Mom Speaks Out After Daycare Provider Charged With Manslaughter: ‘I don’t look at her as this horrible monster’

A Sioux Falls daycare provider has been charged with 1st degree manslaughter after police say an infant died while in her care in September of last year. Police say the child died of positional asphyxia or was in a position where he wasn’t able to breathe. KDLT’s Jill Johnson has reaction from a mom who took her child to that same daycare.

“I don’t look at her as this horrible monster,” said Amanda Tilberg of Sioux Falls.

Tilberg says she’s known 28-year-old Jennifer Jonnes for years. But it wasn’t until last fall that she began taking her toddler to her daycare in southeast Sioux Falls.

“I didn’t really see any red flags for when I was there,” said Tilberg.

Tilberg says her child had only been attending the daycare for only a few weeks when another child stopped breathing while in Jonnes’ care.

Tilberg said, “Knowing her, she’s a good person, so I hoped obviously that it was just something accidental.”

Police say they were called to the home on the 5000 block of East Fernwood Drive on the afternoon of Sept. 23. He was found unresponsive in a car seat.

“The child had been placed in a car seat and put down for a nap and we tried to figure out what happened from there,” said Sioux Falls Police Dept. Officer Sam Clemens.

Police say she was the only adult present at the time. Her daycare license was suspended immediately pending an investigation.

LuAnn Ford with the Sioux Falls Health Department said, “Suspension generally happens very quickly because if children are at risk we want to put the daycare out of business as fast as we can.”

Tilberg says her child wasn’t at daycare the day the incident took place and wasn’t notified until the next day.

“She texted me and said she would be closed temporarily and would let me know when she would re-open and then obviously it never re-opened,” said Tilberg.

Tilberg has been looking for permanent child care ever since. And says an incident like this makes one even harder to find.

“It’s so hard, because once you leave, you just have to trust, and I mean, that’s scary, and obviously, with situations like this, it makes it even more scary because it’s real and it happens,” said Tilberg.

The Sioux Falls Heath Department says the daycare had no previous inspection violations since it opened in May of 2013. Police say Jonnes had 10 children in her care; 5 under the age of 2. City ordinance allows an in-home daycare to have up to 12 children, but only 4 under the age of 2. The daycare’s license was revoked in December.

Jones is also facing charges for abuse or cruelty to a minor, contributing to the abuse or neglect of a child, and false reporting to law enforcement. She turned herself in Tuesday afternoon, and has since bonded out of jail.

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