Illinois prosecutors have alleged that a jealous stepmother tried to poison a 17-month-old toddler to "punish" her husband. According to a report from the Chicago Tribune, Andrea Vazquez-Hernandez, 37, a resident of Carol Stream, attempted to mix nail polish remover in with the bottled milk for the child her husband had fathered with another woman. She will stand trial on May 17 for aggravated battery and domestic battery.
In their court filing, prosecutors claim that Vazquez-Hernandez saw the child as "a constant reminder of a forbidden relationship" and said that they could provide evidence of statements made to police that she intended to "punish" her husband and the child's mother. She also allegedly sent threatening and insulting messages to the mother on May 19, 2016, telling her to cease all contact with her husband unless there was an emergency with the child.
Prosecutors also intend to introduce evidence that the child caused strain between Vazquez-Hernandez and her husband, including an alleged physical altercation sparked by her husband's relationship with the child's mother. All of this, prosecutors say, demonstrate Vazquez-Hernandez's motive, and DuPage County Judge Brian Telander has granted permission for the prosecutors to introduce all of this evidence at the trial; they had to receive a ruling on the evidence, which would typically not be admissible, but will be used in this case to establish motive, before the trial could move forward.
According to People, Carol Stream police responded to a call from the stepmother on May 29, 2016, who said that the child might have accidentally consumed nail polish remover. When they arrived at the couple's home, he said that she had tried to give the child a bottle of milk, but that the child had "immediately spit out the contents." Authorities promptly took the child to a hospital, where they were treated and released without injury; doctors said that the child had not actually consumed any of the liquid. According to court filings, "an investigation into the matter revealed that at some point in time earlier that day, the victim's stepmother allegedly added approximately one inch of nail polish remover to the baby bottle." Investigating detectives determined that the act had been deliberate.
For the record, acetone, the primary ingredient in nail polish remover, is only very mildly toxic and generally considered safe. That said, the LD50 (the median lethal dose) for human ingestion is estimated to be 0.621 g/kg -- not all that much for a child. But enough that the child was probably not at risk; acetone just isn't all that toxic. Only one documented case exists of systemic toxicity due to ingestion, and the patient eventually fully recovered.
The call came only one week after Vazquez-Hernandez's threatening messages to the child's mother. The alleged physical altercation between the couple came one month prior.
According to court documents, Vazquez-Hernandez and her husband had been in a relationship which produced a child in 2010, but were separated for a two-year period around 2014. The child she is charged with assaulting was fathered during that period of separation. According to police reports, they did share the house in the 600 block of Hearth Lane with their 6-year-old at the time of the alleged poisoning.
Vazquez-Hernandez was arrested and her bail was set at $250,000. She has remained in jail since, awaiting trial for aggravated battery and domestic battery, and has pleaded not guilty. An attorney for her has not been identified, and her bench trial before Judge Telander is expected to last about two days.
"The allegations against this defendant are extremely disturbing," said DuPage County State's Attorney Robert Berlin. "Thankfully the young victim in this case did not ingest any of the nail polish remover allegedly supplied by her stepmother."
[Featured Image by DuPage County Sheriff's Office/Handout]