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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Grandmother charged in drowning death

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

A Greencastle woman whose 2-year-old granddaughter drowned in the family's backyard swimming pool earlier this summer is facing criminal charges after police say she withheld information concerning the case.

According to a police report, Beverly Lawler initially told investigators she and her granddaughter, Serinity L. Hammer, were the only ones at home when the little girl entered the swimming pool undetected and drowned on July 10. She told police she had gone in the house to retrieve a diaper and clothes for the little girl and that when she returned, she found the girl floating face down in the pool.

After Lawler's initial interview, police received a tip that Lawler may have been caring for more than one child on the day of the drowning. Lawler was interviewed a second time and, according to a police report, told investigators she was caring for five children. This too, police say, was false.

Greencastle Police Detective Randy Seipel told the BannerGraphic Tuesday that according to the children who were at Lawler's home that day, and their parents, Lawler was in fact caring for 10 children. This included two infants, several toddlers and a couple of school-aged children.

"That information was never provided by her to us," Seipel said of Lawler.

On Tuesday, Putnam County Prosecutor Tim Bookwalter charged Lawler with obstruction of justice, a class D felony; operating a daycare without a license, a class B misdemeanor; and neglect of a dependent resulting in death, a class C felony.

Bookwalter said he could have charged the neglect as an A felony but felt the lesser C was more appropriate in this case.

The law requires caregivers to receive a license if they care for more than six children at one time, the prosecutor said.

Lawler told police she believed the law allowed only five children and so she limited herself to that number.

"How can you effectively supervise that many children when there's a pool present?" Seipel said. "How does one adult supervise all those children?"

With that said, Seipel still believes the death was an accident, however, he took issue with the fact that Lawler allegedly lied to police and withheld information that was pertinent to the case.

"It's a tragic situation, but we have the responsibility to investigate it as thoroughly as we can," Seipel said.

Police were able to corroborate that Lawler left Serinity, wearing her bathing suit and water wings, sitting on the back patio of the home for an undetermined amount of time. It is believed the girl removed the water wings and then entered the swimming pool where it is estimated she was face down in the water for between two and four minutes.

Neighbors rushed to the home where they performed CPR on the girl. She was airlifted to an Indianapolis hospital and, according to a police report, was taken off life support the following day.

Lawler was the legal guardian of Serinity.

Seipel hand-delivered a summons to Lawler's residence Tuesday. She is expected to appear in court later this month.

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It was mentioned in the article that it is still believed to have been an accident. I personally think this woman has been through enough, she just lost her granddaughter, don't add more pain to the situation. Put yourself in her shoes & feel her pain.

-- Posted by mimi7 on Wed, Sep 12, 2007, at 2:37 PM

I do understand it was an accident because it was her granddaughter, but why would you leave numerous children you were babysitting out in your back yard with a swimming pool. She didn't use her head at all. She is just lucky it was only 1 child instead of numerous children. It was a shame that she lost her granddaughter but if she would have used better judgement then Serenity might still be here. Also if you didnt' have anything to hide why would you lie to the police on numerous occasions. She definitely doesn't need to be babysitting anyones children.

-- Posted by mommy3 on Wed, Sep 12, 2007, at 3:53 PM

Im sure there will be an example made out of this woman. Eye for an Eye..... I doubt it, not in this county. Im sure as long as the county gets their money this will all be swept under and forgotten about. What a shame!!

-- Posted by concerned3 on Wed, Sep 12, 2007, at 4:26 PM

Please show forgiveness to this lady...she will pay for this mistake for eternity...God is the final judge,not man.

-- Posted by TNVOLTUT on Wed, Sep 12, 2007, at 7:36 PM

I would just like to say that anyone with any common sense knows that they should never leave a child unattended near water for even one minute. Also why lie to the police if you have nothing to hide. I am sorry for her loss and I do realize that it is something she will have to live with for the rest of her life. In closing if she had used the common sense that god gave her maybe her granddaughter would still be here.

-- Posted by MISCHELLE36 on Thu, Sep 13, 2007, at 6:32 PM

First off I havent seen alot of compassion for this woman. Ok she made a awful mistake one which she will never forget. She has already been made example of by our kind community. Now as most of us may not watch that many children in our home....she did make a mistake it was an awful accident one which she will have to live the rest of her life thinking about. I dont think she needs the local paper or our community to remind her everyday.. she has done that on her own. Accidents happen people. Back in the day where familys were huge and there were 5 to 10 kids running around in homes you dont think there wasnt accidents. NOW she's being charged I think she has had punishment enough for the rest of her life. I think we all need to back off. As tragic as it is there is a lesson here but to drag someone even further down isnt right. I pray for her family everyday as well as for those who are quick to judge. I dont even know these people, i just dont think its fair we make a circus out of this.

-- Posted by bratin73 on Mon, Sep 17, 2007, at 2:28 PM

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