Parents surrender after being charged with neglect in daughter's drowning

  • Article by: PAUL WALSH , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 24, 2012 - 9:07 PM

The parents charged last week with neglect after their 3-year-old daughter wandered into a canal near their northwestern Wisconsin home and drowned have surrendered to authorities.

Thomas J. Williams, 42, and Jenna Danish, 32, of Danbury, turned themselves in Sunday and were in the Burnett County jail Monday morning. They are both due in court for a hearing Oct. 10.

Williams and Danish were charged Friday in the death of Reena Williams, who was found Aug. 15 after a large-scale search near the family's home, which is surrounded by water and bordered by a canal with a steep bank. The bank is fewer than 25 yards from the home, and there are no fences or guard rails. Williams is the caretaker of a dam on the family's premises.

Sheriff Dean Roland said the parents were cooperative during the extensive search.

According to criminal complaints filed Friday, the girl was known to go near the water. In April, she dove into the water behind the house to retrieve her fishing pole and had to be saved by her father.

Soon after the parents were charged by summons, Roland said authorities did not know where the couple were.

According to the criminal complaints, an acquaintance of Williams' told police that minutes before the girl disappeared, he and Williams had been smoking synthetic marijuana. Danish told someone she had been sleeping at the time. During the search for Reena, police found drug paraphernalia as well as suspected marijuana and synthetic marijuana at the home.

In a later search of the home after the girl's body was recovered, more drug paraphernalia was found.

Star Tribune staff writer Nicole Norfleet contributed to this report. Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482

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