Louisiana Woman Confesses to Poisoning Her Disabled Son With Hand Sanitizer

| by Allison Geller

A Louisiana mother confessed to murdering her 17-month-old son, who had Downs syndrome, by poisoning him with hand sanitizer.

Erika Wigstrom, 20, of Belle Chasse, injected hand sanitizer into her son Lucas Luiz’s feeding tube. The baby died of "acute ethanol intoxication” Jan. 24. The autopsy revealed that his blood-alcohol content as 0.280, four times the legal limit for an adult. 

Wigstrom also confessed to previously trying to kill her son—a crime for which Lucas’ father, Cesar Ruiz, had been charged. Wigstrom said in October 2012 that Ruiz had injected their son’s feeding tube with rum, citing a bottle of liquor missing from the freezer. Ruiz confessed to administering the rum at the hospital before the child was due to have heart surgery, to keep him out of pain and not to kill him, he said.

The child suffered seizures and brain damage as a result of the alcohol poisoning. His blood-alcohol level then was even higher, at 0.289.

Wigstrom told investigators Tuesday that she was behind the attempted murder, and that she had done it not with rum, but with perfume.

The mother said she did it to put the child out of his misery.

"It's been reported that she and her boyfriend wanted to end the child's misery and the pain and suffering that the child was going through," said Plaquemines Parish Sheriff's Office Cmdr. Eric Becnel.

"From what I gathered from the detectives, they basically said she had no remorse,” he told the Times-Picayune.

Prosecutors could seek the death penalty for the first-degree murder charge, but have not indicated if they will do so. Wigstrom will be represented by a public defender. Cesar Ruiz will also stand trial for second-degree cruelty to a juvenile.

The child’s obituary read that he died "while cradled in the arms of his beloved mother."

Sources: WVUE, Times-Picayune (2)