A Belleville man told police he put the face of his girlfriend’s toddler son under a faucet and shook him in attempts to revive the child, whose death is the subject of a police investigation.
No one, including the boyfriend, has been charged in connection with the April death of the boy, 2-year-old Kane Friess-Wylie. But search warrant documents filed by St. Clair County sheriff’s detectives show that the boyfriend was a subject of the investigation.
Investigators initially held a person of interest in the hours after Kane’s death and search warrant documents indicate the person being held was the boyfriend. However, they released him shortly after the child’s death while the investigation continued.
According to a medical examiner’s report, the child died of a head injury.
The boyfriend talked about the attempts to revive the child during an interview with St. Clair County Sheriff’s Office Investigator Justin Biggs. The investigation was launched after Kane’s 24-year-old mother Lindsey Friess came home to her Belleville apartment about 8:30 p.m. on April 13 to find her boyfriend holding the boy in a reclining chair, according to an affidavit filed by Biggs as part of an application for a search warrant.
The mother told police the child was conscious but he was moaning. He vomited right after she arrived.
Then, the boyfriend put Kane’s “head/face under a water faucet in an effort to revive him” while Friess called 911, according to Biggs’ affidavit.
“Apparently he had a friend there while I was gone,” Friess said of her then-boyfriend, who was watching the toddler for her. She said she was gone for approximately three hours prior to returning home to find her son suffering from the head injury.
“I feel like there are people that he knows and talks to that know what actually happened. And I feel like they should tell me.”
The boyfriend told police in an interview that after he heard the child fall he carried him into the bedroom. He described the child as being “tense” when he laid him on the bed. He went to check on their baby in the other room and returned to find that Kane had not moved.
“He then starting shaking the child, in an effort to revive him,” Biggs wrote.
Friess said she knew something wasn’t right with her child, but at the time she believed her boyfriend when he said the toddler fell while he was in a different room.
Now, she claims her ex-boyfriend’s story about what happened to the toddler has changed several times — from which room the injury occurred in to how her child was injured.
I’ve never been in a situation like that before. I’ve never seen a child hurt like that before in my life — I’ve been a child that was hurt, I’ve never seen this before in my life. So it was just too much for me, after I held Kane.
“I’ve never been in a situation like that before,” she said Friday. “I’ve never seen a child hurt like that before in my life — I’ve been a child that was hurt; I’ve never seen this before in my life. So it was just too much for me, after I held Kane.”
The boyfriend and a family friend took Kane to St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Belleville shortly after Friess arrived home that night. She followed shortly after with her infant daughter.
The toddler was flown from St. Elizabeth’s to Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital in St. Louis almost immediately, where he later died. Hospital staff contacted the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, which called the sheriff’s department.
“There was no physical injury on Kane at all —there was nothing on him,” Friess told the BND. “No bruises, no blood — nothing. He was just acting funny.”
The boyfriend is not Kane’s biological father, but he and Friess do have an infant daughter together.
He declined to comment.
“He swore up and down that it had just happened and he was getting ready to call me,” Friess said of her ex-boyfriend. She said she’s seen police reports stating he told police the toddler was acting funny before Friess’ boyfriend put him in the bathtub.
However, Biggs wrote that the boyfriend, in an interview with police, “told investigators he did not see the child fall, but heard him fall and found him laying on his back on the bathroom floor. He indicated he was confident that the child did not hit his head on the sink, the door or the bathtub.”
The affidavit noted that a forensic pathologist told police “the bleeding on the brain could not have been caused from a fall onto a flat surface.”
Investigators sought the boyfriend’s phone records in one of the search warrants. In text messages the boyfriend sent to Friess in the hours after the toddler died, the boyfriend told her “they are accusing me” and “I’m already at the county,” according to those documents.
Biggs wrote in the application for the search warrant that the phone records would help determine whether the boyfriend contacted anyone else, as well as his location and time of those communications.
Toward the end of a recorded police interview, Biggs wrote, the boyfriend began using the phone in question. Biggs confiscated the phone.
Biggs also collected the towel the boy was wrapped in when he arrived at the hospital.
“I’m to the point where I feel like I’ll never know,” Friess said Friday. “I mean, it’s been five months and I’m still waiting on an autopsy report.”
Capt. Bruce Fleshren said Thursday the investigation remained active and that police were waiting for the St. Louis medical examiner’s final report. He said they were hopeful the investigation would be be wrapped up in a few weeks.
I’m to the point where I feel like I’ll never know.
Because her child’s death investigation is ongoing, Friess’ 4-year-old is living with his father and her infant daughter is living with her paternal grandmother.
Prosecutors filed two unrelated charges against the boyfriend in early August. He is accused of unlawfully entering Friess’ home in Belleville just after midnight on July 17 and damaging her television.
The boyfriend is scheduled to appear on the misdemeanor charges Sept. 28.
Friess and her boyfriend lived together at the time of her child’s death. Her 4-year-old son was not home the night Friess-Wylie died.
“Everything has been ripped away from me,” Friess said. “I’ve never really had much except for him and my kids.”