Mom Arrested After Allegedly Rubbing Fatal Dose of Fentanyl on Child's Gums

A mother in Bangor, Maine has been arrested nearly one year after the death of her daughter that police say was due to the mother rubbing fentanyl residue on the 1-year-old's gums to help the child sleep.

It began last year on Oct. 10, 2018 when Bangor Police and fire officials responded to the home of Kimberly Nelligan, 33, after she told them she'd discovered her daughter unresponsive and not breathing. The 1-year-old was declared dead and transferred to the Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center, WPFO reported. Police began an investigation into the child's death with detectives interviewing Nelligan and her husband several times over the next year. At one point, the husband told detectives that Nelligan had rubbed heroin residue on her daughter's gums more than a dozen times, because the 1-year-old was "having trouble sleeping."

Nelligan initially denied to police that she ever used heroin, but subsequently copped to using the drug every week in the two months leading up to her daughter's death. The 33-year-old mother told police that her husband had used the drug on their two previous children while they were babies, not realizing it could harm them.

An autopsy by the medical examiner's office found that the 1-year-old had passed away due to acute fentanyl intoxication, which likely came from "secondary exposure," the report said.

Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid pain reliever that is typically used to treat severe pain in patients. The drug is 50 to 100 times more potent than heroin and is often sold illegally on the street for its heroin-type effects. The drug is often found in doses of heroin and/or cocaine without the user's knowledge to increase the drug's euphoric effects. It's also incredibly potent, with experts blaming an increase in overdose deaths on fentanyl. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says around 28,400 people died from overdoses involving synthetic opioids (other than methadone) in 2017.

Nelligan was arrested on Tuesday on a Class D child endangerment and Class E drug possession charges and released on her own recognizance provided she does not contact the biological father of the child. She is also not allowed to have any unsupervised contact with any child under 18. She faces up to one year in jail and a fine up to $2,000 on the child endangerment charge and a fine of $1,000 and a jail sentence of 180 days on the drug possession charge.

Photo: Penobscot County Jail.

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