Kayleigh Cassell was found dead in her family’s home earlier this year, and now a medical examination has determined that the 13-month-old girl had ingested cocaine and heroin in the hours before her death.
The test suggested what many family member had already suspected — that the baby’s mother and mother’s boyfriend gave her drugs on purpose to “quiet her down.”
The autopsy, which was conducted by Dr. Michael Sikirica, found that Kayleigh had narcotics in her system but did not show definitively if that was the cause of her death. Sikirica is reviewing toxicology results, and until the findings are complete, the baby’s cause of death remains undetermined.
Kayleigh Cassell was found dead on February 22 in the home where she lived with her mother and mother’s boyfriend. The boyfriend, 34-year-old Joshua Bennett, has been investigated in Kayleigh’s death, but so far police have not brought any charges.
That could soon change with the medical examiner’s findings, authorities say.
“His (Sikirica’s) analysis will contribute greatly to whether there will be any charges,” said Washington County District Attorney Tony Jordan. “Nothing has been ruled out.”
While police have no indications that there was foul play involved in Kayleigh’s death, some family members believe that may have been the case.
“We want to know, how did she get it?” asked Kayleigh’s aunt, June Terpening. “Was it an accident, or was it given to her intentionally?”
Others have said that Kayleigh’s mother and her boyfriend were addicted to drugs and also gave drugs to Kayleigh.
“They gave her those drugs to quiet her down because of her injuries,” claimed Kayleigh’s grandmother, Donna Barnes.
Police have already charged Bennett and Kayleigh’s mother, 27-year-old Rachel Ball, with felony drug charges after finding heroin and cocaine in the home. In the room that Kayleigh shared with her mother and mother’s boyfriend, police found envelopes they say held the drugs.
Both Rachel Ball and Joshua Bennett had already admitted to police that they did heroin and cocaine the night Kayleigh died. In a statement to police, Ball said, “As I passed the Pack-n-Play, I glanced at Kayleigh and assumed she was sleeping …We each did a line of coke and heroin mixed; then we laid down.”
Other family members have already pointed the finger at Joshua Bennett. Terpering said that Bennett gave Kayleigh Cassell a bath in the hours before the baby was found dead.
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