attempted drowning.

Jacob Telnas told the local paper his wife had been in a depressive state when she allegedly tried to submerge the child and didn’t remember most of the act.

"She gave him CPR, that's how he lived," he said. "I asked her what changed her mind, and she said she just couldn't believe what she was doing. She doesn't remember what was going on while she was doing it, but then she suddenly came to her senses and started to revive Jack."

He also said she didn’t remember telling authorities that “bad thoughts or voices” had caused her to try to kill the baby.

“She understands what happened, and she is dying about it,” he said at the time. “She doesn’t remember what she said, but she’s sedated. It kills me that I can’t trust her, but in the situation that I’m in, I really can’t trust her. She might be blocking it out.”

Authorities in California said they are “aware of the Montana incident” and are trying to learn more about the circumstances surrounding that incident, according to The Visalia Times Delta.  

“We are working with multiple agencies to confirm the details,” said Ashley Ritchie, a spokeswoman for the sheriff.

It's not clear when Sherri Telnas was released or how she regained contact with her sons.

In this latest incident, Telnas was arrested and taken into custody at the scene.

Authorities have not said how the 12-year-old died. An autopsy will be conducted to determine the exact cause of death.