Courts
Jonathan Miano, The Times

A Gary mother faces felony charges on allegations she is responsible for the death of her 12-year-old son in failing to monitor his kidney disorder and seek medical attention when symptoms worsened. 

The Lake County coroner’s office classified Davarion Davis' May 4 death as a homicide and in the autopsy report noted it is “very rare” for a child diagnosed with Nephrotic syndrome to die from this medical condition, according to a probable cause affidavit filed Thursday in Lake Criminal Court.

The cause of death was determined to be a complication of Nephrotic syndrome "complicated with penile infection due to neglect," court records show. 

Nephrotic syndrome is a kidney disorder associated with high protein levels in urine and fluid retention in the body that can be managed with medication. 

Teisha Ellis, 34, is charged with neglect of a dependent resulting in death where the victim is less than 14 years old and neglect of a dependent in which she placed the dependent in a situation that endangers the dependent's life or health, according to the affidavit. 

Gary police said they were contacted in August by a social worker with the Indiana Department of Children and Family Services assigned to a child death review panel in the Lake County Prosecutor's Office.

The panel determined Davis' death could have been prevented and warranted further investigation, court records show.

The boy was diagnosed with Nephrotic syndrome three years ago when he complained of an uncomfortable pain in his genitals and Ellis observed he had swollen genitals, the mother told police. He received treatment for a few years, but she took him off medication two months before an April 2016 doctor's visit.

Results at that time showed he was doing better, court records show. 

The mother was advised to routinely test his urine and seek medical help upon signs of relapse, court records show. 

Police interviews with medical professionals and review of health records show Ellis lied to investigators about Davis seeing a pediatrician before the start of the school year.

She also told police she routinely tested protein levels and checked his genitals for swelling, but police allege she did not, noting his genitals were "very swollen" on the day of his death, court records show.

Medical professionals interviewed by police said Ellis routinely only made appointments when her son was "in medical crisis" rather than following recommended routine follow-ups.

One health professional said she allegedly failed to give her son his medication over a four-month period because "it had slipped her mind," according to the affidavit. 

Ellis kept her son home from school two days in April and three days leading up to his death, telling the school he was having an "allergic reaction" but was still taking medication, court records show. 

Davis was reportedly extremely lethargic the day of his death, and frequently urinated and vomited in the days leading up to his death, according to the affidavit. 

The boy's father, who is in a wheelchair, told police Ellis was mostly responsible for Davis' care.

He found the boy unresponsive in the home and he was taken to the hospital where he was later pronounced dead.

Tissue samples taken during his autopsy determined Davis' infection had been present for "two to three weeks" prior, court records show.  

Ellis is in custody at Lake County jail, court records show.

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Public safety reporter

Lauren covers breaking news, crime and courts for The Times. She previously worked at The Herald-News in Joliet covering government, public policy, and the region’s heroin epidemic. She holds a master’s degree in Public Affairs Reporting.