Prosecutors: 2-year-old returned to mother by CPS in May suffers severe burns in tub

MILWAUKEE -- A Milwaukee mother is facing homicide and child neglect charges in connection with the death of her 2-year-old daughter, which happened Sunday, Sept. 23 at a home near 72nd and Carmen.

Lisa Simmons

Lisa Simmons, 41, faces one count of first degree reckless homicide and one count of neglecting a child, consequence is death.

The 911 call came in shortly after 1:30 p.m. on Sept. 23. The caller, Simmons, indicated her 2-year-old daughter wasn't breathing, had stiff legs and appeared blue in color. A dispatcher walked her through CPR and police and fire officials responded to the scene.

No life-saving measures were initiated because it was determined the child had already passed away before first responders arrived.

The criminal complaint says Simmons indicated on Sept. 23, she and her three children went to bed around 3 a.m., and around 7 a.m., she woke up and fed her infant twins -- giving the 2-year-old a bottle of Pedialyte. Everyone then went back to sleep. Simmons said around 1:30 p.m., she woke up and got something to drink, and when she returned to the bedroom, she noticed the 2-year-old was cold to the touch and her skin looked purple. The child was unresponsive, and Simmons said she called 911. The complaint notes Simmons indicated the child had been recently diagnosed with "hand, foot and mouth disease."

Simmons told investigators about a burn on her daughter -- indicating chemicals from a "bug bomb must have went inside the diaper" Simmons placed on the child because her "skin began to peel off after she wore it." She said she noticed the burn on Sept. 21, but she was "afraid to take her to the hospital because (Simmons) had an open case with Child Protective Services." The child was returned to Simmons in May, and the complaint says a caseworker visited the home on Sept. 19.

Investigators discovered "severe burns" to the back of the child's body -- and Simmons was arrested at the scene.

The complaint says Simmons continued to tell investigators the burns were caused by "bug bombs," but when confronted with photographs showing the pattern of the burns, the complaint says Simmons indicated the child was burned in the bathtub on Sept. 20. Simmons said she dipped the child into the tub to get her hair wet, and when the back of her body hit the water, she screamed. Simmons said when she felt how hot the water was, she took the child out of the tub.

Water testing was performed at the home, and the complaint indicates doctors said it would take up to 10 minutes to produce the type of burns the child experienced in water that is 120 degrees. When they ran hot water in the home to reach peak temperature, it took 48 seconds to get to 122 degrees.

Simmons was then interviewed again. The complaint says she said she dipped the child in the water, at which point the child began kicking and screaming. She then held the child in the water for about a minute, before realizing how hot the water was and removing the child from the water. She said she noticed the child's skin was blistering and peeling -- and said she tried to treat the burns at home. She said the child got worse over the next few days, but she didn't take her to the hospital because she "didn't want CPS to take her children."

Jessie Vance

The medical examiner ruled the toddler died as a result of complications from thermal burn injuries.

It's something that's unimaginable for Jessie Vance, who FOX6 News found playing with his young son in the neighborhood on Wednesday, Sept. 26.

"If I'm having a bad day, it turns around when I look at his face, because when you have kids, you want to provide for them and give them the best future that you had. To have something like that happen is devastating. What does a kid do to make you do that? Every time you hear something like that, you look at your kid -- like how?" said Vance.

Simmons made her initial appearance in court Thursday, Sept. 27. A preliminary hearing was scheduled for Oct. 5, and cash bond was set at $10,000. She was ordered to have no contact with any of her surviving children without court approval, and under CPS supervision. Additionally, she was ordered to have no unsupervised contact with any child.