The three adults were arrested for first-degree murder.
Author: KING 5 Staff
FERNDALE, Wash. — Three adults were arrested Thursday in connection to the death of a 5-year-old girl.
According to a press release from the Ferndale Police Department, the girl died after she ingested fentanyl at her home on March 8 of this year. Her parents, Melissa Welch and Michael Doane, and a third adult were present at the time of her death and were arrested for murder in the first degree.
All three adults have been booked into the Whatcom County Jail. The victim’s parents were charged and their bail was set at $1 million. The third suspect is still waiting for an attorney.
Investigators determined that the victim had a very high and fatal amount of fentanyl in her blood. During a search of the residence, fentanyl, methamphetamine, methadone and drug paraphernalia were located in the residence and were left in areas accessible to the victim and an 8-year-old sibling.
Investigators also found that the victim’s parents illegally distributed fentanyl days after the victim’s death.
Court documents stated, “Within approximately three feet of the fentanyl, investigators located several items that indicated [the children] had access to this area. These items included flower and smiley face stickers, nerf darts, and Jelly Beans/candy.”
The Ferndale police and Child Protective Services helped relocate the victim’s sibling with other family members.
Rockwell Herron worked as an agent with the Drug Enforcement Administration for more than 30 years, and commonly speaks in schools as a drug prevention educator, informing kids about the risks of fentanyl.
“I worry about the children of the users,” said Herron.
According to a report by the national group Families Against Fentanyl, deaths caused by fentanyl among children ages 5 to 14 increased four-fold in just two years.
“When that same pill that’s designed for an adult gets ingested by a child, it’s gonna have a much more devastating impact,” Herron said.
He also said he believes more conversations need to be had by policymakers about fentanyl and its second-hand risks to children.
“Adults who buy that candy-looking fentanyl, and pass out while using it – there is, I think, an increased risk of those kids finding it attractive and interesting,” said Herron.
He believes little will change unless leaders start funding or mandating drug prevention education in schools.
“Are we just gonna keep handing out more Narcan to more addicts, or are we gonna take education seriously?” said Herron.
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