EUGENE, Ore. — A medical examiner determined that a 2-year-old boy died from an overdose of methadone that police say was given to him by his now-deceased grandmother.
The boy, Max Maciejewski, stopped breathing after he’d fallen asleep at his grandmother’s Eugene home in December. He was pronounced dead a short time later.
Police subsequently conducted an investigation and now say have the evidence that would have allowed them to charge Carol Lumsden with first-degree manslaughter, The Register-Guard newspaper reported Friday.
Lumsden, 58, died from complications of the H1N1 virus in January.
Lumsden possessed the powerful painkiller and is believed to have orally administered it to her grandson, police spokeswoman Melinda McLaughlin said. She said investigators spoke with witnesses who alleged that Lumsden had intentionally drugged other children in the past.
Max’s uncle, Aaron Heuser of Eugene, said Thursday that he and his wife suspected that Lumsden was responsible for the death, and had phoned the state Department of Human Services a few months before the fatal overdose to report concerns about her ability to care for Max.
Agency spokesman Gene Evans declined to discuss the case, saying child welfare records and reports of abuse and neglect are kept confidential.
Max was born Oct. 3, 2011, to Katherine Lumsden and Joshua Maciejewski, and the couple lived with Carol Lumsden.
Katherine Lumsden was 31 when she died of pneumonia last October, leaving her husband and mother to care for Max.
Carol Lumsden spoke with The Register-Guard the day after Max’s death. She said the boy usually slept in her bed, and that she had awakened at about 1 a.m. to find him not breathing.
“What woke me up was that his gentle snore wasn’t there anymore,” Lumsden said in the Dec. 9 interview.
McLaughlin said “multiple family members” in Lumsden’s home had access to methadone, a drug often used to wean addicts off heroin.
Joshua Maciejewski was sentenced to three years and four months in state prison after pleading guilty in March to a felony charge of heroin delivery, state court records show. He previously served federal prison time for a bank robbery.
About 5,000 people die every year from methadone overdoses, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.