“Vodka mom” flashed on the screen during a segment in which Nancy Grace ridiculed a mother accused of getting drunk and accidentally smothering her three-week-old son as the two slept next to each other. In what is being called a case of “cyberbullying for adults,” the woman was left distraught by the segment and killed herself.
The 29-year-old Cottage Grove, Minn., woman, Toni Medrano, died at Regions Hospital in St. Paul as a result of the self-immolation, the St. Paul Star Tribune reported. Police said she was despondent and suicidal and lit her body on fire in her mother’s backyard.
Medrano was charged with two counts of manslaughter in the death of Adrian Alexander Medrano, who died of asphyxia Nov. 22 after her mother reportedly got drunk and fell asleep on the couch with her son. The baby’s father came home to find them lying together, even though he had warned her against falling asleep with the baby, and she woke him in the morning shouting, “JJ, the baby is dead,” the Star Tribune reported.
She admitted to drinking a fifth of vodka before passing out and a blood test conducted by police showed he had a .11 percent blood alcohol content. Medrano had been seeking help for chemical dependency and parenting counseling,
One week after she was charged, CNN talk-show host Nancy Grace devoted a segment to ridiculing Medrano, calling her “vodka mom.” Grace held a fifth of vodka and poured nine glasses to show how much Medrano had to drink, theorizing that she had been sleeping on top of her child for hours.
“There was a long period of time that baby’s life could have been saved,” Grace said.
She also wondered aloud why Medrano had not been charged with first-degree murder, which would require a premeditated murder.
Medrano was distraught as she watched the show, her younger sister told the Star Tribune. The “vodka mom” insults left her distraught and unable to breathe, the sister said.
“She got depressed and said life wasn’t worth living. She said she couldn’t live with herself,” Maria Phillips said.
Her family blames Nancy Grace for bullying Medrano into killing herself. Her mother, Yvonne Hill, told Fox 9 News that Medrano had been trying to turn herself around after the tragic incident but the segment and “vodka mom” insults were just too much to bear.
“She was trying to build and get by and live with what happened,” Hill said. “When she saw that, it broke her spirit in the worst way.”
Her husband also decried the “vodka mom” insults, telling the St. Paul Pioneer Press, “It shows that cyberbullying happens to adults, too.”