Phantom Murder: At the 11th Hour, Prosecutors Dropped a Murder Charge Against a Beloved Daycare Operator -- Leaving the Death of Baby Dillon a Medical Mystery

Phantom Murder: At the 11th Hour, Prosecutors Dropped a Murder Charge Against a Beloved Daycare Operator -- Leaving the Death of Baby Dillon a Medical Mystery
Kyle T. Webster
 On Monday, July 19, a top aide to Maricopa County Attorney Rick Romley told New Times that prosecutors will file a motion to dismiss murder and child-abuse charges against Lisa Kathleen Randall, whose case is the subject of this story.

Cindi Nanetti, division chief over major crimes, said senior prosecutors reviewed the case in an Incident Review Board meeting earlier Monday and unanimously concluded that "we cannot say with any certainty that a murder was committed."

Nanetti said the turning point for her office came after the internal review board analyzed a report authored recently by the prosecution's own expert, Dr. Cliff Nelson of the state medical examiner's office in Oregon. Nelson's conclusions were similar to those of other experts — prosecution and defense — that the official cause of death listed by Maricopa County pathologist Dr. Kevin Horn in late 2007 — "blunt-force trauma of the head and neck" — was totally wrong.

Lisa Randall feeds one of her seven grandchildren.
courtesy of the Randall Family
Lisa Randall feeds one of her seven grandchildren.
Lisa Randall's mug shot after her November 2007 arrest.
Lisa Randall's mug shot after her November 2007 arrest.

"These are highly emotional cases that are tragic all around," Nanetti said, "but we have to rely on the experts, who are telling us that this very, very possibly wasn't a murder after all. Even the doctors who once were sure about the blunt-force trauma, including Dr. Horn, tell us they can't disagree with Dr. Nelson's conclusions. We are obliged not to move forward with this. It's our duty."

Randall's trial was scheduled to start August 2, more than three years after the April 2007 death of 4-month-old Dillon Uutela. Peoria police arrested Randall after a grand jury indicted her on the charges.

Superior Court Judge Michael Kemp is expected to dismiss the case at a hearing on July 22.


Dillon Uutela's last hours of consciousness began on the morning of April 18, 2007, a mere 133 days after his birth.

He was the only child of Tara and Jason Uutela, a young Surprise couple who moved to Arizona from Washington state in 2005.

Dillon had been under the weather for about three weeks, first with an ear infection and then with a nagging fever contracted after a series of vaccination shots.

On April 16, the infant's pediatrician wrote that Dillon was suffering from "viral syndrome," though Dr. Nicholas Pham didn't order blood tests to confirm his diagnosis. Pham's case notes say he told Tara to return in a few days if Dillon wasn't feeling better.

She continued to treat her baby with Tylenol, and on the morning of April 18, the Uutelas decided to resume their previous weekday routine.

Jason Uutela later told a police detective that he arose for work that morning in the predawn hours. Dillon was sleeping in his crib.

Tara Uutela had returned weeks earlier to her job at a bank and was working afternoons. She awoke about 6:45 a.m., fed Dillon a bottle of formula about 7 and then about 9:30, the latter feeding about a half-hour earlier than usual. (The infant ingested just three ounces of the five-ounce bottle during the 9:30 feeding, a detail that later would come into play.)

Tara planned to drop Dillon off later that morning with Lisa Randall, a woman in her late 40s who ran a small daycare business out of her home on West Cherry Hills Drive in Peoria.

The Uutelas first had hooked up with Lisa through Tara's work supervisor, Sarah Randall (Lisa's daughter-in-law). The couple started taking Dillon there on weekdays, for three or four hours at a stretch, in early March, and it was working out fine.

Lisa was calm and patient, and the other children at the home (usually four or five at a time) always seemed happy.

Tara did some shopping with Dillon at Arrowhead Mall (she bought him a little NASCAR shirt), and then drove to Lisa Randall's home.

She carried the infant, still strapped in his car seat, to the front door and said her goodbyes about 11:30.

Both Tara and Lisa later agreed in separate police interviews that Dillon seemed fine — alert and not the least fussy.

Tara asked Lisa to feed Dillon a bit earlier than usual, because his schedule was a little off and he hadn't finished his second bottle that morning.

Eleven children (Dillon was the youngest) were at Lisa's that day, double the usual number. As the only adult on-site, Lisa was busy with endless tasks — changing diapers, fixing lunch, wiping mouths, emptying the dishwasher.

Lisa would tell police that, after Tara left, she eventually took Dillon out of the car seat, played with him, and then placed him on a blanket on the floor in the family room.

Per Tara's instructions, Lisa intentionally put Dillon on his stomach for "tummy time," which provides a break for the back of a baby's head, allowing the infant to strengthen neck muscles and prepare it for crawling.

As time passed, two 5-year-old boys (one of them was Lisa's grandson Blake) moved onto a couch in the family room, waiting for Lisa to turn on a DVD of Charlotte's Web.

About 12:30, Lisa went to the kitchen to fix a bottle for Dillon, roughly 30 minutes earlier than usual, following Tara's instructions. She also grabbed a clean diaper for the baby before stepping over to the family room.

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31 comments
Aricks
Aricks

Its interesting to hear Lisa say nothing like this ever happened to her before, but how can she froget that it has? This is the second baby to die under Lisa's watchful care. The first baby was also thought to have died from SIDS. How do you forget that? She is not the saint she has been made out to be here.

Liora Pearlman
Liora Pearlman

Viral Syndrome my ass! Vaccine injury. See the article by Harold Buttram, MD "The Stepchildren of Modern Medicine, as Applied to Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS)/Non-accidental Injury (NAI)"

He explains the mechanism. Severe Vitamin C deficiency following vaccination. There are lots of references. http://www.vaccinationcouncil....

Norco Addiction
Norco Addiction

A pre-Internet murder mystery set on Cape Cod in the 1980s, "Hide and Seek" tells a murder mystery backwards: we know the identity of the ...

Tramadol Abuse
Tramadol Abuse

The killer attacked eight people, killing five. The Phantom Killer was never caught nor identified. The Moonlight Murders are considered as a cold case. ...

Wendyw614
Wendyw614

Phoenix Childrens hospital did the same thing to my family. It took me 3 years 4 months to find out what really happened to my granddaughter she has a genetic disorder called mirochondrial myopathy. surprise & el mirage police picked & picked at my son till they could put him in jail for something. I blame those police & pch for everything that's happened to my family. I've tried to find a lawyer to go against pch but no one wants to go against pch. so I guess they get to keep wrongfully accusing people of shaken baby syndrome. I wouldn't take my dog to this hospital!!!!

Sondracevelin
Sondracevelin

Being a parent myself, my heart goes out to the parents of this baby. My heart also goes out to this poor woman. I hope that she will not spend the rest of her life fighting this horrible stigma. I could not imagine going through those interrogations, the threats I'm sure she received from strangers, the feeling that so many people believe you did something that you didn't do. I just can't imagine. If she wouldn't have had the love and support (financial and emotional) that she got from her family and close friends, she would probably be on death row by now. I wish her the best, and I hope she lives a happy life.

Felonjanes
Felonjanes

The government uses us "American's" as TEST PROJECTS, like rats in a lab, we are being studied. Population control as well last but never very least control period!

Krysty
Krysty

There are thousands of parents and daycare workers in U.S. prisons after being convicted of SHAKING A BABY. There stories are all the same. There isnt any broken necks or bruises. It is brain hemorrhaging from vaccines. It states on the vaccine package insert that brain hemorrhaging occurs. Doctors make this diagnosis and call police without doing any further test. They never want to blame vaccines because their business thrives on the damage they create. They win in court cause everyone trust the doctor. This FALSE ACCUSATION has gone on for 20 years and it has never been proven. Elizabeth Whittle is still in prison after being sentenced to 150 years for shaking her new quadruplets in 1999. She is INNOCENT also. The doctors gave her 3lb babies a HepB shot when they arent suppose to get any until they are at normal birth weight. I cant believe they get away with M

Aeiou12357
Aeiou12357

I'm not going to argue about your accusations I'm just going to ask a question. How many children would die if they wern't immunized against deadly diseases like polio, smallpox, hep a, hep b, measles, mumps, rubella, typhoid, diptheria, etc, etc.?

Krysty
Krysty

This case is the doctors fault, you are NEVER suppose to give a baby vaccines when they have been sick with an earache. A babies immune system is not developed to handle 2 different assaults. Vaccines contain many toxic chemicals. Alluminum, Formaldehyde, Polyethylene Glycol, Phenol and Mercury. Babies are having more reactions now than ever. They are also giving more vaccines than ever. Its not COMMON SENSE or NATURAL to inject these disgusting things into a baby. VACCINES CAUSE SIDS AND SBS

Disgusted
Disgusted

First, my heart goes out to Dillon's parents. Being a parent myself, I can imagine how devastating it must be to lose a child.

Second, I think it is an absolute shame that the pediatrician did not recognize how sick this child was. It is too bad that insurance companies, in the spirit of saving costs, discourage doctors to run necessary tests to properly diagnose patients. Perhaps Dillon would be alive today if the pediatrician had a clue. I'm giving the pediatrician the benefit of the doubt here, and assuming that the failure to comprehend the seriousness of Dillon's condition was not due to negligence or incompetence.

Finally, I think it is absolutely appalling that it took our legal system over three years to finally figure out that this case should be dismissed. I suspect that Lisa’s life has been ruined. She should not have had to spend one day in prison. What ever happened to “innocent until proven guilty”? What happened to our sixth amendment “right to a speedy and public trial”? Shame on everyone involved, the detectives, the medical experts, and the prosecuting attorneys for their negligence, incompetence, maliciousness, and/or their dishonesty throughout this tragic travesty. And the public foots the bill for this blatant injustice, and will likely pay even more when this poor woman sues the pants off of these circus clowns. It is time for some major reform!

avictimaswell
avictimaswell

The police in this Valley of the Sun are extremely incompetent. Obviously the medical examiner is too as they did not even do a proper autopsy. I have been a victim of the police here not doing their job correctly. Too many badge heavy police with egos trying to make a name for themselves same as the med examiner and the hospital. This poor woman, since she was last with baby let's just blame her? What the hell is that? The incompetency that goes on in police departments as well as prosecutors etc. should all be made aware to the people of this valley and people better take warning, this could happen to you.

Sassyr3dh3ad29
Sassyr3dh3ad29

It's happened to our family . The legal system in AZ is just WRONG! A very unhappy/cheating wife made her daughter lie to the police there and said my brother molested her . They arrested him & charged him with 8+ acts to a child , no examination was done and the girl ( stepdaughter ) changed her story multiple times ! CPS took the girl and guess where her mom went? She left the state and left her kid in CPS's care while she went to her boyfriends home in Chicago. Wendy Dutton also testified at my brothers trial as an EXPERT WITNESS ( BS ) , what she didn't tell the court was that , there was another child in that home who gave a statement that nothing happened but THEY forgot to push the record button when they interviewed her . We couldn't afford a lawyer so his fate was left in the hands of AZ courts . They gave him 63 years for crimes he did not do . So to read this story , I can honestly say that I know what nightmare her family went through ... My deepest condolences to the Dillon's family , I'm very sorry for your loss . Lisa , I hope that life treats you so much better these days , it's not easy to FORGET but I hope you can get past that nightmare and start living your life again with family and friends who obviously adore you . God Bless ,Chicago Family

Amburke12
Amburke12

This woman's life is ruined forever! Too bad the law has people working for it that are more intended on winning a badge of fame than actually finding the truth! This state, in it's courtrooms, over and over again, has ignored the law itself in determining a verdict. Judges, prosecuting attorneys, etc... there should be an investigation of Arizona in general, it's disgusting.

Privatepamperedunique
Privatepamperedunique

I'm not even finished reading the entire article and know from experience the rediculous crap this poor woman has suffered. Now, I wasn't there and don't know all of the details, but can tell you Phoenix Children's Hospital gets paid to try to incriminate innocent parents and caregivers and that it is part of their policy. I can see these damned doctors trying to make a name for themselves instead of using their medical knowledge to give THE FACTS! I know because my now 5 year old son was once given one bite of a peanut butter sandwhich while I was away at work. My sister was his sitter at the time. I never leave my son in any care provider's hands for a full day eventhough I pay full price day care. I was not told until I called to say I was running late that day, that my son had had an allergic reaction. When the scenario was explained to me I knew immediately my child had had an anaphylactic reaction to the peanut butter. My sister assured me he was fine. When I arrived I saw contusions and swelling consistent with a suddenb histamine reaction. Eventhough hours later my child was still quite swollen across the entire region of the face. My sister and back up sitter had only monitored him, reporting there had been no irregularities in his breathing. They had not sought emergency medical attention and had used home remedies to abate the condition. I thought, saw and reacted differently. I took him to Phoenix Children's Hospital along with the child's father. We arrived approximately 6 hours after initial onset of the condition which I wasn't even made aware of until after the first 4 hours and that being by phone.

Upon arriving I made the intake nurse aware of the condition of adverse reaction to a food stuff. I was treated incredulously for having the ability to possess medical knowledge of my child's injuries. To the point of being bullied by the attending nurse. I finally confronted the nurse and told him I would not be harrassed or challenged and would kindly wait for the doctor. When the doctor (not doctor in training) arrived he diagnosed my son with peanut allergy and prescribed appropriate meds along with an epi pen I have to this day!

Having thought I was rudely received, but yet also havingg received excellent and immediate care I thought we'd be leaving. To my surprise I was made to passively wait for nearly an hour for what I thought was a simple paper release since we had already received meds. To my surprise, another doctor, who was not a part of the original assessment team walked in, introduced himself and began to ask surreptitious questions. At first, I did not know what was going on, but then it hit me! I had been flagged for possible child abuse because I brought my child to a hospital that is PAID to imply child abuse on innocent victims to continue to receive funding. SO even when their is NO LEGITIMATE concern of child abuse, the hospital and many of the doctor's FABRICATE it so their filthy pockets get filled!!!!

For those unfortunate victims who comply, the ball of was only gets bigger. I stopped it immediately, confronting that doctor as well. I told him I would not participate in his profiling of a Woman of Color since I brought my child immediately to the hospital to get help for his condition as I am not a doctor and can't prescribe an epi pen!

Granted, there are people who might mask symptoms, but generally their cover ups can be seen straight through with those who have medical knowledge. The doctor doesn't normally walk in and agree with the condition of fact, find the exact symptoms match the described incident, etc. I walked out on the sneaky idiot and I have a feeling this grandmother could have done the same waaaaay up front and saved her and her family a lot of heartache! Cooperating with idiots never insures your sanity or freedoms. Though I think the woman in this article should NOT have been watching 11 children at one time alone (and of course who can be sure that potential fact has been accurately reported even), still, my heart goes out to her, the deceased and fam as well as the frightening circumstance she has found herself in. I hope she sues the bastards!!!

Chic2sj
Chic2sj

My daughter is a victim of shaken baby syndrom... the same thing happened to my daughter that happened to Dillion, symptom wise. She was being abused by her father and had many of the symptoms. She had a dr visit two weeks prior with a "viral infection" and then had the subdurial bleeding in her brain. The first hospital did a CT scan and an MRI on her and immediately flew us to a children's hospital. Of course I was the one who took her so I was immediately questioned. Then, they questioned her father. She has many, many difficulties today. I am very fortuntate that she did not pass unlike baby Dillon. I know that Lisa may not have done this, but it looks like maybe a parent? There were three people and it looks like only the last one was throughly looked at......

Davetron
Davetron

I don't know... I kinda liked the graphic.

msmoldavite
msmoldavite

What a tragic story. My heart goes out to Dillon's family, Lisa and her family as well. This woman did not hurt this sweet little baby. I would bet my own life on it. I hope someday soon all will be at peace with this.

Mike Wells
Mike Wells

Where'd all the comments go? No more option to 'Show more'? These new boards need a little fixin'.

Family Member
Family Member

She had one baby die in her care before. Why was that never brought up? And as far as her saying that her only brush with the law was when she was 16? That is a bald face LIE. She had police called on her for BEATING HER OWN NIECE. The police officer that responded to that 911 call was her neighbor, who let her leave without so much as a warning. Lisa and her family are a bunch of liars and manipulators.

Justice
Justice

Wow. You are so full of shit. Not one thing you just said is accurate. You clearly have all of this wrong. You have no sources, because your information is incorrect. Give it up already.

Mike Wells
Mike Wells

Care to cite your source for this?

Justice
Justice

He doesn't have any. All of the information just listed was 100% false.

Mike Wells
Mike Wells

I have to wonder who would feel the need to make stuff up. It seems like all of her former clients like her and many came to her defense, and while it doesn't specify how the parents of Dillon feel now, it sure doesn't sound like they're vindictive, and it sounds like they may be questioning her guilt as well.

Naoma
Naoma

How can anyone look after 11 children? This is ridiculous. I had one child and looked after her day and night. It was a full-time job. Ten other kids would have put me in an institution. And, of course I was at home all the time.

NewTimesIsAJoke
NewTimesIsAJoke

Wow... horrible choice of graphic. What else can you expect from a free publication who's "paper" consists of mostly tattoo parlor ads and bar specials. With your main demographic being drunken students about to fail out of college after finding out their one night stand is/got them pregnant, you probably don't have to worry about offending anyone, right?

1bigdpw
1bigdpw

The Medical community would rather put a parent or daycare worker in prison than admit the thousands of children every year die from unnessesary vaccinations and even more are mentally damaged or their immune systems are damaged beyond repair. This is the biggest tradgedy in America today.

 
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