Teen mom charged with aggravated manslaughter for giving 9-month-old baby fentanyl

The 17-year-old said she thought the substance was cocaine.

July 14, 2023, 3:17 PM

A 17-year-old mother in Florida has been arrested after her 9-month-old baby died when she allegedly put fentanyl in the child's bottle, police said.

The suspect has been charged with aggravated manslaughter and possession of a controlled substance.

After claiming she did not know what happened, the mother eventually admitted to investigators that she put a substance she thought was cocaine in the baby's bottle to put him to sleep. The investigation revealed the substance was actually fentanyl, according to Nassau County Sheriff Bill Leeper.

Leeper said deputies responded to a report of a baby boy who was not breathing and had no pulse on June 26. A responding deputy found the child unconscious on the floor of the living room. The deputy performed CPR on the baby until the fire department arrived and the baby was taken to a hospital in Jacksonville, police said. The baby was pronounced dead at the hospital.

The mother originally told investigators she did not know what happened and said she put the baby to sleep and couldn't wake him up, Leeper said.

PHOTO: Sheriff Bill Leeper holds up a pill bottle during a news conference for the Fentanyl-related death of a baby, July 12, 2023, in Nassau County, Fla.
Sheriff Bill Leeper holds up a pill bottle during a news conference for the Fentanyl-related death of a baby, July 12, 2023, in Nassau County, Fla.
Nassau County Sheriff's Office

"Most babies are born to loving parents who take care of all of their needs. But, unfortunately some babies are born to individuals who have no business in being a parent," Leeper said at a press conference.

"What is not normal is what the mother put in the baby's bottle to get him to go to sleep," Leeper added.

On July 10, the medical examiner's office told investigators that the baby had 29 nanograms of fentanyl per milliliter of blood in his system and the cause of death was ruled a fentanyl overdose, Leeper said.

According to Leeper, 3 nanograms per milliliter of blood would be deadly.

"The child had about 10 times the amount that would kill a person. The amount he had in his system would kill approximately 10 people," Leeper said.

When the mother was brought in for further questioning, police said she continued to change her story before confessing to what happened.

After filling the baby's bottle with formula, she got a pill bottle from the bathroom with what she thought was cocaine and put some in the bottle, Leeper said. Leeper said the mother said she wanted to put the baby to sleep.

PHOTO: DEA warns about fentanyl mixture
DEA warns about fentanyl mixture
STOCK PHOTO/Getty Images

"She laid him down in his crib to go to sleep but he never woke up. Now who does that? What mother would do that? That's not normal. It is sick," Leeper said.

"It is beyond my imagination why a mother would do that to her child," Leeper said.

Investigators were able to find the bottle the mother used. The narcotics unit tested the substance and found the presence of fentanyl. The investigation remains ongoing.

The Nassau County Sheriff's Office will not be releasing the name of the mother or baby due to state law.

While she was being booked in jail, the suspect told police that she may be pregnant again, according to Leeper.

"It just breaks your heart," Leeper said.