Cops: La. Mom Killed Toddler With Down Syndrome
She told them it was a 'mercy killing'
By Rob Quinn, Newser Staff
Posted Mar 13, 2014 2:03 AM CDT
This photo provided by the Plaquemines Parish Sheriff's Office shows Erika Wigstrom.   (AP Photo/Plaquemines Parish Sheriff's Office)

(Newser) – Cops in Belle Chasse, Louisiana say a mother showed no sign of remorse when confessing to killing her 17-month-old son by injecting him with hand sanitizer. Erika Wigstrom, 20, faces a charge of first-degree murder and a potential death sentence for killing her son Lucas, who was born with Down syndrome and a heart defect, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reports. Police say she described the death of the boy, who died from acute alcohol poisoning, as a mercy killing.

The boy's father, 20-year-old Cesar Ruiz, is in custody on child cruelty charges for allegedly pouring rum into the boy's feeding tube when he was just 2 months old, though police say Wigstrom has confessed that she was the culprit, and it was perfume oil, not rum. The case has shocked the community near New Orleans as well as investigators. "It's a tragic situation. I don't know what goes through someone's head, to harm a 17-month-old. I have a 19-month-old myself, and I couldn't put it in my system to do something like that," a sheriff's office spokesman tells WVUE.