Ashlee Hutt, 24, is accused of injecting her two daughters and son, aged six, four and two, with heroin and telling them it is “sleeping juice” at their house in Spanaway, Washington. Her boyfriend, 25-year-old Leeroy McIver, is also accused of drugging the children. Police discovered the children living among rat droppings and dirty needles when they visited the house last year after a friend of the couple alerted them of these activities.
The children were all removed in November last year and are now living in foster homes. Child Protective Services officers noted scratches, bruises, and track marks on the two-year-old’s body. The oldest child described to officers seeing his mother and her boyfriend mixing white powder with water and injecting them with needles.
He said he and his siblings would fall asleep afterwards and that his mother referred to it as “feel good medicine.” They found traces of heroin in the two-year-old girl’s hair follicles after she had been removed from the house. Two of the children tested positive for the drug while one did not. The mother was arrested on November 12, 2015, when officers visited the home.
The young mother is charged with three counts of unlawful delivery of a controlled substance to a minor, second-degree criminal mistreatment and second-degree child assault. McIver faces the same charges. The pair both admit to being heroin addicts. They both remain in custody. Hutt was arraigned on Monday in Tacoma, her boyfriend was arraigned last month.
Ironically the charges against Ashlee Hutt come after the mother celebrated the jailing of another mother in the area whose baby died after drinking bong water. Alyia Iverson‘s son Nathan died from a methamphetamine overdose in 2012. He had been allowed to drink bong water before his death. Hutt had written “Finally justice for you…” on a social media post, sharing a photograph of the infant victim.
Neither Pierce County Sheriff’s Office nor Washington State’s Child Protection Services could confirm whether they had received concerns for the children’s welfare before Hutt’s November arrest.
Heroin is an opioid drug that is synthesized from morphine, a naturally occurring substance extracted from the seed pod of the Asian opium poppy plant. Heroin usually appears as a white or brown powder or as a black sticky substance, known as “black tar heroin.”
In 2011, 4.2 million Americans aged 12 or older (or 1.6 percent) had used heroin at least once in their lives. It is estimated that about 23 percent of individuals who use heroin become dependent on it.
When it enters the brain, heroin is converted back into morphine, which binds to molecules on cells known as opioid receptors. These receptors are located in many areas of the brain (and in the body), especially those involved in the perception of pain and in reward. Opioid receptors are also located in the brain stem, which controls automatic processes critical for life, such as blood pressure, arousal, and respiration.
Chronic use of heroin leads to physical dependence, a state in which the body has adapted to the presence of the drug. If a dependent user reduces or stops use of the drug abruptly, he or she may experience severe symptoms of withdrawal. These symptoms—which can begin as early as a few hours after the last drug administration—can include restlessness, muscle and bone pain, insomnia, diarrhea and vomiting, cold flashes with goose bumps (“cold turkey”), and kicking movements (“kicking the habit”). Users also experience severe craving for the drug during withdrawal, which can precipitate continued abuse and/or relapse.