Original article no longer available
Daily Press (Newport News, VA)
March 17, 1992
Author: TINA MCCLOUD Daily Press
A woman accused of killing her 6-week-old son is slated for trial in September, but a psychologist believes she is too retarded and was too upset to understand that she did not have to give an incriminating statement to an investigator.
Cheryl Lynn Boeskool, 28, is accused of killing Thomas Wayne Boeskool on Oct. 1 by pushing his face into his crib mattress. A Mathews County grand jury indicted her Monday on a charge of second-degree murder , which is unpremeditated murder involving malice against the victim. The maximum punishment is 20 years in prison.
Boeskool’s account of events leading to the baby’s death is the only version entered into testimony or court records. Because of her “significantly limited intelligence and poor reading ability,” it is doubtful she understood her right to remain silent and to have an attorney, even though she signed a form giving up those rights, said Wade Lewis, a licensed clinical psychologist in Gloucester. Lewis evaluated Boeskool at the request of her court-appointed attorneys, Dawne I. Alexander and Sydney K.L. West.
Commonwealth’s Attorney John S. Gill has asked the court to authorize another psychological evaluation, by Henry Gwaltney of Central State Hospital in Petersburg.
Gill said if Gwaltney agrees with Lewis, it would be difficult to persuade a judge to allow Boeskool’s statement to be used in the trial.
Motions in the case will be heard May 18, and Gill said he expects the defense to ask that her statement not be allowed, which he will oppose.
The trial is slated to start Sept. 23, he said.
In a preliminary hearing in Mathews Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court Jan. 29, Capt. James A. Croxton III of the sheriff’s office testified that he explained Boeskool’s rights to her and she signed a form saying she waived those rights and was willing to talk to Croxton at 3:55 p.m. Oct. 3, two days after the baby was found dead.
Croxton testified that except for short breaks, he continued to question her until about 7:30 or 7:45 that evening. She was placed under arrest at 8:31 p.m.
In the statement, Boeskool said she fed the baby about 4:30 or 5 a.m. on Oct. 1. His crying awakened her about 8 a.m., which made her mad. Twice she put his pacifier in his mouth and lay down, but he still cried, she said.
According to the statement, the third time Boeskool got up, she put the pacifier in Thomas’s mouth and pushed his head into the mattress. He stopped moving and crying, so she went back to bed.
When she got up about 1 p.m. she found the baby dead and called 911.
“I was mad at the situation ’cause I was really tired and that’s why I pushed his head into the mattress, but I didn’t suffocate him,” the statement said.
The questioning at the sheriff’s office and her arrest kept Boeskool from attending visitation at the funeral home.
Lewis’ report says that the anxiety and confusion created by missing the visitation further reduced Boeskool’s mental capacity. His report included information from a narrative written by Jill Sutton, a county social worker who was present for most of the questioning.
Sutton, referring to herself as “worker,” wrote, “Both Captain Croxton and worker stated that we were sure that she wanted to go and be there with her family.
Captain Croxton stated that Mrs. Boeskool needed to tell worker and captain what had occurred on Tuesday before she would be able to go.”
At the preliminary hearing, Croxton and Sutton denied telling Boeskool she could not leave the sheriff’s office until she made a statement.
They said they told her they needed to complete the investigation. Sutton was not present when the Miranda warning was given, Croxton testified.
He and Sutton testified that they both participated in the interview because they had discovered apparent discrepancies in what Boeskool had told them individually shortly after the death of the child.
Boeskool, who moved from Mathews to Gloucester after the child’s death, was born in Detroit and grew up in Michigan.
She dropped out of school at age 15 in the ninth grade and was in special education classes since entering kindergarten, according to Lewis.
Lewis talked with Boeskool Jan. 5 and Jan. 16.
His report says earlier tests had rated Boeskool as severely retarded to borderline retarded, with IQ readings of 47 to 71.
Average IQ is 100. Boeskool recognizes words only at the fifth-grade level, he said.
He concluded that Boeskool is most likely at the upper end of the range of mild mental retardation, but because she has good social skills, investigators might not have noticed her limited intelligence.
Croxton testified at the hearing that during the questioning Boeskool said she was scared of him. “I was bothered” by that, he said.
He and Sutton testified that Boeskool cried when she thought she might have to go to jail.
Court documents filed by Boeskool’s attorneys said she had been depressed and was taking a medication used to treat anxiety disorders at the time of the baby’s death.
They said the medication ‘s reported side effects are drowsiness, depression and confusion.
Her attorneys characterized events of August 1991 as “a cluster of traumatic events.”
According to records in Gloucester Circuit court, Boeskool was divorced from her first husband, James M. Hyde of Michigan, on Aug. 5, 1991, and married Thomas Walter Boeskool on Aug. 12. Thomas was born Aug. 16.
Caption: Staff photo (b&w) by RANSY MORR Cheryl Lynn Boeskool leaves the Mathews Court House after a hearing on the death of her child in October.(Photo ran in the Middle Peninsula edition.)
Record Number: 9203170288
Copyright 1992, 2000 Daily Press (Newport News, VA)