An Dauphin County mother bought drugs, shared them with her 15-year-old son and then left the teen to die from an overdose without seeking medial aid, police said in filing a homicide charge against …
An Dauphin County mother bought drugs, shared them with her 15-year-old son and then left the teen to die from an overdose without seeking medial aid, police said in filing a homicide charge against the woman Wednesday.
The arrest of 49-year-old Jennifer Pugliese comes nearly a year after her son was found dead in her Gregs Drive apartment in Swatara Township.
The death was attributed to heroin toxicity and kratom toxicity, Detective Shelby Day wrote in arrest papers filed with District Judge Michael J. Smith. Kratom is a mind-altering drug that is considered a supplement by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Day said heroin was found in an eyeglass case under the boy’s body when police were called to Pugliesi’s apartment around 7:30 a.m. last July 3. In subsequent interviews, Pugliese gave “inconsistent” statements to investigators, Day wrote.
Pugliese, who also is charged with child endangerment, told police her son had accompanied her to a store two days before his death when she bought Red Maeng Da kratom, the detective said. Day said Pugliesi admitted she bought the kratom to share with her son.
“It should be noted that specifically on the (kratom) packaging it states, ‘Not for sale to minors. For adult use only’ and ‘Not intended for those under 18’ along with other warnings’,” Day wrote.
She said Pugliese exchanged text messages telling her son how to use kratom. Pugliesi also agreed to provide the boy with pills of Ativan, an addictive anti-anxiety medication, Day wrote.
The detective said Pugliese told police she noticed her son was “hot and sweaty and not feeling well” on the afternoon of July 2, 2019. Day said Pugliesi claimed she gave the boy water and suspected he might be suffering from heat stroke.
Around 7 p.m. that day, it took vigorous shaking to wake her son, Pugliesi told the cops. Day said Pugliese claimed she heard the teen “gasping” later that night but did not try to wake him again to see if he needed medical aid.
The boy was found dead the next morning.
Pugliese admitted sharing kratom with her son, Day said. She said other witnesses said Pugliese had used marijuana with the boy as well. Day said Pugliesi’s account of what had happened “changed multiple times in an attempt to elude the truth.”
The detective said Pugliese stated, “If (her son’s death is) from the kratom, then I’m responsible…you can put me in jail because that’s where I belong.”
Dr. Wayne Ross, a forensic pathologist, concluded lethal doses of both heroin and kratom were in the teen’s body, Day wrote, so either drug would have killed him.