WARSAW – Payton Brettell was an adventurous little boy who graduated to a "big boy bed" before his first birthday because his parents said he was "a climber." So at first, David and Nova Brettell believed his babysitter when she told them he climbed out of his crib during nap time and accidentally strangled himself in a nearby car seat inside her Warsaw home.
Payton’s mom told WSBT she’s known Shell 25 years and trusted her with her son’s life. In an interview with WSBT the day after their son died, David and Nova Brettell also said they thought it was an accident and they believed Shell’s story.
But court documents say she changed her story two days after he died. Instead of putting the boy down for a nap in a crib, investigators say Shell admitted she instead put him into a car seat so he wouldn't be able to get out. She told police she buckled the top chest strap but did not buckle the bottom two straps around the boy's legs.
Because of that, a coroner ruled the boy wiggled down in the car seat and was suffocated by the chest strap. Police say Shell later went back into the room, found the boy unresponsive, unbuckled the chest strap, then left the room and shut the door.
Instead of helping him, investigators say Shell acted like nothing was wrong and went into the living room with the other 10 children she was watching at the time. Court documents also allege her daughter’s boyfriend later found little Payton in the car seat, foaming from the mouth with purple lips and eyelids.
Court documents indicate the door to the room was shut, and Shell admitted to police that with all the other kids and noise distractions, she did not hear Payton struggling.
Shell is now facing a felony neglect of a dependent charge.
Nova told WSBT Tuesday, “I just don’t know how anybody in their heart could walk in, see a baby struggling and walk out of the room. I’ll never get my son back.”
She also said she firmly believes her little boy might still be alive if Shell had started CPR on her son the first time she found him unresponsive.
Police arrested Shell Monday, and she bonded out a few hours later. She’s due back in court November 15 at 8:30 a.m.