This is kind of horrifying to me

I read many of articles from different publications about the drowning deaths of brothers Ayden Leroy Cecil and Anthony Joseph Tullius, and I really can’t understand why their parents were charged with anything.

When I saw the headlines that said things like “Toddlers drowned while parents slept”, I thought perhaps maybe the parents were passed out under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or didn’t begin to look for the kids for hours, or something like that. I mean, there HAD to be more to the story, right?

I can only go by what’s been reported and I can’t find any more to the story.

On that tragic night they set up camp at a designated campsite near the river, and everyone went to bed. Dad zipped the tent and tightened the top zipper. Mom took one Xanax before bed, as her prescription said she should. Dad was exhausted after a long week of work. They went to sleep. And sometime during the night the boys unzipped the bottom zipper of the tent (which Dad had forgotten to tighten) and wandered into the river.

This is all terrible and I’m sure any parent in that situation would be full of what-ifs and should-haves and blaming themselves for a very long time, if not the rest of their days on earth, but I don’t see how this rises to the level of a crime.

At their first trial the children’s mother, Kasey, would insinuate her husband, their stepfather Richard, may have killed them on purpose. This is because, although Kasey thought she’d removed Ayden’s shoes before bed and he couldn’t put them on by himself, when his body was found he was wearing the shoes. I think it’s more likely that Kasey simply forgot to remove the shoes (she’d put them on over his sleeper so he could run around and play during the evening). If Richard were planning on tossing the boys in the river it doesn’t make any sense for him to have put their shoes on.

I myself nearly drowned as a five-year-old and a police officer had to pound life back into my chest after they pulled me out of Lake Michigan. This is because my mom, who was on lifeguard duty, decided to help the other adults pull a boat ashore and was distracted for a few minutes. Obviously she should not have done that, but the idea that a parent would be charged with a crime in such a situation is appalling to me.

As this story was reported I can’t understand why the Kleins were even charged, never mind convicted, in their children’s drowning deaths. Was something left out or was this the overzealous prosecution is appears to have been?

11 thoughts on “This is kind of horrifying to me

    • Meaghan February 20, 2020 / 8:09 pm

      Do you think these people should never have been parents? If so, why?

      • broughtonchristine2gmailcom February 21, 2020 / 1:28 pm

        Please don’t get me wrong I know their are so many wonderful parents. But never being able to have children of my own which I wanted so badly and because of my own childhood.
        I just read so many cases of child abuse and neglect it saddens me. I feel children are a gift from God. Hope you have a Great Weekend

  1. Sheila Roberts February 20, 2020 / 6:33 pm

    I knew a woman who was unfamiliar with driving on snowy roads, skid through a stop sign, was t-boned and both her small children died in the accident. She was not speeding or drinking, the kids were properly buckled in car seats and the police couldn’t find any fault except that her car slid on the icy road. A prosecutor decided to charge her with two counts of vehicular homicide. She pled guilty because she felt so guilty. The prosecutor said she should have stayed home if she was inexperienced at driving on snow, but she had felt that the errand was too important to skip. I thought there must be something she was leaving out of the story because I couldn’t believe that would charge her for that when she clearly was punished by the circumstances themselves. When I looked it up online, I felt even worse for her. Two police officers actually turned in resignations because they had investigated the accident and refused to help the prosecution with the case because they believed it was simply an accident. This sounds like a similar scenario.

  2. Karine February 20, 2020 / 9:48 pm

    I agree. Accidents happen so fast with young kids. I lost my 4 years old nephew at a camping site a few years ago. Luckily, he was found unharmed after 20 minutes, but those were the longest 20 minutes of all my life. I swear to god, I was explaining something to him while walking, one second he was there, and gone the next. I will never again be judgemental. You can be the best parent in the world, and have something horrible happens to your kids. And it’s just an accident, no one’s fault.

  3. DOC February 26, 2020 / 5:00 pm

    Very, very sad. But I do believe there’s more to the story, yes. Something paved the way for the idea – saying that Richard wanted the kids dead – to go forward. Whatever that may have been, and however it came about, it must’ve existed for it to have been used in this way – even if unsuccessfully so.

    Also, that the mom would “go there” regarding her planned defense, says so much.

    Another thing I find interesting is that Richard had the thought of securing the zipperage, at least as it may otherwise appear, and yet did it in such a way that lent itself – absolutely perfectly – to the boys getting out. Boys he knew to have a habit of roaming at night, to the point he’d chosen to install a lock on their bedroom door at home. Boys he knew were now dangerously close to the river that he (Richard) had chosen to place them near. Boys that he knew witnout question would be threatened by that environment.

    He wanted to give an appearance, in other words, of doing the right thing and “securing” the zipper(s) while actually leaving the situation completely unsecure – and he knew it.

    It doesn’t add up, in my opinion, and looks to be a “passive-aggressive” attempt on the boys’ safety, by (I believe, solely, if so) Richard. At the very least, though, I don’t think anyone can deny terrible recklessness took place and that these boys (one with C.P.) paid the price with their lives.

    It is heartbreaking.

  4. missingmysteries September 20, 2020 / 9:45 pm

    Hey I’m sorry for commenting on this post so many months after was posted, and sorry for the length of the post.

    I happened to do a search of your tagged posts with the “murder without a body” tag and this case was one that showed up in the results.

    I’m sure I’ve read it before, but the location must not have clicked with me at the time.

    Upon rereading, I realized that I’ve spent time on this river, and this town, and I have knowledge about this river and where it empties (and thus where the child might be). Albeit I’m not an experienced river person, and also have little knowledge about how bodies travel in a river, but I do know a few things, and they make me wonder about this case.

    First, I think the parents are/were telling the truth (except when the mom threw the husband under the bus by accusing him of murder…I prefer to think that this scenario wasn’t her idea but instead her defense teams’ idea). I think they were telling the truth when they stated the boys were asleep the last they saw them. I do believe this was a tragic accident. Seriously think about it, if they conspired to kill the boys they’d have done a better job than what we see here. The most likely scenario is that the boys somehow got out of the tent and went into the river.

    My curiosity is about where the lost boy might be. The Muskingum river empties into the Ohio in Marietta. I’m familiar with these areas (though not a local, I traveled extensively in this part of Ohio). I’ve even taken the day trip (in a boat out of Marietta) that traverses the locks and dams along the Muskie from Marietta to Beverly and back (it was a wonderful trip and I recommend it to anyone in this part of the world, you included since you’re from Ohio).

    My understanding from reading about this type of case is that any body in the Ohio River turns up at a dam and is found (part of why I think I know this is that I live in WV which has jurisdiction over the Ohio River along its borders between WV and OH, and bodies in the river are always found and investigated by WV authorities).

    Like, it’s nearly impossible for a body (that’s not weighted or otherwise concealed) to make it through more than one dam on the Ohio. However, there is a sizeable distance from where this boy disappeared on the Muskie in Zanesville to where the Muskie meets the Ohio River (in Marietta). My gut tells me that his body didn’t make it to the Ohio River. His body likely stayed within a few miles of the site from where he vanished. If so, why hasn’t it been found?

    This is a two year old boy; that’s tiny. There are large scavenger Catfish in the Muskie. Since he didn’t turn up at any dams, I’d say he sunk or got caught somewhere and scavenger fish got to him so that very few if any remains are found.

    BUT, the one thing Law Enforcement CAN do…

    (if it hasn’t already been done, and if it turns out that it hasn’t been done, then Ohio law enforcement really did a disservice to this family…regardless of what you thought of the parents’ story, the fact that one of the boys was found drowned in the river is more than enough cause to believe that the other boy was also in the river…so to not pull out all the stops INCLUDING contacting every owner of property along the Muskie, both sides, all the way to Marietta…is horribly callous and unprofessional).

    But what CAN be done now, even a decade later, is to contact EVERY property owner along the Muskie, all the way to Marietta, and ask them to search their riverfront properties for any sign of the boy. Let them know how much time has passed (so they know they’re looking for small fragments of remains), and even ask them to check their record high floodwater levels on the property. You’d think that this request was made back when he disappeared, but there’s a likelihood that it wasn’t. (If anyone can prove me wrong and show me, with evidence, that they DID actually ask this of every Muskie property owner, I’ll apologize publicly and profusely.)

    This boy’s remains are somewhere along this stretch (Muskie from Zanesville to Marietta or beyond), and the right thing to do is help find them.

    A new, highly publicized push (call press conferences, present a reward, send mailers to every person who owns property along the river, provide releases on social media such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, and reinterview the initial search/rescue crew to determine areas that were in the focus radius but were NOT extensively searched) could lead to finality and answers in this case.

    The bottom line is, if you’re a local to this area of the Muskie who fishes or boats here, who works as an EMT, Firefighter, or law enforcement, or simply loves this area and this river, you MUST read about this baby’s disappearance and be compelled to search for his remains. He’s out there, somewhere. YOU can be the one to bring him home.

    • Meaghan September 20, 2020 / 10:03 pm

      The info you added is all very interesting and I think you’re right and that little boy, what’s left, is still close by. There may only be a few fragments left by now, but if he’s still out there it seems quite possible that your idea of appealing to property owners could get results.

      • missingmysteries September 20, 2020 / 11:36 pm

        Hi Meaghan! I’m glad that you agree that his remains are possibly somewhere nearby (“nearby” being a relevant term and possibly indicating many miles). Statistically that would seem to be the case (that his remains, having not been found in one of the many “body-catching’ dams on the Ohio) to be made for searching extra-vigilantly along and in the Muskie.

        I’m not a great internet researcher, so when I complain of a lack of internet info, it might just be my poor search skills, but I haven’t found much press about any more searches for this child’s body. I’m not knocking the initial response (from what I’ve read it seemed to be robust), but I haven’t found anything that discusses more recent searches for this boy. From what I’ve read there have been no recent searches for him. Nothing.

        I’d like to push for the property search. But I don’t think I can do this without your help and guidance. Your knowledge of missing persons cases, your interactions with LE, and your overall opinions are very welcomed and necessary. I’ve never organized a missing persons search before, though I think I can spearhead this, and I can take on the printing of fliers and the blanket phone calls to be made. But I need much guidance and help with social media (as in I don’t tweet, or chat, or gram, or whatever else the kids do nowadays).

        So, in this situation, we have a small child who:

        MAY have gone missing from a campground (I believe this story to be true);
        If so, went in the middle of the night;
        Probably stumbled into the Muskingum River;
        Has never been found regardless of many initial searches.

        If we first eliminate the other theories (wife/husband problems, abuse, etc and I’m summarizing here), which we pretty much can, we return to the same scenario: the couple and the kids were sleeping in a tent in a camping trip; the dad thought he secured every tent opening but he in fact neglected the lower one; the dad awoke to find the boys gone and instigated a huge search which resulted in one boy being found dead from drowning.

        I have no reason to disbelieve the parents here. Not only that, but I find no reason to find legal fault with either parent. Yes, it’s horrible that this incident happened. Even seemingly “with it” parents can have a few minutes when they lose track of their kids. Do I find the circumstances a bit weird? Yes, I do…I rarely go camping and if I went with small children I’d NEVER set up camp under 30 feet from a swollen river. But that’s just me. So, while the circumstances crank up my Hinky Meter a few notches, there’s nothing inherently and irreversibly hinky to make me scream “manslaughter” or the likes.

        Perhaps the most questionable issue I have with this while case is not HOW the child died, but WHY haven’t we yet found him? Yes, I know he’s small. Yes I know he’s lost in a river. But I know this river; I’ve traveled via the many locks from Marietta to Beverly, and I’ve driven the riverfront roads all up and down the Muskie. If the child went into the river (and without opposing evidence this is HIGHLY LIKELY), why haven’t we found him? Why didn’t we find him early on, at one of the locks on the Muskie or the dams on the Ohio? Bodies in these rivers don’t stay hidden; they’re found. The locks/dams almost guarantee this. The best answer is that his little body didn’t make it to the dams, and maybe didn’t even pass through any locks. He’s likely nearby where he was last seen. Maybe a bit downstream. But most likely he was caught up with brush or rocks, or possibly washed up during a flood and is now in a secluded area by a farm filed. Regardless, SOMEBODY WHO OWNS PROPERTY ALONG THE MUSKIE LIKELY HAS THIS CHILD’S REMAINS ON THEIR PROPERTY RIGHT NOW.

        We need YOU, the property owner, that conduct a thorough search of ALL your Muskie shoreline property, AND include areas that abnormally received floodwaters since 2011.

        This child needs to be laid to rest next to his big brother (who drowned with him). While we can’t give him back to his loved ins, we CAN bring closure to the family and help out him to rest in his rightful spot.

        Thank you guys ahead of time for any guidance or support you can add for my ideal project, which is to remind local people of this case and hope to spur property owners to really, thoroughly search their riverfront properties in this area.

    • missingmysteries September 20, 2020 / 10:41 pm

      …to add:

      “…what CAN be done now, even a decade later, is to contact EVERY property owner along the Muskie, all the way to Marietta, and ask them to search their riverfront properties…”

      This could and SHOULD be taken on by Ohio SBI if local LE hasn’t done it (my belief is that local LE haven’t…they may have conducted searches and executed warrants, but they haven’t contacted EVERY SINGLE PROPERTY OWNER along the Muskie from Zanesville to Marietta).

      …And the progress of this request needs to be publicly (albeit not showing any relevant investigative info) announced. In other words, EVERY PART OF THE MUSKIE, FROM THE REPORTED ENTRANCE PLACE IN ZANESVILLE, TO THE CONFLUENCE POINT IN MARIETTA SHOULD BE (and should already have been) SEARCHED EXTENSIVELY, and LE should keep the public updated on its findings (thought without compromising the investigation as we all know).

      This child has been missing since 2011, and the odds are likely that he is somewhere in Ohio. If he disappeared the way his parents state he did (I believe them, and even if you don’t, there’s still not enough time for them to have gotten him out of Ohio…so he is STILL HERE no matter how you see it), ie drowning in the Muskie, then his little body MUST be somewhere in the river…OR on YOUR property along the river.

      Do this child a favour and walk your property line, including the currently-above-ground but still flood zone areas. Check dense shrubs along the Muskie shoreline, check outbuildings, check sheds, check under rocks. He was very young and small when lost (barely two years old), but nonetheless you might still be able to find a clue, whether a piece of clothing or something else. Bottom line is, this small child was lost in your river, and not far from your property. He hasn’t been found, so we know he is still here, somewhere. Think if it were your grandson or child, what would you do to find them?

  5. missingmysteries September 21, 2020 / 12:29 am

    Another to add (like I haven’t added enough) is the case of Kristen Anderson.
    She vanished at a very specific time (verified by surveillance videos) and her killer (her husband) only had a two to three day max period of time to dispose of her body.

    They had gotten into a fight at her new apartment (where she’d went to escape his abuse) and he showed up there. Two days (I think, need to verify( after thi# “fight”, cops found the surveillance video of the complex where she had been hiding from him…the video shows him removing a limp body and shoving it in his trunk. When he learned that this video existed, he killed himself. There are so many th8ngs yo7 think about when this happens.

    First, WHERE DID HE PUT KRISTEN? (I’ll come back to this later).
    I wonder though if his family members first thoughts were “why’ and “I love you and will mis you”.
    Those are fair feelings f R his loved ones to have, but theFIRST AND ONLY THOUGHTS on ANY one’s minds should have been WHERE DID HE PUT KRISTIN?

    I’m not against people grieving the loss of a loved one who also committed a severe crime during or around the death of themselves. I understand the need to grieve regardless of what crime the dead one committed. BUT u have s problem with a man visibly abduction his wife/girl/ex/whatever, abducting her from another place, then later carrying her limp body ti the TRUNK of his car and leaving with it, then killing himself WHEN AND ONLY WHEN he finds out that cops have CCTV of him putting her body into his trunk. He was fine and nonchalant until this came out. And then he killed himself. From my reading, I’ve figured that he had a very small window of time to dispose of her body. SHE CAN BE FOUND. And easily I believe.the first thing we need to rule out or in is

    I know that we can close this case. She’s either in the river near her boyfriend’s house, or she’s at one of his hunting spots. I wish I could reinstate her case as a hot case.

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