Confusion Rises From 2 Tulsa-Area Child Death Cases

Tuesday, June 16th 2020, 7:58 pm

TULSA, Okla. -

Some Tulsa citizens have expressed confusion over differences in what appears to be two similar tragedies resulting in the death of children. 

It's been more than 24 hours since Dustin Dennis was released from jail. His children, Ryan and Teagan died Saturday in a hot truck. A Tulsa County judge released Dennis without bond yesterday based on new surveillance video Tulsa police said shows the toddlers getting into the truck by themselves.

Since that ruling, News On 6 has been flooded with questions and comments from viewers.

"So, does this mean that Miracle and Tony's mom gets to go home too? He did the same thing," said one viewer. 

"How is this different from the mother whose kids got out and drowned?" said another viewer. 

The viewers are asking about Donisha Willis. Police said her children, Miracle and Tony, went missing while she was asleep. Police later found surveillance video showing the children went into a nearby creek and recovered their bodies days later.

Here are the similarities in the cases so far: 

  1. Police say she and Dustin Dennis were asleep or passed out when their children wandered off.  
  2. In both cases, two toddlers died. 

While the cases do have similarities, prosecutors said there are key differences. 

  1. Police arrested Willis for child neglect and arrested Dennis for second degree murder. 
  2. In Willis's case - police have completed their initial investigation and the D-A's office has charged her with second degree murder.
  3. For Dennis, the investigation is ongoing, and prosecutors have not charged him with any crime.
  4. The DA's office said no charges would be filed against Dennis until the investigation is complete.

District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler wrote the following statement:

"My office has not received any written reports associated with the investigation. Charges have not been presented for us to make a filing decision. However, when the police discovered additional exculpatory information related to their initial arrest, they appropriately brought it to our attention and to the judge’s attention who originally set bond. The fact that Mr. Dennis was released on a personal recognizance bond does not mean that this case is over. It is still a matter under investigation."