October 4, 2013

Westbrook parents: Girl, 2, died of methadone

Police will not discuss the parents’ account, but say the case is still open.

By David Hench dhench@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

The parents of a 2-year-old Westbrook girl who was found dead in her crib on Aug. 5 say authorities told them that the girl had a deadly level of methadone in her system.

A June 21, 2013, photo shows Madelyn Negron, age 2, daughter of Jessica Joy and Raul Negron. Madelyn was found dead in her playpen in Westbrook on Monday, Aug. 5, 2013. Police are investigating.

Photo courtesy of family

Madelyn Negron was found unresponsive in a portable crib at her parents’ apartment on Cross Street in Westbrook.

The girl’s mother, Jessica Joy, and her father, Raul Negron, said Thursday that state police detectives told them that tests by the state medical examiner showed the girl had a high level of methadone in her system.

Negron said he takes methadone but keeps it locked in a secure safe. However, he said police seem convinced that he did something wrong, by leaving the powerful medicine for opiate addiction where the child could reach it, or deliberately giving her some to quiet her down.

“They were calling me a murderer pretty much,” Negron said Thursday as he took a break from working on a grave marker he is making for his daughter out of a disc-like section of a tree’s trunk.

State police would not discuss Negron’s account, but did say the case is still open.

“We have a significant amount of work we have to do on it,” said Lt. Brian McDonough, head of the state police major crimes division for southern Maine. State police investigate the deaths of all children younger than 3.

The medical examiner has not released the cause of the girl’s death, but said after an autopsy right after she died that the office would have to conduct blood tests and toxicology before a cause was announced.

Detectives interviewed the couple two weeks ago, trying to determine how the girl got the methadone, the parents said.

The police have not shown them any paperwork or anything to confirm what they said about methadone poisoning.

Negron said that on Aug. 5, he slept for about an hour and awoke at 3 p.m., then stayed up with his adopted daughter until 6 p.m., when he put her to bed. He then fell back asleep.

“She was playing til 6,” Negron said, pushing herself around the living room on a riding toy and playing with other toys.

Joy said she was in her bedroom and would have heard if the girl was crying.

The girl had been sick, with a runny nose. Negron said that in questioning, police suggested he might have intentionally given her methadone to stop her from crying.

“It’s messed up. I would never do that,” he said, and she hadn’t been fussy.

“I put her to bed. I was watching TV for a bit, then I passed out,” he said.

The next morning, Joy and Negron woke for a court hearing at which Joy was to argue for custody of her 5-year-old child.

“She said, ‘Get Maddie up,’ and that’s when I found her,” Negron said.

“He turned around and he screamed to me and I saw from the doorway her face was blue,” Joy said.

Negron and Joy are both on methadone maintenance, meaning they take the drug every day to curb the cravings caused by opiate addiction.

Joy, 32, said she must visit the clinic every day for her 50-milligram dose. On Aug. 5, she wasn’t able to get a ride and missed her appointment. So she stayed in bed, feeling ill with withdrawal symptoms.

Negron, 42, said he is allowed to take methadone home and takes 150 milligrams a day.

Negron said he always keeps his methadone locked up, though he sometimes leaves the dropper he uses to take the liquid out on a table.

He said he doesn’t believe the small amount of residue in the dropper, if there was any, could have produced the levels police described in his daughter.

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