Brittany Cook from Lincoln, Nebraska, left her 22-month-old son to burn next to air heater and ignored his horrific injuries to go gambling at casino
Cook, 30, faces 20 years to life in prison after she was was arrested and charged with child abuse resulting in death, and her bail set at $1million
Baby Rudy Requejo-Ybarra Jr. was declared brain dead by doctors after being found unresponsive in his crib on March 12
The toddler was taken to the hospital after what doctors believe had been weeks of abuse
Doctors determined Rudy Requejo-Ybarra Jr. had severe brain swelling and bleeding, in addition to a number of broken bones and other physical ailments
Cook’s boyfriend Joshua Tackett, 32, last week was charged with child abuse resulting in death, in addition to two felony gun charge, with bail set at $2m
Tackett’s mother was also charged with felony evidence tampering
A Nebraska woman has been charged for her alleged role in the death of her infant, who died last week following months of suspected abuse.
Brittany Cook, 30, repeatedly ignored obvious signs of abuse displayed on her late son’s body up until the day that she finally brought him to the hospital on March 12, when suspected abuse at the hands of Cook’s boyfriend of two months, Joshua Tackett, had left 22-month-old Rudy Requejo-Ybarra Jr., brain dead, according to court filings.
Cook has other three children, aged 3, 4, and 10. A day prior to being confirmed brain dead, Cook and her boyfriend had abandoned the toddler with Cook’s other young children to go to a casino, police said.
Doctors determined the child had suffered ‘severe brain swelling and bleeding, retinal hemorrhaging in both eyes, several broken ribs, injuries to his genital area and two fractures to his left tibia,’ prior to his death.
There were bruises all over his body and he had ‘pattern injuries’ that investigators ultimately matched to the grill of a space heater that Cook had left running while she took a shower on March 11.
Cook, of Lincoln, Nebraska, was charged with child abuse resulting in death, a felony that is punishable by 20 years to life in prison. Her bail has been set at $1million.
Tackett, 32, was also charged last week with the same crime, in addition to two felony gun charges and his bail set at $2 million.
His mother Karen Vestecka, 58, was also charged with of felony evidence tampering
Michael Barry, an investigator with the Lincoln Police, said Cook brought her son to the hospital on March 12 with ‘numerous bruises and injuries.’
The toddler was then taken by ambulance to the Children’s Hospital in Omaha, where physicians determined the full extent of his condition.
There were bruises ‘all over’ the child’s body, in addition to the space heater burn marks.
His mother initially described several accidents to explain her son’s injuries, including one on February 18, when Cook claimed her boyfriend has ‘passed out’ while holding the 22-month-old and fallen on top of him.
She said that she had not taken her son to the doctor following any of the accidents.
Cook also said her son fell down a staircase at the apartment she shared with Tackett on March 9, but that he seemed uninjured from the fall.
Police allege that Cook moved her four children into Tackett’s apartment on March 4 and observed as injuries and signs of abuse appeared on her son’s body.
‘Despite noticing these injuries, Cook continues to leaver (her son) in the care of Tackett,’ wrote Barry in the filings.
The toddler has many visible injuries including pattern markings on his face and chest from a space heater his mother had left on while she was watching him.
The day prior to his hospitalization, police believe cook returned from running errands to find her son with a gash on the back of his head, bleeding onto a blanket, with a front tooth missing.
But she did not seek medical attention for the toddler.
Instead, said Barry, the couple left the toddler under the supervision of Cook’s other children went to a casino.
In the early hours of the morning on March 12, Cook left her son, who had been sleeping on a hallway floor, with Tackett and went to pick up fast food.
When she arrived back at the apartment, Tackett had moved the child to his crib.
Cook showered and went to sleep, waking up at 5am to check on Rudy, whom she found face down in his crib. She went back to sleep and didn’t return to his crib again until 11am after Tackett had discovered the child ‘lifeless.’
Cook then bounced on her bed with her son in her arms and took a cold shower with him, but couldn’t wake him up.
Only then, against the objections of Tackett, did she take Rudy to the hospital at 4pm on Match 12 – five hours after he was found unresponsive.
Hospital staff called police, who suspected Tackett was involved with the boy’s injuries.
The police then began surveilling the apartment complex and observed Tackett’s mother arrive at around 7pm and leave soon after carrying a rifle case.
Law enforcement believe the mother, Karen Vestecka, retrieved her son’s Ruger AR .556 from the apartment in an attempt to protect him from felony gun charges. Tackett is prohibited from owning firearms due to prior felony and domestic violence-related convictions.
The woman, 58, was charged with tampering with physical evidence.
Cook’s other three children have been taken into state custody. Cook attended her initial court appearance Wednesday, via Zoom from a Lancaster County Jail cell, Judge Laurie Yardley set her bail at $1 million and barred her from having any contact with any child.