Indiana mom charged with son's death

Courtney Tressler (Source: Decatur County Jail)
Courtney Tressler (Source: Decatur County Jail)

By Dan Wells – email/bio

GREENSBURG, IN (FOX19) - An Indiana mother is behind bars after police say she caused the death of her son.

Courtney Gail Tressler is charged with neglect of a dependent and reckless homicide.

Detectives say Tressler starved her child and that led to his death last May.

Payton Wesley Ettinger weighed only 12 lbs. when he died. He was 4-years-old.  An autopsy revealed Payton's cause of death to be malnutrition and dehydration.

Tressler told police she fed the child and put him back in his crib on May 17th. A few hours later, she went back to check on him and found him dead. The coroner said he found no significant amount of food in Payton's stomach.

"That's just awful. I couldn't imagine not feeding my kids," said resident Jennifer Bruner.

Investigators say Payton was disabled after his biological father beat him as an infant, causing severe brain damage. His father was jailed in Michigan and Payton was placed into the care of his mother.

"It is terrible. Sure it is terrible. Horrible situation for the child," said resident Rocky Blare.

Tressler told police she was going to take Payton to the hospital on May 15 because she was aware that he was losing weight, but for financial reasons, she decided to delay the trip until May 18.

The mother claimed she applied for medical assistance for her son twice but was denied. Investigators said that's not true either.

Further investigation revealed that Payton had not been taken for any care since November 2006.

The four-year-old had lived here in Greensburg with his mother and stepfather since 2007.

Tressler was taken to the Decatur County Jail and released after posting bond. She is expected back in court in September.

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