Woman arrested in daughter’s death, accused of neglect

2-year-old dies, 4-year-old recovers
Woman arrested in daughter’s death, accused of neglect

A Wisconsin woman was arrested on a charge of felony child neglect in the death of her 2-year-old daughter, who officials say drank gasoline.

Connie Hartmann, 35, of Medina, is also facing a charge of felony child neglect resulting in great bodily harm to the girl’s 4-year-old brother.

The Dane County Sheriff’s Office said Hartmann was taken to jail early Thursday morning after she was arrested in connection with a domestic incident at her home at 1128 Berlin Road in Medina Township.

Sheriff’s deputies went to Hartmann’s home in May after her 2-year-old daughter was found unconscious in a car, and her 4-year-old son was ill. The girl later died at a hospital.

The boy told a doctor he and his sister locked themselves in the car and drank gasoline. The boy recovered over the course of several days at University of Wisconsin Hospital before being released to foster care, where he remains.

A criminal complaint reveals the boy knew how to manipulate door locks, and at one point before the fatal incident, a neighbor had yelled at the boy for drinking gasoline.

“(Hartmann) did say that she had the doors double locked and that the little boy must have taken a chair, she assumes, and was able to undo the deadbolt,” said Kristi Duhr, a next-door neighbor of Hartmann.


Hartmann was arrested based on results of the girl’s autopsy and statements made by Hartmann and others living in the Berlin Road home, according to investigators.

“What it really comes down to in this case is that she knowingly went to sleep,” said Elise Schaffer, spokeswoman for the Dane County Sheriff’s Office. “She knowingly left the children unattended, and she, based on past experience, knew that the children could likely leave the home and be put in this potential danger.”

Despite the charges, Duhr said she’s hoping for one possible outcome for her neighbor.

“That she’s able to get her little boy back,” Duhr said. “He’s been in foster care, and she’s a good person.”

The Dane County Sheriff’s Office said waiting for toxicology reports was a big reason why Hartmann wasn’t arrested until seven months after the fatal incident.

Schaffer said the toxicology reports were key factors in revealing the 2-year-old had, in fact, died from the gasoline inhalation.

Online court records do not indicate a defense attorney for Hartmann.