Police arrested a Michigan couple after their ten-year-old daughter with autism died from an overdose of methamphetamine. Erica Reschke and Brandon Hobbs were charged with negligence related to the girl’s death. The autopsy results of Chloe Hobbs found multiple potentially lethal objects inside her stomach that further proved the couple failed to supervise her in the hours leading up to her death.
According to a press release issued by Elkhart County Prosecutors, Chloe died on June 9, 2018. Police responded to a call at the home and pronounced her dead.
Chloe’s father Brandon had been hired to clean the home located in Elkhart County. His fiance, Erica, tagged along to help him clean. She brought Brandon’s two daughters with her to the house.
According to court records, both of the girls had autism. Due to their disabilities, both girls needed intensive supervision to keep them safe. One of the reasons Chloe needed close supervision was that she ate non-edible objects due to undiagnosed PICA.
While the couple cleaned, neither of them watched the girls. At some point in the night, Chloe became sick. Hours later she became unconscious and stopped breathing.
When the couple found Chloe unresponsive, they called 911 for help. By the time police arrived at the home, Chloe was already dead.
Following her death, the county medical examiner performed an autopsy. Initial findings of the autopsy suggested that she died of natural causes. However, a toxicology report indicated that she had a high level of methamphetamine in her blood.
Not only did she have toxic levels of drugs in her system, but the medical examiner also found wood, pennies, plastic, a paperclip, a bobby pin, and a staple in her stomach.
As a result, Chloe’s bowels appeared obstructed. The medical examiner said the obstruction might have played a role in her death.
After the medical examiner received the toxicology report, they forwarded their findings to detectives. After Chloe’s death, investigators requested the couple submit to a drug test. Erica tested positive for meth.
Knowing Erica failed the drug test, detectives questioned her about the toxicology report. During the interview, she admitted to purchasing meth in Michigan. She brought the drugs with her to the home in Elkhart County, Indiana. Erica told investigators she hid the drugs under a table so her fiance would not find them.
Investigators determined that while Erica and Brandon cleaned, Chloe found the drugs. Because of her eating disorder, she ate the meth and became sick. Erica admitted she should never have left Chloe alone with the drugs in the room.
Since Erica brought the drugs to the home and left the girls unsupervised, prosecutors charged her with two (2) counts of Neglect of a Dependent Resulting in Death, a Level 1 Felony, and one (1) count of Neglect of a Dependent, a Level 6 Felony. If convicted on the charges, she faces up to 42 years in prison.
Prosecutors charged Bradon with lesser crimes because Erica admitted to bringing the drugs in the home. The press release by Elkhart County Prosecutors says he was charged with two charges of neglect of a dependent. He only faces 2.5 years behind bars.Chloe’s parents completely failed her. Some autistic children desire oral input. The sensory need to put objects in their mouths means some will eat the objects they find. PICA is a known disorder that many children on the spectrum have. Her parents knew she had this disorder and left her completely unsupervised.
Brandon’s other daughter, a nine-year-old, did not ingest the meth but had access to the drug. She also requires intensive supervision. The couple got lucky that the nine-year-old did not find the meth. Otherwise, they could have two dead children.
Erica attempted to hide her drug use from Brandon. By doing so, she placed both of these girls in danger. According to Goshen News, Erica is not the biological mother of the girls. Therefore, Brandon brought a drug addict into the girl’s lives which led to one of them dying.
Whether these girls had services through the state has not been released. Prosecutors did not mention whether the nine-year-old was placed in state custody. Hopefully, the girl is in a safe place and has proper supervision.
Children with autism need parents that are capable of supervising them and keeping them safe. Children die from wandering, eating inedible objects, and self-harm. When a parent knows the child has a dangerous behavior, there is no reason ever to leave them unsupervised.
Chloe deserved so much better than the woman her father brought in their lives. The charges against Brandon seem inconsistent with his involvement in the crime.
If he is convicted, 2.5 years does not feel like enough punishment for placing his daughters in a dangerous situation.
*Katie Joy is a columnist and hosts Without A Crystal Ball on Patheos Non-Religious Channel. She writes articles on parenting, disability advocacy, debunking pseudoscience, atheism, and crimes against women and children.
She co-hosts the YouTube show, “The Smoking Nun,” with Kyle Curtis. The show airs weekly and tackles pseudoscience, current events, and crime stories.
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