Samantha Jones from Bucks County, Pennsylvania, was charged with criminal homicide this week following the death of her 11-week-old son, R.J., who ingested a combination of fatal drugs while breastfeeding.
The Bucks County District Attorney's Office said in a press release yesterday that authorities accused Jones, 30, of causing the death of her infant son by "transmitting amphetamine and methamphetamine to the child through her breast milk."
Although methadone was also found in the child's body (and is apparently “not considered unsafe, in and of itself, for breastfeeding mothers and their babies”), authorities say that Jones was prescribed the medication “due to an addiction to pain killers” when she was pregnant, but was still taking it at the time of her son’s death.
Jones told officials she heard her son crying around 3 a.m. on the morning of April 2, according to an affidavit dated July 13.
She stated that her infant son, R.J., had been receiving breast milk as his primary source of nutrition, but began using Similac powdered formula on the morning of April 1 because she had to "re-up" her supply of breast milk. However, her story later changed when she told investigators that her son had switched to the powdered formula because he wasn't getting enough milk from breastfeeding and had been having trouble sleeping.
When he began crying early that morning, Jones said she was too tired to mix a bottle of formula and decided to breastfeed instead. Soon after, Jones stated she “dozed on and off for the next several hours.”
Jones’s husband, Vincent McGovern, claims he found his wife asleep and the baby crying around 6 a.m. When she woke up, McGovern said his wife asked him to prepare a bottle of formula for the baby, which he did before leaving for work.
After he left, Jones said she gave her son the bottle, laid him down in a bassinet and went back to sleep. An hour later, at approximately 7:30 a.m., Jones said she woke up and found her son was pale with “bloody mucous coming out of his nose.”
She then called out to her mother, who was home with her at the time. Though the two were able to perform CPR (based on guidance from a 911 dispatcher), R.J. was pronounced dead at 8:30 a.m. after being taken to the hospital by ambulance.
An autopsy listed the boy’s death as a homicide, stating that the deadly combination of methadone, amphetamine and methamphetamine found in the boy’s blood were injected through breast milk.
Though contents from the can of Similac, as well as the bottle that was used to last feed R.J., were also examined, toxicology reports showed no signs of illicit drugs in either of those items.
Meanwhile, Jones’s attorney, Louis Busico, argued that his client’s breast milk was never examined for drugs.
“This tells you, Judge, that they don’t know what happened here,” he said. “I’m asking the court not to criminalize the death of this little child.”
Magisterial District Judge Lisa J. Gaier of Richland Township denied his request, stating there was sufficient probable cause to hold the case for trial.
The case is still under investigation.