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Utah nurse charged with murdering 2-year-old foster son

SHARE Utah nurse charged with murdering 2-year-old foster son
Lisa Jo Vanderlinden

Lisa Jo Vanderlinden

Duchesne County Sheriff’s Office

SALT LAKE CITY — A Duchesne County nurse was charged Wednesday with murdering her 2-year-old foster son who investigators say she didn't want to adopt.

Lisa Jo Vanderlinden, 41, of Neola, is charged in 8th District Court with aggravated murder, a first-degree felony.

Vanderlinden and her husband were foster parents to a boy, only identified as L.C., and to L.C.'s 1-year-old sister.

She believed the child was "difficult and challenging, and while she wanted to keep and adopt the sister, she did not want to adopt him," according to charging documents.

In the days leading up to the boy's death, Vanderlinden "was overwhelmed and getting more and more frustrated" with the boy, friends and acquaintances later told investigators.

On Aug. 4, L.C. "exhibited behavioral problems" during dinner. Vanderlinden said she became "mad and frustrated," the charges state.

At one point, other family members heard a "loud bang" coming from the bathroom where Vanderlinden was taking care of the boy, according to court documents.

"Thereafter, L.C. wasn't acting normal and wouldn't walk," the charges state.

Other children told investigators they could hear the boy vomiting and heard yelling from Vanderlinden, whom they described as "mad," according to the charges.

The next day, Duchesne County sheriff's deputies were called to the house on a report that the boy was deceased. They observed "multiple bruises" on the boy's face and a closer examination revealed bruises and cuts on the child's head, face, arms, hands, scalp, stomach, back and legs, as well as "significant internal injuries that resulted in his death," according to the charges.

A pediatrician believes the injuries were caused by blunt force trauma, the court documents say.

Vanderlinden is a "licensed practical nurse" and has provided foster services for several years and adopted foster children, the charges state, in addition to providing nursing services for the Children's Justice Center.

"Despite her training as a foster parent and nurse, the defendant was completely indifferent to L.C.'s well-being and did not seek medical attention for the boy," according to charging documents.

Prosecutors also noted in court documents that there have been "multiple unsupported/unsubstantiated allegations of abuse and/or neglect" against Vanderlinden that were reported to the Division of Child and Family Services, "specifically for hitting or punching a minor child."

The Division of Child and Family Services issued a prepared statement Wednesday, saying "The loss of any child impacts and devastates us. This is tragic for so many from the family and the community to our staff and other foster parents."

"Please know, we investigate every allegation of abuse and neglect of a child. When there is an allegation involving a child in our care, a conflict team outside the division conducts the investigation to ensure heightened objectivity when evaluating safety and practice.

"We are seeking important answers through this investigation and are fully cooperating with the attorney general, law enforcement and the medical examiner through this case. We immediately opened our own internal investigation and have engaged a third-party to review this case to learn all we can to protect children we serve."

Correction: An earlier version misspelled Lisa Jo Vanderlinden's last name as Canderlinden.