A Utah couple has revealed to police that they gave their newborn daughter a pain medication in the hospital to hide the fact that she was born addicted to drugs.
According to a press release from the Utah County Sheriff’s Office, Lacey Dawn Christenson, 26, had been using heroin and prescription pain medication heavily during her pregnancy, causing her baby to be born addicted to the drugs.
Knowing this, she and her partner, Colby Glen Wilde, 29, crushed up Suboxone pills, a prescription pain medication used for pain management and addiction treatment, and put the powder on their infant’s mouth and gums on April 9, the day the girl was born at Utah Valley Hospital. They did so as soon as medical staff left the room.
However, the couple was not arrested until June 26, when Wilde was taken into custody after an incident at a Walmart in Spanish Fork, Utah. Accusing Wilde of stealing merchandise, both store employees and bystanders tried to apprehend him. In response, he handed his infant daughter to a stranger, ran to his car and began driving away.
Christenson was also in the store and arrested on an outstanding warrant.
Following the couple’s arrest, the Utah Division of Child and Family Services took the couple’s other children – three boys ages 2, 4 and 8 – into custody. The boys, as well as the now 3-month-old daughter, were soon taken to the hospital for drug testing.
The hospital tested the children’s hair follicles, stated Sgt. Spencer Cannon, public information officer for the Utah County Sheriff’s Office. “Evidence of drugs in the body remains in the hair for longer than it would in blood or other means of testing,” he explained.
After receiving a tip from someone caring for the couple’s pets while they were in jail, police obtained a search warrant for Wilde and Christenson’s home.
“Deputies discovered items of drug paraphernalia in many different areas of the home, including next to a baby bassinet, next to a child’s sippy cup, and others,” said the press release. Additional charges were soon filed against the couple.
Nonetheless, Christenson was released from jail on the prior charges on June 28. Wilde was released a week later, July 5.
Receiving information that the couple was still doing drugs, police obtained a second search warrant on July 18. At their house, officers found Wilde “actively smoking heroin.”
Both Christenson and Wilde were charged with distribution of a controlled substance in a drug-free zone, use of heroin and methamphetamine, endangerment of a child and possession of drug paraphernalia.
After the couple’s second arrest, they revealed to police that the crushed pills found in their home was the Suboxone they gave to their daughter in the hospital. Christenson and Wilde, along with their friends, came up with the plan to give the baby the pills together.
Nonetheless, it is not uncommon for parents of drug-addicted babies to hide signs of addictions from hospitals.
Police also soon learned the results of the children’s drug tests.
“The oldest child did not test positive for any drugs,” stated Cannon. However, the three younger children all tested positive for methamphetamines, while the infant also tested positive for heroin. Because Christenson was given morphine for pain during the delivery, the baby girl tested positive for morphine as well.
The children most likely were not given the drugs directly like their baby sister, said police. Instead, they ingested the smoke secondhand whenever their parents smoked drugs around them.
“They were routinely exposed to secondhand smoke from (the parents) smoking methamphetamines and heroin,” Cannon said.
Fortunately, the children did not exhibit any signs of drug-related problems.
Wilde and Christenson remain in jail, their cash bail set at $10,000. It is unknown if they have an attorney.