Mom of teen found dead in pond allegedly 'huffing' before son's death

Posted at 4:08 PM, Sep 21, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-21 19:15:52-04

A Racine Countyteenager found dead in a pond behind his home was upset with his mother over her substance abuse issues, according to a criminal complaint filed Thursday.

Pauline Sanders appeared in court on charges of bail jumping and abusing a hazardous substance. Her 15-year-old son Austin was found dead Wednesday.

Pauline Sanders showed visible emotion in court when anyone mentioned her son or his pending funeral.

According to the criminal complaint, Pauline Sanders should not have even been around her children, or their home, after she was arrested for child abuse in June.

In that case, she allegedly punched her daughter in the jaw after drinking heavily in their home.

Then this week Monday, she told authorities she was huffing air compressor cans in order to avoid detection on her alcohol monitoring bracelet.

Her son Austin and his sister tried to get her stop, even taking all of her cans and locking them in the daughter's car. But late at night, Pauline Sanders allegedly retrieved the cans by telling her daughter she could get in trouble if cops found them in her car.

"It's alleged that she was again huffing air cans that her daughter had video taped her doing that sent it to their father," said Antoinette Rich, an assistant district attorney with Racine County.

According to the complaint, on Tuesday Austin Sanders didn't go to school because he was upset over the events of the previous night. He left home to go fishing in the pond behind their house but didn't return home.

The next morning, his father went looking for him and found his body in the pond. Life-saving efforts were unsuccessful.

According to the complaint, air compressor cans were found near his body, but it's unclear if they contributed to his death.

"I've read through the complaint it’s a tragedy to nth degree," said Racine County Court Commissioner John Bjelajac during court. "In reading through the complaint though it will be a $50,000 cash bond."

As part of her bond, Pauline Sanders is not supposed to have any contact with her husband or daughter. However, the commissioner said she will be allowed to attend her son's funeral.