Mass. Mother Charged After Toddler Overdoses on Opiates
The Salem News, Beverly, Mass.
Jan. 20—LYNN—When her 17-month-old son ingested opiates one morning last May, police and prosecutors say Amber Williams did not want to call 911.
Instead, prosecutors say Williams, 24, of Lynn, gave the toddler cocaine and put him into a bathtub of cold water.
On Thursday, Williams pleaded not guilty in Salem Superior Court to charges that include child endangerment, assault and battery on a child causing substantial bodily injury, distributing cocaine, and witness intimidation.
A judge ordered her held on $5,000 cash bail, and, if she posts that amount, she must submit to random drug tests and have no contact with her child without permission from the Department of Children and Families, which now has custody of the boy.
Lynn EMTs and police went to Williams' apartment on Chatham Street in response to a 911 call shortly after noon on May 10, according to a police report.
They had been called by the boy's paternal grandmother, who, along with the boy's aunt, had rushed to the apartment after receiving a phone call from a friend of the child's father. That friend had gotten a call from Williams' roommate.
When they arrived, the boy was "stiff, purple and clenching," with pinpoint pupils, and was lying in a bathtub full of cold water.
Doctors at MassGeneral for Children in Salem confirmed to police that the child tested positive for both opiates and cocaine. Prosecutors believe Williams gave cocaine to her son in a futile attempt to reverse the effects of the opiates.
It took five doses of Narcan, an opiate-blocking drug, from firefighters and hospital staff to stop the child from dying, according to a police report.
Williams' roommate told investigators she'd been afraid to call because she was also under DCF supervision. Instead, she called a friend of the child's father in Salem. That friend called the child's paternal aunt, who called her mother, who called 911, according to the police report.
Questioned by police, the roommate said she woke up to the sound of Williams yelling at everyone else in the apartment to get out, and that "money is missing."
She said Williams' MCM designer bag and her wallet had been emptied onto the floor. Nearby was an empty plastic bag and several pieces of what the roommate believed to be heroin, on the floor.
A man who had come home with Williams -- and spent the night -- was holding the toddler, whose legs kept giving out. He then searched online for overdose treatments, as Williams continued looking for her money, the roommate told investigators.
Questioned by police, Williams denied having or using any drugs, and said she had awoken to find a strange man in her apartment and her wallet and money missing. Later, she told DCF investigators she was "scared" to call 911.
There had been a prior incident in which the toddler had gotten into some medication and swallowed a pill, she acknowledged.
Williams had been held without bail following her initial court appearance in the case last July in Lynn District Court. But in August, Salem Superior Court Judge Timothy Feeley agreed to a defense request to release her on conditions.
Prosecutor Ashlee Logan asked Feeley to set both a cash bail and conditions of release during Thursday's hearing, citing Williams' failure to appear for arraignment last month in response to a summons.
A pretrial conference is scheduled for Feb. 22.