Five more summoned to court for death of child

Attorney Michael Sussman, left, outside court

HUDSON – Columbia County District Attorney Paul Czajka has issued a criminal summons to five individuals related to an ongoing case in which two parents have been charged with manslaughter. The criminal summons does not identify the charges against the five individuals.  Steven Bennet, 61, and his partner Heidi Tranberg-Bennett, 50, are accused of manslaughter for the death of their 12-year-old daughter in December of 2019.

On Monday, a criminal summons was issued to Ryan Torres, Venuska Tranberg-Bennett, Tevania Tranberg-Bennett, Petrevena Tranberg-Bennett, and Svenia Tranberg-Bennett.  The individuals were all served by members of the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office at their Austerlitz residence.  The summons demands that each of them appear before Austerlitz Town Justice Sharon Grubin on November 25 at 6 p.m.  Not one of the summonses that were served indicates what charges have been filed against the individuals.

Four of the newly accused are children of the couple charged with manslaughter.  The fifth is the father of two of their grandchildren.  The adult children are Venuska, 26, Tevania, 23, Petrevena, 21, and Svenia, 19.  The fifth recipient is Ryan Torres, age unknown.  

Steven and Heidi also have three remaining minor children.  Venuska, the oldest daughter, has four children of her own, two children with Ryan Torres and two with Tenji Kushi, of Massachusetts.  With the exception of Kushi, all of the adults and children resided in the Tranberg-Bennett home in Austerlitz in Columbia County.  A total of 16 people resided in the residence until the 12-year-old died.

Criminal Summons with no charges and no court clearly indicated.

In a recent court appearance, DA Czajka successfully argued to have Venuska’s four children taken into the custody of Child Protective Services.  The three minor children of the couple charged with manslaughter have been in the custody of CPS for several months.  In the recent hearing, Czajka said, “Evidence received indicates that others are culpable” in the death of the girl and they may face charges as well.  

District Attorney Czajka did not return a call seeking to identify the charges against the five individuals.



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