Father, grandmother charged with felony child cruelty 3 years after drowning death of young boy


Darlene Williams and Mark Williams


Originally published in the Calaveras Enterprise 04/29/21.


The paternal grandmother and father of a 3-year-old boy who was found dead in a San Andreas neighborhood swimming pool in 2018 have been arrested.


Darlene Williams, 53, and her son Mark Williams, 22, were both charged with willful cruelty to a child resulting in possible injury or death.


Darlene Williams was arrested Tuesday morning at her home on Pine Street in San Andreas, while Mark Williams was arrested simultaneously in the 1000 block of Highway 49 in San Andreas.


Clifton Williams


Court records show Darlene Williams was released on her own recognizance from the Calaveras County jail on Wednesday. Mark Williams has also been released, according to the Calaveras County Sheriff's Office.

The arrests came three years after Clifton Williams, age 3, was found unresponsive in a residential pool more than a block away from his home on Pine Street.


Interviews conducted with family members and neighbors shortly after the May 16, 2018 incident uncovered allegations of neglect leading up to the boy’s death, including statements of poor living conditions inside the home and that Clifton had often been seen wandering the neighborhood alone.


Family members, including Mark Williams, initially pointed fingers at Darlene Williams, the boy’s legal guardian, according to Clifton’s mother, Anastasia Smith.


In interviews with the Enterprise in June 2018, Mark Williams claimed that he was at work when his son went missing on May 16 and had left him at his mother's house. Darlene Williams stated that she believed other relatives at the home were watching the boy.


In August 2018, Smith and her mother, Uta Robinson, announced that they had hired a lawyer and private investigator to build a case against Darlene Williams and Calaveras County Child Protective Services (CPS), who reportedly placed Clifton in Darlene Williams’ home and were contacted by neighbors regarding the boy prior to his death.


Smith stated in a previous article that she had, on multiple occasions, found her son left unattended in a dog pen while he was in the care of Darlene Williams.


An autopsy found no signs of abuse on Clifton’s body, and an initial Sheriff’s Office investigation found no criminally liable actions. Another investigation conducted by CPS was completed within three months of Clifton’s death without any charges filed.


The Calaveras County District Attorney’s Office stated that a case for potential charges was under review in August 2018.


Neither the Sheriff’s Office nor the District Attorney’s Office have provided any additional information at this time.