Police chief: Drug overdose likely incapacitated couple, leaving 6-year-old alone

Published: Jan. 4, 2019 at 3:12 PM EST
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(1/4/2019) - Police strongly suspect drug use contributed to the death of a Mt. Morris Township man and left his wife unconscious, leaving a 6-year-old alone for up to 24 hours.

Mt. Morris Township Police Chief Terence Green said the 40-year-old man was pronounced dead when officers arrived at the house on Oleander Drive around 10 p.m. Thursday.

Green said it appears the man and his 36-year-old wife overdosed based on evidence found in the home and a lack of physical trauma to the couple.

The 6-year-old girl awoke around 8 a.m. Thursday and found them incapacitated on a mattress. The girl threw water on her father and step-mother to rouse them, but neither regained consciousness.

At some point during the ordeal, Green said a pit bull in the home bit the 40-year-old's face while he lay dead on the mattress.

Green said the girl eventually took photos of them lying on the mattress and used Facebook Messenger to send the photos to her grandparents in Tennessee.

The grandparents called Ingham County authorities after seeing the photos and they referred the grandparents to the Genesee County 911 Communications Center.

Green estimates the girl was left to fend for herself for 14 to 24 hours depending on precisely when the couple went unconscious, which investigators could not pinpoint.

"This is tragic. It could've been a lot worse, but it's tragic," he said. "To think about a 6-year-old being in the house alone longer than 24 hours hasn't eaten, doesn't know what's going on. And at some point in time, she witnesses her father -- you know the dog causing damage to her deceased father. "

Green is crediting the 6-year-old with saving her step-mother's life. The 36-year-old remains hospitalized and Green said she hasn't been cooperative with investigators.

The 6-year-old has been taken to live with her biological mother while the investigation continues. Green said she is very upset and dealing with a lot of trauma that is difficult for someone at any age to process.

"She didn't ask to be put in this situation," he said. "Thank God she was smart enough and has the intelligence to get on that phone and try to contact someone."

The Genesee County Medical Examiner's Office is investigating the 40-year-old's death.

Neighbor Terell Miles said the incident is totally out of character for that street

"That's scary for that child," he said. "I feel bad for that child. All we do is pray for her."