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Mother, grandmother charged after 11-month-old baby dies from fentanyl overdose in Chester County

Sharon Jordan (the grandmother) has been charged with unlawful neglect of a child, while Joyce Stover (the mother) has been charged with murder by child abuse
Published: Nov. 15, 2021 at 2:53 PM EST
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CHESTER COUNTY, N.C. (WBTV) - Deputies have charged a mother and grandmother after a baby died from a fentanyl overdose in Chester County in October.

On Oct. 30, 2021, Chester County Sheriff’s deputies were called to a home on Elizabeth Drive in reference to an unresponsive baby. The baby was later declared dead by the Chester County Coroner.

One thing that is not common is seeing deputies and an ambulance in Lawrence Simpson’s neighborhood. On October 30th, they were there though at a house down the street.

”I didn’t want to ride up there being nosy so I just waited,” says Simpson.

The news was devastating—an 11-month-old child in this home was dead from a suspected drug overdose. An autopsy confirming a lethal amount of fentanyl as the cause of death.

”Kind of in a way shocked a little baby would get an overdose,” says Simpson.

Upon further investigation, Chester County Sheriff’s investigators learned that the baby was in the care of her grandmother, 55-year-old Sharon Elaine Jordan. Deputies say the mother, 33-year-old Joyce Renee Stover was visiting her child.

Stover, per DSS regulation, was allowed to visit her child but was not allowed to be alone with the baby.

Jordan, the grandmother and legal guardian of the baby, temporarily left the home, leaving Stover and her baby unsupervised, deputies reported.

When Jordan came back home, she found the mother asleep, with the unsupervised baby on the kitchen floor. The baby was placed into a crib where a short time later, the baby was found unresponsive.

According to an incident report, a deputy who responded to the home said they spoke with grandmother Sharon Jordan about what happened. Jordan reportedly said she left the baby and the mother Joyce Stover at the home by themselves for about 30 minutes.

When Jordan got back to the home, she reportedly said Stover was standing over the kitchen sink, appearing to be “asleep” or “nodding out” while standing.

The baby was reportedly playing on the kitchen floor. Jordan said her immediate response was “what are you doing? The baby needs to sleep,” the incident report states.

Jordan reportedly proceeded to pick the baby up and play with her for a moment before putting her in her crib. Jordan said the baby was acting normal at the time.

About 20 minutes later, Jordan reportedly went to check on the baby and she was sleeping normally. but about 30 minutes later, Jordan went to check on the baby and she heard Stover screaming. That’s when Jordan reportedly ran into the bedroom that the baby’s crib was in, according to an incident report.

Officials responded to the home and tried to resuscitate the baby, but the attempts were unsuccessful and the baby was pronounced dead while inside the EMS truck.

Investigators found bottles of naloxone in the crib with the baby, and a toxicology report stated the cause of death was a fentanyl overdose.

Naloxone, also known as NARCAN, is a medicine that rapidly reverses an opioid overdose, and is often given to a person who shows signs of an opioid overdose or when an overdose is suspected. Deputies could not say if it was there because it had been given to the baby.

The Food and Drug Administration says to call 911 immediately if a child ingested fentanyl or any drug. Narcan can be used on anyone, including infants and children.

A case like this can be hard for Chester County Sheriff’s deputies especially after they were unsuccessfully in saving the child.

”These are people they have families. They have kids around that age or that were once that age. So it is very tough for them,” says Sheriff’s office spokesperson Grant Suskin.

He says this situation is rare. In 2020, Chester County had more than 70 drug overdoses. Suskin could not provide an age and drug breakdown for this year. However, in the first six months of 2021, Chester County has had 17 drug overdoses, including five from fentanyl. None of those were children.

”That makes it all the more devastating to have someone at such a young age be exposed to such a dangerous drug,” he says.

Sharon Jordan (the grandmother) has been charged with unlawful neglect of a child and got a $20,000 bond, while Joyce Stover (the mother) has been charged with murder by child abuse. Stover was denied bond by a magistrate judge which is common practice for a charge this high.

Both Jordan and Stover are currently being housed in the Chester County Detention Center awaiting a bond hearing.

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