COVENTRY, R.I. (WPRI) — A Coventry couple has been charged with felony child cruelty/neglect in the death of their 8-month-old daughter.
According to Coventry police, emergency crews were called to 40 Tillinghast Road for an unresponsive infant on Nov. 19. They rushed the baby to Kent Hospital, where she was pronounced dead.
Police began an investigation and said they found evidence that revealed criminal neglect involving the child’s parents – Steven Gilchrist, 32, and Jocelyn Belmore, 32.
A police affidavit obtained by Eyewitness News on Wednesday revealed preliminary findings show the child had fentanyl – a powerful painkiller – in her system. More tests are needed to determine the exact cause of her death, the document stated. The R.I. Office of the Medical Examiner is conducting testing to determine the final results.
Police said they found three prescription bottles on a night stand where the baby’s diapers were stored. Inside were half-burnt marijuana cigarettes and Suboxone, which is used to treat opioid addiction. Two beer cans were on plastic drawers at the foot of the parents’ bed, according to detectives, and dog feces was found inside the home.
Gilchrist and Belmore were arrested Tuesday and charged with a felony count of cruelty to or neglect of a child, but police said more charges are possible as they continue to investigate.
Both parents pleaded not guilty to the charge Wednesday. Bail was set at $50,000 with surety and both were ordered to have no contact with anyone under the age of 16.
The state Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) said Belmore had no prior history of child abuse or neglect but Gilchrist was known to the agency in an unrelated case.
Upon learning of the child’s death, the DCYF also launched an investigation and notified the Office of the Child Advocate of the incident. The agency on Wednesday said it learned of additional information that supported the charges.
State law requires Rhode Islanders to report known or suspected child abuse or neglect to the DCYF within 24 hours by calling 1-800-RI-CHILD.