Mother in Calif. accused of killing son she tried to drown in 2008

TULARE CO., Calif. (KFSN/CNN) - Authorities in California say they plan to charge a 45-year-old mother with killing her 12-year-old son, and it's not the first time she's been accused of harming him.

The Mineral County, Mont. Sheriff's Office confirmed Monday that Sherri Telnas was charged in 2008 with trying to drown her son in a river, reportedly because bad thoughts or voices told her to do it.

Telnas allegedly killed that same son, 12-year-old Jackson, on Saturday, and she tried to kill 7-year-old Jacob Ray, police say. She is scheduled to appear in court Tuesday.

Authorities in Tulare County, Calif. arrest a mother accused of killing her 12-year-old son, who she also tried to kill 11 years ago.
Authorities in Tulare County, Calif. arrest a mother accused of killing her 12-year-old son, who she also tried to kill 11 years ago.

The brothers were found in an irrigation ditch near a cornfield.

Jackson died at Sierra View Medical Center. Jacob Ray is being cared for at Valley Children's Hospital.

In recent months, their grandmother Dianna Keeland says Telnas took weeks to reply to her texts about a possible visit.

"We just wondered why she wasn't responding, but I didn't think this was going to happen," she said. "This is just the farthest thing. None of us expected this."

About a year ago, Keeland says her son Jacob Telnas, the boys' father, split with Sherri Telnas again and moved to Montana.

In December, Sherri Telnas filed a request to have their dad's visits with Jackson be at her discretion.

Sherri Telnas.
Sherri Telnas. (Source: Tulare County Sheriff's Office/KFSN/CNN)

"Father has moved to Montana and has no plans to move to California, as to adhere to a schedule," she wrote.

The case was never settled, but Keeland says the boys continued to live with their mother.

Family members have created a GoFundMe account to help with funeral and medical expenses.

"They were best friends," Keeland said. "Jackson always took care of Jacob Ray. He was his little brother. And Jacob Ray didn't call him Jackson, he called him 'brudder.'"

The Fresno Bee reported Sherri Telnas pleaded guilty to child endangerment in 2008 and underwent a mental evaluation that said she could not have acted purposely. She was placed in custody of Montana's health and human services department for 20 years, but she was allowed to keep custody of Jackson following a custody battle with the father.

The two parents stayed in contact, soon having their second son together.

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