Manitowoc Co. woman receives prison, extended supervision sentence for child neglect

Rena Santiago. Photo: Manitowoc County Jail
Rena Santiago. Photo: Manitowoc County Jail(WBAY)
Published: Aug. 3, 2020 at 11:01 PM CDT
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MANITOWOC, Wis. (WBAY) - A Manitowoc County woman has learned her fate after being convicted of child neglect and child abuse.

Court records show Rena Santiago, 28, has been sentenced to 15 years in prison and 10 years of extended supervision.

Santiago was sentenced on July 21, and had previously pleaded no contest to three counts: Neglecting a Child (Consequence is Death), Physical Abuse of a Child Repeated Acts Causing Bodily Harm, and Chronic Neglect of a Child (Consequence is Emotional Damage).

Counts 4 - 6 were read in but dismissed.

There has already been a notice of intent to pursue post-conviction relief filed.

Santiago was arrested in April of 2019 after her two-year-old son Gilbert Grant was found dead at a home in Two Rivers.

Gilbert had large bruises on his forehead, cheeks, face, legs, buttocks, back feet and arms.

Santiago’s roommates, David R. Heiden and Bianca M. Bush, were also arrested and charged in the case.

David Heiden told detectives about months of abuse inflicted on Gilbert Grant. Heiden admitted to treating the boy “poorly.” When asked why, he responded, “he’s not my kid ... I didn’t care,” according to the complaint.

Santigo admitted that she, Bush and Heiden "discipline" Gilbert. She said Bush "sets and decides the discipline and tells her what to use" on Gilbert. Santiago said that she "always approves of the discipline" and that Bush and Heiden always ask her to make sure it's OK with her.

Santiago also confirmed that they gagged the child and that Bush made Gilbert eat his own vomit.

Santiago told police she was aware of the bruises on her son and that's why she would not take him to the doctor for check ups.

An autopsy was completed by the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s Office. Gilbert’s cause of death was determined to be from contusions; internal bleeding, a hemorrhage in the bowel; extensive lacerations; and hemorrhage around the head of the pancreas.

On Feb. 17, Heiden was sentenced to life in prison for his role in Gilbert Grant’s death. He’ll be eligible for parole in 25 years.

On June 17, Bush was sentenced to seven years in state prison and five years on extended supervision.

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