We've posted on this case before. That's how I know that dad MICHAEL L. REESE is a custodial father, a custodial father with SIX prior reports of abuse and neglect before the drug overdose death of his nearly 15-year-old son.
DCF: Neglect led to overdose
By DEBORAH CIRCELLI , STAFF WRITER
March 2, 2010 12:05 AM 12 Comments Vote 0 Votes
DAYTONA BEACH -- Child welfare investigators found inadequate supervision, environmental hazards and misuse of prescription drugs led to the death of a Port Orange teen last year.
Investigators with the state Department of Children & Families completed their investigation last week into the death of Jeremiah Reese, who died two days before his 15th birthday in September from an accidental drug overdose, police and autopsy reports show. His father, Michael L. Reese, was charged in October with neglect of a child. A trial is scheduled next month.
Reese, who could not be reached for comment Monday, pleaded not guilty and has been out of jail on bail since November.
Jeremiah was found dead and another teen was taken to the hospital after ingesting several prescription pills, DCF reports state. Drug paraphernalia and prescription bottles of Michael Reese, who had medical issues, were found throughout the home, which was also in disarray, reports stated. Police reported opiates and marijuana in Jeremiah's system.
The death has local DCF investigators looking into a parent's prescription and pain medications when responding to certain abuse and neglect calls.
In Jeremiah's case, his father was asleep at the time and awoke to his son on the couch, cold and not breathing, DCF reports said. He sent his son's friend to a neighbor's house to call 9-1-1.
Police also stated that Reese, who has a long arrest record and served time in prison on drug convictions, appeared to be under the influence at the time of his son's death. The DCF report states the lack of supervision and "the fact that the child had complete access to the father's medication were all contributors" to the child's death."
DCF investigated six prior reports of alleged abuse or neglect with the Reese family in the previous 10 years. In one case, the father was referred to substance-abuse treatment after testing positive for cocaine.
DCF has since established a new protocol when investigating parents who are taking prescription drugs and pain medications, including ensuring medicines are stored out of a child's reach and checking with doctors and pharmacies to make sure parents are not getting medications from more than one source. Doctors are asked about the side effects and whether the parent can safely care for children while on the medication.
Betsy Lewis, local DCF operations manager, said they've seen an increase in cases involving prescription drugs, including the death last April of 4-month-old Trenton Giachetti, who drowned in a bathtub. His mom, who had a history of abusing prescription pills, was sentenced last week to 14 years in prison.
Lewis said the new system is "making the investigators much more aware of what is going on in the family."