A Pennsylvania woman is facing homicide charges after authorities say she gave her toddler daughter a drink laced with fentanyl, causing the little girl to die from drug poisoning.
Trib Live reports Jhenea Pratt, 23, is charged with endangering the welfare of a child and homicide after her 17-month-old daughter, Charlette Napper-Talley, passed away from fentanyl poisoning in April. The suspect was charged formally on Friday during an Allegheny County court hearing.
According to court documents, police responded to a call to a Pittsburgh home off of East Hills Drive on April 5, a little after 6 p.m., concerning a “baby who wasn’t breathing.” When they arrived, they found Charlette unresponsive. They also found a pink sippy cup with a red substance inside. Responding officers with the Pittsburgh police said that little girl was cold to the touch and had blue lips.
Officers performed CPR on Charlette until paramedics arrived and rushed her to the hospital. She died days later.
Upon testing the fluid inside the sippy cup, authorities discovered it had been laced with fentanyl. The Allegheny County Medical Examiner’s Office conducted an initial autopsy on Charlette, which showed she had fentanyl in her system, followed by an independent lab screening that also confirmed the presence of fentanyl.
According to investigators, Pratt’s boyfriend, Albert Williams, was reportedly watching Charlette while Pratt attended a community college class earlier that day. Williams told police he fed the little girl at around noon and then gave her a sippy cup from the refrigerator. Williams later picked Pratt up from school and after making several stops, dropped the mother and child off at their home. Charlette was coherent and acting normally, according to Williams, when he dropped the pair off.
When investigators questioned the suspect on whether she placed anything in the little girl’s cup after Williams left, she responded with, “not to my knowledge, no” and that the cup had “the same color as the happy drink that was in the fridge.”
Investigators pressed Pratt on how fentanyl would end up inside her daughter’s sippy cup. She allegedly responded with, “maybe the huggies (soft drink), because they tasted funny to her.”
According to the the criminal complaint, authorities ultimately determined that had fentanyl been in the drink given to Charlette around noon, she would have died “very shortly after ingesting it.” Pratt was the only person caring for the toddler in the hours that led up to her death.
Pratt remains behind bars at the Allegheny County Jail in Pittsburgh. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for September 5.
[Feature Photo: Charlette Napper-Talley and Jhenea Pratt/Police Handout, Facebook]