Dad, Stepmom Charged in Connection With Death of 2-Year-Old Boy

State police are investigating the untimely death of a 2-year-old boy in Putnam and arrested the child's father and his girlfriend.

According to court documents and a friend of the couple charged, Renee Peterson, left the boy and his 1-year-old brother alone, locked in a bedroom with food, while she went to a methadone clinic in Willimantic. As she was gone, the baby choked.

Danielle Boncek, a friend who went with Peterson to the clinic, called her a good mom who made a mistake.

"Really what happened was, she left the boys home alone. She gave them cereal so they wouldn't be hungry and the baby choked on cereal," Danielle Boncek, a friend, said. "She came home, tried to sweep it out of his mouth, but it was just too late."

At 11:03 a.m. on March 26, Peterson called 911 and reported than the 2-½-year-old boy was unresponsive and not breathing, according to state police.

The 911 dispatcher gave her instructions on how to perform CPR and EMS had responded to the home at 129 Mechanic Street, then transported the little boy to Day Kimball Hospital.

He was pronounced dead soon after he arrived at the hospital and the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner was notified.

An investigator responded and the Windham County State’s Attorney requested that the State Police Eastern District Major Crime Squad take over the case.

On Wednesday, detectives obtained arrest warrants for Peterson, 32, and the child's father, David Mahan, 30, both of 129 Mechanics Street in Putnam.

Mahan recently returned to work and the couple hadn't made arrangements for childcare. 

According to court documents, Peterson had left the boys locked in their rooms at home several times.

Peterson was arrested without incident and Mahan was arrested in Douglas, Mass. as a fugitive from justice from Connecticut.

According to Boncek, Peterson and Mahan have been dating about six months and she talked about the two little boys as if they were her stepchildren.

"I wouldn't have a problem leaving my kids with her," Boncek said. "She made a mistake and she knows that. And, Unfortunately it's not the kind of mistake that you can just start over."

Peterson also has two children, ages 4 and 6, who live with the couple.

"Since the incident, she's lost her own children," Boncek said. 

Peterson was charged with two counts of risk of injury, two counts of reckless endangerment and two counts of cruelty to persons.

State police said Mahan will be charged with the same when he is brought back to Connecticut.  

Peterson has no prior criminal record. She is being held on $125,000 bond.

Police have not released the name of the child.

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