Mom of toddlers who drowned in pool arrested: Tassie Behrens accused of child abuse
Harley, Jason Bradford drowned in May
Last Updated: 80 days ago
A woman whose two toddlers drowned four months ago in a swimming pool at a friend's East County home while she slept was arrested Thursday on suspicion of felony child abuse and drug violations.
Tassie Anne Behrens, 27, was taken into custody without incident at a motel on East Main Street in El Cajon late Thursday morning in connection with the May 13 deaths of her 16-month-old daughter, Harley Bradford, and 2-year-old son, Jason Bradford Jr., according to sheriff's officials.
About 9:45 a.m. that Monday, Behrens awoke at a home where she was staying in the 10000 block of Sunset Avenue in the Grossmont area, near La Mesa, and found her children floating unconscious in the backyard pool, Lt. Glenn Giannantonio said.
Behrens pulled them out, and she and friend who lived at the house drove them to a nearby fire station. Paramedics tried to revive the toddlers before taking them Sharp Grossmont Hospital, where Harley was pronounced dead shortly after arrival. Her brother was transferred to Rady Children's Hospital, where
he died late that night.
The mother first told investigators the drownings had occurred at a mobile-home park on Jamacha Boulevard in Spring Valley, but later admitted that they happened at her friend's home near Mount Helix. She apparently fabricated the initial story in an attempt to keep him from getting into trouble for not having a fence around the pool, Giannantonio said.
During a search of the house, where Behrens and her children had been staying for several days, deputies discovered a marijuana-cultivation setup in a basement area and called in Narcotics Task Force personnel to investigate, he said.
That evening, the drug agents arrested a resident of the home, Larry Dangelo, 44. He was booked on suspicion of child abuse, and cultivation and possession of marijuana for sale.
Behrens was booked into Las Colinas women's jail in Santee Thursday afternoon on similar criminal counts. She was being held without bail pending arraignment, scheduled for Monday afternoon.
The children's father, Jason Bradford, 35, is serving a 60-month federal prison sentence in Phoenix for conspiracy to traffic in methamphetamine.
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