Babysitter accused in toddler’s drug overdose death, authorities say

A 37-year-old woman from Jennings is facing charges after a toddler she was responsible for died; fentanyl was later found in the child’s system.
Published: Apr. 4, 2023 at 10:15 PM PDT
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ST. LOUIS (KMOV/Gray News) - A Missouri woman is facing charges after a toddler she was babysitting died. Fentanyl was one of the drugs later found in the little girl’s system.

Mary Curtis, 37, is charged with first-degree endangering the welfare of a child. Police say she was a caretaker for 17-month-old Brailey Stevenson on March 20 when the toddler went to sleep on the floor. Curtis later took Brailey to another caretaker, who called police out of concern for the toddler.

Police say Brailey was taken to a hospital, where she later died.

A toxicology report showed Brailey had fentanyl and xylazine in her system. She appeared normal when she was placed with Curtis and appeared to be unconscious when Curtis brought her to the other caretaker, authorities told KMOV.

The Drug Enforcement Administration says they’ve seen a sharp increase in xylazine in the St. Louis area. The drug is a sedative used by veterinarians for horse and cattle. Mixed with fentanyl, it is especially deadly.

“Unfortunately, for a young child, it’s going to be very deadly. Their makeup is not like an adult, and they haven’t fully developed. Unfortunately, it’s going to be much worse [and] hard to save a child who’s ingested xylazine mixed with fentanyl,” said Michael Davis, a special agent in charge at the DEA.

Authorities say Curtis was out on bond on another child endangerment charge related to the March 2022 death of her own 17-day-old baby. The infant died of a methadone overdose, according to charging documents.

Curtis is also accused in two other child overdose deaths, neither of which resulted in charges. She has been investigated by the Missouri Department of Social Service’s Children’s Division several times.

She was charged in St. Louis County in July 2022 with endangering the welfare of a child, interference with custody and possession of a controlled substance. A probable cause statement says a social worker with the Missouri Department of Family Services took Curtis’ child to her home for a visitation.

Police allege that Curtis put her child in a car and drove away. The state had custody of the child at the time. Curtis was arrested after the incident.

Prosecutors in St. Louis County also accused Curtis of resisting arrest for a felony after police claimed she evaded a traffic stop, crashed a vehicle and fled officers in September 2022.

Curtis is being held on a $1 million cash-only bond. Court records show her bond was revoked March 31 for the July 2022 child endangerment case.