Pennsylvania woman charged with murder after daughter dies of fentanyl overdose

A Pittsburgh woman has been charged with murder after police found that her toddler had died after drinking from a sippy cup that had been contaminated with a narcotic known as fentanyl.

Jhenea Pratt, a 23-year-old East Hills resident, was arrested on Friday in connection with the death of her 17-month-old daughter in April. Pratt will be held in Allegheny County jail as she faces charges of criminal homicide and endangering the welfare of a child.

Mom charged with death of daughter

Pratt’s daughter, Charlette Napper-Talley, was found unconscious by police who responded to a 911 call on April 5. They discovered a pink sippy cup on the toddler’s bed with a red liquid inside.

Medics rushed the girl to Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh, where she died. An autopsy showed that a lethal dose of fentanyl was in her blood, and the sippy cup also tested positive for the narcotic.

On Friday, the Allegheny County medical examiner’s office listed the girl’s death as a homicide.

Suspicious drink leads to child’s death

Pratt has said she has no clue how fentanyl got in the cup. According to investigators, Pratt’s boyfriend, Albert Williams, was supervising the child while Pratt attended class at a local community college earlier on the day of Charlette’s death.

According to the local news outlet Trib Live, “Williams told police that at around noon he fed the girl and used the sippy cup to give her a soft drink that was in the refrigerator.” He then picked up Pratt from school before leaving both Pratt and Charlette at home around 2 p.m., when he allegedly went to purchase marijuana.

Trib Live went on to report that “when investigators asked Pratt if she had placed anything in her daughter’s cup after Williams left, she responded, ‘not to my knowledge, no.'” Pratt told police she found the sippy cup and gave it to her daughter, but she wasn’t sure if the liquid in the cup was the same liquid that Williams gave Charlette.

Pratt said the liquid was “the same color as the happy drink that was in the fridge.”

Suspect only one home at time

Pratt reportedly smoked marijuana and checked on her daughter an hour later, when she found Charlette unresponsive. Investigators said that the fentanyl must have been put in the sippy cup after Williams gave her the drink before noon because the girl “would have died very shortly after ingesting [fentanyl].”

“Jhenea Pratt was the only person present during the afternoon hours that was with Charlette,” the affidavit said.

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The couple denied using, storing, or transporting fentanyl or heroin. Pratt told investigators the fentanyl might have gotten into the cup from a fruit-flavored drink that “tasted funny to her.”

Fentanyl has been attributed to a spate of overdose deaths in Pennsylvania and the U.S. as part of the broader opioid epidemic affecting communities across the country.

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