Affidavit: Mom admits leaving kids in car
A Palisade mother admitted to a Mesa County sheriff’s investigator she left her toddler sons alone in her Toyota 4Runner, with its engine running, for approximately 90 minutes Tuesday night near Powderhorn Mountain Resort while she met a man, according to records obtained by The Daily Sentinel.
At 6:31 p.m., 24-year-old Heather Jensen called 911, reporting her 2-year-old boy, William, was unconscious, not breathing and had no pulse, reads a search warrant affidavit signed by a Mesa County judge early Wednesday.
With emergency crews scrambling to respond Tuesday night, Jensen told dispatchers around 6:50 p.m. that her 4-year-old boy, Tyler, was breathing but “gurgling” with every breath, the affidavit said.
William was pronounced dead at the scene, while Tyler was flown to St. Mary’s Hospital before being transferred to Children’s Hospital in Denver. He remained in critical condition there through Wednesday.
The Mesa County Coroner’s Office as of Wednesday had not released the cause and manner of William’s death, while the Sheriff’s Department said little in the ongoing investigation.
According to the search warrant, Jensen told deputies in her initial statement at the scene she had taken her sons to play in the snow near the ski resort. When they finished, she said she put the boys back in their car seats and started her 4Runner.
“Heather stated she stood outside the vehicle, smoking a cigarette, and then spoke to a friend who happened to drive by,” an investigator wrote in the affidavit. “Heather said after about 10 minutes, she got in the vehicle and started driving home. She described hearing Tyler making gurgling noises within minutes of driving away.”
She said she pulled over, discovered William wasn’t breathing and called 911, while taking CPR instructions over the phone.
Jensen gave a different account of events in an interview late Tuesday at the Sheriff’s Department.
She said she contacted a “male friend” Tuesday afternoon and made arrangements to meet him near the ski resort, the affidavit said. They met while Jensen said she allowed her children to play in the snow, before she put them back in their car seats and started her engine.
She described “getting into the man’s truck,” which was parked next to her 4Runner.
“Heather admitted that she left her two sons alone in her 4Runner, with its engine running, for approximately 90 minutes before she returned to the vehicle and drove away,” the affidavit said.
Jensen denied using any narcotics or controlled substances, although she said she had a prescription for anti-depressant medication.
“Heather stated she previously had an addiction to pain medication but had not used any for about one year,” the affidavit said.
She told the investigator both children were wearing coats when they were outside playing and she took the coats off when they got back into the 4Runner because they were wet, the affidavit said.
An investigator wrote in the affidavit there was probable cause to believe the crime of child abuse resulting in death had been committed. The search warrant authorized the seizure of any articles of children’s clothing remaining in the 4Runner, in addition to prescriptions, empty prescription containers, controlled substances, pesticides, chemicals or poisons. A mechanical inspection also was authorized for the 4Runner’s exhaust and emission system, as well as testing for the presence of carbon monoxide.
The 4Runner was impounded Wednesday at the Sheriff’s Department.
The investigation comes in the wake of the death of Jensen’s husband, Eric, 26, who died in a two-car accident Oct. 10 in Garfield County. A Colorado State Patrol accident reports said Eric Jensen was driving north on Garfield County Road 319 on Oct. 10, when his vehicle lost control and rotated into oncoming, southbound traffic and collided with another vehicle driven by 37-year-old Justin Robinson of Rifle. The report said excessive speed on Jensen’s part was a contributing factor. Nobody else was in the vehicles.
Heather Jensen had been serving a deferred judgment and probation stemming from a domestic violence arrest on March 13 in which Eric Jensen was the named victim, according to court records.
Eric Jensen told arresting Palisade police officers his wife had punched and bit him when he confronted her about hanging out with a woman “she receives medication from,” an arrest affidavit said. Eric Jensen told the officer she had taken Vicodin and Percocet in the past.