DENVER (KDVR)—The Denver Police Department is investigating a baby’s December fentanyl-related death after initially saying the case was deemed “non-criminal” when the Problem Solvers inquired about it in June.
“The report wasn’t reviewed by the detective prior to your request for information on the case, and the investigation, which was inactive pending the (medical examiner)’s findings, resumed at that time,” Doug Schepman, a spokesperson for the Denver Police Department, said. “The delay in reviewing the report will not affect the outcome of the investigation.”
The Denver Police Department told the Problem Solvers the medical examiner provided the autopsy to detectives via email on May 4, but police investigators did not resume the investigation until after the Problem Solvers’ inquiry on June 22.
On June 27, the Denver Police Department told the Problem Solvers in an email, “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.”
An autopsy obtained by the Problem Solvers showed the 1-year-old female died on Dec. 2, 2021 “as a result of the toxic effects of fentanyl,” but the manner of death was classified as “undetermined.”
Dr. Sterling J. McClaren, a forensic pathologist, signed the completed autopsy report on April 6 after Dr. Debra Berry, a forensic pathology fellow, signed it on March 7.
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 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.
The baby was among 10 children whose death was connected to the toxic effects of fentanyl in Denver between January 2021 and Feb. 21, 2022. The other deaths include a 13-year-old girl, a 14-year-old boy, a 15-year-old girl, four 16-year-old boys, and two 17-year-old children.