FARGO - A West Fargo man faces felony charges of manslaughter and child neglect in the apparent bathtub drowning of one of his children last month, according to Cass County District Court documents.
Spencer Warren Foner, 27, was arraigned Tuesday, April 24, appearing in court via interactive television from the Cass County Jail. He was later released after posting $5,000 bond.
Authorities did not release the name of the 8-month-old child who died. It’s the third child death in the region this month involving alleged abuse or neglect.
The other victims were a 6-year-old boy in Fergus Falls, Minn., and a 3-year-old boy in Breckenridge, Minn. Arrests have been made in both cases.
According to court documents:
West Fargo police were dispatched March 7 to Foner's apartment, and officers found him standing over an 8-month-old child who was not breathing. One of the officers immediately began life-saving efforts, and shortly thereafter, an ambulance crew took the child to a local hospital.
The infant later died, and a preliminary autopsy listed the cause of death as drowning, according to an affidavit dated April 13.
While at the apartment, officers saw another child, either 3 or 4 years old, in a bathtub that contained about 8 inches of water.
Officers smelled marijuana and saw marijuana paraphernalia, including pipes and a bong, in multiple areas of the apartment, including areas the toddler could access.
There was also garbage, dirty dishes and soiled diapers found in several places, and one bedroom contained a cat's scattered litter box.
Initially, Foner told officers that he had not put the 8-month-old in the tub. Later, Foner told a detective that he had put the child in a Bumbo seat, a device that allows children to sit up who cannot yet sit up on their own in the tub. He said he then ran the water to where it just entered the Bumbo seat, took out the drain plug and shut off the water.
Foner said his older child said he was hungry, so Foner said he went to the kitchen for no more than five minutes. When Foner returned, he said the 8-month-old was floating face-up in the tub, and the water level was higher than when he had left.
Foner said he believed the older child had turned the water back on after he left the room.
Foner initially told a detective that he never heard the water running when he was in the kitchen, but he later suggested he had heard the water running for a time but not long enough to be a problem.
Foner told officers that he had smoked marijuana about 4:25 a.m. that day, slept and walked the dog. While walking the dog, Foner said he left the two children alone.
In an interview with another detective, Foner said he thought he had misspoke when he initially said he hadn't put the 8-month-old in the tub, according to court documents.
During Tuesday's hearing, Foner said he lived with his girlfriend and their three children. Foner's attorney, Leo Patrick O'Day, declined to comment on the case.