Parents charged with neglect in daughter's death - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Parents charged with neglect in daughter's death

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Burnett County (WQOW) - Criminal charges are filed against the parents of a toddler who wandered off and drowned in Burnett County.

Reena Williams body was found last month in a canal about 25 yards from her home outside of Danbury.

On Friday, prosecutors filed charges against her parents Jenna Danish and Thomas Jay Williams. They are charged with felony child neglect resulting in death.

The criminal complaint alleges drug use, and a pattern of neglecting the girl. Investigators say their home was surrounded by water, a dangerous place to raise a three-year-old, especially considering there were no fences to protect her. And they say house windows were covered with bed sheets preventing a view of the canal where her body was found. 

Prosecutors say in April, Reena dove into the water to get her fishing pole and that Williams had to dive in to rescue her and had remarked later that she showed no fear of the water.  The next month, two men say Reena rode her battery-powered four-wheeler to a bridge where they were fishing-about a quarter-mile from her home. They say she was there for at least half-an-hour before Danish came to get her.  

One resident told investigators that he had seen the little girl wandering alone, near a ball field a mile-and-a-half from her home on at least three occasions including the day she disappeared. Later that same day another resident spotted her wandering in Danbury.  The woman says she took Reena home, but no one came to the door.  Thomas Williams eventually walked into the yard. The woman says he seemed unconcerned that the child had been found 12-blocks away. She also said he seemed incoherent.

Later that day, when the girl disappeared again, the same woman says she began searching for her and ran across both parents. She said neither was looking for the child. Another witness told investigators he had smoked synthetic marijuana with Williams minutes before Reena disappeared. Deputies say a search of their home turned up marijuana, synthetic marijuana, and a dozen devices commonly used to smoke it.  Police say Danish admitted to another person that she was sleeping when Reena disappeared.

The charges carry a maximum possible penalty of 25 years in prison. Williams and Danish are due in court next month.

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