Kimberly Nelligan, 33, was arrested on September 17 after authorities said she rubbed heroin laced with fentanyl on her baby’s gums that resulted in the child’s death. On September 18, the Bangor, Maine, resident pleaded not guilty to endangering the welfare of a child and possession of a controlled substance.
The accident occurred on October 19, 2018, at 11 p.m., when first responders were called to the home of Nelligan’s mother and stepfather at the Holiday Trailer Park regarding an unresponsive child. Paramedics immediately attempted CPR on Nelligan’s one-year-old daughter Jordynn. Jordynn was transported to Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center but was later pronounced dead.
If convicted, Nelligan could face up to a year in prison and a fine of up to $2,000 on the child endangerment charge and up to 180 days in jail and a $1,000 fine for the drug charge.
Here’s what you need to know about Kimberly Nelligan and the death of her infant, Jordynn.
1. The Medical Examiner Determined Baby Jordynn Died of Acute Fentanyl Intoxication
According to the medical examiner, the cause of death for baby Jordynn resulted from “acute fentanyl intoxication.” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) describe fentanyl as a strong synthetic opioid used for treating severe pain.
The medical examiner concluded from the amount of drug in her system that Jordynn had directly ingested fentanyl and that her death had not resulted from accidental contact.
Fentanyl is 10 times more potent than heroin and 50-100 times more potent than morphine. The powerful drug is often mixed with heroin, with or without the user’s knowledge, to intensify the high. Law enforcement reports indicate that fentanyl use is on the rise due to illegal manufacturing and distribution. Fentanyl is the leading cause of opioid overdose deaths in Maine.
2. Kimberly Nelligan Initially Denied Giving Her Baby Drugs, Police Say
Nelligan’s arrest resulted from a nearly yearlong investigation. Detectives repeatedly questioned Nelligan and Jordynn’s father, Shane Smith, about the incidents leading up to baby’s death. The Portland Press-Herald reported that Nelligan and Smith’s stories repeatedly changed.
Nelligan initially denied giving the Jordynn any drugs, according to police. She and Smith admitted to using heroin around the time of Jordynn’s death but Nelligan insisted she’d never given the baby any drugs, police said. Nelligan said she’d been snorting heroin about once a week for the two months leading up to Jordynn’s death, according to police.
3. Kimberly Nelligan Admitted to Giving the Baby Drugs After Police Showed Her a Text Message Confession She’d Written, Investigators Say
Nelligan finally confessed to rubbing heroin on Jordynn’s gums to help her sleep after police presented her with text messages she’d sent to Smith about giving the baby narcotics, according to police. “You know I didn’t hurt our daughter on purpose,” she wrote, in a text message revealed in court documents.
Another text message between the couple just before Jordynn’s death discussed purchasing Narcan, police said. Narcan, also known as naloxone, is an antidote for reversing the effects of opioid overdoses. The National Institute on Drug Abuse stated the medication can “very quickly restore normal respiration to a person whose breathing has slowed or stopped as a result of overdosing with heroin or prescription opioid pain medications.”
4. The Baby’s Father Saw Kimberly Nelligan Give Their Baby Heroin about 15 Times
Shane Smith told police that he’d seen Nelligan rub heroin on the baby’s gums at least 15 times over the two months before Jordynn’s death. Smith explained that Jordynn had stomach problems and that giving the baby some heroin helped her sleep, according to police. Court documents describe Nelligan’s rubbing of heroin on the baby’s gums to help her sleep as her “trick.”
According to Smith, Nelligan would take the residue from the baggies they’d used to sniff heroin and then rub it on baby Jordynn’s gums, police said. According to the police affidavit, “Shane said Kimberly told him she had done it with her other kids in the past. Nelligan has two other children, ages seven and three.
Smith agreed with investigators that he failed to protect his child but said he didn’t object because Nelligan had assured him that what she was doing was safe.
5. Kimberly Nelligan May Face Other Charges
Kimberly Nelligan was released on personal recognizance bail on September 17, the Bangor Daily News reported. She is prohibited from having unsupervised contact with any minors, cannot have any contact with Smith, and cannot consume any alcohol or drugs except marijuana, for which she has a prescription.
During court proceedings, Nelligan began mouthing obscenities and making vulgar gestures at onlookers. Nelligan can be seen on video hurling insults at individuals in the courtroom. It’s not known if the insults were directed at anyone in particular.
Authorities stated the case is still under investigation. District attorney Marianne Lynch indicated that there may be future charges. Lynch’s office is in contact with the Maine Attorney General’s office, which prosecutes murders. Lynch refused to comment on any charges that might be brought against the baby’s father.
Nelligan is scheduled to return to court on November 12.