A grandmother is facing child abuse charges after accidentally feeding her grandson methadone stored in a baby bottle.
Rose Rej from Whitinsville, Massachusetts, was visiting her daughter in Lincoln, Nebraska, on April 26 when she prepared a meal for her 14-month-old grandson using a bottle in which she stored methadone. Around 1:30 a.m., Rej woke up to make a bottle for the child, according to Sgt. Randy Clark.
Around 8:17 a.m., the toddler was found unresponsive and in respiratory distress, reports the Boston Herald. Rej was arrested after telling officials she stored methadone inside the baby bottles. Documents state the mother knew Rej placed her methadone bottles in the same cabinet as the child’s bottles.
Investigators also found a glass pipe, rolling papers and a scale inside the home.
According to the Lincoln Journal Star, Rej had a past addiction to pain medication and the child’s mother was previously addicted to heroin. It is unknown whether the methadone was obtained legally. Methadone is used to wean people off heroin.
Wendy Murphy, a victim’s advocate and former prosecutor, said Rej “would literally have had to have been brain-dead” to accidentally give methadone to a baby, and that “even a half-brain-dead jury is going to say that it was at a minimum reckless.”
"If you’re going to say, 'I kept the methadone in baby bottles for whatever reason,' whether it is convenience or something else, wouldn’t that put you on high alert?" asked Murphy. "Wouldn’t that be a good reason to put it far away from the things that you’re going to grab?"
Child welfare advocates wondered why someone would store methadone in a baby bottle in the first place.
"People have access to all kinds of containers and you begin to wonder whether there was a motivation to just keep the baby quiet -- maybe this was her way of dealing with the infant crying," Jetta Bernier, executive director of Massachusetts Citizens for Children.
Although the child’s mother has not been charged, Bernier hopes child protective services will act to ensure the child is in a safe environment.
"In a way, this may end up being what will save this child’s life," Bernier said. "Maybe this is what it will take to get him out of an environment that clearly is not just borderline unsafe. Maybe this will ultimately be a good outcome for him."