Local News

Oregon mom charged with son’s murder also accused of rupturing his liver

OREGON – An Oregon woman accused of suffocating her 7-year-old son also ruptured his liver, investigators said in information made public during her first appearance this afternoon in Ogle County Court.

Sarah Lyn (Burton) Safranek, 34, was arrested Wednesday and charged with five counts of first-degree murder and one count of aggravated battery of a child.

Nathaniel Burton, son of Safranek and Bryan E. Burton, was pronounced dead at KSB Hospital in Dixon after Oregon police responded to a 911 call at 2:35 a.m. Feb. 17 in the 400 block of South 10th Street reporting a 7-year-old who was not breathing.

An autopsy showed the boy died of suffocation. While reading charges to Safranek on Thursday, Judge John Redington said Nathaniel also suffered a ruptured liver.

Safranek submitted a financial affidavit and requested a public defender. Ogle County Chief Public Defender Kathleen A. Isley appeared on her behalf. Ogle County State’s Attorney Mike Rock appeared for the state.

Safranek faces 20 years to life if convicted of murder, and 6 to 30 years for aggravated battery.

“I was so happy she was arrested,” Safranek’s mother, Colleen Hackman, said in an interview Thursday. “I didn’t think it was fair for her to be walking around free.

“Nathaniel was a great kid. He was always laughing and joking. He loved the splash park and riding his bike. The summer we got ice cream and walked my dog over at NIU and had a great day.

“I can’t believe I’ll never see him again.”

Rock said at a news conference Wednesday announcing the arrest that he does not expect to charge anyone else in the boy’s death.

He did say a third person was at the home that morning, but declined to say who.

Safranek’s bond remains at $2 million. Isley did not request a reduction, but her request for a trial bond report, which is standard procedure, was granted.

It will include information on Safranek’s criminal history, if any; her family and work situations; her physical and mental health history; and “things of that nature,” Redington said.

“That will be put together in a report, and at the appropriate time, should your counsel make a motion to modify the bond in some fashion, the court will have that background information in order to make an accurate decision,” he told Safranek.

“So it’s in your best interest to answer the questions that they put to you the best you can.”

Her preliminary hearing 10:30 a.m. May 5.