Santa Clara: Woman faces murder charge in son's bathtub drowning
By Robert Salonga
SANTA CLARA -- A Santa Clara woman faces a murder charge in the alleged bathtub drowning of her 12-year-old son earlier this month, a crime she initially claimed was an accident but later confessed to under police interrogation, authorities said.
Tara McNeill Palajac, 51, was arraigned Jan. 14 in the death of her adopted son at their home on Conner Place off Forest Avenue and Winchester Boulevard. She has not entered a plea and is expected to return to court Feb. 1. The boy's Jan. 8 death and subsequent murder arrest were not publicized by Santa Clara police, appearing only in a nondescript arrest-log entry, and were first publicly acknowledged Tuesday in response to an inquiry by this newspaper. A police spokesman said the department cited the sensitivity of the case and the presence of a juvenile victim in explaining its decision not to issue a news release when the alleged crime occurred.
Santa Clara fire paramedics and Santa Clara police were called to the Conner Place residence in the early afternoon of Jan. 8 after Palajac, a longtime Silicon Valley finance and product manager, reported finding the child unconscious in the bathtub, according to a police statement submitted to the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office.
The child was rushed to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead about two hours later, Detective Sgt. Jerry Rodriguez wrote in the police account.
At the time of the emergency call, Palajac reportedly told officers that she was home alone with the boy when "she found him in the tub submerged, partially floating face up" in the water.
Police say that detectives, including Rodriguez, conducted a lengthy follow-up interview Jan. 11 with Palajac, during which she reportedly admitted that she held the child under water "until he was lifeless." She was arrested the next day and booked into the Santa Clara County Jail, where she remains without bail.