Melissa L. Gonyo

Prosecutors say they found a Chazy mother's twins unattended and in a dangerous position just weeks before her son died in similar circumstances.

Melissa L. Gonyo, 21, was recently indicted on manslaughter and child-endangerment charges in connection with the September 2010 death of her 6-month-old son, Zachary Whalen, and a previous incident involving her twins.


Prosecutors say Gonyo woke with the crying infant in the middle of the night, changed his diaper and gave him a bottle of water.

She then left him propped on a chair in a downstairs living room and went to sleep in her upstairs bedroom, police said, never returning to check on her baby.

The boy's father, Jonathan Whalen, found the baby dead several hours later after he apparently suffocated.

Authorities believe the baby died of positional asphyxia.


Gonyo has pleaded not guilty to the allegations and reappeared in Clinton County Court for a bail hearing Thursday morning.

Assistant Clinton County District Attorney Domenica Padula said Judge Kevin Ryan has opted to keep Gonyo's bail status at $30,000 cash or $60,000 bond, which she has been unable to post.

Gonyo is now scheduled to reappear in court for a conference Sept. 28.

She is not accused of intentionally causing her son's death but for allegedly acting recklessly that night. She faces up to 15 years behind bars if convicted of the manslaughter charge.


Prosecutors said Thursday that Zachary's death came just three weeks after Gonyo was found to have left both her twins unattended in a similar situation.

In late August or early September 2010, Child Protective Services caseworkers visited Gonyo's former Route 9 home for an unannounced visit as part of an ongoing CPS investigation.

Once at the home, Padula said, caseworkers could hear the babies screaming, but no one answered the door or their repeated phone calls.

While Gonyo's dog barked at the door, caseworkers called State Police, who gained emergency access to the home about 20 minutes later to check on the twins' welfare.

As caseworkers tended to the infants, Gonyo came downstairs and allegedly told officials she had been sleeping and never heard the babies crying, the knocks on the door, the dog barking or her phone ringing.

Mr. Whalen was also found to be sleeping upstairs during the afternoon visit.

Prosecutors said Thursday that caseworkers warned Gonyo about the dangers of leaving the infants unattended and propped on furniture, noting they could fall off or fall over and suffocate.

That's why, prosecutors said, they presented the case to a grand jury to determine whether Gonyo acted recklessly when she repeated those actions just weeks after being warned.

The two child-endangerment charges stem from the earlier visit, Padula said.

State Police are continuing to investigate the boy's death and said charges could still be filed against Whalen.

The couple's remaining child, Zoe, is now in the care of Whalen's relatives.

Email Andrea VanValkenburg at:

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