MURRAY — When David Crandall picked up his 16-month-old son, Issac, from day care, he immediately knew something was wrong.
"He was just lethargic and not very responsive and kind of moaning like he was in pain," said Kelley Crandall, Issac's mother.
David Crandall took his son to a pediatrician.
"She pretty much just walked in and looked at him and called an ambulance to take him to Primary Children's," Kelley Crandall said.
Issac was rushed into surgery and part of his pancreas was removed. The doctor said Issac was likely going into shock when his father picked him up, according to court records.
The day-care provider, Kami Kay Tollefson, 37, offered a couple of explanations, according to Crandall, including that Issac slipped on a toy car, his feet went out from under him and he landed on his back.
"She kept saying she had no idea what happened to him. She couldn't imagine he could be hurt that bad at her house," Kelley Crandall said.
Doctors, however, told the Crandalls that the injury had to come from the front, and the force of what caused his injuries would be comparable to an adult wearing steel toed boots stomping on his stomach.
Tollefson then changed her story, according to Crandall, and said she remembered a child hitting Issac in the stomach with a swing. Again, a doctor told the Crandalls that for the type of injury Issac suffered, "It would have to be a large child and Issac would have flown six feet."
That was in June of 2008. Murray police investigated and took the case to the Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office for possible charges. The DA's office, however, declined to file because of a lack of evidence.
This week, however, Tollefson was charged in Isaac's case and incidents involving two other children. She is charged with three counts of child abuse, a second-degree felony.
A new case of abuse was brought to the attention of Murray police just last month — the third involving Tollefson in 2 1/2 years.
"We were in shock when she was being (accused) again because she told us she wasn't watching children under the age of 4," Kelley Crandall said.
Today, Issac, who just turned 3, has made a full recovery. But the Crandalls are disheartened that it took the abuse of two more children before charges could be filed.
Murray police say they presented the Crandalls' case and another 2009 alleged abuse case to the DA's office shortly after they occurred. Both times, police say, prosecutors declined to file charges because of a lack of evidence.
"We were surprised they weren't able to charge her, and we were upset of course," Kelley Crandall said. "Nobody could prove it. Every (potential witness) was 4 and under."
DA spokesman Mark Biljanic confirmed there was not sufficient "evidence and/or information" in the Crandall case but said the second case was never presented to prosecutors.
In last month's incident involving 13-month-old HaLee Miller, Biljanic said prosecutors felt there was sufficient evidence to file charges. And because it was so similar to the other cases, they were able to revisit those and file charges based on the totality of the situation.
After the DA declined to file in 2008, the Crandalls considered civil action against Tollefson. They also sought to have her day-care business shut down. Kelley Crandall contended that Tollefson was watching up to 13 children. An investigation by the Utah Department of Health, however, found no violations.
Similarly, an anonymous complaint filed in 2009 about Tollefson running an unlicensed day care was also investigated, but officials determined there was no violation. She was allowed to be unlicensed because she did not watch the minimum number of children needed for licensing.
When the Crandalls threatened civil action, they ended up working out a deal with Tollefson in which she made payments to them for their hospital expenses. The Crandalls, however, were under the impression the day care was shut down.
"When we found out there had been two (other cases), we were frustrated with the whole system. We had made it clear we didn't want her to be able to baby-sit or day care so nothing would happen to anybody else," Crandall said. "We're pretty upset, but we're pretty glad they found out that she had done that. I just hope now that she has been arrested and it's starting to be more public, that hopefully there will be some justice in the end.
"As long as there's nobody else it's happening to, that's what matters. I think ultimately justice will be served, but I think it's sad it took this long," Crandall said.
Tollefson posted bail Monday. Her first court appearance is scheduled for March 8.
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