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Newborn Found Alive in Trash; Baby Dies From Drug Overdose

Aired September 4, 2013 - 20:00   ET


NANCY GRACE, HOST: Breaking news tonight. To the Garden State. Three boys playing here tiny cries from a trash bin. Bombshell tonight. When the boys approach the trash dump, they spot a tiny baby boy double- bagged and thrown away like trash! Baby John Doe at this hour fighting for his life at a nearby hospital as cops investigate. Where is murder mom?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They heard crying and saw movement in a pile of trash.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The kids went to the building superintendent and told him that there was a baby in the garbage.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m glad that I didn`t see the baby purple (ph) (INAUDIBLE) the baby us moving.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The baby boy born premature and weighing just under three pounds.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The superintendent`s wife called 911, and police rushed the baby to a local hospital.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... and were able to clean the baby`s mouth and nose. And you know, I saw the chest moving up and down.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now police are trying to determine who is the baby`s mother and why she dumped the infant in the garbage.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I know people in the building, but they`re not pregnant.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Investigators don`t know how long the child may have been outside, and they don`t know who the mother is or why the infant was left like this.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It has to be a reason, not that any reason justifies it, but -- it`s crazy. It`s sick.


GRACE: And tonight, live, Citrus Heights, a tiny 8-month-old baby boy, Ryder (ph), dies of a drug overdose through breast milk, Mommy high on methadone, Opana (ph), Xanax, repeatedly warned not to breast feed baby Ryder while she`s high on dope! But hey, don`t just blame the mommy breast-feeding her baby methadone. Blame child protective services. That`s right, CPS had been called not once, not twice but three times, and once again, a baby dies because CPS does nothing!


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Police saw she gave her 8-month-old baby breast milk filled with a cocktail of prescription medications.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In eight short months of life, he endured more than most full-grown adults.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We reached out, Hey, you don`t need to do that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When baby Ryder Salmon (ph) was taken to the hospital, toxicology tests revealed drugs, including methadone, Xanax and the painkiller Opana.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Polices say Ryder died of an overdose from drugs his mother intentionally gave him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Documents say 32-year-old mother Sarah Ann Stevens (ph) was warned repeatedly about breast-feeding her baby after the baby tested positive for methadone five months before his death.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whatever Ryder was (INAUDIBLE) 24 hours.


GRACE: Good evening. I`m Nancy Grace. I want to thank you for being with us.

Bombshell tonight. Three boys playing hear tiny cries from a trash bin. When they approach the trash, they spot a tiny baby boy double-bagged and thrown away like trash! Baby John Doe at this hour fighting for his life in a hospital as cops investigating where is murder mom.

We are taking your calls. Straight out to Jean Casarez. Jean, the three boys are playing in a courtyard at an apartment complex. They hear tiny cries. What happens next?

JEAN CASAREZ, HLN LEGAL CORRESPONDENT: They then walked forward and they saw this bag on the ground, and they saw a little hand, Nancy, and it was moving.

But here are the facts. That baby was double-bagged. First a clear bag was next to the body, and then a trash bag from a grocery store, and those bags were knotted shut. And inside the mouth and the nose, tissue paper was stuffed.

GRACE: OK, wa-wa-wa-wa-wait. Wa-wait. Jean, the baby double-bagged like you throw out trash, and then the mom had stuffed tissue up the baby`s nose and in its mouth?

CASAREZ: That`s right. And I think it`s significant that those bags were tied shut.

GRACE: You know, the way you said that, Jean, I`m just imagining the mom tying the bags shut. Interesting question.

Out to you, Matt Zarrell. Who had access to that trash bin? Because I know it`s in an alley.

MATT ZARRELL, NANCY GRACE PRODUCER (via telephone): Yes, Nancy, what the super tells us is that the only -- there`s only two ways to get back to where the baby was found. One would be is if kids playing in the area had left the gate unlocked. It`s a gate to the side door that allows you to go back into the alley behind the building.

Another way would be through the basement of the building itself. But Nancy, I should point out that the super told us that it doesn`t stop someone from across the street in an adjacent building throwing the bag over the fence into the back yard.

GRACE: OK, explain that to me.

ZARRELL: Yes, what happens is, Nancy, is that on the other side of the building, in addition to the back yard is the next street, which has a two-family house. And what the super tells us is, is that it wouldn`t stop somebody from walking onto that person`s property, that neighborhood`s -- that neighbor`s property and throwing the bag with the baby over the steel fence, into the back yard, where these teenagers did discover the body.

GRACE: We are taking your calls. Out to Emily. Hi, Emily. What`s your question?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think we have another Casey Anthony on our hands because how can you put a little child that`s barely even opening his eyes in a trash can? I honestly -- I think it`s disgusting, and whoever -- I hope they find this person and put her behind bars.

GRACE: You know, the psychopathy behind this, Emily, is overwhelming, and your comparison to tot mom is right. Tot mom triple-bagged the baby like trash, and this infant was double-bagged. You`ve got a very good memory, Emily.

With me right now, I`m hearing in my ear, is the woman who came, saw the baby and tried to save the baby. And it`s largely due to Rebecca Wolmers that this baby is alive to continue its fight for its life in a hospital right now at this hour.

Rebecca Wolmers, thank you for being with us.

REBECCA WOLMERS, FOUND NEWBORN (via telephone): Sure, no problem.

GRACE: Ms. Wolmers, tell me what happened the day you saw the baby in the trash.

WOLMERS: We were in the house -- I was in the house with my two girls preparing lunch when we heard knocks on the door. And the kids that were playing in the garbage area told my husband that they saw a baby in a plastic a bag in the garbage.

GRACE: And what, if anything, did you do?

WOLMERS: Well, at that time, because my husband was the one who answered the door, he immediately went where the kids told him that the bag was. So I stayed inside the apartment with my girls. And when he came back to retrieve the telephone, the cell phone, to call 911, that`s when he told me about it. And we both ran toward the area where the bag was while we had 911 on the phone.

GRACE: Rebecca, when you got to the trash bin, what did you see?

WOLMERS: Well, when we went back towards the back -- when we went to the back of the building, he showed me the bag. And initially, I didn`t see any movement until I squatted over the bag. And then I, you know, a few seconds later saw the bag moving. And that`s when I just immediately picked up the bag and made a hole to expose the baby`s face.

GRACE: So you didn`t try to undo the knot. You just tore a hole in the bag. And what did you see when you tore a hole in that bag?

WOLMERS: Yes, I didn`t even -- I just tore the bag. I saw something moving which appeared to be a baby, and the kids already had told us that they saw a little hand sticking out. So I just tore the bag so that the baby could breathe.

GRACE: And then what did you do?

WOLMERS: I noticed that the baby had some type of what appeared to be tissue all over it, inside the nose, the little nostrils and the mouth, and I just started cleaning the baby. And I opened its little mouth with my fingers and took some of that tissue out of the mouth, as well, and just started, like, slowly blowing some oxygen towards the baby.

GRACE: So you started trying to get the baby to breath by blowing oxygen.


GRACE: And was the baby responding in any way at that time?

GRACE: Even before I started doing that, the baby was moving -- very little, but the baby was moving. The baby was not purple or anything like that. It`s a little odd because the children say that they heard cries initially, but the whole time the baby was in my arms, it didn`t cry. But it was moving, and when I started blowing the air into the baby`s direction, I noticed the chest going up and down.

GRACE: Did the little thing ever open his eyes?

WOLMERS: Never. The baby was so tiny, I had to use my fingernail on my pinkie to try to clean everything out of its nose and the mouth. And the one miraculous thing that happened is when the baby put out his hand, I put my finger on the hand, and the baby squeezed my finger.

GRACE: You know what? When you said that, Rebecca, I had chills go down my whole body. So you get the bag, the plastic bag out of the trash, you tear it open, you see a baby`s face. You start trying to give it CPR, blowing oxygen, and you clean out its nose. Someone had stuffed tissue in its nose and mouth. What was it, like toilet paper or Kleenex or something?

WOLMERS: It appeared to be, like, some type of Kleenex. You have to remember the baby still had the umbilical cord attached. And it was still, like, slimy and whatever was in the bag, or whatever they tried to clean it with or wrap it with -- I don`t know what the situation was (INAUDIBLE) all stuck to the baby.

GRACE: And when you touched the baby, the little baby squeezed your finger?

WOLMERS: That was amazing. It was -- it was -- I can`t even describe it. It was amazing. I`m a mother of two girls, and that`s -- I knew when that happened that the baby was going to survive.

GRACE: You know, you just mentioned, Rebecca Wolmers, that the baby still had the umbilical cord on it?


GRACE: Ms. Wolmers, police arrived, they took the baby to the hospital. The baby is in the hospital tonight. The bag that the baby was in -- it was double-bagged -- what kind of bags were they?

WOLMERS: It was a clear shopping bag, those that they give you when you go to Pathmark, Shoprite (ph), you know those supermarket -- those type of bags.

So Ms. Wolmers -- joining us, Rebecca Wolmers, essentially saved this tiny baby`s life. So Ms. Wolmers, I guess that you absolutely got a one- way first class ticket to heaven. There`s no doubt in my mind about that. Do you know how the baby is doing tonight, Rebecca?

WOLMERS: (INAUDIBLE) we attempted to see the baby at the hospital, but because the investigation is ongoing, we were denied access. But we do know that the baby is in stable condition. Just from the newspaper article, a spokesperson from the hospital said the baby is in stable condition.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some children playing in the back of this apartment building on Kensington (ph) Drive heard crying coming from a garbage bag.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The baby boy, born premature and weighing just under three pounds, was immediately rushed to the medical center, where he`s stable.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Neighbors we spoke with were stunned and don`t recall anyone who lives in the building being pregnant or anyone who may have been a hiding a pregnancy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I hope they find whoever did it and I hope they find out why they did it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As far as we know, there was nobody pregnant from our building. So it`s -- it`s unknown to us who it could be.


GRACE: Joining us right now, the director of emergency medical services at the medical center where baby boy John Doe is being held there in the Garden State, Robert Luckritz. Robert, thank you so much for being with us.

ROBERT LUCKRITZ, DIR. OF EMERGENCY SERVICES (via telephone): Thank you for having me.

GRACE: Robert, tell me if you can how the baby is doing tonight.

LUCKRITZ: Well, what I can tell you is the baby is in stable condition right now in the neonatal intensive care unit at the medical center. He`s conscious and alert and he`s breathing on his own. He weighs just under three pounds and he`s already beginning to gain some weight. So a real testament to the bystanders, as well as the EMTs, the paramedics and the first responders that we had such a positive outcome here.

GRACE: I understand he came to the hospital at two pounds, eight ounces, and he`s already up to two pounds, nine ounces and gaining. Were there any injuries to the baby, Robert Luckritz?

LUCKRITZ: I can`t speak to any specific injuries due to the ongoing investigation.

GRACE: Robert, I understand that a lot of people are sending in donations, blankets and so forth. Is that true?

LUCKRITZ: Yes. We have received a number of donations for the infant, and those are always welcome at the medical center. We`re working our way through them and finding out what`s viable (ph), and we`re making sure that we pass those along. And there`s quite a few that have accumulated around the isolette (ph).

GRACE: Robert, what is going to happen to the baby when it`s time for it to leave the hospital?

LUCKRITZ: Well, the infant will be in the intensive care unit for a number of weeks. It appears that the baby was born about 11 weeks premature. So generally, we`ll have them in the hospital for at least that length of time while we evaluate the infant, at which point, the infant will be turned over to the Department of Youth and Family Services.

GRACE: So it`ll go to a foster home?

LUCKRITZ: I can`t speak to the process for the Youth and Family Services Department.

GRACE: Robert, when you say he`s in neonatal, what is he in, an incubator? What type of a -- is he in one of the giraffes (ph)?

LUCKRITZ: Yes, he`s in a giraffe (ph) isolette. He`s in a -- it`s a state of the art isolette that we have that provides warming and humidity to make it seem as though the infant was still in the womb.

GRACE: Out to the lines. Sandra in Texas. Hi, Sandra. What`s your question?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, Nancy. It`s nice that talk to you.

GRACE: Likewise.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My concern with this -- of course, I agree with the other caller about this turning into a Casey Anthony fiasco. It`s quite obvious they were trying to kill the baby when they placed it in a double-knotted bag. I`m just hoping that some defense attorney doesn`t come back and say it`s post-partum depression. I`d like to know which hormone it was that caused her to do this. And I think that if they catch the person that does this, she should be tried and given the death penalty because whether it`s a newborn or a grownup taxpaying voter, it`s still a life that was taken.

And I was just wondering if they were able to secure any type of fingerprints or any DNA that might be in the system that they checked with the baby and...

GRACE: Right. You know, Sandra, I agree with you. I`m particularly interested in the fact that that bag may have fingerprints on it.

Out to Noam Laden, news anchor with WABC. Noam, what do we know in the search for murder mom?

NOAM LADEN, WABC RADIO (via telephone): Well, not a whole lot, but I think that caller is absolutely right. They`re going through the fingerprints on that plastic bag. The cops are going door to door asking, Hey, was anybody in this apartment building, in this neighborhood pregnant? Were they keeping it a secret from friends? Maybe something like that. And they`re just going door to door.

They`re also looking at area surveillance cameras because they think the baby might have only been there a couple of hours. So they`re going through surveillance cameras, seeing what`s on the tape, who was walking by, maybe catching somebody on tape carrying that plastic bag.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Those children saved that baby`s life.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They heard crying and saw movement in a pile of trash.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If they had of just looked at it and didn`t do anything, the baby probably would have died.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m glad that I didn`t see the baby purple (INAUDIBLE) moving.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And that there was a baby in the garbage. The superintendent`s wife called 911, and police rushed the baby to a local hospital.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don`t understand how people can just take something that`s a part of them and just throw it away like it just doesn`t even matter.


GRACE: A brand-new baby boy thrown away like trash. We are live and taking your calls. Matt Zarrell, what do you know about surveillance video?

ZARRELL: Yes, Nancy, investigators are looking at surveillance footage in the area where the baby was found to see if they can spot the person leaving the bag there. It`s our understanding that there are surveillance cameras or a camera outside of the apartment complex facing the street where the baby was dumped. But we do not know if the cameras were working or what video was taken off those cameras.

GRACE: Unleash the lawyers, Renee Rockwell, David Wolf. All right, Renee, give me your best shot.

RENEE ROCKWELL, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Nancy, why does it have to be the mother? You cannot just feature any other situation than the mother doing this?


ROCKWELL: What if the mother`s dead?

GRACE: Not with the umbilical cord still attached.

ROCKWELL: What if the mother`s dead? What if somebody tried to take the baby from her?

GRACE: Well, if they took the baby from her, why would they throw it away? And there have been no reports at this time of a dead mother. None.

ROCKWELL: Well, she may be in a part of town, Nancy, where people go missing for months before reporting.

GRACE: Right. And maybe...

ROCKWELL: I just hate that...

GRACE: ... tried to kill her baby.

ROCKWELL: ... it has to be the mother.

GRACE: Yes, well, I do, too, Renee. But the umbilical cord is still attached. All right, David, give me -- give me something better than that, please.

DAVID WOLF, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, the dilemma is that you may never find the mother...

GRACE: That`s true.

WOLF: ... because the different ways you can get in and out of that building, that mother could have gone through the basement, walked out of the location that didn`t even appear as though they were doing something. I think whether or not there were injuries to the child would be important to see if it was tossed over the gate, like the other lady said.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Reports have surfaced that child protective services delayed in following up on the welfare of an 8-month-old baby who later died of a drug overdose after his mother allegedly gave him breast milk filled with prescription medications.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In my opinion, fed that baby drugs so that she wouldn`t have to (INAUDIBLE) that was her baby-sitter.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sacramento County CPS started a risk assessment plan for baby Ryder five months before his death after the infant tested positive for methadone.


GRACE: Child protective services starts a risk assessment? Hello! They had talked to this woman not once, not twice but three times about breast-feeding her baby dope. They`ve warned her over and over not to breast-feed the baby while she`s high on methadone. Now the baby is dead.

Straight out to Michael Christian, investigative reporter. Michael, how many more cases is it going to take with CPS, child protective services, DFACS, doing nothing at another -- look at this baby, Michael!

MICHAEL CHRISTIAN, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER (via telephone): Yes, this is a -- this is a really strange one, Nancy. These people were notified not once but twice, possibly three times. And a report was filed, but it never was approved by a supervisor. That just doesn`t make any sense. It wasn`t approved for, I believe, three weeks after it was originally filed.

GRACE: Yes, three weeks that it took to kill this baby!

To Dr. Joshua Perper. What is methadone? Many of us are familiar with it. It`s used to get people off of heroin. It is a heroin substitute, I guess.

DR. JOSHUA PERPER, MEDICAL EXAMINER: Methadone is a synthetic opiate which has a longer -- long action than morphine or heroine, and therefore is given as a treatment for gradual detoxification to narcotic addicts. And the trouble is that whatever the mother has in her system in terms of any toxic substances, even if they are prescribed medication, they are going to go into the blood of the mother and into the milk, which the baby is nursing.


GRACE: Doctor, the amount of methadone in this baby`s system was enough to OD an adult. That`s how much was in the baby`s system. Alexis Tereszcuk, senior reporter, I want you to take it from the beginning and give it to me in a nutshell. What happened?

ALEXIS TERESZCUK, RADARONLINE: So I`ll start with after the mother gave birth. Child Protective Services were actually called out to the home and they opened a case. They warned her, they said stop breastfeeding your child because you are a drug addict, and the drugs you are taking are being transferred to your baby through your breast milk. Stop breast feeding this baby.

GRACE: Maybe I`m crazy but you`ve got a brand new baby and the mom is an addict. Why didn`t they take the baby away?

TERESZCUK: I don`t know why they didn`t take the baby away, but they knew the baby was born addicted to drugs. And the mom even said that. She said because he was born addicted to drugs, her words, not mine, he was a fussy baby. This very much bothered her in terms of her childcare.


GRACE: She says it`s a fussy baby and she`s a dope addict. She`s high as a kite on so many drugs, and that`s not all. Matt Zarrell, the Dfacts (ph), Child Protective Services, there were three different occasions of mistreating this baby. Sounds to me like they were covering their own rear ends.

ZARRELL: Yes, let me take it as simple as I can. It starts five months before the baby`s death. CPS warned the mother to stop breastfeeding because of high levels of methadone. The baby was brought into the hospital because he was lethargic and tested positive. CPS opens up an investigation. They do what they call a risk assessment with a case worker files a report, where the mother is instructed what she`s supposed to do. Then the manager approves that risk assessment. The problem, Nancy, is that the risk assessment for this case was not approved for three months. Now, the day that the risk assessment was approved by the manager, after they determined that the baby was at risk because he was in a drug exposed environment, when they released the first safety assessment, they created a new safety assessment, which then said he faced a low risk of future maltreatment.

GRACE: Wait a minute. What about the incident where she was driving around weaving on the road, I think under the influence, with the baby in the car?

ZARRELL: That`s no. 3, Nancy. Now, what happened was that this was only a month before the child`s death. Police filed a report because she drove off the road with Ryder (ph) in the back seat. She was charged with child endangerment. Police filed a report with CPS. CPS was supposed to do another risk assessment, Nancy, but they never did it.

GRACE: We are taking your calls. Out to Dawn in Colorado. Hi, Dawn, what`s your question.

CALLER: Hi, Nancy. You kind of answered my question about her being a drug abuser. But were the doctors, the social workers, because of where this baby originally came from, was he just kind of brushed underneath the rug, like it would go away? If he was already at risk, and he was at risk before, where`s the responsibility and accountability for the people that were supposed to be responsible for his care and safety if the mother wasn`t able to?

GRACE: To Dr. Charles Sophie, medical director of LA County of Department of Children and Family Services. Isn`t that what Dfacts (ph) is supposed to be doing, Dr. Sophie?

DR. CHARLES SOPHIE: That is what they`re supposed to be doing. And we do not know, I don`t think from this case specifically, if that safety plan, No. 1 safety plan was approved or not. If it wasn`t, it needed to be absolutely. There are times, though, that it`s approved but not on the system, in the computer system, or whatever it is.

GRACE: Three months, Dr. Sophie, three months while the baby dies. I`m hearing in my ear we are now being joined by Al Salmen. He is the grandfather of baby Ryder. Mr. Salmen, thank you for being with us.


GRACE: I know you must be heartbroken because I really believe that my parents loved their grandchildren more than they love their own children. So I know you`ve got to be heartbroken over this. What happened, Mr. Salmen?

SALMEN: Nancy, we are. We`re devastated. We loved Ryder and did all we could for him. I never knew of a safety plan or what a safety plan was. I tried to -- we tried to be that safety plan. We took him to court to get the baby, judge ruled in her favor with a dirty pee test laying right on her bench, wouldn`t even look at--

GRACE: I could not hear what you said, what did you say?

SALMEN: The judge ruled in her favor with a dirty pee test laying on her bench.

GRACE: What judge was that?

SALMEN: Her name is Sharon Lueras.

GRACE: Sharon Dueres (ph) in Sacramento.

SALMEN: Lueras.

GRACE: So she has a dirty urinalysis showing the mom is on drugs and they won`t give you the baby?

SALMEN: That is correct.

GRACE: Well, I hope the judge is happy tonight, because the baby is dead. What was wrong with the mother? Why did she keep doing this?

SALMEN: She had a drug problem. She wouldn`t, couldn`t stop the drugs. And she chose that over Ryder. And we even told her, Sarah, you need someone to watch that baby. We are here 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We will take him at a drop of a hat. Please give him to us. And she was fighting for custody and wouldn`t let us have him.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Police say she gave her 8-month-old baby breast milk filled with a cocktail of prescription medications.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In eight short months of life endured more than most full grown adults.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We reached out. You don`t need to do that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When baby Ryder Salmen was taken to the hospital, toxicology tests revealed drugs, including methadone, Xanax, and the pain killer Opana.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They say Ryder died of an overdose of drugs his mother intentionally gave him.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Documents say 32-year-old mother Sarah Ann Stephens was warned repeatedly about breast feeding her baby after the baby tested positive for methadone five months before his death.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whatever Ryder was, (inaudible).


GRACE: With me is Al Salmen. He is the baby`s grandfather. Thank you for being with us. What happened the day that you learned baby Ryder was dead of an overdose from the mother`s breast feeding?

SALMEN: Well, what happened was what I knew was going to happen, what I told many people was going to happen, but, you know, nobody wanted to listen. So unfortunately, the baby`s mother was a very good liar and very convincing, and she convinced a lot of people that the babies were safe with her, and in the end we know what happened. So it`s hard for me, Nancy. It`s heartbreaking. We still miss Ryder.

GRACE: Joining me right now, addiction specialist Brad Lamm. He is the founder of Breathe Life Healing Centers. Once an addict himself. Brad, I want to hear your thoughts on this.

BRAD LAMM, ADDICTION SPECIALIST: Well, it`s heartbreaking, but you see it all the time, Nancy. This is the epidemic that is more common than not. The people that struggle in plain sight with addiction. And the fact that a judge was involved and didn`t have the child removed from the house goes to the point that all of our families face, is social services will either leave behind the problem or they`re lock them up. No one will treat.

And so the idea is we can`t handle it or we`re going to lock them up. But we`re so lax in getting people into treatment. It makes me think of a treatment in Costa Mesa that specializes just in helping mothers with children, because a mother who is an addict will say I can`t leave my kid behind, that child is the most important thing to me. But when it comes to using a drug or being a mother, they inevitably go back to the drugs.


GRACE: I appreciate you, Brad, I really do, I appreciate you talking about treatment, treatment, treatment for the mom. But --

LAMM: In this case I would have locked her up, for Christ`s sake.

GRACE: What about the baby?

LAMM: No. Absolutely. I would lock her up and get the child safe. First stop (inaudible). The fact that there was a dirty urine test on the bench of the judge that was not noticed, it was ignored, I don`t know, is criminal, I think, but this is the truth. For families that struggle with addiction, use urine tests. They`re a great litmus test, and they`ll help you.

GRACE: I don`t know if you heard the grandfather, Al Salmen, but Al Salmen, a drug laced urine test was given to the judge.

LAMM: I know. It`s a disaster.

GRACE: Do I have Al Salmen with me? Because I`ve gone to him twice. Al, can you hear me?

SALMEN: Yes, Nancy.

GRACE: What exactly did the judge say?

SALMEN: Here`s the quote that I remember, because I was in court. "Well, she looks OK to me. I rule in favor of the defendant." Because we did the emergency court, you know, proceedings. So she just said, she looks OK to me. I rule -- the judge wouldn`t -- we had video of her just ripped out of her mind in the house. The judge wouldn`t even look at it. Wouldn`t even --

GRACE: What was the judge`s name again?

SALMEN: Judge Sharon Lueras.

GRACE: And what city?

SALMEN: In Sacramento, California. And she has other judgments that are the same. In fact, two months ago on TV I see her come up there, and the mother is on there screaming about how she warned the judge not to give her little boy to the dad, and the dad turned around and stuck a hatchet in his head.

GRACE: We are taking your calls. Out to Amanda in Texas. Hi, Amanda.


GRACE: What`s your question, dear?

CALLER: I`m crying my heart out. My God.

GRACE: What`s your question, dear?

CALLER: So, in other words, the child is a victim of the system?

GRACE: Yes. And a mother who`s high on dope. As a matter of fact, Michael Christian, why did she say she was on all of that medication?

MICHAEL CHRISTIAN, FREELANCE REPORTER: She told authorities that she took methadone because of a brain tumor that she had.

GRACE: Whoa? What? A brain tumor?

CHRISTIAN: That it helped with the pain. Yes, that`s what she told authorities. She said she took a drug called Kepra (ph) because it controlled seizures, and she said she took Ambien as a sleep aid. What is interesting, because she said originally she didn`t take Xanax until after Ryder`s death, but that does not make any sense, because Xanax was found in Ryder`s system, so she would have had to have taken that drug before he died.

GRACE: Al Salmen, a brain tumor?

SALMEN: Yes, that`s what -- she had three or four terminal diseases in the two years that she --


GRACE: What were they? What were all her ailments?

SALMEN: Well, the two things I know were the brain tumor. Which we - - we could never get any true medical documentation from her. And then the other one was a bladder infection or some kind of a disconnected bladder, something like that, was her other thing she was taking the drugs for. And she told the judge that the day before when she said go pee, she said go pee and they did, she said she would come up clean, and she came up dirty. The drug marijuana that my son said he would have in his system, he did have. And he quit then and has never gone back to it, because he made the choice.

GRACE: I`m trying to get straight, Al, is her claim that she had a brain tumor. To Renee Rockwell and David Wolf. A brain tumor?

ROCKWELL: Is that to me, Nancy?

GRACE: Yeah.

ROCKWELL: It would be one thing, Nancy, if she was on heroin, because that would be drugs that she was getting on her own. But she`s on methadone. She`s pregnant. Somebody has got to give her this. So it`s not just her fault, Nancy.

GRACE: That is not what I asked you. I asked you about her claim she had a brain tumor.

ROCKWELL: It doesn`t matter if she had a brain tumor or if she was addicted to some type of medical -- some kind of prescription medication. She`s getting methadone --

GRACE: I think you`re missing my point. David Wolf, I`m going toward the premeditation to lie to get the drugs. She had been told over and over not to breast feed.

WOLF: Well, correct. And when the baby was born, they said the baby had signs of drugs in its system. Three months later is the first time they discover the baby is intoxicated again. I mean, where is DFacts? Why aren`t they taking the child away? She had a heroin addiction and they had her on methadone, then that would be expected to be seen in the drug tests, and they should have taken the child away.

GRACE: To Caryn Stark, psychologist. Let`s talk about methadone. You can get methadone just like you can get any other drug.

CARYN STARK, PSYCHOLOGIST: Sure, you can. And it`s also used for pain treatment. But you`re talking about someone who wasn`t just on methadone. She was on Xanax, she was on Opana. She`s an addict. We`re talking about an addict. It`s the opposite of the way that you were with your twins. There`s no real maternal attachment. The drugs are all that counts.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In my opinion, fed that baby drugs so that she wouldn`t have to -- that was her babysitter.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Documents say 32-year-old mother Sarah Ann Stephens was warned repeatedly about breast-feeding her baby after the baby tested positive for methadone five months before his death, but cops say she ignored the warnings.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In eight short months of life, he endured more than most full-grown adults.


GRACE: Welcome back. A baby dead of a drug overdose after drinking mommy`s breast milk. To Brad Lamm. How do you get methadone?

LAMM: You can get it a couple ways, one from a pain management specialist; two, if you`re an addict and you get it ongoing to keep you off the streets, and people will take methadone for 30 or 40 years. It`s called methadone maintenance.

But here`s a really important point. If you`re pregnant and you`re hooked on methadone, you can`t detox while you`re pregnant because there is a very high likelihood that you will lose the baby, so you have to be very, very careful when you`re pregnant about, one, you really can`t quit the drug while you`re pregnant. You have to keep on the drug or you`ll risk losing the baby.

GRACE: Brad, can you get methadone off the street?

LAMM: Absolutely. It`s super potent. It`s a very long-lasting opiate --

GRACE: So, you don`t have to be prescribed methadone to get methadone?

LAMM: No. I could -- here from the studios in Los Angeles, Nancy, I could go and probably buy it a block away from several people. It`s on the street, you can get it.

GRACE: So, there goes Renee and David`s argument that a doctor is responsible. Matt Zarrell, what more do we know?

ZARRELL: OK, Nancy, when the cops went to question the mother, Stephens, she actually tried to blame it on the father and suggested the father could have drugged her baby with these drugs, then she named the drugs. This is before the police had told her what was in the toxicology report. Yet, she named the drugs that were in the toxicology report that she was never told about. And so, that`s how cops put two and two together.


GRACE: We remember American hero, Army Sergeant 1st class Calvin Harrison, 31, Cold Spring, Texas. Two Bronze Stars, Purple Heart. Meritorious Service Medal. Parents Jack and Betty. Three sisters, one brother, two daughters. Calvin Harrison, American hero.

Out to Michael Christian, investigative reporter. Michael, since methadone can be bought on the street, there`s no indication she was being prescribed methadone. Where is the mother tonight?

CHRISTIAN: As far as I understand it, she is in custody. She has been charged with second-degree murder. She`s also been charged with two counts of felony child endangerment. And I just want to clarify one thing, because it`s even worse than what we`ve been saying. The pathologist who helped with the autopsy said that the level of drugs in this baby`s system would have been enough not to just cause an adult to be high, but an adult addict. That`s how high the level was, an adult addict would have been high on these drugs.

GRACE: Matt Zarrell, question regarding the mother being charged with murder two. Explain to me that charge versus murder one.

ZARRELL: Well, Nancy, I think what happens is that the prosecutor was looking at the evidence, and I guess the suggestion might be that while the mother is most likely responsible for the child`s death, that CPS should have monitored better, and I wonder if that played a role in this as well.

GRACE: With me is the grandfather of baby Ryder, Al Salmen. Has anyone spoken to her since she`s been arrested?

SALMEN: No. None of our family has spoken to her since she`s been arrested.

GRACE: So, do you have --

SALMEN: Nor has CPS ever contacted any of us.

GRACE: And I`m sure the judge hasn`t issued an apology. Al, last question. Do you believe a doctor was prescribing her methadone or was she getting it off the street?

SALMEN: I don`t know, Nancy, on that. But to his saying -- and I also don`t believe that he got it through her breasts. I believe she was actually either putting it in his bottle or putting it in his mouth.

GRACE: Well, we know that she admitted giving him one of her pills to quote, calm him down. Now baby Ryder is dead.

Everyone, as we go to break, on a happy note, congratulations to Nebraska friends Brooke and Cody. This gorgeous couple`s set to marry this weekend. God bless your marriage. Dr. Drew is up next, everyone. See you tomorrow night, 8:00 sharp Eastern. Until then, good night, friend.