Professor jailed after autistic son drowns in freezing pool with his arms tied up 'like swaddling a baby'

Professor jailed after autistic son drowns in freezing pool with his arms tied up 'like swaddling a baby'

January 20, 2021

A FATHER has been jailed over the backyard pool death of his autistic teen son, who he called a "freak", at their family home.

On Monday, Timothy Koets, 51, was sentenced in Ottawa County Circuit Court to serve between two and 15 years in prison for involuntary manslaughter in the March 2019 drowning of his son, Samuel Koets.

Samuel, 16, drowned in the icy, above-ground pool at the family’s home in Georgetown Township in Michigan March 2019, reports.

According to court documents, Samuel was severely disabled and unable to care for himself.

The nonverbal teen, who had the cognitive ability of a toddler, reportedly drowned after Koets, a former Grand Rapids Community College assistant professor, placed him on a back deck with his arms tied in a swaddle before leaving for work.

Koets’ cousin Joel said the family would swaddle Samuel because the teen liked to have his arms wrapped up “like swaddling a baby,” Mlive reports.

The boy’s mother, Michelle Koets, was sleeping at the time.

Investigators determined the unsupervised teen somehow got into the covered pool, where he was discovered by his 18-year-old sister an hour later, WWMT reports.

Koets’ daughter told cops she saw Samuel in the pool with his arms bound and yelled for her parents, but got no answer. She then left the home, according to

Koets later asked his 13-year-old daughter if she returned home from school and for her to check on the “freak,” prompting the teen to send back a photo of Samuel in the pool, court records show.

Koets has said the moniker for his son was a “fun-hearted” nickname, WOOD-TV reports.

Prosecutors said the teen was regularly left unattended — with law enforcement officials responding to the home at least 15 times for reports of Sam escaping or being left unattended.

“The words that I used were not good,” Koets said of the text message Monday. “It was a way of blowing off steam and I’m not excusing myself for that, but I would never harm or abuse Sam.”

Koets pleaded guilty in December to involuntary manslaughter, fourth-degree child abuse, and obtaining a controlled substance by fraud.

“Sam had value and the sanction will not restore Sam, but it will recognize that all humans have value and because of the neglect that you committed, a valuable human has lost his life,” Judge Jon Hulsing told Koets.

Meanwhile, Samuel's mother was sentenced to 21 days in jail in June 2019 for continuing to refill her son’s Ritalin prescription some eight months after he died, reports.

According to the outlet, Koets’ attorney David Kallman called the situation a “very unique and tragic” case, citing in court Monday that his client will have to live with the consequences of his actions for the rest of his life.

“This is not blaming anybody here in terms of anyone’s actions, but Sam is a very high-needs child,” Kallman said.

“He required 24/7 around the clock supervisor and care. He was in the room that was in the house because of the way he destroyed everything else in other rooms.”

Koets, who had been a full-time GRCC faculty member since the 2007-08 academic year, termination was effective January 28, 2020.

A member of the Computer Information Systems Department, he had been placed on administrative leave with pay on October 28, 2019.

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