On Monday, July 10, 2023, Marion County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) Major Crimes Detective John Lightle arrested Tracie Renee Puskac (DOB: 10/20/1986) for the murder of 17-month-old Jermiyah Puskac (DOB: 11/13/2021).
On April 27, 2023, MCSO deputies and Marion County Fire Rescue (MCFR) responded to 13520 SE 42nd Avenue, in Summerfield, in reference to an unresponsive infant, later identified as Jermiyah. The infant was initially transported to AdventHealth Belleview ER, then subsequently transported to UF Health Shands Hospital for treatment. Tracie Puskac, the mother of the infant, informed detectives that Jermiyah was banging his head on the floor at approximately 8:30 pm the previous night, so she moved him to a safe spot and held him down. Then, at 10:00 pm, he became “stiff as a board,” at which point she put him to bed. Puskac claimed that when she woke up the following day at approximately 7:00 am, Jermiyah’s lips were blue and his breathing shallow, so she had her mother call 911.
Over the course of several interviews with Puskac, her versions of the night’s events continued to change, giving detectives different accounts of how Jermiyah hit his head. MCSO detectives inquired as to why Puskac did not call 911 when the infant became “stiff” the previous night. Puskac stated she did not want the Department of Children and Families (DCF) to come and take her children away again. DCF has an open case with Puskac and had previously removed the children from the home.
Jermiyah ultimately succumbed to his injuries on April 29, 2023. On July 7, 2023, the 8th Circuit Medical Examiner’s Office provided the autopsy results, concluding that Jermiyah died from complications of a skull fracture, subdural hemorrhage, and traumatic brain and spinal cord injury due to abusive head and neck trauma. Due to these injuries, it was determined the manner of death was a homicide. Detective Lightle’s thorough investigation determined that Jermiyah’s injuries were too severe to be caused by any of Puskac’s scenarios, and an arrest warrant for Puskac was obtained.
On Monday, July 10, 2023, MCSO deputies located Puskac at her home and arrested her for Second-Degree Murder. She is being held at the Marion County Jail with no bond.