Autopsy: Toddler died from dehydration; couple charged

Kent County

WYOMING, Mich. (WOOD) — An 18-month-old boy found dead in a Wyoming home had been removed from his parent’s care a year earlier, court documents indicate.

A petition for removal shows Child Protective Services took Yurik Birkenmeyer on Jan. 11, 2017 after his parents failed to supervise him and respond to his needs. Documents state Yurik was repeatedly subjected to a dangerous sleep environment and was extremely underweight.

“Yurik is approximately six months old and weights (sic) fourteen pounds and four ounces, which does not register on the growth chart with no medical reason to explain this,” the court petition stated.

The toddler was placed in foster care while his parents took part in educational programs and were offered support. Yurik was returned to his parents in October 2017 – five months before his death.

On March 16, Wyoming officers were called to a home in the 2600 block of Longstreet Avenue SW, north of 28th Street on a report of a child who wasn’t breathing. When emergency responders got there, they found Yurik was already dead.

Detective Margaret McKinnon said the medical examiner who conducted an autopsy on the toddler determined the boy died from dehydration “due to the caregivers lack of water.” McKinnon said the medical examiner deemed the case a homicide.

Yurik’s parents, 30-year-old Alexander Birkenmeyer and 26-year-old Andrea Todd appeared in court via video Tuesday and were formally charged with second-degree murder, involuntary manslaughter and second-degree child abuse in connection Yurik’s death.

Birkenmeyer and Todd were arrested Monday, after a “lengthy investigation,” according to police. A not guilty plea was automatically entered for the couple during their video arraignment.

Court records show the couple had another child who died from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome in March 2015 after co-sleeping with Alexander Birkenmeyer.

Online Michigan State Police records show Todd has a single previous criminal case in the state: She pleaded guilty to misdemeanor retail fraud in 2015.

Birkenmeyer was found guilty of a misdemeanor domestic violence charge in March 2013. He’s charged as a habitual offender in this case, meaning his sentence could be exponentially longer, if convicted.

The murder charge carries a punishment of up to life in prison; involuntary manslaughter is punishable by up to 15 years in prison and $7,500 in fines. The second-degree child abuse charge is a 10-year felony.

A judge set the couple’s bond at $750,000 cash surety. Birkenmeyer and Todd’s next court hearing is scheduled for July 25.

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