DENVER (KDVR) — District Attorney Beth McCann filed charges against a mother whose baby died late last year and a toxicology report showed fentanyl was in the infant’s system.
Charlotte Chavez, 31, has been charged with a count of child abuse resulting in death.
Chavez called 911 on Dec. 2, 2021, to report her 1-year-old daughter Betty wasn’t breathing. Paramedics performed life-saving measures and took her to Denver Medical Health Center where she died.
An autopsy obtained by the Problem Solvers in June showed Betty died “as a result of the toxic effects of fentanyl,” but the manner of death was classified as “undetermined.” The toxicology report also said naloxone and acetaminophen were in the baby’s system.
Investigators interviewed Chavez on July 18 after she waived her right to have an attorney present. She was later charged and her first court appearance was on Sept. 2.
What the autopsy said about baby’s death, mother’s pregnancy
The Problem Solvers reached out to the Denver Police Department about the cause of the baby’s death on June 22 and received an email from the department on June 27 saying, “The death, in this case, was deemed a non-criminal death. Please reach out to the Medical Examiner’s office to get a cause and manner of death.”
According to the autopsy report, the baby was “found cold and unresponsive in an adult bed … She had reportedly been experiencing vomiting, diarrhea, and fevers in the previous few days and was receiving acetaminophen, breastfeeding, and drinking formula and Pedialyte.”
The arrest warrant said Betty’s toxicology report showed there was 19 ng/ml of fentanyl in her blood. In comparison, some experts have said the estimated lethal dose for an adult is 2 mg but blood concentrations of approximately 7 ng/ml or higher have been deadly when other substances are present.
The autopsy report indicated that a review of the baby’s medical record showed that the mother’s pregnancy was complicated by “maternal buprenorphine use and pre-eclampsia with severe features” and that the baby was “monitored for respiratory distress and neonatal abstinence syndrome, showing minimal withdrawal symptoms.”
Buprenorphine is a drug known to be used as a treatment for pregnant opioid addicts. However, the Problem Solvers cannot confirm any details about the mother’s medical condition beyond what was written in the autopsy report.