South Carolina parents charged after baby dies from cocaine ingestion

NEWBERRY, S.C. — The parents of a South Carolina baby who died last month have been charged after tests revealed cocaine was in the child’s system, authorities said.

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Brady Lynden Wearn, 18, and Mary Catherine Bedenbaugh, 17, both of Prosperity, were charged with homicide by child abuse and unlawful conduct toward a child, WIS-TV reported.

Officials with the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office said that deputies responded on May 2 after a 4-month-old child was found unresponsive and not breathing, the television station reported. The infant was taken to an area hospital and was pronounced dead.

According to toxicology reports, a measurable amount of cocaine was in the infant’s system, along with cocaine measured on the child’s feeding bottles, WOLO reported.

Both parents submitted to a drug screening test, and both Wearn and Bedenbaugh tested positive for cocaine, fentanyl and marijuana, WIS reported.

Newberry County Coroner Laura Kneece ruled the manner of the infant’s death was a homicide, the television station reported. Kneece said the child experienced “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,” Newberry County Sheriff Lee Foster told reporters. “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,” Kneece told reporters. “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.”

Wearn and Bedenbaugh are being held at the Newberry County Detention Center, WSPA reported.