Neighbors & Grandfather React to Baby's Death

By Syreeta Baker

July 15, 2010 Updated Feb 21, 2008 at 9:00 PM CDT

It's a crime that's sent shockwaves throughout central Illinois.
Viewers are responding with outrage to the death of a baby boy from Peoria.

Prosecutors say is the worst case of child neglect seen in Peoria in a decade.

Neighbors of little Benjamin Sargent are reacting to his senseless death.
They say they knew something wasn't right at the Proctor Street home where 21-year old Tracy Hermann and 23-year old James Sargent lived but they never suspected something so sinister.

Some area residents where the 5–month–old victim died say they are just plain disgusted. They say they did not even know Tracy Hermann and James Sargent had a child.

"The parents had been acting really strange for about a few days before. They were outside and they were walking up and down the neighborhood, the woman was standing outside with no coat," said neighbor Dorothy Davis.

Davis says the couple moved into the neighborhood about five months ago. That's around the same time Benjamin Sargent was born.

The mother and father are behind bars, each charged with first–degree murder, for allegedly leaving baby Benjamin strapped in a car seat for more than a week without food and water.

James Sargent's grandfather spoke to News 25 by phone. He said he thought his grandson truly loved baby Benjamin. The grandfather says when he spoke to his grandson Wednesday that Sargent was in tears. But he's not sure whether they were tears of remorse or self–pity.
James Sargent's grandfather says he is still in shock over the allegations against his adopted grandson.

Neighbors say for months Hermann and Sargent let their trash pile up in the back yard. They never thought they would neglect their own child as well.

"Who would do it, who would let their child just live like that.

Hermann and Sargent are accused of letting their five-month old baby starve to death," said Davis.

For eight days Peoria Prosecutors say baby Benjamin sat strapped inside his car seat in this home without food and water.

Mary Moore says she didn't even know the couple had a child, and now all she can think of is how the parents of James Sargent and Tracy Hermann are feeling.

Moore said, "I think if one of my kids would be this evil because that's what it is how would I feel and I wonder how do those parents feel."

Hermann and Sargent are behind bars, each charged with first-degree murder.

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