Utah Baby Dies Of Heroin Overdose

By McCarton Ackerman 01/12/16

Penny Cormanu was found unresponsive after being put down for a nap in December.


The community of Provo, Utah, is in mourning over the death of a one-year-old baby from a reported heroin overdose.

Newly unsealed documents show that Penny Cormanu died on Dec. 2. Her mother, Cassandra Leydsman Richards told police that she found the baby unresponsive when checking on her hours after putting her down for a nap. After attempting CPR, Cormanu was transferred to a local hospital and was later pronounced dead. An autopsy report revealed that the baby had a lethal amount of heroin in her system, in addition to codeine.

The police report also indicates that numerous pieces of drug paraphernalia were found at the home. David Belgard, the homeowner who let Cormanu’s family stay with him, said that the drugs in question belonged to Richards and her husband. However, the couple denied this to investigators and said that the drugs belonged to Belgard.

Tragically, this isn’t the first time that a baby has died from ingesting heroin. In February 2015, 13-month-old Kayleigh Mae Cassel died from a heroin overdose. The indictment in the case accused the child’s mother, Rachel Ball, and Ball’s boyfriend, Joshua Bennett, with regularly drugging her with cocaine and heroin. They were hit with 17 charges last July including second-degree murder and manslaughter in the first degree, to all of which they have pleaded not guilty.

That same month, two unrelated toddlers in Columbus, Ohio, also died of heroin overdoses. Eleven-month-old Dominic Dickinson died on May 13 and 14-month-old Annabella Sagstetter passed away on May 27, one day after taking her first steps. The child’s father, Chris, acknowledged that her mother had used heroin at one point, but insisted her drug use took place “a long time ago.”

And in September 2011, five-month-old Mya Barry died after consuming a bottle loaded with heroin. Police found heroin and hypodermic needles in Mya’s bedroom and accused her parents, Ryan Barry and Ashley Cyr, of knowingly giving heroin to the baby. They were charged with manslaughter in October 2013, but pleaded not guilty.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.