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Watertown authorities give update on child death investigation

Authorities were called to the 900 block of 41st Street in southwest Watertown Wednesday...
Authorities were called to the 900 block of 41st Street in southwest Watertown Wednesday morning for a report of an unresponsive child. (Courtesy: KXLG)(Dakota News Now)
Published: Oct. 29, 2021 at 11:50 AM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota Radio Group News) - Authorities have released the name of a two-year-old child who died at a home in Watertown this week.

Law enforcement officers and medical personnel were called Wednesday morning to 939 41st Street Southwest on a report of an unresponsive child.

When they got there, Julian Wernke was deceased. Life-saving efforts by family members prior to their arrival were unsuccessful.

Codington County Sheriff Brad Howell says there were three adult family members at the scene, all of whom have been cooperative with the investigation.

A search warrant was executed at the home Wednesday, and an autopsy is being performed on the child to determine the cause of death.

Howell says the mother of Julian, 21-year-old Shalyn Lacroix, was in court the day before Julian died. She was appearing on a charge of Child Neglect, to which she pleaded not guilty.

Howell says there was another child who resides at the residence. That child has been removed from the home by Child Protection Services due to what Howell says are, “dangerous and hazardous living conditions.”

This is an ongoing, active investigation being conducted by the Codington County Sheriff’s Department, the South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation, and the Watertown Police Department.

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