Mom rubbed heroin on baby’s gums as a sleep aid — until the girl died, Maine cops say

A mother in Bangor, Maine, is accused of rubbing heroin on her 1-year-old daughter’s gums before the child’s fentanyl exposure death last year.

Police arrested 33-year-old mother Kimberly Nelligan on Tuesday and she pleaded not guilty on Wednesday to charges of child endangerment and drug possession, according to the Bangor Daily News, which reported that the arrest came “nearly a year after her daughter was found dead in her home from what later turned out to be fentanyl exposure.”

The Associated Press reports that “court documents say the baby’s father told police that Nelligan had rubbed drug residue on the inside of the baby’s gums to help her sleep and had been doing this for about two months before the baby’s death” on Oct. 19, 2018.

A state medical examiner report found that the amount of fentanyl in the child’s system suggested it had been ingested directly, rather than being transferred to her mouth on a bottle or on her hands, the Portland Press Herald reports.

Court documents accuse Nelligan of having “done the same thing to her two older children in the past,” the Bangor Daily News reports.

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An affidavit said that the child’s father, Shane Smith, told police the child had stomach and sleeping issues, and that he had seen Nelligan rub heroin on the child’s gums “at least 15 times” in the months before the girl’s death, News Center Maine reports.

Smith told police he didn’t stop Nelligan because she told him the practice was safe, according to the Press Herald.

Following her Wednesday court appearance, Nelligan is allowed to be released on bail but is barred from having unsupervised contact with minors or the child’s father, according to AP. A clip from News Center Maine shows Nelligan making obscene hand gestures in court Wednesday.

Nelligan was living with her mom and stepfather in the Holiday Trailer Park in Bangor when the child died, News Center Maine reports.

“You know I didn’t hurt our daughter on purpose,” Nelligan is accused of telling the father, according to the Bangor Daily News.

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Jared Gilmour is a McClatchy national reporter based in San Francisco. He covers everything from health and science to politics and crime. He studied journalism at Northwestern University and grew up in North Dakota.