A mother has been accused of injecting heroin into her three children, the youngest of whom is just two years old.
Ashlee Hutt, from Tacoma, Washington, was found to be living with her partner, Leroy McIver, and their children, in a house littered with rat droppings, drug needles and heroin.
A witness contacted Child Protection Services (CPS) claiming they saw the 24-year-old injecting her children with a drug, local broadcaster Kiro 7 reports.
The CPS launched an investigation in May 2015 into Hutt and McIver – who were suspected of administering heroin to all three children – which concluded six months later.
The children – aged six, four and two – were taken into care and are now said to be doing well in foster homes.
Charges: Ashlee Hutt, 24, injected heroin into her children ages 2, 4, & 6. They reportedly called it "feel good medicine" pic.twitter.com/00zyAqeVOm— Kevin McCarty (@KevinKIRO7) October 31, 2016
During the investigation, detectives obtained startling statements from Hutt’s children, who spoke of being injected with “sleeping juice” before bedtime.
In a probable cause affidavit quoted by Kiro 7, the eldest of the children told investigators his parents gave him and his siblings the “feel-good medicine” which he described as “a white powder mixed with water”. He said Hutt and McIver used a needle to inject the “medicine” into him and his sisters, before they fell asleep.
Detective Ed Troyer, from the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office, told Kiro 7: “Some of the statements they made were very disturbing about how they would get sleeping juice to go to sleep and it was injected to them by needles.”
Testing revealed traces of low levels of what was believed to be heroin in two of the three children, reports said, but in at least one case the level was below the threshold to confirm the drug was actually in the child’s body. One of the children tested negative for drugs.
Puncture marks and bruising, consistent with needle injections, were also found on the children’s bodies.
Hutt and McIver, 25, both pleaded not guilty to three counts of second-degree child assault, delivery of a controlled substance to a person under 18 and child endangerment, and remain in custody.