Mother seeks answers after 4-year-old Brockton boy dies under suspicious circumstances

BROCKTON — The heartbroken mother of a 4-year-old boy who died under suspicious circumstances said today she desperately wants to know how her once-healthy child suddenly fell ill as she was giving him a bath Sunday night.

“He was a good baby. I would never hurt my son,’’ Tania Merisca said as she stood in the front door of her home on Sterling Road here. “And now the fact that he is gone is, like, killing me. I just want to know what happened to [my son] so he can rest in peace.’’

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Merisca said she and her boyfriend of about six months, whom she identified as Antonio Durham, had rented a room at the Holiday Inn Express in the Westgate Mall here to take a break from their daily routine.

Tania Merisca and son, Chauncey Cohen (Merisca family photo)

They were joined by Merisca’s son, Chauncey Cohen, who turned 4 on May 1.

Merisca said that on Sunday, she went to work in West Bridgewater and checked in with her son and Durham on a number of telephone calls during the day. She said that when she got home, her son seemed lethargic and was warm to the touch, as if he was running a slight temperature.

Merisca said she put him in the bathtub, but while in the water, her son’s eyes suddenly rolled upwards and he became unresponsive. Durham and she bundled the child into their car and drove off to the nearby Good Samaritan Hospital in Brockton, arriving around 8:40 p.m.

According to Plymouth District Attorney Timothy J. Cruz’s office, Cohen was pronounced dead around 9:26 p.m. Sunday. The child’s death is considered “suspicious’’ and is under investigation by State Police assigned to Cruz’s office and Brockton police.

Merisca said that at some point Sunday night, Durham told her he was stepping outside to have a cigarette. When she went looking for him later on Sunday night, she said she could not find him and has not spoken with him since.

Merisca said she has never had any involvement with the state’s child protection agency, the Department of Children and Families, and considered herself a good mother for her son.

She said she desperately wanted investigators to discover what — or who — killed her child so she can make it clear to those who also loved Chauncey Cohen that she did not play a role in his death.

“I need to find out what happened to him,’’ she said. “That way I can sleep good at night. And his family, his father, his grandma, his grandpa know that I did not neglect him or anything.

She added, “because something happened. He was fine.’’

Merisca said her son loved cars, and especially enjoyed tooling around in their neighborhood in a toy Jeep his grandfather gave him for his birthday. She said her son was a happy child.

(Globe Correspondent Lauren Dezenski contributed to this report.)