A Maine mom was arrested Wednesday after she allegedly gave her one-year-old daughter small doses of heroin more than a dozen times to help her sleep, a practice that resulted in the baby's death.
Authorities charged Kimberly Nelligan, 33, with child endangerment and possession of drugs after they say she rubbed heroin residue on the child's gums at least 15 times over the course of two months before her death on Oct. 10, 2018, according to court documents obtained by the Bangor Daily News.
The medical examiner’s office said the baby died of acute fentanyl intoxication, adding that the infant likely ingested the drug that killed her.
Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid that is typically prescribed to treat severe pain, particularly in cancer patients but is also cut into doses of heroin.
Nelligan initially told police that she had never used heroin, but later admitted that she snorted the drug from small baggies once a week for two months leading up to her daughter's death. She also admitted that she had used the drug on her other children as a sleep aid in the past, police said.
Nelligan's husband told police that he witnessed her rubbing the heroin residue on their daughter’s gums about 15 times.
“You know I didn’t hurt our daughter on purpose,” Nelligan allegedly said to the father, according to the affidavit.
Nelligan faces up to one year in prison and a fine of up to $2,000 for child endangerment and up to 180 days in jail and a $1,000 fine for the drug charge.
She was released on bail and is not permitted contact with the child's father nor any children under the age of 18 years old.
District Attorney Marianne Lynch said that more charges against Nelligan could arise as the investigation continues.
“These are very serious, very difficult cases, and in some instances, the law isn’t really designed to address issues like this,” Lynch said. “If things change at some point, there is still a possibility for other charges to come forward, but at this point, these are the charges we are confident we can go forward with.”