3-Year-Old in Stafford Springs Dies From Acute Methadone Intoxication: Police

A Stafford Springs woman is due in court Wednesday after her 3-year-old died from acute methadone intoxication earlier this year, state police say. 

Twenty-four-year-old Jessica York was charged with manslaughter, three counts of reckless endangerment and three counts of risk of injury.

On April 22, state troopers responded to a report of an unresponsive child on Old Birch Road around 10:52 a.m. by York.

The mother told police she'd put her child to sleep the night before but couldn't wake him the next morning. Court paperwork said York told dispatch, "He's cold" and "He's purple and there is puke ... he's on his side ... he's stiff."

In the arrest warrant, it states a state trooper arrived at the Old Birch Road home and spoke with York. She said she last saw the boy the night before around 8:30 p.m.

"York said she checked on the deceased early this morning, but did not specify what time it was. She assumed he was sleeping in and left him alone. York checked him later in the morning and found him unresponsive," according to the arrest warrant. 

Another state trooper, "observed the residence to be in deplorable condition. He observed the house to be filthy with garbage throughout the residence. There were unwashed dishes and old food scattered about the kitchen counter. He observed a kitchen knife unsecured on the kitchen counter. York's bedroom was in complete disarray. He observed leaves and dirt on the nightstand next to her bed."

In York's room, the paperwork states, "there were numerous amounts of empty white wax envelopes/packs that were consistent with drug and or 'Heroin' packs ... that were on and around a paper plate that was on a nightstand ... the height of the nightstand was approximately 29 inches tall and appeared easily accessible for a small child."

State troopers said York is a known heroin user.

According to the arrest warrant, York said that the wax envelopes found in the bedroom were from three years ago and had been placed in a garbage bag in the basement. She told police she was searching for a birth certificate in the bag and dumped the contents out on her bedroom floor.

"York explained that when she saw the heroin packets fall out, she panicked and left her bedroom, locking the door behind her. York explained that to lock the bedroom door, there is an eye hook, but she admitted that sometimes she forgets to lock it so the children can get into her room. York explained that this happened three days ago so it is possible that the children have been in her room since. York explained that she did try to pick up some of the heroin packets and threw some away in the garbage," the arrest warrant reads. 

York also told investigators, according to the documents, that she is a heroin addict and had relapsed last summer.

"York explained that she does use methadone, but it is not prescribed," the warrant said. 

The arrest warrant goes on: "York explained that she did have an empty methadone bottle on her nightstand, describing it as a square white bottle about three inches tall. York explained that the methadone is a liquid and she ingests it ... York explained that 'anything is possible' for children to get into and it is possible that the children could have gotten into the room and gotten into 'all that stuff.'"

While interviewing York another time, the arrest warrant reveals that investigators told her methadone was detected in her son's blood.

York "stated that she did not know how (her son) got methadone in him and that there must have been another bottle of methadone belonging to (York), in her house somewhere ... during this interview ... she asked ... why she wasn't being arrested now and that she deserves to be."

At the end of the arrest warrant, state police reported that from 2014 to 2017, Department of Children and Families (DCF) received seven referrals reporting York before the death of the 3-year-old and one after. Police said the calls came from a school nurse, a physician at Johnson Memorial Hospital, a family development specialist with the Early Head Start and anonymous callers.

The state police review revealed that almost all DCF investigative social worker (ISW) visits were announced to York beforehand. When workers attempted unannounced visits, they received no answer at the home. In one case, a DCF worker made an unannounced visit and York answered but said the home was not clean because she was doing laundry.

"York would only allow the ISW into a limited area in house. The ISW reported that the house was dirty, unkempt, and both kids need baths. The ISW went on the report that one kid smelled of urine, probably due to dirty diaper and there was old food on table."

Police said that in some cases York was offered services but she declined.

In one instance, police noted a DCF ISW concluded that "the risk assessment was low."

DCF responded with the following statement:

"This little boy is yet another tragic victim of the opioid crisis gripping our state and the rest of the country. In this case, we worked closely with law enforcement throughout their investigation and carefully reviewed our involvement with the family and services we offered to the mother."

It is not clear where York's other two children are currently staying. A note on the home where York lives states that it's unfit for occupancy.

York is being held on $500,000 cash/surety bond and will be presented to Rockville Superior Court on Wednesday.

Contact Us