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Foster mother charged with murder of 2-year-old boy

DUCHESNE COUNTY (ABC4 News) – A Utah woman is charged with the death of a 2-year-old boy.

Lisa Jo Vanderlinden, 41, was charged with one count of aggravated murder after prosecutors said she caused injuries directly connected to the child’s death.

At the time of his death, the boy was in the custody of the State of Utah and living in a foster home with his 1-year-old sister.

Vanderlinden and her husband were acting as foster parents for the children and they lived in a home in Duchesne County.

According to a probable cause statement, Vanderlinden found the boy to be difficult and challenging and “while she wanted to keep and adopt the sister, she did not want to adopt him.”

On August 4, documents state the child was exhibiting behavioral problems during dinner. Vanderlinden told investigators she was “mad and frustrated” with the boy.

Vanderlinden removed him from the dinner table and shortly after he began vomiting. He vomited multiple times during the evening hours.

At one point during the evening, another family member in the home heard a “loud bang” coming from the bathroom where Vanderlinden was taking care of the boy. It was observed after that the child wasn’t “acting normal” and “wouldn’t walk.”

The next day, deputies from Duchesne County Sheriff’s Office were dispatched to the home on the report of a dead 2-year-old boy. A medical examination found the child had numerous bruises and abrasions to his scalp, head, face, arms, hands, abdomen, back, and legs as well as “significant internal injuries that resulted in his death.”

A doctor reviewed the case and determined the injuries found on the boy were “consistent with physical child abuse” and the internal injuries “caused by inflicted blunt force trauma are directly connected” to the child’s death.

Documents state Vanderlinden admitted she had sole care of the boy during the hours after dinner until he was found day the next morning.

Investigators said during a search of Vanderlinden’s phone, they found she had conducted a number of internet searches related to child injury and specifically to the same type of injuries from which the child died. 

The other foster children and the woman's natural children were removed from the home by the Division of Child and Family Services. 

If you suspect child abuse or neglect contact the DCFS 24/7 hotline: 855-323-3237. For more information, visit dcfs.utah.gov.

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