WATCH ABOVE: Edmonton police have charged a 31-year-old woman with second-degree murder after her 11-day-old baby died from a fatal dose of methamphetamine. Sarah Kraus reports from EPS headquarters.
A 31-year-old Edmonton woman has been charged with second-degree murder after an 11-day-old baby died from a lethal dose of methamphetamine, police said on Thursday afternoon.
On Wednesday, March 29, police were called to a report of a baby not breathing at a residence in the area of 72 Street and 83 Avenue.
Paramedics transported the baby to hospital, where she was pronounced dead. Police said the girl’s name will not be released.
Police were notified on April 6 after an autopsy and toxicology tests confirmed the girl died from a lethal dose of methamphetamine.
“The Medical Examiner has stated that there are two ways that the baby could have ingested the methamphetamine; that’s either anally or orally,” EPS spokesperson Scott Pattison said.
“From the Medical Examiner… our understanding of that level of methamphetamine, that couldn’t have been administered — that lethal dose — through a woman’s breast milk, specifically.”
Michelle Rice is charged with second-degree murder.
Pattison said Rice is a single mother who is “currently in a relationship.” She was arrested Thursday.
“She has a young boy who is unharmed and is now in the care of another family member,” he said. “I believe he’s with the biological father.”
Rice’s landlord confirmed the photos of below are of his tenant.
“She was honestly a really good tenant and never had any issues,” Josh Gork, Rice’s landlord, said. “Nothing. We thought this was all over and done with because of the timeline but yeah, it’s quite shocking.”
According to Gork, Rice moved in to a basement suite in the house he lives in with his family just before her baby was born in March.
“When she came she had a little boy and was pregnant and so of course we wanted to give her a place and she had great references.”
Gork said his son and dogs played with Rice’s son and dog and that her son, whom he guesses is about two, was “totally fine, totally normal.”
“If she has a problem with drugs then she hid it very well.”
Gork said he was surprised to see police and hear about the arrest on Thursday. He said police had been there “on and off” since the baby died but he assumed given how much time had passed, nothing suspicious had occurred.
He recalled the day police first showed up to the home in March.
“I was woken up by the paramedics and stuff… they opened my door actually because obviously it was an emergency… they said, ‘We’re here for the little baby.’ My son was in daycare so I sent them downstairs and saw the little one come out. It was obviously unresponsive. It was sad.
“That’s all I knew at that point and police came and talked to us after and we told them we didn’t hear anything – we didn’t know anything and as far as we knew, the baby was healthy.”
The woman was not known to police, Pattison said. He wasn’t able to say whether Children’s Services was involved with the family.
Pattison called the case “horrific.”
“We all have children. Those are traumatic events, especially when it’s an 11-day-old child. Investigators are working on behalf of someone who is vulnerable and unable to defend themself.”
Homicide detectives are looking to speak with several individuals who are believed to have visited the residence in the 11 days before the baby’s death.
“We’re not sure exactly who visited the house but we’re assuming they were family friends, possibly family members. There may have even been home-care workers, that kind of thing,” Pattison said.
Anyone who may have visited the house on or after March 18 is asked to contact the EPS at 780-423-4567 or #377 from a mobile phone. Anonymous information can be submitted to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or online.
-With files from Sarah Kraus and Phil Heidenreich