Couple Charged in Overdose Death of 10-Month-Old Daughter - NBC New York

Couple Charged in Overdose Death of 10-Month-Old Daughter

"She was healthy, she was learning to walk, she could say 'Mama' and 'Dada,' and she's dead."

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    Couple Charged in Overdose Death of 10-Month-Old Daughter
    Upper Darby Police Department
    Joseph Milano and Lauren Semanyk

    A Delaware County couple has been charged with murder after officials say their 10-month old daughter got ahold of their fentanyl and fatally overdosed.

    Joseph Milano, 31, and Lauren Semanyk, 34, were charged Wednesday in the April 16 death of 10-month old Angelina Milano, Upper Darby Police Department Superintendent Mike Chitwood said.

    In addition to the murder charge, the couple has been charged with involuntary manslaughter, conspiracy, endangering the welfare of a child and use of drug paraphernalia, Chitwood said.

    Officials say the child died inside the couple's home at Westley Drive, in the Clifton Heights section of Upper Darby Township.

    "This is a very, very tragic story and it shows what drug addiction can do," Chitwood said. "The victim was a 10-month-old baby girl. She was healthy, she was learning to walk, she could say 'Mama' and 'Dada,' and she's dead."

    According to an affidavit, Officer William Sides arrived at the couple's home around 1:17 a.m. to a call of a child in cardiac arrest. When the officer got there, a frantic Joseph Milano was on the sidewalk in front of the house, holding the little girl and shouting that she was not breathing.

    He told Sides that his daughter had slid under the water during a bath, according to the affidavit.

    Sides said he directed Joseph Milano back inside, where the officer began administering CPR on the living room coffee table.

    "At this time, Officer Sides noticed that Angelina had no pulse, and her skin was grey and pale. Angelina was cold to the touch, her skin was dry, and her diaper was dry," the affidavit says.

    According to the document, paramedics soon arrived and rushed the child to Delaware County Memorial Hospital, where Sides asked Semanyk if it was possible her daughter ingested heroin.

    While Semanyk initially appeared surprised by the question, according to Sides, when the officer noted doctors needed that information as they worked to save the baby's life, she conceded it was possible.

    Doctors administered Narcan to the 10-month-old, but their efforts were not enough.

    Angelina Milano died at the hospital at 2:02 a.m., according to the affidavit.

    The affidavit shows both parents giving police differing timelines of events, but what both suspects did acknowledge was that at some point the girl put a blue piece of paper in her mouth.

    According to the document, heroin is commonly sold in blue wax paper bags and often laced with, or completely replaced by fentanyl to increase a dealer's profit margin and enhance the drug's effect on users.

    A toxicology report confirmed the presence of fentanyl in the girl's system, Chitwood said.

    The county medical examiner later ruled her death a homicide due to ingestion of the drug, finding no water in her lungs that would indicate a drowning.

    "I'm all for helping the addicted, but when your addiction causes the death of a 10-month old, shame on you," Chitwood said.

    Joseph Milano was arraigned Wednesday and ordered held without bail. He had been serving a sentence for driving under the influence.

    Semanyk turned herself in to police around 5 p.m. Wednesday. She is expected to be arraigned sometime Thursday.

    According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, fentanyl is playing an increasing role in the number of deadly overdoses across Pennsylvania.

    The synthetic opioid was found in 67 percent of the state's 5,456 overdose deaths in 2017, according to a DEA report.

    The overall number of fatal overdoses in 2017 also represents a 64 percent increase since 2015, and in that timeframe, the agency found, the presence of fentanyl in fatal overdose victims rose by nearly 400 percent.

    The DEA concluded that "the heroin threat to Pennsylvania is exacerbated by the unprecedented proliferation of clandestinely-produced fentanyl and fentanyl-related substances."