Bond reduced for Harvard mom accused of child endangerment

A McHenry County judge on Tuesday reduced bond from $200,000 to $90,000 for a jailed Harvard mom accused of allowing her son to “become severely malnourished.”

Parents of the 6-year-old child who has autism, Margaret A. Wisner, 48, and her husband, William S. Wisner, 40, were each charged last week with child endangerment, aggravated domestic battery and reckless conduct, according to court records.

Wisner’s attorney William Bligh argued for the reduction, saying that Wisner has no criminal history, is not a flight risk, has long ties to the county and doctors’ appointments in Wisconsin related to cancer treatments.

She also has a 23-year-old son with severe autism, epilepsy and other medical conditions who needs her 24-hour care.

Assistant State’s Attorney Ken Hudson objected to lowering Wisner’s bond, saying that when she took her son to a hospital in Walworth, Wisconsin, in November, he weighed 32 pounds, which doctors said included water retention.

While the boy was in the hospital, he lost some of that water weight and leveled out at 27 pounds, closer to the size of a 2- or 3-year-old child. He also had issues with his legs and trouble walking, Hudson said.

Wisner told doctors that her son was a “finicky eater” and in recent months would only eat Cheez-It crackers.  She told doctors that she did not bring him in for care sooner because she was afraid of COVID-19, Hudson said.

However, Hudson said, during this same timeframe she made posts on social media showing herself attending large political rallies without a mask and she had been to the hospital for her own health issues.

He said doctors said that when they saw him in the hospital the child was “close to death … possibly within days.”

Doctors investigated the possibility that his weight loss was due to other causes. They had not yet found anything else to explain his condition other than malnutrition.

“[This is] an extreme case of parental malfeasance and neglect,” Hudson said. “She has been uncooperative and dishonest.”

When the boy was in the hospital and she wanted to take him home, the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services took protective custody and the police were called, Hudson said.

The 6-year-old child and another younger sibling currently are in custody of DCFS. Wisner’s 23-year-old son is currently being cared for by Wisner’s father, who came from Michigan to help care for him.

Judge Michael Coppedge modified Wisner’s bond allowing her to travel to Madison for medical treatments, but she must surrender any firearms and is not allowed contact with her younger sons.

William Wisner is scheduled to appear in court 9 a.m. Wednesday.

Margaret Wisner, who must post $9,000 to be released on pre-trial bond, is due back in court for a preliminary hearing Dec. 22.