Relatives Identify 12-Year-Old Who Was Allegedly Drowned by Mother, 11 Years After First Attempt

Zachary Stieber
By Zachary Stieber
July 1, 2019US News
Relatives Identify 12-Year-Old Who Was Allegedly Drowned by Mother, 11 Years After First Attempt
Sherri Telnas. (Tulare County Sheriff's Department)

Family members have identified the 12-year-old California boy who was allegedly killed by his own mother.

The Tulare County Sheriff’s Office said that Sherri Telnas, 45, took her two sons to a cornfield near their home on June 30. Responding officers found them unresponsive in an irrigation ditch. The elder son was pronounced dead.

The 12-year-old was identified as Jackson Telnas on a GoFundMe that was raising funds for his family.

“On Saturday, June 29th early in the morning, we lost Jackson Telnas in a tragic event. His younger brother is in critical condition at a local hospital in Central California,” family members wrote on the page.

“At this time, we are asking for help with funeral costs for Jackson & medical costs for little Jacob. Any excess funds will be used to help our family in this time of tragedy, as many of us will be missing time from work.”

The family described Jackson as “a sweet, smart, and kind” child “who was so very loved by his family.”

NTD Photo
Jackson Telnas, 12, center, was allegedly killed by his mother, Sherri Telnas, who was arrested in Tulare County, California. He is pictured with his father, left, his grandmother, right. His younger brother was in critical condition after also being found unresponsive. (Support for the Telnas family/GoFundMe)

Attempted Drowning a Decade Ago

According to a 2009 article by the Missoulian, Telnas had tried drowning her child the previous year.

Telnas was “in the throes of mental illness” when she attempted to kill her son, who was 10 months old at the time, Mineral County Attorney Shaun Donovan said.

Telnas later took the child to a nearby hospital. When police officers arrived, she told them: “I tried to drown my baby.”

Telnas was sentenced to 20 years in the custody of the Department of Public Health and Human Services, the Missoulian reported.

Documents from 2008 sent to Your Central Valley showed that Telnas told officers that “bad thoughts and voices” had urged her to kill her child. She said she regretted trying to kill the boy and took him out of the water before it was too late, performed CPR and took him to a hospital.

Despite the 20-year sentence, Telnas was released in November 2016.

‘We Are Aware’

The boy who Telnas killed was the same one she tried to murder when he was a baby. Her other son, 7, is in critical condition at Valley Children’s Hospital.

“We are aware of the Montana incident,” Ashley Ritchie, spokeswoman for the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office, told the Visalia Times-Delta. “We are working with multiple agencies to confirm the details.”

Telnas faces murder charges.

Anyone with information was asked to call the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office Investigations Unit Det. Miguel Franco or Sergeant Gary Marks at (559) 802-9563 or (800) 808-0488. Anonymous information about this crime can be reported via Tipnow email [email protected], text or voicemail at 559-725-4194, or download the Tipnow app for Android or Apple phones.

High school student using smartphone
A high school student using a smartphone on Sept. 26, 2017. (Patrick Hertzog/AFP/Getty Images)


According to a study from Brown University published in 2014, instances of filicide, or the killing of one’s child or children, occurs about 500 times every year.

A father killing a son was the most common filicide scenario, followed by a mother killing a son, a mother killing a daughter, and a father killing a daughter.

Lead author Dr. Timothy Mariano, a third-year psychiatry resident in the Alpert Medical School of Brown University, said the three underlying motives appear to be mental illness, high levels of testosterone, and parents, particularly young mothers, feeling they’re unable to provide care for their children.

The authors said neither the statistics nor the hypotheses can definitively explain filicide.

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