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4-month-old in SC dies from cocaine ingestion, drug found in bottles, officials say

Published: Jun. 24, 2021 at 7:42 AM EDT|Updated: Jun. 24, 2021 at 8:07 PM EDT
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NEWBERRY, S.C. (WIS) - Two parents are behind bars for the death of their four-month-old infant, officials say.

According to Sheriff Lee Foster, Brady Lynden Wearn, 18, and Mary Catherine Bedenbaugh, 17, both of Prosperity were arrested for homicide by child abuse and unlawful conduct toward a child.

Deputies say EMS and Rescue responded to Duckbill Road in the Prosperity section of Newberry County on May 2 for a 4-month-old not breathing and unresponsive.

The Infant was transported to Newberry Hospital and was pronounced dead.

Due to this death being a child 17-years-old or younger, the Newberry County Coroner’s Office, Newberry County Sheriff’s Office, South Carolina Law Enforcement Division Child Fatality Unit and South Carolina Department of Social Services were notified to investigate.

Officials say toxicology reports during the investigation showed the infant had measurable levels of cocaine in the body. Further toxicology tests yielded amounts of cocaine in the feeding bottles. As a result of the investigation, officials say both parents submitted to a drug screen, which tested positive for Cocaine, Fentanyl and Marijuana.

After completion of the death investigation to include an autopsy and meetings with multiple agencies. Newberry County Coroner Laura Kneece, has ruled the manner of the infant’s death a homicide.

Officials say the infant died due to, “sudden unexpected infant death associated with recent cocaine ingestion.”

“These are very difficult and time-consuming cases that Investigators have to sort through, and we have to wait for testing on items, which takes a few weeks,” stated Sheriff Foster “This is exactly why we take drug enforcement so seriously. Drug use and abuse are not victimless crimes.”

“These cases are very difficult and emotional from the start with an infant being involved. It takes multiple agency cooperation from the beginning. I am very proud of the dedication of ALL agencies involved and how effortless it is was for everyone to work together,” said Coroner Kneece.

According to deputies, both parents have been served with warrants for the offense of homicide by child abuse and unlawful conduct toward a child.

Wearn and Bedenbaugh are being held at the Newberry County Detention Center pending a bond hearing scheduled on June 24.

This case is still under investigation.

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