39° and Partly cloudy at 10:21pm in Pine City

Man Wanted for Death of 10-Year-Old

Monday, November 30th, 2009 at 5:05 pm

TIHIEM COSTON

Police are searching for a man they say is responsible for the death of a 10-year-old girl from Hinckley.  Ti-Heim Darrien Coston, 33, of Bloomington is wanted for a series of charges, including criminal neglect and theft, for his role in starving Lakesha Victor to death.

According to the criminal complaint, Coston was a personal care assistant (PCA) with Brighter Day, an organization in Mora that works with special needs individuals, and provided services to Victor, who suffered from cerebral palsy, autism and a seizure disorder.

It’s alleged that Coston intentionally falsely claimed $48,715 by fraudulently reporting the number of hours he worked and the types of services he provided Victor.

Pine County Chief Deputy Steve Ovick:

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Ovick said Coston conspired with Victor’s mother Ludusky Sue Hotchkiss to split the money police believe was fraudulently obtained.

Ludusky Hotchkiss

Ludusky Hotchkiss

Hotchkiss is charged with one count of second-degree murder and three counts of second-degree manslaughter in the case.  A jury trial in her case is scheduled to start on January 11th, 2010.  If convicted, Hotchkiss could serve 40-years in prison.  She pleaded not guilty to the charges in October.

Victor weighed 31 pounds at the time of her death which is 15 pounds less than she weighed at her last doctors visit four months before she died.

Both Coston and Hotchkiss signed the time sheets for the PCA services, which included assisting Victor with bathing, grooming, eating, and medications/appointments.  One of the time sheets signed was on the day of Victor’s death, but Coston later told investigators that he did not work that day.

Lakesha Victor

Lakesha Victor

According to the criminal complaint, Coston told investigators he never fed Victor and did not know she was on medication, even though these services were recorded on his time card.  The investigation also finds that Coston was not changing Victor’s diapers or bathing her properly.

Ovick says more needs to be done to ensure that people like Coston do not become PCAs.

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Brighter Day declined to comment on the story.

The Pine County Attorney’s Office is charging Coston with five counts in the case.  He faces three counts of theft by false representation, each punishable by up to 10-years in prison and a $20,000 fine.  He is also charged with one count of Criminal Neglect, which carries a penalty of five years in prison and a $10,000 fine, and Failure to Report Resulting in Death, a crime punishable by up to two-years in prison and a $4,000 fine.

Ovick said it is unlikely Coston will face greater charges.

Coston currently has four outstanding warrants, one in Chisago County for two misdemeanor warrants, one in Hennepin County for a gross misdemeanor charge, and two in Scott County for misdemeanor, gross misdemeanor, and felony charges.

Ovick says Coston’s last known whereabouts is in Las Vegas.

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Any information can be relayed to the Pine County Sheriff’s Office Tipline at 866-629-8342 or by calling the Pine County Sheriff’s Office at 320-629-8380.

More background:

According to the criminal complaint, Pine County Sheriffs were called to the residence of 205 Nobles Street in Hinckley on August 20th, 2006.  There they discovered Victor dead.  Victor was found unresponsive by another child who lived in the house.

The Ramsey County Medical Examiners Office conducted an autopsy on August 21, 2006.  The findings concluded Victor suffered from Pneumonia, Cachexia, and dehydration.  A feeding tube was also in place, and the examiner found contusions on her forehead and left leg, erythema of the right elbow, right hip, heels and top of the feet,  and cerebral abnormalities.

Investigators were concerned with the finding of Cachexia, which is a medical term for the general physical wasting and malnutrition which is usually associated with a chronic disease.  Malnutrition is common with patients who have Cerebral Palsy but the feeding tube is inserted to counter the concern.

In February of 2005, Victor was hospitalized due to severe seizures.  Hotchkiss told medical staff that she was not giving her daughter her prescribed anti-seizure medication because she did not like the side effects.  However, Hotchkiss never described the side-effects to authorities.

During the 2005 hospital visit, Victor was given a feeding tube due to her weight and nutrition.  Doctors also prescribed she take at least six cans of Pediasure per day.  Pediasure is a nutritional drink for children to provide needed vitamins, proteins and minerals.  The feeding tube was intended to regulate the flow of Pediasure.

The complaint states that between March and April of 2006 Pediatric Home Services delivered 116 cases of Pediasure for Victor.  Each case contained 24 eight ounce cans.  Typically, an order would be placed every month for eight cases.  No cases were ordered of delivered in May or June of 2006.  Eight cases were delivered on July 7th, but then no orders or deliveries in August of 2006.

Doctors found that a lack of nutrition would have made Victor even more susceptible to her already existent case of Pneumonia.

Hotchkiss told authorities she was giving her daughter twelve cans a day, but investigators say in the time leading up to Victor’s death,  Hotchkiss did not order enough Pediasure to feed her daughter eight cans per day.   At the time of Victors death, Hotchkiss said she had four cases left over.

6 Comments

  1. PC Resident 12/1/09 at 9:08am

    How in the world did this man get a job with Brighter Day. What does Brighter Day have to offer in thier defense and in thier accountability. Did this man have any child care experience at all?? Let’s just sacrifice the life of an innocent child. Brighter Day better look into thier hiring practices!!!

  2. Upset 12/4/09 at 9:15pm

    Thus is a very horrific story, this poor child deserved better. Her mother failed her, her PCA worker failed her, and Pine County Social Services failed her. I hope all parties involved are punished to the fullest extent, including the so-called social worker in charge of making sure this child was cared for. Shame on all of you !

  3. MN RESIDENT 12/4/09 at 10:29pm

    Rip to this innocent child..

    I feel its more the mothers fault if anything. She knew what she was suppose to do in the care of her child and failed to do so. If the man was such a terrible PCA she should have contacted the agency for a new care taker long ago.

  4. Upset 12/7/09 at 10:14am

    It’s sad that the mother didn’t love her child enough to make sure her needs were met. That is why Social Services gets involved, to make sure that the kids are being cared for. The mother seemed to care more about the money than the quality of the PCA worker or the childs health, so if the mother didn’t care and the PCA worker didn’t care, why didn’t the social worker step up and make sure everything that child needed was there.

  5. Betsy 05/7/10 at 3:35pm

    Government can do some things, but it can’t and shouldn’t do everything. We can’t stop people like Lakesha’s mother from having babies, but she obviously is not up to taking care of them alone. Those of us with greater gifts – mental, emotional, financial – may have some responsibility here. Where was Lakesha’s father? What about her grandparents, aunts, uncles? Neighbors? Teachers? I certainly don’t know all the answers, but not everyone can manage in a “nuclear family” way. I wish we could all keep an eye on each other, in a helpful (not nosy, not judgmental) way.

  6. Sirak 10/14/12 at 10:43pm

    I can’t believe it. I grew up with Ti-Heim and now i find out he’s locked up for this disgusting crime. This is a complete 360 to me. He was such a nice and giving person when i knew him. i think theres more to the crime than what we see cause i cant seem to wrap my head of the nature of the crime and that he would do it. and even as i remember, he loved kids. he has a family of his own in Vegas with brothers and sisters and was very protective. The crime doesn’t fit the person. Or you know, i can be completely wrong. People change over time. I would hate for that to be the case, though.

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