Lindsey Nicole Blansett, the woman accused of killing her 10-year-old son with a rock and knife so he would “go to heaven tonight,” isn’t the mother her neighbors saw.
They said they saw a loving mom who walked her two children to elementary school in the morning and back home in the afternoon.
“Her children were her everything,” Amber Conrad said Tuesday morning.
A day earlier, Sumner County Attorney Kerwin Spencer charged the 33-year-old mother with first-degree murder in connection with the death of her son, Caleb. Blansett allegedly went into Caleb’s bedroom Sunday night at their home in the 900 block of West Seventh St. in Wellington, struck him once with a rock and stabbed him with a knife multiple times until he was dead, according to the criminal complaint.
The complaint also stated that Blansett decided Caleb’s “life would be full of suffering and it would be better for him to go to heaven” Sunday night.
In Tuesday’s court appearance via video from the Sumner County Jail, where she’s being held on a $500,000 bond, District Court Judge William Mott advised Blansett of the charge and that she could be facing a life in prison.
Mott asked her whether she wanted a court-appointed defense attorney.
“Please,” Blansett replied quietly.
Mike Brown was appointed her attorney. Her first appearance was set for 9 a.m. Thursday before Judge R. Scott McQuin.
“This is certainly a tragic situation,” Spencer said before Tuesday’s hearing. “In her misinformed religious beliefs, the best way to make sure her son went to heaven was to kill him.
“No one should think that’s a reasonable belief.”
Neighbors are trying to make sense of what happened.
Jim Hensley, who said he has known Blansett for three years, said the unemployed single mother was despondent because she couldn’t provide what she wanted for her children, Caleb and his 9-year-old sister.
“This is very shocking,” he said. “Nobody knows what happened. But she was stressed about the Christmas season, she was stressed about bills, she was stressed about not having the ability to get what the kids needed.
“She was so stressed.”
Conrad couldn’t believe what she was hearing about the woman neighbors knew as Nicole. In the year since she has lived two doors down from Blansett, the two women would talk about life and children.
At least talk a little.
“She was quiet,” Conrad added.
Blansett’s two children would come over to watch movies and eat popcorn with Conrad’s kids. She said she watched Blansett as a mother.
“I would never guess that she would do something like this, that anyone would do something like this,” Conrad said. “Even now, after hearing she admitted doing it, I can’t believe it. No, someone has this wrong.”
Hensley said he used to take Caleb fishing and tried to help Blansett financially as much as he could.
“There was no sign of abuse of the kids,” he said. “Both of the kids were outspoken. If there had been abuse or neglect, they would’ve confided in me or my girlfriend.”
Hensley said Blansett divorced about two years ago. She and her former husband, who works in Wellington, tried to reconcile, he added.
“That didn’t work out,” Hensley said.
Across the street from Blansett’s house, Garrett Wilson, a senior at Oklahoma State University, was home for the semester break.
“To have something like this happen in a community the size of Wellington – that’s rare,” Wilson said. “The whole community is shocked by it.”
Caleb’s sister was initially taken into police protective custody and reportedly has since been released to a family member. Spencer said he couldn’t confirm that, although he said that the Kansas Department for Children and Families was considering putting the girl with the father.
Hensley said he tried to be a male role model for Caleb.
“Both of the kids were well-behaved, good kids,” he said. “It’s a shame something like this would happen.