By Helen Greenia
RIVERSIDE, CA – A petition for resentencing by a woman convicted in the death of two of her children was denied this past week in Riverside County Superior Court by Judge John Malloy.
Judge Malloy read the following summary of the main facts of the case to the courtroom:
In February 2002, the remains of 10-week-old baby Montana, daughter of Krissy Lynn Werntz and Jason Michael Hann, were discovered after being abandoned in a storage facility in Arkansas. This discovery led to a nationwide search for the child’s parents.
Werntz and Hann kept the remains of Montana in a plastic container under the bed in their popup trailer. They claimed they put her into the container so they could spend more time with her.
Werntz said Montana was not injured before her death. At the time of the child’s death, Werntz entered the trailer and picked up Montana, who was lying in the bathtub. She initially stated that the child was fine, but when she was asked if Montana was alive she stated, “No. She was not alive.”
In Oct. 2001, after Montana’s death, they had rented a storage unit in Wynne, Arkansas. When Werntz and Hann failed to pay rent for the unit, the storage facility auctioned off the contents of the unit, and the new owner discovered the remains of Montana and contacted police. This led to a nationwide search for the child’s parents.
Police found photos of Werntz and Hann inside of the trailer, and traced the New Hampshire license plate to Hann. In April 2002, a motel reported to police that the defendant and Hann were residing there.
Police arrested both Werntz and Hann, who were found holding their third child, Michael. Police placed Michael into a foster home immediately after the arrest. Michael appeared to be unhealthy and malnourished, as he was extremely thin. The child did not have obvious external injuries, however he had 13 rib fractures and brain bleedings. His injuries were likely caused by violent shaking, according to the case facts.
Werntz claimed that she was unaware of the abuse occurring to Michael, and that Hann was not violent with the children.
Montana and Michael were not the only children who fell victim to the defendant and Hann’s abuse.
In 1999, the defendant and Hann had their first child, Jason, who died at six weeks old in Vermont. Autopsy revealed Jason also suffered from fractures and abuse. The defendant and Hann kept the remains of the child in a plastic container in the backseat of their car while they traveled around the United States.
Deputies found Jason’s remains in a black nylon bag wrapped in trash bags in their trailer, after the discovery of Montana’s remains.
Defendant Werntz claimed Jason died from a spider bite when they were living in a tent in Vermont. She admitted she did not check Jason to see if he had a spider bite and never reported the death to authorities. However, she also agreed with Hann’s testimony that Jason died from crib death.
After reading the facts of the case, Judge Molloy shared his opinion on the actions of Werntz, stating “She put two dead children in a box and left them.”
He further shared with the courtroom, “The notion that she was not aware of his [Hann] violent nature based on her own conduct defies logic. This is a bone chilling case. These facts are horror stories. I find overwhelming evidence supporting implied malice. Never have I seen such callous disregard for one’s own child.”
Judge Molloy ruled, “Petition is denied. It is beyond reasonable doubt that she failed to protect her children.”