The mother of a 1-year-old girl who died in Bangor last year is accused of repeatedly rubbing heroin on the girl’s gums to help her sleep in the months before the girl died from exposure to fentanyl, according to court documents.

Kimberly Nelligan Still image from News Center Maine video

Kimberly Nelligan, 33, of Bangor pleaded not guilty Wednesday to endangering the welfare of a child and possession of a scheduled drug, according to News Center Maine WCSH/WLBZ. Her daughter, Jordynn, died in October 2018.

Bangor police have been working on the case since the girl’s death, repeatedly interviewing Nelligan and the girl’s father, Shane Smith, according to an affidavit filed in court.

The Maine Medical Examiner’s Office conducted tests and informed police in December that Jordynn died from acute fentanyl intoxication. The office also concluded the amount of fentanyl in the girl’s system indicated that she ingested it directly. There was too much exposure for the girl to have picked up residue on her hands or on a bottle and transferred it to her mouth, the state’s report concluded.

Fentanyl is a potent synthetic painkiller that is often mixed with heroin to strengthen its effect. It is a leading cause of fatal overdoses in Maine amid the opioid addiction epidemic.

Investigators repeatedly interviewed Nelligan and Smith separately over the last nine months about their drug use and about how the girl might have been exposed to heroin or fentanyl. Their stories changed many times, and they eventually admitted to using heroin around the time of the girl’s death while continuing to deny any knowledge about how she was exposed, according to a police affidavit.

Police used text messages between the couple to press them for more information. For example, one text shortly before the girl’s death mentions a shopping trip for Narcan, an antidote for opioid overdoses.

Finally, according to the affidavit, Smith told police in June that Nelligan had rubbed heroin residue on the girl’s gums to help her sleep. The girl had problems with her stomach that kept her from sleeping, Smith told police.

“Shane said Kimberly was taking leftover baggies from their ‘dope’ and using the residue to put on the inside of Jordynn’s gums to help her sleep,” the affidavit says. “Shane said Kimberly told him she had done it with her other kids in the past.”

Smith told police that he didn’t object because Nelligan assured him it was safe.

Nelligan’s other children are 7 and 3 years old.

“Shane said Kimberly did this to Jordynn for about two months before she died. Shane estimated he had seen Kimberly do this ‘trick’ about 15 times,” the affidavit says.

First responders were called to the home of Nelligan’s mother and stepfather at the Holiday Trailer Park around 11 p.m. on Oct. 19, 2018, for a report of an unresponsive child.

Officers immediately began performing CPR and the girl was taken to Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center, but efforts to save the child were unsuccessful.

After the girl’s death, Nelligan told Smith,”you know I didn’t hurt our daughter on purpose,” according to the police interview record. Smith ultimately said he agreed that he didn’t protect his child, the affidavit says.

Court documents do not indicate how Nelligan responded to the accusations made by Smith.

Nelligan was arrested by detectives Tuesday morning. She pleaded not guilty in court Wednesday. While in court, Nelligan made obscene gestures toward onlookers.

Nelligan was allowed bail on Wednesday under the condition she have no unsupervised contact with minors, no contact with Smith and stay away from drugs, except marijuana. It is not clear who is caring for Nelligan’s other children.

Nelligan is due back in court on Nov. 12.

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